31 January 2024

Up to much?

Just getting in before January becomes February (how is that even a thing?), here's the first post of 2024 with a wee round-up of things.

Over the moon to see Lune pop up as a Poetry Book Society Winter Selection here and then for it to be picked by Will Mackie, Senior Programme Manager at New Writing North, in his "New & Recent Poetry from the North: Winter 2023" round-up, where he says: "Inspired by rivers and seas, these are dextrous and playful poems that feel alive and urgent." Read that in full here. (I contributed my own "best reads" to Northern Soul, here, if you want to read about people other than just little old me.)

Chuffed also to be one of the 52 artists exhibiting in this year's Blah Open with some concrete pieces about places you might live, called “Dwellings”, one of which is lifted from Lune. The show closes this Sunday (4 February), so I'm planning on swinging by Cafe Blah late afternoon/early evening to stage mine and David's finissage (someone snapped up his piece straight away, so I guess he deserves a drink!).

Delighted also to have a piece in the latest issue of Blackbox Manifold, which I've been wanting to work my way into for a while now. It's a collaboration with Robert Sheppard, called "Untitled" (we tried really hard, but we couldn't land on what to call it!), originally created for European Poetry Festival in the summer. And in such fabulous company, too, including Zoë Skoulding and Jazz Linklater. It's about the River Mersey, which is my next project. See here to read that and here to see Robert's blog about it.

Coming up is an appearance in the rather brilliant Spelt Magazine – they've accepted a sequence of urban-rural poems offering glimpses of life from city centre viaducts and edge-of-town motorway bridges, of which another, separate one, has been published just now by Poetry Scotland. I have also been frantically writing more about motorway bridges this past fortnight to meet a deadline – specifically Jen Orpin's motorway bridges, including the one pictured below, which carries Pennine Way walkers safely across the highest point of the M62, at the aptly monikered Windy Hill.

January has also seen a new episode drop of The Reading Ramble (find it wherever you get your podcasts!) from Lancashire Libraries, and you can now listen to my Lancashire Stories anthology commission "Proceed With All Due Caution" read beautifully by Karen Esposito.

Performance wise, and 2024 opened with the launch at Manchester Cathedral (wow!) of a new anthology that resulted from the Doubt Wisely workshops run by poet-in-residence Tom Branfoot in conjunction with Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met, plus my first-ever visit to Manchester Poets, which is currently happening in Withington Library, so I might be putting in more appearances in future.

Closing 2023 was a headline slot at the last Verbose of the year in December and just before that the launch of Lune, with three fabulous guest readers Tom Branfoot, Ian Humphreys and Lydia Unsworth, at Peste in November, and, just before that, in October, Four Poets at Saul Hay Gallery, reading with Petr Hruska, Jake Morris-Campbell and Jennifer Lee Tsai.

Next up, I'm reading at a Confingo Publishing showcase on Saturday 17 February at Greenhouse Books in their brand-new spot in trendy Underbanks, Stockport – tickets here and see you there!

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