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Thursday 1st May


Happy May Day!!!

I got a new poetry anthology of socialist poetry in the post called Red Sky at Night, edited byAndy Croft and Adrian Mitchell. I haven’t had time to read it properly yet, but it has a beautiful cover and I like the title too. Poets are doing their best to be useful lately, and I was pleased that the poet laureate has been so vocally opposed to the war. I suppose that in times of crisis people need poets to put things into words and to show how everything matters. The poet David Constantine was talking about this at a recent reading here in the university…how the same things happen to poets as happen to everyone…sad things, moving things, worrying things, but poets are compelled to write about it, and to try and communicate their experiences to others. More and more it seems that poetry is being promoted as first aid. There are poems to keep you sane, poems to help you stay alive, anti war poems, survival poetry. I have certainly used poetry as a way of understanding my own experience of cancer. Actually, it would have been very strange to have not had a creative outlet while I was having all that treatment. Where would all my worries and fears have gone??

I spent yesterday lunchtime having lunch with the panel of the city of culture. We had Newcastle Brown ice cream ! In the end I forgot about trying to enthuse about Newcastle, and I had a very pleasant chat with two of them about novels. We were sitting in a room that overlooked everything…the river, the bridges, Baltic, Gateshead. It must be wierd going around all these cities and having people talking to you about their achievements all the time! Still, although I am very fond of Liverpool, I think Newcastle/Gateshead is READY to expand and stretch its steely wings. It doesn’t feel like a nostalgic city any more. It feels like a bouncy young person with loads of enthusiasm. I was thinking how we have changed so much in the time I have been living here. We know how to be ironic. We can have twenty balls in the air and not drop any of them!

Otherwise I’m busy on the next book. I am going to take my fictional characters to Brazil. So far I have been getting to know them in Newcastle, but we are going to go to Central Brazil and have an adventure. I am working on poems too, and trying to go into the space where poems are made every day. It’s such a relief when one gets there, but very hard to open the door!