Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lavigny: Day Six

The time is going TOO FAST!


The farmer cut the hay
before I came
and laid it out
in careful curves around the field.
Now, each noon,
he comes again to turn the grass,
drying in the sun through
shades of green, to celadon and beige,
while overhead the handsome buzzards
turn their cartwheels in the sky
and drop
to harvest ousted mice

Until the evening when I find
that all the grass is
baled and dotted round the stubble,
uncountable strands compacted,
circled up with miles of nylon string.
It's the most I can do
to make one roll at all,
but long-legged girls
scramble on board,
leap and laugh theirs
right across the field
when they think no one's watching

In the morning
the girls are gone
and already the farmer's there to haul
the summer-scented
with thoughts that turn to autumn

And all that's left,
until I leave -
a cat,
one tiny tiger
watching the round holes
of vole

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Melrose Abbey - Borders Book Festival Abbey Day

Posted by Picasa

Borders Book Festival - Five Star

Yesterday I spent the day at the Frank Knight Schools Gala Day, part of the Borders Book Festival at Melrose.

The programme said:

"For the first time the education team at Historic Scotland have combined forces
with the Borders Book Festival to make the School’s Gala Day even more exciting.
They knew that Joan Lennon was going to make an appearance at the Festival
to talk about her wonderful series The Wickit Chronicle, which is set in an Abbey
and thought, “we look after a real Abbey, so we should team up and make a
whole day of activities around Joan’s talk”.

The Book Festival Abbey Day activities and times are:

A Day in the Life of a Monk
Brother Francis will be making a visit from the twelfth century to tell pupils what
life was like for a monk at Melrose Abbey and all about the preparations he is
making to go on a crusade to the Holy land.

Story-telling Session
Mary Kenny the Borders based story-teller will be introducing a new collection
of stories about the Abbey and events that have taken place there over the

Abbey Tour
Frank Burrell who looks after Melrose Abbey all year round and Jane Gaze who
is the Learning Officer at the Abbey will show pupils around the Abbey and let
them see the interesting artefacts in the Abbey Life Handling Box."

It was WONDERFUL! I had such a nice day and could not have been more made-welcome which if it isn't a word, should be. The kids were delightful, the grown-ups were lovely, the food was great - and I had enough time to take part in some of the sessions in the Abbey (which is so gorgeous I'm going to do another post on carvings as soon as I finish this one.) So often you just have to get back in the car or back on a train as soon as you've done your bit, but I had the chance this time to catch my breath and be plied with terrific food and buckets of coffee and feel as if I'd BEEN to the Festival instead of just being in it.

It was great, so thank you Borders Book Festival for having me - and please PLEASE ask me back!

Cheers, Joan.

P.S. I'm at the Chateau de Lavigny for the next three weeks. I will TRY to blog from there but I'm not entirely sure how easy that's going to be ... so if you don't hear from me for a bit, that's why. I'll be back in Scotland again on 12th July, and (if the delayed post thingumy option has worked) on ABBA on 2nd July. Meantime, I hope you have a good summer. Unless you leave in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, have a good winter.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Go On - Give It A Go!

There are fun writerly things to have a bash at all over the internet, but here are two I particularly like:

1. Mibits 300 Okay, I have a vested interest. My story opening "Out of the Cold Sea" is one of the entries here, and I'm desperate to know how it's going to end! Mibit works like this - an established writer sends in an opening bit and each week somebody else can add the next bit (max. 300 words) and so on until the story is at least 1500 words long. Or as long as it takes. There are five possible stories to be part of up on the site so far, but please, please, if you possibly can - HELP FINISH MINE!

2. Bugged - Creative Eavesdropping on 1st July. So, here it is ... on the 1st of July, writers go out into the world and eavesdrop like mad. Pick up a scrap, a snippet, a phrase, a few words in passing - and then write about it. Poetry, flash fiction, short scripts. I worry a little that 1st of July will turn out to be a day of complete silence, as everyone wanders about with their ears flapping and their mouths shut. So if you don't fancy writing, do consider saying something bizarre near anyone you see with a notebook ...

Go on, give it a go - you know you want to!

Cheers, Joan.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Unreality of Chateaux

In a little over 2 weeks I'm going to Switzerland, to Le Chateau de Lavigny, for a 3-week Writers' Residency. This is - obviously - wildly, truly, deeply wonderful, and yet I'm really struggling to feel as if it's really REAL. I think this is because the part of my brain that should be thinking about the book I'll be working on there is up to its tiny eyebrows in ANOTHER book which I'm trying to finish before I leave. That, and the fact that my house has all at once filled up with large, excessively live, uniformly unemployed sons - and their belongings. And I'm trying to fill out a Scottish Arts Council Grant form (deadline 14 June) which is proving to be far more difficult than it should be - I just can't seem to find a properly convincingly persuasive form-filler's voice to use ...

If going away doesn't seem more real by NEXT post, however, I'll be surprised. And worried. Which will very likely help.

Cheers, Joan.

P.S. The names of the residents are up on the Chateau de Lavigny website now - here's the list for my session:
  • Natalia Bilotserkivets (Ukraine)
  • Sandrine Fabbri (Switzerland)
  • Togara Muzanenhamo (Zimbabwe)
  • Joan Lennon (Canada)
  • Margherita Russotto (Italy)
  • Mykola Ryabchuk (Ukraine)
If anyone on this list finds their way here, I have 3 things to say -
1. Hi!
2. Please don't be scary.
3. I know they've put me down as Canadian but my knowledge of Canada stops round about 1978, when I left. (Already I'm a fraud.)