Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Climate Change Speaker Network

I'm really pleased to have been invited to join the Climate Change Speaker Network, which was initiated in 2006 by Climate Concern UK with the aim of increasing public understanding of climate change issues. Around 100 speakers from across the UK are available to give talks/lectures to schools, community groups, businesses, councils and any other interested organisations.

As my listing shows, my talks will centre around poetry readings from Creatures of the Intertidal Zone about how climate change is affecting the arctic and sub-arctic - one of the central themes of my collection.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sea Stories

The title poem from my collection, Creatures of the Intertidal Zone, has just been republished in the new issue of Sea Stories, the international journal of art and writing produced by the wonderful conservation organisation Blue Ocean Institute which works to inspire a closer relationship with the sea through science, art and literature.

Here's what the editors have to say about their journal:

"Sea Stories is a quarterly online journal of international ocean writing and art, published by Blue Ocean Institute. We welcome memoir, poetry, descriptive prose, and imaginative nonfiction, as well as photographs, drawings, or other visual arts. Our contributors are people from all walks of life: scientists and beachcombers, students and vacationers, fishermen and seafood-eaters, coastal residents and inland ocean-lovers ... and professional writers and artists too. We’ve published work by a 10-year-old snorkeler, a U.S. Poet Laureate, and a retired ocean researcher. We aim for breadth and depth of experience as well as quality of expression. Anyone who has ever felt her or his feet sink into warm sand, or poked around the tidepools, or struggled against the powers of wind and wave, or stood transfixed by the reflections of sun and cloud on water, probably has a story to tell - and we want to help that story be told. In so doing, participants will contribute to our shared goals of nurturing people's love of the sea, instilling hope, and helping restore living abundance in the ocean."

I love the fact that a 10-year-old snorkeller's work can appear alongside work by a U.S. Poet Laureate! And I fully endorse, of course, the journal's mission to help promote and raise awareness of ocean conservation.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Earth Shattering

Just finished reading an extraordinarily moving and thought-provoking anthology of ecopoetry - Earth Shattering, edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books 2007). The first section is devoted to the rivers-and-mountains poetry of Ancient China, while later sections foreground contemporary ecopoems from around the world including those written by 21st century native American poets.

As well as containing poems in which the writer expresses his/her profound sense of connection with nature and the interconnectedness of all lifeforms on earth, the anthology includes many apocalyptic poems on climate change, forest felling, species extinction and planetary catastrophe. I often found myself gasping as I read - not only because the subject-matter is so alarming, but also because of the stunning images and linguistic inventiveness that so many of the poems display. I know I'll return to this anthology again and again.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Something Else

Every couple of months I'm a guest on the BBC Radio Wales Sunday morning talk show, Something Else, presented by writer and political broadcaster Patrick Hannan. Yesterday was a Something Else Sunday, which meant getting myself to the Beeb by 9 am to go through the papers with my two fellow guests so as to decide what topics we'd talk about when we went on air at 11.

I really enjoy doing live radio - over the years that I've been doing it (nearly four years now, I think), I've had to learn to think on my feet and offer opinions on all manner of subjects, even those I never imagined I had an opinion about! It's great to have permission to sound off about the subjects that matter a lot to me too. And I always enjoy meeting the other guests - yesterday, I was joined by training consultant Tim Brown and writer/actor Boyd Clack. It all felt very relaxed - almost as if we were chatting and tossing around ideas at a dinner party - I just hope that's how it came across to listeners!


Friday, June 6, 2008

Pulsar Poetry Night

Hugely enjoyed my guest poet slot at Pulsar Poetry Night yesterday. Such a lovely venue - the Goddard Arms in a little Wiltshire village at the foot of a chalk cliff - only about eight miles from Swindon, yet it was so green and peaceful that it felt like the nearest town was several hours away.

The tireless David Pike (editor of Pulsar poetry magazine) organises and co-ordinates these events on a more-or-less bi-monthly basis. He also plays the acoustic guitar to open the evening, shares some of his own work and makes live sound recordings of a number of the poems that are read. You'll be able to listen to these, mine included, on the Pulsar website soon.

Thanks to David and Gill Pike for the opportunity to read, for the very warm welcome and for the above photo too!


Monday, June 2, 2008

Hay Festival

Went up to Hay-on-Wye yesterday - the last day of the festival and at last, I made it! I first started Hay-Festival-going back in 1994, I think, and have missed only one or two years since then. My personal Haylights from the past fifteen years include seeing Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison and Carol Shields - and, of course, reading there myself in 2006 for the launch of The Lie of the Land.

Yesterday, I made a beeline for the session on crime fiction featuring Icelandic novelist Yrsa Sigurdardottir. Since I'm both a crime fiction addict and an Icelandophile, this was an ideal session for me and I'm looking forward to reading the recently-published English translation of her novel, Last Rituals. Yesterday was special for another reason too as I was joined by about twenty friends for a big belated Birthday picnic. We managed to find a warm, dry, mud-free corner of the festival site and spent the afternoon chatting and eating lots of cake!

I love going to Hay out of Festival time too. My ideal day involves visiting all the secondhand bookshops in the morning, hiking up onto Hay Bluff and along Offa's Dyke Path in the afternoon, then ending the day in The Granary for a supper of Tibetan roast! Bliss!