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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The Prompted By Nature Podcast Interview

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I had the pleasure of being part of the Prompted By Nature podcast this month. It was good to have a chat about my relationship with nature and the work I’ve been completing within the region, with Earth Sea Love, offering opportunities to Black, Asian and ethnic minority women and girls to enjoy experiences with/in nature.

We talk about amongst other things:

* The importance of BAME visibility and representation in natural spaces and the marketing of nature-based brands as well as the need to motivate a new generation of black women leaders
* The financial side of accessibility in nature
* Land as holding trauma and associations with enslavement
* Nature as a space of oneness

I’ve just listened to the podcast for the first time and I was smiling along with the conversation, as it is so good. I share a lot and there are some words of wisdom that we could all take away. Check it out here. Thanks.

 

Writing Elsewhere

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Since May, I’ve been sharing my writing on Medium. This is a platform I’ve tired a number of times before but for some reason the habit just didn’t stick. I now know this probably had something to do with having nothing really to say. But now I do.

I’ve been contributing to the Binderful Blog, which a small online community of women, started a few years ago, which offers classes to support women questioning their lives. Maybe shaking up the status quo from the kitchen table outwards. I’m due to create a class with Binderful but in the meantime, I’ve been writing on Medium for them.

If you’re interested in checking out what I’ve shared so far then click below to read the articles.

Learning to be Inside

Comfort Reading

Pandemic Food Ways: A Little Sweet Treat

Waiting To Be Allowed In

My Voice is my Weapon

It hurts living on our knees

SeaSwim

SeaSwim
SeaSwim

I’ve been resting up this weekend, after feeling exhausted and a bit depressed. I leaned into my creative practice as well as self-care practices such as fresh air, walking, yoga to make sure I finished the weekend in a better place.

I sat on Sunday evening creating a little gift for anyone and everyone who has been enjoying my sea posts throughout this time of quarantine. I’m taking a break for a while from social media and probably blogging too as I rest and go within. I’ll still be completing my poetry and my #100daysofblackwomen but just not posting them anywhere publicly. All the more to share when I do return.

In the UK, we have another 3 weeks of the coronavirus lockdown.  I want to use this time to tap into my inner wisdom more and ramp up my self-care and self-love practices. I want to come out of this darkness a better version of me. Transformation takes time and effort but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

I leave you Seaswim,the first of many zines that I’m planning to bring out of the studios during 2020. I hope you enjoy this beginning.

Day 9 – Concrete Poem – being in the moment

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I sit on the bed, cross legged,
window open. Hearing a kid
scream, a car engine revving.
And there, just then, a seagull
flies by carrying bunch of leaf
and twine in its beak. Say you,
what you building?   Stealing?
It’s now I’m aware of the trees
trees outside coming into leaf.
Buds unfurling like green ton-
gues with beard and feathery
flower clusters. What tree are
you? And why do you reach so
to the sky as if all that matters
is to grow and thrive? Zooming
traffic, loud, draw my attention
away from nature, from inside
But that’s usually the case with
modern life: a distancing from
our true nature with incentive
of moving faster, go anywhere,
produce anything of fake worth
as if our life depends upon it.

Day 8 – My Mother Forbad Us To Walk Backwards

After Anne Carson @carsonbot

The misty fret rolls
in from the North Sea
covering the bay
like a shroud.

There is no silence
when everything changes.
Grief strips the skin
from your body and leaves you raw.

Down along the shoreline
terns are turning and turning.
A question coaxed from your throat,
And this is how we love ourselves?

Onwards. There is so much beauty
in the world which you fail
to notice on a frenzy.
But if you allowed

each breath to be a prayer
you will enter the museum
of God and already
be inside of your body.

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Day 1 – NAPoWriMo – In these troubling times, our way of being comes into sharp focus

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April brings with it the challenge of National Poetry Writing Month. One poem per day for the next 30 days. What better way to kick start my next 100 days of blogging if you take up this challenge. So follow along as for the next 30 days , I’ll be sharing a poem I create, sometimes in response to the prompts posted over here, sometimes from other inspirations. But I’ll be hopefully following the theme of Nature for this body of work.

Day 1 – In these troubling times, our way of being comes into sharp focus

Taking out the rubbish

I’m met by a bully of a bird

on our backyard wall.

 

He doesn’t take his leave.

Indolent, he waiters along the bricks

beady eyeing me.

 

Mum used to say things

must be rough at sea

for seagulls to be so far inland.

 

Today, I don’t think this is the case.

I think people are no longer at sea

forcing these scavengers

 

reliant on the discarded chip

or bit of fish to become urban

into backyards where citizens

 

take their recommended

or is it permitted

daily shot of sun while in lockdown.

 

This seagull surveys the scene.

One foot, two foot, two foot, one.

Head jerking alert, yellow sickle beak,

 

hooking the air with it’s call.

Grey wings once settled now stretched

wide with an inkling to take flight

 

but it decides to stay, close.

Two foot, one foot, one foot two.

A shared landscape it’s always been.

 

Perhaps, now, more obvious

how we all have to adapt

to a new way of being

 

which might have us all eating grass yet.

Osprey Watch

Kielder Forest and Water. Partaking in training to become a volunteer who will Osprey watch over the summer this year. It is an interesting gig, learning about the birds as they come back to the forest after wintering in Senegal or The Gambia.

Kielder has become the home for 7 mating pairs of Ospreys for the abundance of space and fish to raise fledglings. Our job will be to set up the scopes for viewing the nesting pairs. To talk to visitors about their behaviours and raise the profile of our birds as they work together to build up their chicks for becoming independent birds over the summer months.

There are also Osprey watch cruises upon Kielder water to check out all the nests along the reservoir.

In the past, I’ve volunteered for certain things, indoor jobs, like manning phones for charities, running creative workshops, talking to kids about writing etc. I’ve never volunteered for anything out in nature as I never thought I would be of any use. Or there was the underlying feeling of not belonging there. Bit by bit this self-limiting attitude is changing.

I look forward to start and share my experiences.

Hazel Catkins

Walk down by the falls, in winter, catch the scent of wet clay upon the breeze of indifference. Dullness is broken by golden catkins, with a hint of blush. Light and soft prickles flutter, hanging long, delicate and strong. Underneath, collect the hazelnuts but pay a mind to the grey squirrel with a rosy back, who probably needs them more than you. Share and connect as we are all kin. We are one.