Wednesday, 31 December 2014

In with the new

I shall remember 2014 with great fondness and not a little amazement and on a personal level I am sorry to let go of this year.

In a broader sense, across the world, 2014 was been a time of turmoil, torment and torture for many people. Sometimes I think we should just blow it all up and start again, but of course we have to do what we can with what we have.
Highlights of my year in poetry include the following, and a whole lot more besides.

It started like this:

New Year 2014
Stars fizz all over this still night;
while down here, on the dark road,
silence hangs chill;
broken only by our laughter
and the light in our hearts;
and the resolute crack-crack,
left-right left-right tick tack
of your boots on tarmac,
as we march into this new year.

That was written from the first 52 prompt of 2014.  52, set up by the fabulous Jo Bell, offered us a new and rather excellent poetry prompt every week and the project has helped to give some shape to my writing life.
They are still there on the website, those prompts, each a little gift in itself to poetry fans, both writers and readers  -
I certainly did march into 2014, and just kept on going.
Just briefly, since I dislike overlong blogs (and this could go on and on and on…) my poems have been published in various journals, online and print; and I have read them all over the place too. I was Honno Poet of the Month in June, I read at the Dinefwr Literature Festival that month and I was honoured to be invited by Samantha Wynne Rhydderch to read my work at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne during the centenary year.

Several appeared in Innovate magazine:
And I have had a couple published by Poetry24:
Some of us joined the worldwide Poets for Change event:
I joined some other writer friends on the Blog Tour too:
I have been away on two weekend writing workshops this year. One on haiku with Lynne Rees ( ) at the lovely Welsh Writers Centre, Ty Newydd; the other with Marcus Moore and Sarah-Jane Arbury, at Ceridwen, in Carmarthenshire. Both really worthwhile, more please!
I plan to continue on the same road in 2015, whether I march or meander remains to be seen, but there is still determination in my step and the light of inspiration is in my heart.

I’ll still be writing to weekly prompts when I can, revising some of the 2014 work. There will be more weekliy prompts here, from January 1st: And there is a closed Facebook group to workshop them.
And, I have saved the best until last, I will be putting a collection of my work together. Yes, yes, this year I will, I really will   I plan to publish a book of poetry at the end of the summer. Work is starting on that right now, really, right now.
May 2015 bring you all you wish for and may it also bring some peace to this world in turmoil.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Local news is out

So, the news is out -- our local newspaper, the Tivy-Side Advertiser, is to be run by people far away who know nothing about our community, and will not care about our concerns.

In recent years the paper has played a significant part in launching and running campaigns on behalf of the community - to bring Cardigan Castle into public ownership, to prevent the closure of the town's hospital, to re-open the by-pass, to challenge a decision to scrap the Meals on Wheels service in the county, to name but a few.

It has also continued to serve the community by consistently raising many issues that locals want and need to be aware of, and it has provided a forum for debate about everything from parking to flooding, to housing development and other planning matters.

Now the publishers have decided that the Tivy-Side editor is to be made redundant, and the paper will be run from an office 30 miles away, that unique community service will be lost.

Editors care about the communities they serve, whether they be the people in a geographical area, or groups with specialist interests of all kinds all over the country, or indeed the world. Without them publications become just vehicles for profit.

As the last editor of the Tivy-Side prepares to leave, it is, sadly, clear that the publishers are serving the demands of their shareholders over the interests of the local community.

Monday, 15 December 2014

In the news again

This week I find myself the subject of a story in my local paper, where I worked as a journalist until just before I launched this blog, in July 2012.

It is a slightly strange feeling to be featured in the old paper -- to become the news, rather than writing up other people's stories.

But it is good to know that this blog is worth a news story in its own right. Thanks to all those who follow and read regularly.

One of my plans for next year is to post something at least once a week.

Meanwhile, here's the link to the story in the Tivy-Side:

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Coast Story

I wrote this early in 2013, but I read it this week at an open mic event - Poems & Pints in Carmarthen. Always pleased when someone asks for a copy, so here it is.

Coast story 
Remembrances tremble in circling currents,
crowds are gathered here in this solitary place.
Stories live in the cool air, that no words will tell,
as centuries of memories fill wide open space.

A photograph she gave me,
a monochrome of the lonely church,
where people make romantic trysts;
and later there are weddings and
brides’ veils blow in the everlasting mists,
making sea horses on distant oceans.

Bunches of marguerites wave in the breeze
on banks beside the road,
shining white around the lichen-stuck walls
of this famous little place.

This ancient hill that we used to climb
on Christmas mornings;
dog leading, wagging her joy;
kids trailing, complaining, ‘do we have to?’
Yes, we do!
We shivered in icy winds on the highest ridge
until numb fingers turned to stone.
And other times we stood dripping in thin rain.

Where the fishermen died,
down there by the rocks,
always remember them when we are here.
The giant slipping cliffs,
a monument to two brothers.
They were husbands too, and fathers;
and the sea whispers their names as the tide crashes.

Unreadable gravestones keep secrets
in the churchyard, but still
they sound the chord of remembrance.

Go further back and feel the tremor of
the earliest blacksmith’s forge
as it echoes from the grassy ridge;
and rumbles like tumbling rocks in the gorge.

Come closer, feel the piety of the pilgrims
who journeyed to this ageless place of saints,
their strength lives here.

And remember on Red Sunday,
the Flanders men who were flayed on the sand,
the invasion force bleeding into the tide;
and the dancing victors shaking every hand.

This too, is where sailors took their ease,
resting from the labour of heavy seas.
Feel their power in this air,
their vigorous salty spirit everywhere.

And remember too, this summertime,
when the space is filled with voices
as children splash and run in waves
from the square beach.
See the dolphins leap, 
trailing drops of  sunshine.

Monday, 10 November 2014

8,000 hands

Have to say something about this, so moved by that bulletin where the kids raised their hands. I wrote this a few days ago, and the numbers are already much higher.

8,000 hands

Black shadows under trees,
the bodies lay by the road for days.
A team in white space suits
zip up the body bags, but
there is nowhere for them to go.

A dead man’s nine children gather
with others across the street,
a strip of mud between them and disease.
Thirty stand in the shade there, ‘to be safe’.
There is nowhere for them to go.

These children have touched the virus;
there are no foster families,
no reception centres, no welcoming arms,
there is nowhere for them to go.
Aid workers can only offer soap.

Asked if they have lost a parent to ebola,
each child puts both hands in the air
and stands in the silence, to stare.
4,000  will raise both hands today
to make black shadows across paths of mud.
No one will touch them.

There is nowhere for them to go.

*If you like poetry that connects with current affairs, you will find plenty more here: