Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Where have I been?

Begin by breaking a rule: that could be an opening gambit for a creative writing exercise. I'm beginning this post by breaking a rule - one of those rules about blogging suggested by the excellent William Gallagher at the recent Writers' Toolkit in Birmingham. I'm going to apologise for my recent absence from my own blog. William, quite properly, advised against that - and of course he's right. It looks a little bit like saying the dog's eaten your homework. 

But, suitably chastened, I'm going to turn this sorry state of affairs into an excuse to highlight the fact that - quite apart from my job at the university, voluntary work and other things - I haven't been entirely idle. Not entirely. Though idling - of the best musing kind, you understand - is a well-established (if constantly endangered) part of my life.

In September I had the wonderful news that my debut full-length poetry collection, The Fetch, will be published by Nine Arches Press in October 2016. It's no exaggeration to say that that made my year - and will make next year for me, too.

I've also (sort of) been on research leave, during which I've been working on various projects in literary criticism - including essays on Ted Hughes, plans for my next book of criticism, and the first ever close reading of a fascinating but largely unknown poem by Coleridge, called 'Orpheus'.

This one is still somewhat under wraps - but I have also been busy composing new poems (mostly for a project unconnected with The Fetch): writing in response to photographs taken in 1968 by my colleague at Birmingham City University, Phil Thomson. More on that in due course...

I've written reviews for The Poetry Review (for which I write regularly these days) and Notes and Queries.

And I'm fairly constantly scribbling/typing away in my notebooks.

I do update the 'News and Diary' part of this website, but I have a sneaking suspicion that no one looks at that. So here's a round-up of some of the other things I've been up to, since the summer, starting with the most recent:

18.11.15 - Guest poet at The Poetry School, in Kathryn Maris's Advanced Poetry class

31.10.15 - Hosting (and organising) 'Coleridge and Lamb in London: A Symposium', Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution, London. Over sixty delegates enjoyed hearing from Dr Peter Newbon, Dr Heather Stone, Graham Davidson, and our keynote speaker: the inimitable Richard Holmes - pictured below with me and my co-organiser, Dr Felicity James

29.10.15 - Reading at The Poetry Review Autumn 2015 launch, together with Helen Mort, Billy Ramsell and Julian Stannard (Birmingham City University, Curzon Builing C501) (as if to prove it, I've used one of Mike Sims's photos from the event at the top of this post. I tend to have that quizzical expression on my face quite a lot, it seems...)

14.10.15 - Speaking on 'Coleridge and the Mystery of "Orpheus"', at St. Andrews University (The Lawson Room)

08.10.15 - Chairing the Man Booker Prize Shortlist Event, Birmingham Literature Festival, Studio Theatre, Library of Birmingham, where I interviewed Tom McCarthy and Sunjeev Sahota

09.09.15 - Speaking on '"The Knight": Two Laws of Ted Hughes's Poetics' at the Ted Hughes Conference, University of Sheffield (Halifax Hall)

17.07.15 - Performing at Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival (The Shakespeare Centre)

04.07.15 - Performing at Ledbury Poetry Festival (The Panelled Room)

So that's where I've been.

P.S. I realise that have also broken another of William's rules here, by going on about myself. But it had to be said - possibly - and now 'tis done...