Now that sufficient time has passed to get over the fact that the world did not cave in (you just can’t trust a Mayan can you?), it seems an apt moment on the eve of the New Year to reflect on those things that actually did come to pass.
2011 had closed on a high after heading immediately from a gig to an airport to flee to the gorgeous land of Istanbul to present an academic paper with my sister in theoretical ramblings Amy Christmas (now Audebert).
The remedy for the inevitable Istanblues in the New Year arrived in the form of the, frankly gorgeous, Grist Anthology of the Best Poetry 2012 which included my wee piece ‘Perhaps Praying’, with the added bonus of allowing me to share a webpage with the likes of Simon Armitage, Alexei Sayle, Melvin Burgess, Joanne Harris, Ian McMillan, Lemn Sissay and some obscenely gifted writers. Here’s a link to the appropriate post:
Speaking of fellow ‘Grist’ alumni Simon Armitage, the year also saw the culmination of work on the Yorkshire Cultural Olympiad Project: Stanza Stones. This was a project I’d been (to put it poetically) totes chuffed to be a part of and Simon’s poems look wonderful in their rightful places as part of the landscape, and the anthology is a beautiful object which includes my tribute to the ‘King’ and the landscape itself – ‘The King of Nab Hill’. Again here is the link to said post if it should tickle your fancy buttons:
It has also been a year filled with some great spoken word events which I have done my damnedest to ruin with my attempts at music, in addition to my poetry of course. Some of the highlights here included the Festival of Rivers, led by the inimitable Miles Cain, another guest slot at Harrogate’s Poems Prose and Pints with the Indigo Rising UK team (more on that motley bunch later), the Ted Hughes Festival in Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge (culminating with a very drunken slam in Ted’s old house), and many more my frazzled brain will remember the moment this post is published. But the highlight for me personally (being as entirely self-obsessed as I must be) was the Takeover Festival event at York’s glorious Theatre Royal. With a pair of lovely ladies running the show, I was given the nod to invite my favourite writers and gather together an epic show which lasted more hours than originally planned. Rather than waffle on about the details here amidst so very much other waffle, I shall just say once again here’s a link – this time to a review of the show itself:
Back to that motley bunch at Indigo Rising UK – we continued to press on with our fledgling publication and it is looking lovely, thanks in no small part to our wonderful managing Ed – Jem Henderson, the short story Zen monk we know as Steve Toase, the previously noted long-suffering soul sister of mine Amy Audebert, and my fellow poetry editor Dani Cross who moved on to grander business, and in her place one of the most talented young writers currently gracing the eye (and ear) balls of the local writing scene Vicky Bartram. We’d love to see your work by the way so click the link below and fling us your scribbles:
Having been studying (and now lecturing) in York for quite some time I also found myself being invited to be part of the York 800 celebrations. This included interviews, a busking marathon, and an anthology and accompanying cd published by Stairwell Books. This one of several anthologies I’ve been fortunate enough to find my work weaselling its sneaky way into and the link to the Stairwell Books site – a veritable cornucopia of brain-wrinkling writing – is here:
I am genuinely humbled by the warmth with which my writing has been received and this year has continued to humble me into a dribbly puddle of coyness. So I thank all the magazines, journals, websites, and publishers who’ve deemed me worthy of inclusion. With so many talented writers putting their work forward I always feel I should be sweating like a marine in a maths test, but once again I’m indebted to the generosity of some top notch editors.
Speaking of top-notch editors, Dom Smith the fearless leader of the salty ship Soundsphere has continually brightened my year by flinging albums my way for review and also trusting me with two accredited tickets to the Download Festival. It was a weekend of miserable weather, mud, and music and it was marvellous. For more of the thoughts my fable of the weekend can be found over here:
And finally, the year was darkened by the tragic loss of friend and editor of Open Wide Magazine, James D. Quinton who took his own life on the 6th of September. He will be greatly missed and he owns the dubious distinction of being a huge supporter of my work since our paths first cross some years ago. Canon Taff were kind enough to publish a tribute and epigraph I penned for James. They could never do such a wild mind, talent, and character justice but they are available here:
A wise lady once said to me that if, at the end of the year, you look back and realise that you have not shed tears of both joy and sadness, only then should you consider it a year wasted. So, I guess we didn’t do too badly : ).
So what should 2013 have in store? Well, hopefully the completion of my PhD studies, more lecturing, more performances, more music, and my first collection ‘Taking the Long Way Home’ due out from Stairwell Books early in the year.
Happy New Year and happy scribbling all. Thanks for reading – always.