Sunday Poem – Claire Dyer

Evening folks.  This is pretty late today – I’ve been at an all day brass workshop with about 70 children today.  This came about because of this blog – I’d written about how sad it is to see adult brass bands dying out in my area, and Grenville Moore, who works for John Packer, who make and supply brass instruments, got in touch and said he’d like to run a workshop to try and build links in the area between the very successful junior bands and the adult bands.

So, in conjuction with Cumbria Music Service, who donated me and my manager as voluntary staff, John Packer who donated Grenville and Ewan Easton, a world class professional tuba player to conduct all day and St Pius School in Barrow who let us have the venue for free this rather huge workshop came into being.

The worst part about the workshop? Constructing the spreadsheet last night with everyone’s names on and contact details and random allergies and medical problems – it took me hours.  And I don’t find organisation easy – it doesn’t come naturally to me – I guess it’s good for me to do this sort of thing.  I would much rather write a 3,000 word essay than construct a spreadsheet register of people’s names.  Strange isn’t it, what we find easy and challenging.  I’d rather conduct a band than collect parental permission slips.  But there you go – that was last night.

And today – the only thing that went wrong was me forgetting to thank my boss for driving all the way from Blackpool to support the workshop and forgetting to thank the music service.  I thanked everybody else.  I’m telling myself it was tiredness but I nearly started crying when I thanked the children for giving up their Sunday.  I don’t know what was up with me.  It has never happened before – I don’t think anybody noticed.  Ewan was full of praise for the children and the way they behaved, how enthusiastic they were – and I am very lucky to be working with them.   The band is my best achievement as a teacher – but here I am getting soppy again.  So it was a great day – no calamaties, no accidents, no fires, just lots of music making and learning – I feel like my own teaching has had a shot of enthusiasm injected from Ewan and Grenville and can’t wait to try out some of the things Ewan demonstrated.  His two mottoes for the day were ‘Rhythm is King’ and ‘Air is Sound’.  He repeats things over and over again but not in a boring way – and it was interesting to hear his story of becoming a professional musician – and watch the kids faces when he told them he was practicing six hours a day by the time he was 16 – always satisfying when an ‘outsider’ comes and reiterates what I’ve been saying!

So that was today – I am absolutely shattered – even though I wasn’t actually running the workshop – I think it’s the strain of responsibility!

And yesterday was a full day – it was the launch of the North West poets anthology ‘Sculpted’ which I read for.  I have two poems in it and we were asked to pick a poem from the anthology to read – so I read lovely David Tait’s poem as he will definitely not get along to a North West Poets launch, being in China and all.  It was a great event and a nice chance to meet in person some poets I’ve only ever met in Facebook world.

And then Anthony Christie and I sped back to Barrow – well after we’d had a cup of tea at Wilf’s and lovely hubby had made us dinner – quiche, jacket potatoes and salad with icecream and fruit for pudding and then we hot footed it back out to Rampside for Poem and A Pint with Hannah Lowe – who was in fine form and read two new fantastic, fantastic poems.  Well she read more than two fantastic poems – but it was great to hear the new ones which I really liked.

This week I went down to Grasmere again for their poetry series – this time Clare Shaw and Jacob Sam La Rose – which might have well have been renamed as a masterclass in how to perform – both different, but utterly compelling in their commitment to performance and connecting with an audience.  It helps that their poetry is very good too.

I’m too tired to write any more!  I am being very wimpy I know, but my whole body is aching, and my feet are killing me – I still have this plantar fasciitis which is set off by standing around which is what I’ve been doing today so I’m going to finish here, rather abruptly and leave you with a wonderfully optimistic poem – this is my last poem gathered from the readers I met at the Troubadour a couple of weeks ago.

Today’s Sunday Poem is by Claire Dyer, a lovely lady I met on a writing course at Ty Newydd a few years ago.  Claire is having a really exciting year – she has just had her first poetry collection published with Two Rivers Press, which is called Eleven Rooms.  You can get a copy direct from her publisher at and you can find out some more information about Claire from

But she also has a novel coming out which is pretty exciting too –

I really enjoyed Claire’s poetry collection – there is wonderful stuff in there – although I don’t think the poem I’ve chosen is necessarily indicative of the rest of Claire’s poems in its themes – as in – there are not lots of poems about dragons!  It stood out as really different to the rest of the collection.

When I read the title – I must admit I did think – how is she going to pull this off – but then by the time I got to the second stanza and the line that begins ‘Footsteps in heartbeats’ that was me, won over completely.  I also love the last couple of lines: ‘the heft/of their hearts beating huge in the dark of their chests’.  I like how it is so fantastical – but it escapes being whimsical because of the crafting of the lines – all that inner rhyme going on is lovely –

Something about this poem affected me – but I can’t quite put my finger on why.  Anyway – here we are –

Flying With Dragons – Claire Dyer

Last night in my dream there were dragons.
A zinc sun smote the wild grasses,
the air was purple, filled with pollen and dust
and, at the end of land above a shifting
sea that breathed spume, breathed blue,
I heard them come.

Footsteps like heartbeats, they ran in formation behind me –
a squadron of heat, flame, and bright burning eyes.

They lifted, a skein, were green and steel,
each wing-beat was language, myth,
pause and repeat.  I clamoured to catch one,
feel his neck-flex, ride him out hard
to the thin curve of the earth.  But they flew fast,
flew high, left me empty of sky,

left me nothing but red and the heft
of their hearts beating huge in the dark of their chests.

2 comments on “Sunday Poem – Claire Dyer

  1. Fantastic poem, thank you for sharing. It reminds me of Ursula Le Guin, one of my favourite authors to write about dragons (and one of my favourite authors full stop.)

  2. Thanks yet again for a great poem to kick the week off with. Errm. Kick off the the week with. Of the week’s start to be the kick… Bugger it. Great poem for a Sunday night. As ever. And great to be reminded of just how great teaching is when it’s great and there aren’t enough hours in the day.Stay forever young and busy!!!

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