Wednesday, 30 July 2008

playing with Lucy

Not much work is getting done today as I am spending it with my grand-daughter. Saracen Woman is recovering from the shock it got from agents. Note the change in title. Who was I kidding - it was always Mab's story.
The next novel is growing at the back of my mind. I'm thinking of calling it Recusant. It's going to be a bit Jungian, and about music.
But I'm also thinking about poetry for Lúcháir. There are several poems about water happening/

Friday, 25 July 2008

meeting heroes

I went to a book launch last night. Anne Connolly's book 'Downside Up' is indeed very fab, lots of poems about Ireland and her family, but not cosy or nostalgic, just thoughtful and beautiful.
However, I also met Christine de Luca. And behaved with some enthusiasm.

Christine de Luca is one of my favourite poets at the moment. She is from Shetland, and writes in Shetlandic as well as English, and this gives her poems a texture and multi-layered resonances with Old Norse and with Scandinavian poetry. She says it's hard to do, though as Shetlandic poetry has to appeal to Shetlanders (otherwise what's the point?) and then you find yourself writing to a niche market and restricting your options. She doesn't give into this, though. The poems in Parallel Worlds are not backward looking, not rural idylls or ballads. They bring new words, new perspectives to poems that could have been written wherever poetry is a serious art form. She writes in English too, and then you see how a different language shapes your thought differently.

I think there's no point in being a poet if you can't take Orpheus' stand and say
'All the words will be available to me'. I admit I was thinking about the big fancy grandiloquent words that I was sometimes made to feel weren't for the likes of me, Liverpool Judy that I was. Especially when the trend for vernacular poetry came in. But it cuts both ways. All the words means ALL. Dialect, academic, technical, street words, rude words, foreign, antique, abstract, ugly words and neologisms.
I admit it takes some skill make them pull together coherently. But some people can, and I aspire to it.

Friday, 18 July 2008


I got reviewed! I got a nice review!
Seriously, a guy called Steve Sneyd reviewed Eurydice Rising in an 'alternative world poetry newsletter' and although it was printed in the smallest handwriting on the planet so reading it was like trying to knit your own eyelashes, it was really brilliant - by which I don't mean just favourable though 'fascinatingly different' kind of trips off the tongue, but the guy really knew what I was trying to do, picked up all the obscure references (well, except the ones to the Black Parade, anyway, and who can blame him for that one), and really helped me think harder about the next project.
Thank you so much, Steve Sneyd.
And thanks too, to Sally who passes these things on to me. I would be nowhere without support like that.

Monday, 14 July 2008

round and round

Yes I am working on the Lúcháir project, but it isn't going very fast. I still have my head full of Saracens, and it's hard to get focussed. So I have been going round my bookshelves picking things up and turning them over, and so far I have read
Colour by Rose Tremain
Medieval Lyrics ed RT Davies, who is still as annoying as I remember him from uni
What I Loved by Siri Husdvedt which I'm sure I read once before, but can't remember
The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell (fun but repetitious)
and I am in the middle of a book about the blues by Alan Lomax (which seems to have provided the entire plot for Honeydripper - a fine film btw) and The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro.
It is all turning into a rich compost, but I have to say that it feels more like a new novel than poems and short stories, at least so far.

Monday, 7 July 2008

well done daughters

Naomi graduated last Thursday, and it was brilliant. She got a first! She didn't tell us, at first because she was waiting for confirmation and then because she expected it to be announced (which it wasn't). So afterwards she said, Oh, you haven't seen this', and flashed the certificate and there it was.
An utterly wonderful moment.
Katherine and grand-daughter were there too, which was lovely.
Looking over poems this morning, trying to work out what needs revising, what could go on the lúcháir blog and what could be sent out. It's a whole new way of thinking and constructing thought and playing with language, and now my brain is waking up again after all the arthritis nonsense, I am loving it.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

fingers crossed

I finished the last revisions of Saracen Women this morning, and have made the first approach to a publisher.
Now what are the odds? Pretty poor, I'd say from all you ever read about this process, but you have to try. And I really believe in this book, I've worked hard on it, and I'll just have to hope for the best.
But my goodness, I'm going to miss all those characters. Some of them have been in my head for over thirty years!