Summer Writing Intensive

Many moons ago, I went to Washington State to visit a new friend, Sarah Spaeth, who I met while picking grapes on Monteleone in Lazio, Italy. That was over 10 years Aga now and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve had some adventures in the States, over here in Scotland and also Iceland.

While I was in residence with the Jefferson Land Trust, where Sarah was the Executive Director at the time, I fell in love with Fort Walden which was just down the road from where I was staying. It’s a national park with the sea, beach and trees and a creative centre, called Centrum.

I remember Sarah talking about this centre while in Italy and how much I would love it there and to come and see. She was right, I felt right at home there. And when I took my family over there, we spent plenty of hours hanging out there. It was my dream to sometime return and do a writing retreat there, or attend their summer writing program.

The summer writing program is just like going back to college for a week. Writing workshops in the morning and afternoon and then evening readings. To be immersed in writing for a whole week, with other writers, bliss. Obviously this year, it’s had to be cancelled. So instead they’re offering a Summer Writing Intensive but virtually. The next best thing. And something I could so attend.

So I am, starting tomorrow, I’m going to writing college and going to spend the week in poetry and fiction workshops. Go to some readings in the evening, but totally live the writer’s life and I do so from the comfort of my own home. And what’s even neater is that I’ve been given a scholarship to take part for which I am so grateful.

So apologies not is you don’t see me here next week, as I’ll be soaking up the writing atmosphere and vibes from across the pond.

 

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June Readings

I’ve started, so I’ll finish. My thoughts when I think about coming here to record my readings for last month; June. This is the only way I’m keeping track of what I’m reading in terms of books, and when I started I felt it would be a worthwhile pursuit. Something to look back at, at the end of the year, and be proud at the achievement. At the fact of reading so many books. I didn’t set a target I don’t think. But forgive if I’m wrong as January feels so far away now. And thank God for this practice as I can’t remember what I read back then. Or even last month if I think about it. Hence being here now, before any more days of July rolls by and I haven’t marked down what books I read in June.

So here is the list of completed reads. And I’ve got so many other books on the go at the moment that I won’t be able to share them all, but I’ll share a smattering of them to give you an idea. There have been times when it’s been difficult to concentrate on a long read. I’d read a chapter and then skip off to do something else, or read something else. Concentration and focus have been elusive. I think that’s where poetry collections come into play. Quick and easy and brief.

Books read this month:

1. Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful by Alice Walker

2. Mama Amazonica by Pascal Petit

3. Between the Islands by Philip Gross

4. Hare Soup by Dorothy Molloy

5. Ledger by Jane Hirshfield

6. Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

7. The Creative Doer by Anna Lovid

Books in progress this month:

1. Overstory by Richard Powers

2. Becoming by Michelle Obama

3. Grassling by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

4. The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare

5. Seeing the Body by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

6. Ecotherapy: Healing with nature in mind edited by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist

Day 16 – All that you are is all that you need

To cool down after a hot shower, I sit with my flesh exposed.

From the open window, a cool Spring breeze caresses my skin.

I feel delight in the simple pleasure of air, of space, of me.

Seagulls squawk and voices mumble across yards. Cars roam.

Hanging baskets of white and pink blooms sway.

I seat and soak it in, swelling from the inside out with love.

In this moment, I am beautiful. I am all I need. I am enough.

Day 14 – Did you notice the Primroses at the edge of the path?

Their influence upon me was unacknowledged.

A light touch, with the hint of lemon,

at times translucent like a petal.

It was only when someone pointed out

a cluster of her words and his images

sprouting between mine

that I made the connection, that I caught

their dark shadows napping within my lines.

I had to apologise as I went about pulling

them out by the roots , laying out new foundations

in order to breath life into my own creations

growing from my gut to my heart to my hand.

Day 6 – Curlew, Sphagnum Moss, Peat

a spongy carpet;

clusters of green stars

holding water

storing carbon

amongst cotton grass

big rosemary and cranberry.

Curlew, Steng Moss Bog

peatland upland graasland.

blue stockinged long long legs

wading curved bill down.

I miss the air

against my skin

flicking hair impressions.

before they breed

the male bubbles a call

high pitched across the greyish mist.

threatened they skim

mudflats and dig for shrimp.

this closeness to nature

of cream of buff

of feather is like love

being ripped out

from the roots and fashioned

to fit the narrow folds of life,

yet still being golden and wild.

My Blissful List for April

1. My DryRobe – This is a must have for when I’m going on a sea visit. I just slip my cossie on underneath and I’m out the door. Sometimes if the sea is far out, I’ll wear this robe right up to the shoreline, snuggled into the furry lining, soaking up the last few ounces of warmth before I throw it off and dive into the cold North Sea. And then I know it’s waiting for me when I come out, to soak up the wet and keep off the wind and rain and get me all warmed up. This was a gift to me from me and it just keeps giving. I love my DryRobe hugs.

2. My footed mug. – It was a special red, hand planted one with birds from Anthropologie but I broke it the other day. I was mighty upset. Making do with this little beauty from Tesco’s for now. But hot coffee on repeat. Just the ritual of making it, popping the kettle, rinsing out the cafeteria and putting in two scoops of decaf coffee and pouring the water on and allowing it to brew. The smell in the kitchen, the rising steam. Small simple pleasures.

3. My turquoise plush blanket. – When I left my last teaching job they brought me a gift voucher for Debenhams as a goodbye gift. I took it, I think £30, and bought this comfort blanket as it was a luxury item and I felt I’d just gone through a few months of hell teaching full-time and deserved a little treat in my life. This blanket is super cosy and has been my hygge go to ever since then.

4. Books and more books. – Growing up I used to hoard books. I used to buy them thinking by just having them in my possession I would be intelligent and knowledgable. I now know I have to read the books to gain their insight and message. And this is what I love to do. Anywhere really. Sitting room, bedroom, the bath is a favourite. And I love my physical books but hells bells if I’m going somewhere and packing is tight, then Kindle books will do for me. I just get lost in books, and inspired and cheered up.

5. Paper and pens – Yes I like my fancy journals and fountain pens. But when it comes down to it, just give me any scrap of paper and a pencil and I’m happy. I can then create. Lists are my go to in times of trouble or doubt. If I can brain dump whatever I’m carrying around in my head and body onto that paper, I feel better in the process. I can get things organised, I can let down my load and walk away feeling lighter, calmer and happier.

What is your Bliss List for April? Give me 5 items or more. just follow your bliss and see what you come up with. What makes you happy? What makes you glow from the inside out?

Day 2 – The Sycamore Gap Tree

Sycamore, sycamore.

Say your name our loud.

Sycamore, sycamore.

A whisper plays

upon the wind.

A spell to conjure

you to life before me.

Between Milecastle 13 and Crag Lough,

at the end of a cliff, on an outcrop of Whin Sill

sandwiched between the Roman Wall,

Sycamore, Sycamore

I come to you.

Once, one of many,

you stand alone

in your splendour.

I come carrying

Hollywood images

of bows and arrows

and thieves. Fake.

Sycamore, sycamore.

I touch your truck.

Reddy-grey fissured bark

and white tender lichen.

I stretch my neck back

to look up and up

onto your foliage.

Magnificent.

Every shade of green

spreads wide.

Shining out from your

everlasting soul.

Sycamore. Sycamore.

104 postings and counting

I missed the checkpoint. I’ve been so focused on posting here daily, and sometimes twice a day, or today three times, that I missed the 100 day/ posts achievement. Isn’t that usually the case though? Too busy doing the thing / reaching for the goal that we miss the opportunity of celebrating the achievement of success when we do so. Typical.

Here I give time and space to acknowledging the achievement. Well done Sheree, good effort. Take a pause and savour this moment …

Yes I know 100 days are not up yet. That’s going to be April 7th. 100 days from Jan 1st. But I’ve hit the mark of 100 postings and then some a couple of days ago.

In the past, I took on the challenge of posting something creative everyday on my blog, Everyday Creativity, it was called. I’m not sure how I managed it then as 365 days seems such a long time. But managed it I did as I saw it as practice as well as accountability. Taking up this challenge this year, has reminded me of how much can be gained from staying committed and consistent with creativity daily.

I’ve already mentioned here that I intend to continue blogging for another 100 days as I’ve just gotten started really. Just finding my stride as I’m interested to see what happens next, where does this space go next? And what will this challenge do for my practice? Even though, we’re in lockdown in the U.K. I’m finding that there is plenty to keep me busy in doors as I take on a number of creative challenges for the month of April. Looking forward to sharing the progress here with you. So here’s to the next 100 postings and thanks for coming along for the ride.

K