This week I’ve been living on my own as the husband has gone on a hiking holiday – he is walking through Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and last night he texted from Kosovo. The novelty of being able to spread my stuff all over the house without being moaned at to pick it up, is starting to wear off now and I’m actually missing him a little bit!
Last week was my first week back at work after half term. It is always a difficult week, because there are lots of instruments to sort out that have been left to rust over half term. This has to be done whilst directing a class of thirty children to play Mary had a Little Lamb or whatever it is we’re playing, so by the end of my teaching day on Wednesday I was counting my blessings that the brass teaching week was over.
On Thursday I drove to Bridlington. It took about four and a half hours. I had time for a quick change at my B and B and then I went straight down to the library to do a reading – this was another Read Regional gig. The audience were very nice, a mixture of keen poets and people who’d never been to a reading before, so I hope I didn’t put the latter off poetry altogether! That would be terrible.
I was finished by 4.30 so I went home, got my running gear on and headed down to the prom. I did about 7 miles and it was the best run I’ve done in ages. I felt really good – the scenery was beautiful – it was sunny but with a cold breeze and I didn’t get lost. That is the furthest I’ve ran on my own so I was quite proud of myself. I then went for a Thai round the corner in Bridlington and then went to bed quite early.
On Friday I had my young writers workshop in Kendal. We did one writing exercise and then they read the sets that they are going to perform at the festival. They really are good – I know I’m bias, but I’m so proud of them. I think they are going to surprise and delight people at the festival.
After the Young Writers group, I went to Brewery Poets and took a poem to be critiqued, and then finally, finally drove back to Barrow and collapsed into bed. On Saturday I ran my Barrow Poetry Workshop – 12 writers turned up this week coming from Shap, Kendal, Ulverston, Dalton and Barrow. The quality of the work produced was excellent – I took poems by Tim Liardet, Jack Gilbert and Lisa Brockwell to the workshop to use as inspiration, or to discuss before writing.
On Saturday evening we had a Poem and a Pint event at Greenodd Village Hall with J O Morgan. He read from his new book ‘Interference Pattern’ which is just amazing. It is a series of poems in the voice of different characters, and when he reads from the book, he changes his voice and his accent as he goes from character to character. It is extraordinary and mesmerising to watch and listen to.
This morning I’ve been for a 6 mile run and eaten a scone with jam and cream and that is the sum of my achievements.
Tonight I’ve got a rehearsal for ‘Annie’ and then next week is a busy one. I’ve got meetings about Kendal Poetry Festival, rehearsals, a Read Regional reading in Stockport on Thursday afternoon, and my face-to-face course that I’m running in Manchester on Thursday night, school concerts, musical performances, and somewhere in next week I have to fit in reading and judging 500 school poetry competition entries. It does sound a bit manic when I write it out like that!
Today’s Sunday Poem is by Tsead Bruinja who is one of the tutors on the Poetry Carousel. Tsead sent me the manuscript of a collection that has been translated into English – this poem has been translated by David Colmer. The manuscript is called ‘Tongue’ and it is really good – I’ve not read anything quite like it before – it is lyrical, yet fragmented, using leaps and associations to communicate.
I first met Tsead at a festival in Ireland where we read together, but last year I went over to Holland to read at the ‘Read The World’ festival. Rather than a normal reading, where I read my poems to the audience, I worked for a day with other poets and musicians to put together a performance where we read our own poems and each other’s poems, where the musicians played songs in between or behind while we were reading, to create a larger performance. Tsead directed the whole thing and he was wonderful to work with. I knew I liked the poems I’d read in translation of his, but working with him at the festival, and hearing him talk about the teaching that he does in Amsterdam, convinced me he would be a great tutor to invite to be part of the next Poetry Carousel.
There are still places left on the Carousel, which is running from August 16th-19th at Abbot Hall Hotel, Grange Over Sands, so do please get in touch if you would like to any questions. If you’d like to book a place, it’s probably best to ring the hotel directly by ringing 015395 32896
Other tutors on the course include the wonderful Clare Shaw, Billy Letford (who will have copies of his new collection Dirt available) and myself.
Tsead Bruinja lives in Amsterdam. He made his debut in 2000 with the Frisian language collection called De wizers yn it read (The meters in the red). Bruinja’s debut in the Dutch language, Dat het zo hoorde (The way it should sound), was published in 2003, and was nominated for the Jo Peters Poetry Prize the following year. Bruinja compiles anthologies, writes critical reviews, hosts literary events and performs in the Netherlands and abroad, often with musician Jaap van Keulen and occasionally with the flamenco dancer Tanja van Susteren. At the end of 2008 Bruinja was the runner up after being nominated for the position of Poet Laureate for the Netherlands for the period of 2009-2013.
You can read more about Tsead over at his profile on the Poetry International website. If you haven’t come across this website before, it’s a great resource- it includes articles about the poets featured, and has a selection of poems as well.
SHOW-OFF by Tsead Bruinja
not the horse that batters its hooves on the partition
or the horse that bolts across the green world
jolting its cart to pieces
nothing about wearing a body out and delivering it
to a metaphysical door
but the simple body of this woman
the clear head of this woman
a sea that speaks
and you as the doubting sky above
your legs work
my legs work
leave the thinking to hands
smiling she moves her fist to my nose
which disappears between fingers
the fist pulls back to a grey horizon
and there where she squeezed my nose
a little mouse is staring out
and not once in this whole poem
did she move her lips
I think this poem is very typical of a lot of Tsead’s work, which is playful, lyrical and manages to find an off-kilter way of looking at the world. The style of using little or no punctuation also runs throughout the book, but the way he uses line breaks mean that the poems are very clear- it makes me realise how little punctuation is needed. The lovely surprise at the end of the grey mouse appearing, the colloquial ‘gotcha’, the beginning of the poem which starts right away with the image of a horse which ‘batters its hooves on the partition’ – these are some of the reasons why I chose this poem.
It isn’t clear who is the show off in the poem – is it the horses, showing off just by being horses? Is it the woman with her ‘clear head’. Incidentally, isn’t that a lovely thing to express admiration for in a poem? I also love the idea of the sky being a ‘doubting sky’ as well, the sky not knowing who it is, maybe because it changes all the time?
It is a wonderful poem, and I hope you enjoy it – thanks to Tsead for allowing me to publish it here.