New Year

I wanted to write one of those ‘best bits of the year’ posts for 2013 but it’s all a mad blur, so as random factors pop into my brain I shall blog about them, randomly…

In the meantime my son has gone back to school today, after telling me last night on the way home from Beavers that he hates school and wants “to stay at home, watch TV and play swordfighting all day”. After various complaints this morning ranging from having to get up to why did I polish his shoes he went off quite happily.

So now I have to get back to doing what I do…what do I do…oh yes, writing and teaching…no longer studying…looking for gainful employment… gizzajob!

I am about to begin two new creative writing projects which will keep me busy for most of this year- more about them once they’re underway…

I am also now in a position to read the stacks of books that have been growing steadily whilst I have been at university. My aim is to read one a week if possible. Let’s call it a resolution. I am slowly working my way through the pile of books my lovely friend and bibliophile Annie lent me (2 years ago-sorry Annie! It has been a joy to read purely for pleasure and not have to deconstruct and analyse everything, although this is a hard habit to break once you’ve been doing it for a while.

Calm Down Dear: March Tomorrow #Oct20

How you feeling out there?

despairing over food prices, petrol prices,

cost of fuel, academy schools,

GCSE regrades, benefit cuts, ATOS cruelty,

disabled suicides, kids stealing food,

no breakfast clubs at school, no ESA,

university fees sky high,

workfare as P**ndland profits rise,

pensions fall

bed and breakfasts fill to the brim with families

living in grim thin-walled rooms?

How you feeling, out there?

Patrician classes making money

off the backs of the poor plebs

who wanna pay big bucks for

tax evading taste deficient coffee

while the media omit to feature our burgeoning

Vergin’on the ridiculous

private healthcare

Workless, Feckless, Badgered?

Calm Down Dear.

MARCH TOMORROW

I am marching tomorrow because it is still one thing I can do to protest the cynical, cruel and calculating cuts being perpetrated by this coalition government. I find myself in the unforeseen position of not believing a  Labour government to be the answer, which is scary, as I have been a lifelong supporter until recently. The future is precarious for many of us at the moment for all kinds of reasons. For those of us who are homeless, unemployed, sick, disabled or who are single parents it is acutely worrying.

FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THEM. THEY ARE BEING ERODED.

PitStop

This week I handed in the final assignment for this year whilst battling a stomach bug, a household scratching with nits and organising J*b*l** outfits for school parades. What a relief – apart from the nailbiting until I get the marks back. By then I will be focusing on the 15000 word dissertation and 3000 word methodological essay I will be writing over this Summer.

I’m exhausted as usual and could do with some time out where I can go somewhere very quiet and sleep and not do much for a day or two but I doubt that will happen. I am very blessed to be able to do what I am doing and to be doing it next year, although I am anxious about whether I can fit it all in. I have been studying full time for four years now and it’s been a life-changing and fantastic (for the most part) experience.

Juggling everything with my son is a constant challenge, and now more than ever since he started school. Logically it should be easier, dropping him off at 8.45am  five days a week and collecting him at 3.15 should give me more time. But it hasn’t worked like that. When he was at pre-school 3 days a week he was there from 9 til 5 and I’ve come to realise how precious those two extra hours are when you are trying to write. Quite often I will just be getting into my stride when I have to stop everything. Then there is the endless paperwork, letters, collections, homework, costume making, parents’ evenings, meetings, events etc.

Actually his school is fairly light on all that stuff, it’s a small school with a not-terribly-active PSA, so it could be more extensive than it is. I wish there was more going on for him there. It’s a nice little school and he is doing well. He’s made some great friends, as have I. I have wrestled with the idea of getting more involved in helping out at the school. I go and read once a week which I adore but I wish I could do more. And I might… I keep holding back because of the university workload.

I’ve also been tutoring my son’s friend’s teenage sister, who needs some extra support with her English GCSE. This has also been a fruitful experience – I’ve enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. It has been an education in how kids are taught now…and how to teach.

Probably the best thing about uni this year is that I’ve met some lovely, talented people on my course, writers who are as serious about this madness as I am. I am now in the fortunate position of having a writing support group of amazing poets and prose writers! Hip Hip Hooray for that!

Once again everything has been thrown in the air and I have been running about with my head up looking to see where it all lands again, without bashing into too many trees or lamposts or people in the meantime…

The Case For Children’s Poetry


I was lucky enough to see the legendary Michael Rosen perform at the South Bank on National Poetry Day, to the squeals and shouts of delight of the children sat on the floor at the very front of the stage in the Royal Festival Hall.

He was followed by the rainbow-drop-multi-sensory-poetry-experience that is Laura Dockrill, who had them shouting “Pain Au Chocolat”, with exaggerated and exuberant enunciation. Her cheery persona, spot on vernacular, combined with bewitching poems  – the one about a boy going to live with his Nan was so evocative you could smell it- is perfect for engaging kids in the possibilities of poetry.

I may be doing a poetry workshop with my son’s class and this gave me plenty to think about. I will have to do some serious work on how to perform to and pitch poetry at a group of four and five year olds, and how best to facilitate some fun with words. I hope it goes ahead- it will be a great opportunity.

Although I haven’t written poetry for children (yet), Sam and I enjoy playing with language and making up rhymes and poems, songs, and silly phrases which make us laugh on a daily basis. His Granddad recently taught him all about limericks and they spent an afternoon constructing a great one between them.

So I was really pleased to see this article pop up as a link on someone’s Twitterfeed (apologies, I can’t remember whose) which is  a piece written by Morag Styles, who may be the only Professor of Children’s Poetry around. I have borrowed the title for this post, I hope she doesn’t mind… The Case For Children’s Poetry can be read here.

The Five Year Plan….nearly Four Years in.

My son ran into school this morning without a goodbye or a look behind him, despite complaints when he woke up that he didn’t want to go, and he would rather be at preschool. I think he’s settling in…

I, on the other hand, have been trying to work out how I am going to fit the huge workload that comes with the MA I have just begun into my day. How best to discipline myself so I can get my reading/writing done? How to fit this around school pick ups and housework? I’m still not sure yet…

I have lots of ideas for writing, all of which are, of course, completely over-ambitious, challenging and will take huge amounts of research. I’m a glutton for punishment, a lucky glutton.

At the beginning of 2008 I started a Five Year Plan.  At the time I was wondering how I was going to cope as a single parent, and how I would ever be able to afford somewhere of our own to live, instead of relying on the generosity of my Dad. I think it helped me to feel like I was taking control of what, at the time, felt like a desperate situation.

I am now nearly finishing Year Four, and have ticked off ‘passing my driving test’ and ‘gaining a degree’ as well as smaller but just as important targets.

Next year, with luck, I will have completed my MA and the landscape will be diferent again. I will be starting a new Five Year Plan and I have been thinking about what might be on it.

I am thinking BIG (just don’t call me Stalin)