REVIEW OF 2021
I have begun and started this post so many times in the last week. Usually I really look forward to writing the end of year blog, to look back at the good things that have happened. But this year it fels really different – every time I look at my 2021 diary at the months that have passed I feel sadness at all the things that didn’t happen, all the people I didn’t see, all the times when my daughter missed out, when I missed out. And I also know that I’m lucky because I am healthy and I’ve been able to do some things. I can’t stop thinking about friends who are still isolating, still unable to leave their houses.
It’s hard to look back on a year that has been threaded through with a low hum of anxiety, but I have had some lovely things happen this year. Probably the most obvious one of those is the publication of my second poetry collection All the Men I Never Married. But perhaps more than any other year, it has felt like a year where I’ve been able to try out different ways of my work reaching a wider audience – so I’m going to list a few of them here, just in case there are other people out there with slightly more time on their hands than usual, in this strange gap between Christmas and New Year.
FILM POEM – A COLLABORATION WITH EM HUMBLE
To celebrate the launch of my second poetry collection, my publisher Seren commissioned the brilliant creative force that is Em Humble to create a film-poem. You can watch and listen to the film by clicking on the link below
COLLABORATION WITH MUSICIAN DAVE BORASTON
My friend Dave and I have been talking for years about collaborating and doing something with music and poetry. Dave is a professional trumpet player and lockdown meant he had a bit more time on his hands – so he wrote, performed and recorded this beautiful accompaniment to one of my poems – All the Men I Never Married No.1.
This recording was featured on the Alternative Stories and Fake Realities Podcast which you can listen to here and also on the Podcast Radio Hour on BBC Sounds, hosted by Laura Grimshaw and Salena Godden.
APPEARANCE ON WOMAN’S HOUR
This was a big one! You can listen to me here – I wasn’t half as nervous as I normally am when I do radio stuff, as it was on Zoom so it just felt pretty standard at the time. I used to plan my peripatetic teaching timetable around being able to listen to Woman’s Hour so this was such an honour to be on there.
FULL-TIME FREELANCE WORK
Somehow I have managed to survive working as a full-time freelance writer during a huge global pandemic and with the usual propensity of many organisations to pay at a glacial pace, whilst managing a toddler who still likes to wake me up throughout the night.
My freelance work as a writer this year has consisted of online readings and a few face to face ones, more commissions than normal, lots of online workshops and a few face to face ones, hourly paid sessional teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University, workshops in schools, running young writers workshops, directing a poetry festival and hosting a reading series and probably some other stuff I’ve forgotten about! And of course every now and then getting paid to write a poem or essay.
2022 is going to bring a big change as I’ve got some exciting job news, which I can’t quite share yet as I’ve not officially signed a contract and I don’t want to jinx it!
JANUARY WRITING HOURS – RESOLUTION/REVOLUTION
There are still some last-minute writers booking a place for the Writing Hours that Clare Shaw and I will be running. There’s still time! We start at 9am on January 1st, and god help us, we keep going for one hour at 9am every day throughout January. This hour is a space for all of us to come together on zoom and write. Clare and I will be providing minimal prompts, reflections, inspiration to get you writing throughout the month. We have plenty of bursary tickets which are free for anyone on a low income, we also have pay-what-you-can tickets as well. You can buy a ticket for the whole month, or just for a week. You can dip in and out as you please.
FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2021
I am finding it hard to narrow this down as there are so many good books that have come out this year! I also know how rubbish it feels to not see yourself on an end of year list so would rather instead direct you to my bookshop.org page which has a record of all the books that I’ve read and enjoyed this year.
Any books that you order through the link below – local bookshops receive 10% of the price, and I also receive 10% commission
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2022
Despite having to avoid the news because it brings on a sense of dread and anxiety, I can’t help but look forward to the new year. I think it’s a mix of naivete and optimism – and social conditioning to think that something must change as the old year gives way to the new.
But I do have a new job starting, and two new prose books which will be published next year, and a beautiful daughter who makes me laugh every day, and a husband who values and supports my writing, and some of the most amazing friends, and when I write this, I think it will be ok.
Here are my new years resolutions!
- Finish my lyric essay book (due out with Seren in October 2022)
- Get back into running three – four times a week (only managing 1-2 times at the moment)
- Make more time for friends – I am notoriously rubbish at keeping in touch with people which I think can sometimes appear thoughtless and as if I don’t care. I do!
- Keep the weekends for my daughter – I have stuck to this rule for most of last year and it has worked really well. It means I’m sometimes working till midnight most nights but I can then switch off for a couple of days.
I hope to see you somewhere in 2022, either virtually or online.