September is the Cruellest Month – Deborah Parkin

A while ago I was contacted by David Ward, the Literature Officer at the Theatre by The Lake in Keswick who had seen one of my poems in “The Weekly Word” which is an email newsletter circulated by New Writing Cumbria ( ) edited by the irrepressible Mick North. 

David was putting together a photography exhibition called September is the Cruellest Month by Deborah Parkin and wondered if I would be interested in gathering some poets together to write some poems to go with the exhibition and writing one myself.  He wanted to call the project September Sonnets and confessed it was mainly because he knew 14 lines would fit in the space available and because he liked the alliteration!

So I gathered some poets together – there was Martyn Halsall, Antony Christie, Gill Nicholson and Jennifer Copley and we set about writing some poems. I was worried that the poets would complain and not write sonnets – I’ve only ever written one rhyming sonnet in my life, which I’ve now disowned but most of the poets produced quite a few poems and some of them were sonnets or sonnet shaped anyway. 

We had a lovely afternoon at the theatre and Deborah Parkin came to talk about her work, which was really interesting.  I’ve never really written poetry to go with art or pictures before and the challenge of this and forming it into something like a sonnet I really enjoyed.

You can see some of the poems that were produced, and the photographs from the exhibition if you click here: 

My poem is quite creepy – about changelings and I felt quite guilty about it and was worried about Deborah being offended, until she spoke about her childhood and  a friend of hers being murdered, and then an intruder entering a holiday home when she had her own children, and how this fear or sense of things being easily lost had somehow found its way into the photographs.  This is all on the blog at the above link – but when she said this, I immediately felt a sense of relief and recognition – nothing so terrible happened or has happened to me, but my childhood was filled with the fear of being taken away or kidnapped.  I used to have recurring nightmares about the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang coming to get me in C & A – to the point where I convinced myself it had actually happened – so I think I connnected with this fear and wrote the odd little poem that I did. 

Anyway, I have been rubbish this week with this blog.  No Sunday poem last week because I went down to Leicester for my birthday and went clothes shopping and saw my new great-neice and my sisters and my mum and dad and my neices and nephews – but this Sunday there will definately be a Sunday poem – and I’m super organised and even have one ready for the Sunday after – well kind of ready anyway.

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