In August 2013 my first poetry collection The Last Green Field was published by Indigo Dreams. Its theme is the conundrum of time – the pastness of the past and its inescapable presence. Click here to hear me reading some of my poems on the radio.
After visiting Dans Maen * Here, my love, upon this beach where foam-white water-whisper spills across our narrow feet I turn back to consider other footprints, other tracks worn into this ancient land. Watch, and you may see them pass, feel grass move, the heft of stone, smell the rank sweat of purpose, ache of bone. In cromlech, cairn and maidens’ dance they tread still, though our faint steps are gone, the sands washed clean. Shadows leap against the seethe of evening – listen! Can you hear them breathing? *Cornish for The Merry Maidens, a Neolithic stone circle near Penzance.
Now is a good time for poetry. Verse is everywhere; poets are courted by the media; people pack open-mike events in the pub; poetry collections are flying off the shelves. This is great news. Perhaps because it’s magical – not just “the best words in the best order”, but as Nathalie Sarraute said: “Poetry is what makes the invisible appear”. Everyone remembers a favourite poem, a catchy rhyme, the perfect metaphor. We all want to be moved; we want to find ways of saying what we fear can’t be said.
My father loved fish – their slither and slide, the rainbow flash of scales that would leap and glide past in silence. He raised me in his fishing basket next to pike and tench flip-flopping their tails in my face, their scent in my nose like earth and freezing rivers. In the half-dark we’d say nothing for hours, our mouths a wide O of astonishment at the noisy world. I ate fish bait for tea, played with worms; fish hooks held my nappy fast. Father smoked beside the tide, its rise and fall like my breath. All summer we lay there, the fish and I, beneath latticed sunlight, our round eyes staring; we waited for him to take us out, throw us back, anything.
My father won the Sunday Telegraph/Rose Theatre Poetry for Performance competition just before Christmas 2008. The award was presented at the Theatre by the then Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion.