Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Divine Guidance

I was raised a good atheist, but recently have had a number of experiences that can only be described as spiritual. You're welcome to laugh. A previous incarnation of me (two years ago, say) would have joined you.

Here's the latest, and it's a doozie. Yesterday I was stuck. Wrote not a word. Nevertheless ended the work day (as I usually begin it) with a meditation and went about my business. In the evening, in a group I belong to, I was doing a visualisation exercise with a woman I know only vaguely, and she reported that for some reason she couldn't explain, all she could 'see' in her mind's eye was the crossroads at Chislehurst Common. I said, 'how funny, Chislehurst was where Christopher Marlowe was arrested'. She said 'I lived there as a child.' She asked me more about Marlowe, having never heard of him. I explained he was an Elizabethan poet and playwright and added 'He was staying with his friend Thomas Walsingham at Scadbury.' She said 'Our house was at the entrance to Scadbury Park. We went to Walsingham School'. How odd, we both said. What a coincidence. We went our separate ways.

Three hours later, at a most bizarre and personal moment (the sort of moment that we tell our children is what mummies and daddies do when they love each other), my husband said, out of the blue, 'Sir Thomas Walsingham'.

'Sorry?' I laughed. He explained that the name was in his head for some reason, he had no idea why, and had just had to blurt it out.

Well two Thomas Walsingham references out of the blue in a three hour period was too much for me. I told him about the earlier one. He said 'it must mean something'. (He too has esoteric leanings.) Synchronicity = a message. In this case, a message clearly intended for me, since no-one else (including my husband) gives a stuff about Sir Thomas Walsingham. So I thought about the verse novel, where I was with it that day, exactly where I was stuck and then realised exactly what I was missing.

Of course: Sir Thomas Walsingham! I'd been about to go down a very different road, but the surprise of having the words 'Sir Thomas Walsingham' fall out of my husband's mouth (especially in context, and after the earlier Chislehurst 'coincidence') was too funny and perfect a prompt to be ignored. And yes, clearly, this was the perfect moment for him to re-enter the story.

So with gratitude to a far greater intelligence than mine, I am back to writing.

Excuse me...

If I keep changing the title of this blog for a while. What seemed fine (if a bit bland) started to sound pompous. The replacement was entirely temporary. So is this one. I'm going for whatever suits my mood, and given that changes at least as often as my underwear, clearly no-one's going to be able to name this blog on their link list. But as far as I know it isn't yet on anyone's linklist, so maybe it doesn't. I built up a nice following on Shallowlands... then ditched it. I wanted a clean break. But I have no idea where this is going or whether anyone's interested.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Musings on Ledbury

Reading at Ledbury was a very enjoyable experience. Good-sized audience, reasonable book sales, appreciative comments afterwards. Thoroughly enjoyed Glyn Maxwell's set too. It's an attractive town and I only wished I could have stayed there a little longer, rather than flying in and out the way I did. Loved the hospitality room with its seriously sloping floor that a couple of glasses of complimentary wine did nothing to straighten. Everyone was kind and friendly. I bumped into Alison McVety, Daljit Nagra & Angela France, saw Kathryn Simmonds in the audience and was introduced to Penelope Shuttle. Shedman John Davies asked me to read my Sheds poems in his shed (on camera). Neil Astley was present in the front row, having filmed Glyn do a line from "Jabberwocky", and offered an unnecessary apology for not asking me to be part of the project. (He must have forgotten the long e-mail he sent me in 2002. Unsurprising. But just as well.) Brenda Reid-Brown was the perfect host and chaperone. The local cherries were delightful. I'm told it went very well indeed.

Yet I left feeling oddly deflated. I have begun to dislike any activity which encourages the ego to take over - even reading poetry, which I have always loved. Since I took up meditation two years ago I find it much more enjoyable to divest myself of ego wherever possible, and prefer the 'inner' to the 'outer' life. Spending an afternoon feeding the ego no longer feels like a healthy thing to do; yet I love to write and appreciate opportunities to communicate my writing to an audience. Clearly I will have to find another approach.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Ledbury Poetry Festival

Just about to catch the train to read this afternoon at the Ledbury Poetry Festival. Hmmm, knew there was something I was supposed to post on Monday. How these things creep up on you. Still, it's been all over Facebook and Twitter so I guess I've put the word out.

Venue: Ledbury Poetry Festival, Burgage Hall
Time: 2.30-3.30
Reading with: the very talent Glyn Maxwell

Details here: Ledbury Poetry Festival Live Readings

Friday, 3 July 2009

Monopoly Night

Tonight at the Betsey Trotwood, Islingdon (nearest tube, Farringdon), I'm on the bill for the second of Roddy Lumsden's Monopoly-themed poetry nights. I'll be reading a new, specially-written poem, entitled "Chance". Do come if you can. See for venue details. Starts at 8pm sharp.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

BBC Radio 4 UK Poetry Slam Regional Heat

I'm judging the Radio 4 South East Region slam heat at Komedia in Brighton tomorrow. If you're nearby, do come along for a night that promises to be very entertaining. In association with Hammer and Tongue, hosted by the delicious Rosy Carrick and beloved former host of Howling At the Moon, Paul Stones. More details here:

Blogging Again

A couple of years ago, I abandoned the Shallowlands blog for numerous reasons, including the fact that it was taking up far too much time. This will not be a Shallowlands. I am not going to spend hours editing my posts. There will be typos.

I will also be avoiding getting into lengthy discussions. You are welcome to leave comments, and I thank you for them. But I may not say much back. I'll be writing. I hope you understand.

I'm going to keep this brief and just let you know what I'm up to. I hope it will be of some use to both of us.