In January 2015 I went to speak about my writing, especially the poetry maps, Amniotic City, and the then still-in-development Over the Fields, at Sutton Writers. I met Bernard Jacobs after my talk, a local writer, who was inspired to write poems about Nonsuch Park, near to where he lives in Surrey.
The Park, originally much larger than it is now, was created in 1538 by Henry VIII to celebrate the 30th year of his accession and the birth of his son, the future Edward VI. It came very close to ‘Over the Fields’ territory, and there is a possibility that Henry hunted across the land that I have been exploring in my new map. James I certainly laid claim to some of it during his reign.
It has been great to hear of Bernard’s progress with this project, and now to see it published. This lovely book is the result. It is a mixture of fine poems, each written in a different form, and the historical context of each, providing readers with both a creative and historical narrative about this fascinating place.
I am going to take my copy to Nonsuch Park and read it again in situ.
This Thursday, 18th December, I will be speaking with Dr Alison Baverstock, as part of a Cultural Histories at Kingston University double feature, titled: “That’s not how I remember it.”
Dr Baverstock, associate professor of publishing at Kingston University, will be speaking about her extensive research into self-publishing and in particular the processes of externalising the internal, and how this impacts on both writer and those offering associated publishing services. She has recently written an ebook for The Guardian about how to negotiate highly personal writing projects – and what to do with them once you have finished. Should they be shared or left in a drawer for others to discover in future?
I will be speaking the effect that place has on us; in particular how where you grow up affects you at the time – and impacts on your life in future. I will also talk about the writing of memoirs in relation to place and the memories we hold, and offer a scholarly analysis of how other writers have approached and handled these issues.
I am drafting poems for my MFA dissertation. The general theme is place, as with most of my writing in recent years. This week I have been transported to France, Italy, Germany, Ethiopa and am currently visiting the Cherokee Nation. It’s cheaper (and more fun) than flying. Some of this ‘mental travel’ is to revisit places I have already been to, some of it is vicarious, via maps and online resources…some of it is imaginary/visionary.
I’ve been reading William Blake’s The Mental Traveller this morning, seeing as I am on this strange journey with my poems- although the subject matter would seem to be more mental travail than travel…it is, like all his work, thought-provoking, beautiful, troubling and magickal:
And these are the gems of the human soul: The rubies and pearls of a lovesick eye, The countless gold of an aching heart, The martyr’s groan, and the lover’s sigh.