I gave a talk on Ted Hughes at the Old School Room, Swimbridge, near Barnstaple, on Thursday 23 November. Thank you to all who came – every seat was taken – and for all the kind remarks afterwards. My talk was in six parts, each based on a specific event and accompanied by relevant artefacts. I first heard TH read at Cambridge in November 1963 and was lucky enough to meet him and also work with him when I created an exhibition of his books at the V&A in 1978. He wrote me a magical letter in 1978. I heard him read on many occasions and attended his memorial service at Westminster Abbey in 1999. It was wonderful to re-read his works for the talk. A version of it was published a fews years ago in the invaluable Journal of the Ted Hughes Society (online).
I read at the Amory Centre in South Molton on Tuesday 12 September with James Bell and Sarah Westcott, both distinguished poets with local connections. We had a good-sized audience in the lovely library space and much appreciation – lucky us! I also helped to organise and took part in the annual North Devon Green Party fundraiser for refugee charities at Sandy Brown’s Studio and Museum in Appledore on 15 September, with excellent fellow-poets: Hubert Moore (guest of honour), Frances Corkey Thompson and Patricia Millner. The musicians included Ploughcappella. We raised £600 this time, which will be donated equally between North Devon Sanctuary for Refugees and the TARKA Community Refugee Sponsors, who work closely together. Thank you to all the generous donors and to Sandy.
The New European newspaper published my poem ‘There was no choice’ on 16 June – thanks so much to the poetry editor Briony Bax. The page looks like this (click on link): There was no choice
On Friday 12 May I read one of the two poems of mine shortlisted for the Stanley Spencer Poetry Competition organised by the Cookham on Thames Festival. They are now published in an elegantly designed anthology. It was a delightful occasion and I particularly enjoyed some of the local contributions. There is a piece about it here: https://www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=67110
The International Times put up my poem ‘Menu’ with a well-chosen photograph on 4 May: http://internationaltimes.it/menu/ It was followed on 18 May by ‘The Anthropocene’: http://internationaltimes.it/the-anthropocene/ and then by ‘Raif’ (on the brave and brutally treated Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi): http://internationaltimes.it/raif Many thanks to the poetry editor Rupert Loydell.
Greatly enjoyed taking part in various sessions at the Teignmouth Poetry Festival on 18-19 March, and to have a message from the judge of the poetry competition, Mario Petrucci, that he admires one of the poems I submitted. I loved the evening devoted to poetry in foreign languages. I read, in English and then Danish, the marvellous poem ‘In the Tram’ by Bodil Bech, translated by John Irons. It received a very positive response. Easy to find the poem online. I have written about it in my blog at the poet Sue Boyle’s Project 2017 website: https://project2017web.com
One of my poems was longlisted in the Plough Poetry Competition, as announced in March, and another shortlisted. In April I had a guest poem on the Acumen website edited by Patricia Oxley: http://www.acumen-poetry.co.uk/guest-poems/