Coming into Community: She Howls Open Mic

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of being an audience member for the second She Howls online open mic night for female authors.

Even if only as an audience member, being part of groups such as these is an integral part of me returning to my craft.

Bearing witness to the strength and power in these women’s words underlined the importance of being able to speak things into submission. Guest poet Jhilmil Breckenridge said it best when she asserted ‘Writing can set you free.’

I’ve seen it in my practice, and more recently railed against it – as beautiful as the process can be, there is no denying the ache that comes with it.

To be fully human is to be vulnerable…and to use vulnerability well is a gift, which every one of those who read on Thursday night had in spades.

I am already eagerly anticipating the next event in September, within which I hope to be able to share in the magic of others’ words, and perhaps add some of my own.

For further information, please visit Dal Kular’s website.


Longing and Belonging workshop with Penny Shutt

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop facilitated by Dr. Penny Shutt at Pinetum Gardens, Cornwall.

In May, I became a member of Lapidus International, an organisation for people with an interest in writing for wellbeing. This was the first of their events that I was able to attend..and what a wonderful way to begin. Continue reading

New article: ‘The Lost Art of Listening’ [Verbal Remedy]

It has been too long since I last wrote here, but I am delighted to announce the publication of my latest article, ‘The Lost Art of Listening’ by Verbal Remedy.


We find ourselves now in a world whose citizens have forgotten how to listen. Minutes, hours and days slip by as we convince ourselves that we’re taking it all on board. It’s easier than ever to glaze over, in a world where smart phones and other technologies offer the possibility of escape from the vital experience of connecting with one another.

You can read the whole piece, and share your thoughts on the Verbal Remedy article itself.

An anniversary, and new work…

Three years ago today, I celebrated the launch of Stones in the Road: Poems of Grief and Growth with family and friends at The Melting Pot Café, Redruth. Since then, events transpired which left me at a loss for words. From within that storm, I found these. I’m still finding my way out, but I will be back.  My thanks to Jon Duncan for his encouragement, and eagerness to help me share this piece with the wider world.

Swimming in Circles

In the midst of a challenging few months, I haven’t exactly known what to write here. So, I haven’t written, except for myself. Pieces that may see the light of day at some point, or pieces that may not. I’m trying hard to be OK with that.

In my spare time, I have returned to Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive once again. When my brain won’t just ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’, I find audio-books very useful indeed. I’m not exactly sure why I’m writing here today, beyond wanting to convey that I haven’t quite fallen off the face of the earth.

The title of this post arises from my short-lived stint of swimming lessons. I can swim, but I’m not the strongest of swimmers. As you might imagine, swimming in circles is the result of one leg putting in substantially more effort than the other.

I have another piece in the pipeline for PETRIe, and a piece under consideration by Parabola magazine. Things are happening, but not necessarily at the pace which I would like them to. In the meantime, I’d ask you to be patient with me, whilst I work out how to move forward over the next few weeks and months. Thank you for reading this far.

Tending The SPARK: A Postscript

Last week wasn’t as productive as I would have liked it to be. There were other things that needed my attention, but I still managed to complete my response to my SPARK partner’s prompt. That said, I’m not writing much at the moment. It’s difficult to know what to write when so many words are forthcoming, but only scratch the surface of what I want to express.

I signed up for SPARK as a way of getting out of my own way, and forcing myself to produce something in the midst of this fallowness. Whilst I wouldn’t say I produced something brilliant, at least I produced something.

You can see the result here.

On Being Ready to Receive

Everywhere we look, the consensus seems to be that good things are coming. Being open to them is key, so we set up camp open-handed and open-hearted.

Eventually, we get tired of waiting, and begin to wonder where the heck these ‘good things’ are. Even when we’re working towards them with everything we can possibly muster.

I posted about SPARK last week, the project curated by Amy Souza. I ought to have worked on my response yesterday, but the muse had other ideas. The piece that spilled forth within the next 30 minutes might well be one of the best poems I have ever written.

I have spent more time writing lately, although little of what I have written is apparently fit for public consumption. I look forward to being able to produce something that I can share.

I think this recent writing puts me in a really vulnerable position. I am facing up to things that I have never explored before…or perhaps never needed to explore. I trust that something good will come of this, as long as I am ultimately ready to receive.

What do you do to get yourself into a writing frame of mind? Do you believe in being ready to receive?

Tending The SPARK – New Music and Collaborative Creativity

I seem to be on a weekly blogging streak, more by accident than design. I’m going to try and keep it that way. This morning, I received my prompt for the 29th iteration of the SPARK collaborative creativity challenge, brainchild of Amy Souza.

Until very recently, I have been submerged in a kind of creative quicksand. Pieces were emerging, but nothing that I wanted to share with the world. I’m hopeful that with the impetus of SPARK, I will be able to use the inspiration to produce something I can then share here.

I’m discovering new music, too. Granted, per usual, I’m late to the party. Really getting into Wilco, and enjoying a break from country heartbreak for a while!

I’m finding it difficult to traverse the line between writing for myself, and writing for an audience. If you write, how do you overcome that? Does it become clearer after a while, what’s for you, and what’s for them?


Guy Clark: A Player’s Perspective

Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark passed away today (17th May, 2016) Here I offer a few words in tribute to one of my greatest influences as a songwriter.

Many column inches will be filled in the wake of the death of Texan songwriting icon Guy Clark. Countless journalists will pay homage to a hero of country music, cherry picking the most salient lines from decades of material.

Guy Clark, though, is irreducible to a few sage lines, or basic chords, or anything much. The Texas music scene itself is a three-legged bar stool – Guy, Townes Van Zandt, and Nanci Griffith – which will never sit straight again.

I came to Guy backwards, falling in from a deeply held affection for the late, great Townes Van Zandt. I learned everything I know about writing a good story song from those guys, and Kris Kristofferson.

I called this piece ‘A Player’s Perspective’, because although Guy’s prowess wasn’t necessarily in his playing, his music demonstrated simplicity. You can use five or six chords to add texture, but why bother when three will do?

People might walk away humming the tunes, but Guy demonstrated that it’s the stories they take to heart. From ‘Desperadoes Waiting For a Train’, to ‘The Cape’ and more, Clark crafted his songs in a way that left you in no doubt who you were listening to.

Guy passed the mantle, of course, to people like Rodney Crowell, and Jason Isbell. Though Guy’s stories may be ended, his songs will be sung down the generations, and leave footprints for the next outlaw songwriters to follow.

Rest easy, Guy. Your songs will echo down the ages.