Conversation overheard at running club:
Runner A: “Who do you get to wash your windows?”
Runner B: “The rain washes my windows”
Runner C: “That’s what ‘usbands are for”
Runner A: “Well the rain is my ‘usband”
After watching a documentary about death row in America..
Who would live in a house on the 40 minute drive between prison and the execution place. There is a forest. There is a lake with houses with a wooden path leading onto the water. If they take his glasses, how will he see the forest and the water. How will he see the green How will he see the rain sliding down the window, raindrops racing one another they will take his glasses so all he can see is the state, travelling inside the car with him. The execution place is in a small town called Huntsville there is not enough time but please leave him his glasses, even if he did it, even if the DNA after 25 years says he did it let him see the trees the lake the houses where people live as if nothing can decide that you die apart from yourself
body blow, body slam, bodyguard, falling body, body of work, body fat, embody, embodiment,
now I am a ghost, a spirit, a wisp of cloud or even less, now my voice cannot be heard, now my words are spoken by another, now I have no words, no song, now I’m just unanswered, now I’m broken, now I know I am not a sword, now I know I have been written
Teaching all day. I walked the dogs for an hour after school then went for a run with Walney Wind Cheetahs. 5 x 8 mins and purposefully going a bit faster because I’ll be resting tomorrow to get ready for Friday – first 10k race in 8 years.
There was the time I woke up in the morning and forgot how to walk. It had been a late night, we’d been drinking whisky and coke, alternating with gin and orange, we’d been dancing in the basement of the Atrium and when we came out in the Arcase, there was cold and we were singing. Someone had poured fairy liquid into the fountain again, there was foam everywhere, spread across the road, edged with brown from the passing traffic, but the fountain was all white and instead of going to bed, we sat up and watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the episode where they all burst into song and when I went to bed I thought I would know you all my life and then I woke up in the morning, inside my body, but unable to move or make a sound. I could see the room, I could see the door, I could hear you moving around next door but my body was only a straitjacket I could not shake off, I thought I would never remember again how to walk, then something clicked inside my head and my body turned soft and became my own again, I fell into myself as if from a great height
Today had to really focus to get stuff done – did the first draft of my next article for the residency – about starting to publish in magazines. Am starting to realise that I was quite obsessed with submitting – not because I was obsessed with being published, or not just because of that – it was a way of me keeping control of it, and handling rejection.
I spent the morning planning a workshop for the Young Writers Group this afternoon – I don’t normally leave it so late but needs must – there has been no time to fit this in anywhere else! The lovely Abbot Hall Gallery in Kendal where the workshop takes place have offered us a free tour of their new surrealism exhibition so I thought I would do an introduction into writing about art. This became one of my favourite type of workshops because I learnt lots by putting this together – in particular found this great website which conveniently puts the poem next to the painting that inspired it which was great. I really enjoyed it and found quite a few poems that I hadn’t read before. The website is probably a bit too simplistic if you know anything about ekphrastic poetry already but for my purposes it was really useful.
Before I set off for the workshop I had a phone call inviting me to judge a poetry competition next year – am really excited about it! Am sure I won’t be by the time I’ve read the 400th poem – but at the minute I’m looking forward to it – something I’ve not done before AND it’s paid! Huzzah etc. It may work out 20p an hour by the time I’ve finished reading 400 poems but who cares…
The workshop went well and the Young Writers group seemed to enjoy going around the gallery and they loved the ekphrastic poems I think. Then I drove back from Kendal to Dalton, got changed and did my first 10k race in about 8 years! I was going to aim to run it in about an hour but I got a bit carried away and eventually got a time of 56.56 which I was very pleased with… There is something so wonderful about running – I wouldn’t say it was relaxing, except that it is in that it makes my brain stop working so fast – sometimes I feel like I’m almost in a trance when I’m running – like I haven’t had a thought float through my head for minutes at a time – and it feels wonderful.
Think of questions for live webchat.
Send out more requests for ‘A room of one’s own’
Put cheques into business account.
Do petrol forms.
Start a new box off to put tax receipts in for this year.
Do ABRSM exam entries
ABRSM exam letters asking for money
Sort order of collection out… back to front
Saturday 3rd May
First collection – Contents
What do I need to get rid of?
7 pages at beginning
35 lines a page
1 acknowledgement page at end
72 pages altogether = 64 pages of poetry
Currently I have 74 pages of poetry, so I need to get rid of ten poems.
Next job – sort order of collection out – three sections, then send to trusty editing volunteers….
Today I had a bit of a lie in then spent the day looking at people’s houses. It is so strange – we walk round and the people aren’t there – except they are. You open a bedroom door and there is still the smell of sleep inside, except it is not your sleep, or any you would recognise. Inside another house, the smell of cigarette smoke is strong and unbearable and I came out with it hanging on my clothes. And in the empty houses you can’t imagine anyone living there – the wallpaper curling its tongue, and the fire folorn and black and cold. Or this home has been so well loved, you can imagine the person who lived there, what they looked like, especially when you see the way he has ran a garden hose from a tap at the bottom of the house, down the ginnel at the side and to the front, and coiled the hose on a specially made hook, you can see him standing in his garden.
I went to a workshop to put a performance together with two other poets, Em Strang and Rachel Amey and a violin player, Simon who was a very interesting guy who lives in the woods and is building his own hut in the woods. He taught himself to play the violin – Em read a poem – the first line was ‘Today I brought God into the prison’. I actually had a tear! I feel recently that I’ve become a bit immune to poetry and cynical, but then I realise it is just bad poetry that I have lost patience for – I hear something like that and I feel like crying because it is so beautiful and says something so important.
We went to view a house and fell in love! It probably needs rewiring, new kitchen, new bathroom, decorating all the way through but it is in a really nice part of Barrow. right opposite a great place to walk the dogs. You walk round the corner from the house and you get the best view in Barrow – it is one of my favourite running routes – you go over the crest of a hill, and you can see all the factories – the Kimberly Clark factory puffing out smoke, but behind that you can see Walney Channel and then Walney Island and then to the right Black Combe. We have to sell our house first though so am trying not to get too excited…and we would be completely skint… I have some hard decisions to make this term – whether to keep my music teaching hours up to 4 days a week and be more financially secure or whether to go back down to 3 days and hopefully get some more work as a poet and have time to write…
Finding this notebook thing more tricky than I thought. For a start, I decided to italicize things as I was typing up, that might, under normal circumstances, develop into a poem. But this puts a lot of weight on the poor little scraps of language. It feel s like the weedy paragraphs are buckling under the expectation I have placed on them by italicizing them.
Have been invited to write a short article about Sylvia Plath and what she means to me as a ‘younger’ poet. Oh, I love being a ‘young’ poet. Told one of my pupils (teenager) that I was considered a ‘young’ poet. She actually raised her eyebrow at me.
A funny day. I still haven’t lived down the April Fool incident when 8 year old boy came up to me and said ‘I don’t like playing the trumpet’ and I said ‘Well I don’t like rude children’ and then he shouted ‘April Fool!’ and danced about the place, laughing heartily. He came up to me today and said his favourite day was the day he played an April Fool on me. I nearly said to him don’t be too proud of yourself – you were only one of four April Fools that I fell for but decided to take the moral high ground and smile indulgently.
Normally I would have been at a local writing/critiquing group that I go to, Barrow Writers, or I would have been at the first poetry reading of the summer series at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere but I hadn’t got myself organised in time and rearranged teaching so I was working till 7pm so couldn’t go to either. I decided to go for a run instead and convinced my husband he should come with me to get in training for his upcoming cycle round Morocco with his mates trip in October. May have deliberately gone faster up the hills to extract small revenge for all the times we’ve been hiking and he gets more and more energetic as we notch the miles up – he can walk forever – but felt a bit guilty when he had to stop after 2 miles because he felt dizzy. Whoops. I did another 2 miles again with Lola dog while he walked back to the car with Miles. I like running with Lola – she keeps up on the lead and off the lead she just runs next to you or hunts for rabbits but never out of sight – she never looks tired. When we approach a cattle grid I say ‘Wait’ and she slides to a halt in front of it and then follows me through the gates at the side or slips underneath the fence. Miles’ dog doesn’t do any of these things. If he is on the lead he deliberately runs behind you as if he is trying to slow you down and he insists on going to the toilet frequently – no matter how inconvenient. It is like running with an old person with a bladder problem and a way of complaining that doesn’t need vocabulary – but he is only 8 – not really old. He is very curmudgeonly.
Instead of going up to Grasmere rewarded myself with re-reading Hannah Lowe’s Chick ready for live webchat tomorrow. Forgot how good this book is, and am reading it with new eyes, now I’m putting my first collection together. I’m interested in how Hannah creates distance whilst writing about such a personal subject – how she turns memory into a piece of art. I think one of her techniques is changing the perspective of each poem – I don’t just mean the voice of the poem – but in filmic terms she seems to write from a different distance all the time – sometimes she is right up close.
For more information about the Logbook, please read our interview with Kim.