Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pots and Poets

This time last week I was in the Art Gallery in York being bowled over by two exhibitions - one was a collection of ceramic sculptures by the potter Gordon Baldwin, and the second was an exhibition of pots and sculptures that had influenced him, which is, I think you will agree, a pretty neat idea.  I didn't know anything about him before, not being up on my modern pots - or any other kind of pot later than Grooved Ware, if I'm honest.  Have a look at the video - I know it's a bit long, but he's a fascinating guy and has some really interesting things to say about creativity ...

And if any of you are within striking distance of Edinburgh on Sunday, please come and hear some poetry!  Reading at Shore Poets will be Robert Crawford, Martin MacIntyre, and me.  Here are the details and it would be lovely to see you there!

Cheers, Joan.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

St Agnes

St Agnes by David Gauld (1889-1890) in the National Gallery of Scotland.  I entered a poem about this fabulous painting in this year's Inspired?  Get Writing! competition and it got a Special Merit award, which chuffed me to bits.  So I thought I'd put the poem here ...


Taller than trees
No one will marry you
Better go for God, Agnes
He's not so picky

they'll not hear a word against you
they'll praise
your personality
your good skin
they'll never mention
your ploughshare nose
your haystack hair

they'll not marry you,
they're little men
and you are taller than trees

Saturday, May 12, 2012

One Hot Cover!

I love sci-fi.  And I love this cover!

Planet Hell is part of A & C Black's Wired Up* series, and is coming out in September.  I'm proud of having the chance to write books like this one, and the Barrington Stoke** title, The Night of the Kelpies.

*The series is described as "Highly readable, exciting books that take the struggle out of reading, the Wired and Wired Up series encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories at a manageable length and reading level."

** " ... we pitch our stories at the ‘real’ age of the reader and not their reading age. People who experience difficulties with reading can experience low self-esteem and even depression as a result. We believe that no child or adult who struggles with reading should have to read books written for children many years younger than themselves."

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Jean Alaithia Lennon 1921-2012

(I wanted to post what I said at her memorial service as a tribute to my mum, who died peacefully, in her sleep.  Just as it should be.)

The church is full of stories this morning.  Jean generated stories.
Over the past few days, so many people have been coming up to us to say, lovingly, how sorry they are and how sudden it has been and then, they’d tell a story about when they met Jean first or spoke with her last and there she would be – herself – vivid and relentless and indomitable - and laughing.  All those people and all of us here – we all share so many stories and in so many of them, she is laughing.

She had pain and disability and growing dementia, and sometimes she was anxious, and sometimes she was sad, but she did not choose to embrace those things.  She did not choose to let them define her.

They say you carry your parents on your shoulders your whole life.  Certainly, I know that every time I don’t scrape out a jar carefully enough, I am aware of my mum.  But that isn’t really her legacy.

She left us an inheritance – an expectation – a call to be vivid, to take delight and indignation in both hands – to choose not to be pale or cautious or mealy-mouthed, but to get right up in the face of power and speak truth to it till its pips squeak.  To notice the sky.  To cultivate the fine art of silliness.  To live vividly.  To leave, as she did, definite footprints on the shore.