I am busy writing up my PhD study on American poet Frank Bidart
I am also doing my best to keep links with other interests and organisations including Open Eye Gallery where I have been able to programme ten events between June 2017 and January 2018 concerned with writing and photography, thanks to the support of Open Eye Gallery staff and volunteers, a public engagement grant from the University of Liverpool and the support of the University’s Centre for New and International Writing.
This series of events has included readings and evenings with the following fabulous people: Elspeth Accordion , Seán Hewitt, Maria Isakova Bennett, Rebecca Goss & Chris Routledge , Professor Sean Street, Jennifer Lee Tsai & Mary Jean Chan, as well as two open creative writing workshops led by me linked to the exhibition Affecting Change at Open Eye Gallery. Another aspect of this programme has been supporting the launch of Coast to Coast to Coast issues 1 & 2 of a beautiful new handmade poetry journal edited by Maria Isakova Bennett and Michael Brown; both evenings saw a a good number of poets travelling to Liverpool to read their work, being proud to have poems in such an exquisite publication. I am also grateful to the support from the University for another aspect of support – as it has enabled me to work on a new collaboration with photographer Aj Wilkinson which I will write about in a separate blog. We both shared our ideas with a fabulous audience on Burns night. The audiences for these events have been wonderful, supportive and thoughtful.
Other threads of I’m keeping hold of include my work as poet-in-residence at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust , and project lead for North End Writers. It’s been wonderful to start our second Writing the Self course with participants from Talent Match Plus in partnership with Merseyside Youth Association. It’s great to be working with Dr Shirley Jones again and Maria Isakova Bennett on this venture as well as our new participants in this searching for the self through creative writing.
And, of course, family – that’s also a kind of work. My second eldest son left in January for a few weeks visiting his older brother in London. He is now staying in the big smoke for as long as he’s happy in his new job. It’s good to know my two sons are together for however long it lasts. Another son is heading to America for the Dallas Cup – and later to do some coaching on Rhode Island. He’s had offers from Stirling University and Liverpool John Moores University but he’s set his heart on America – and there’s no way we have the funding to support him even if he gets a scholarship this year. I’ve suggested he tries a year of hard training to see if things might be different for 2019 – when he might be settled to study in the UK if we can’t get money together. It seems football scholarships are available in the States but the contribution per year from family is still in the region of £5000. And there’s my oldest girl who is adrift with her studies but now has two jobs and is thinking about life. Another son is being educated at home – a bit of a drastic measure in his GCSE year – but we had to take it because of a nightmare experience in his school. Schools are such heartless factories now. Perhaps they always were. My youngest girl still says things are ‘perfect’ when I ask her about her day. And John, my husband, has started a full-time job in the civil service.
Oh and I’m doing a bit of teaching at the University until June on Shakespeare: Ways of Thinking. It keeps me out of trouble.