Sunday 19 May 2024

Nature and health-care

Polly Atkin, in 'Some of Us Just Fall - On Nature and Not Getting Better', says:

'Wordsworth wrote 'let nature be your teacher', not let nature be your only recognised health-care system.'

Her book tells of chronic illness, disability, lack of good care, understanding, diagnosis and treatment in the health-care system. She finds solace and self-care in nature, but, as the quote above suggests, she wanted, but didn't get (or at least not for a very long time), the support she needed in the place it should have been.

Nature can also only provide some comfort when it is accessible and unspoiled. Swimming in fresh or sea water can only be beneficial if the water isn't contaminated with sewage. Wandering through woods or fields can only be beneficial if you are mobile, and if you can get to, and into. the woods or fields. And if they're not ruined by fly-tipping, littering or building works, etc. And so it goes on...

But even if you can access unspoiled nature - and you can hear and see the birds, the flowers, the trees, the water... this can bring some respite, moments of joy and you can be uplifted or calmed for that period of time, but it isn't a cure - physical or mental. It won't fix what's wrong with you. It may not be possible to fix it. But if you can get the health care you need - sooner rather than much, much, later, then you may be able to live a life with less pain or less fear, with more mobility, more peace and joy. 

This book was gifted to me by someone who understands my health problems - physical and mental, the joy that nature has brought me and my frustration with current health-care and the destruction/inaccessibility of nature. I pray for a time when nature and health-care can both provide the support we all need.

Friday 10 May 2024

You can see it from here

I've talked before about my 'best-selling', self-published, genre-defying book, 'You can see it from here', and you may have seen photos/words from it here or on Twitter/X. It is very much inspired by the Isle of Sheppey, where I live, but it is about more than that one place, or the feelings that this island evokes in me. It is a mix of photos, poems and words - something for everyone? 

It is no longer available in print, but if you would like to see it, I can send you a FREE pdf version. Just DM me on Twitter/X with your email.

Friday 3 May 2024

Elvis and me

I really only remember Elvis from his later years and the reaction to his death. I was too young before that. But I saw his performances on television and loved them. I saw the outpouring of emotion when he died and I could see that he was not thought of as just another singer, not just another man. He was 'The King'. He was a legend. He was Elvis. I've been watching clips online of him performing as part of my trawl through my musical memories and the feelings they evoke in me, and this, weirdly, is what came into my head. 

He might have died on the toilet, but he was still Elvis

Me, I could die

between rose silk sheets

on a four poster bed

with ruby satin drapes

in a plum velvet room

in a golden palace,

but I'd still be

just the odd woman

who sneaked away 

from the tour group

and hid there

until it was all over.

Saturday 20 April 2024


Our camellia started to bloom in February this year, earlier than normal, fooled by the unseasonably mild weather at the time, probably. The ferociously cold winds and rain that followed killed every bloom. And the leaves. There was nothing we could do. It now looks like an antler stand - the decorative type they make to hang jewellery on.

It is still beautiful in its own, sculptural way, but as it was by far the biggest plant we had, and now lacking its own natural jewellery, our tiny garden looks strangely empty, exposed. There's a poem in there, possibly, I thought. And then, out of the blue, it made me think : 'too many times I've seen the rose die on the vine...' (from the song: 'I'd rather leave while I'm in love')

Maybe it's because I've been listening to, and writing new poems about songs and the memories and feelings they evoke in me. This particular song I found slightly odd at the time - I was young and believed in everlasting love, possibly - but it's always fascinating to hear and think about songs from that time now that I'm much older and... whatever I am now. 

I've also gone back to my vast archive of photos for inspiration (even before I found the ekphrastic poetry challenges on Twitter). I post a photo most days - mainly just with a few words that come to mind, but I have a number of old photo-inspired short poems/haiku, which I might post more of online (I've tried a couple). As well as responding to the challenges. But in writing/responding now, I'm finding that my poems are taking a new turn - less direct, more tangential.

So many different forms of inspiration. So many ways to interpret an image.

I'm also still thinking of more ways to make all my poems - old and new - available free, and not just online - more on this to come. Feeling positive. And some days strong. I'm still working on that.

Saturday 13 April 2024

The old poems

While I spend some time thinking about the new poems I'm writing and want to write, I thought I'd share some of the old ones that didn't make it into print - though some got shortlisted. This week, one I wrote about my mother, who was a primary school teacher for a short period of her life, before serious ill health stopped her working.


Look at their little faces

as they sit there waiting

for me to tell a story.

There was some chatter

but I silenced it

and now they all look to me.

I shall tell them

of a princess

locked in a tower.

I shall tell them

of the life

she dreamed she'd have.

I shall watch

their little faces waiting

for the rescue, the escape.

I'll let them wait

and then I'll say

The End.

Sunday 7 April 2024

The road to happiness

On X/Twitter this week, lots of people have been reporting the number of rejections they've received for submissions to poetry magazines.

I am pleased to report that I have had 0 rejections this week. That is because I do not currently have any submissions in.

And it would appear that even if you get a poetry collection published, the chances are you won't sell many copies (30-60, but definitely under 100).

I am therefore also feeling pretty pleased because my self-published genre-defying poetry/words/photograph book sold 87 copies, back in 2019/20. (I gave away the rest of the 100 print run to friends and family.)

So, while not submitting or getting published, I have, as I said I would, spent my time recently exploring the many online poetry resources. There are so many, I could spend my entire life doing just that, if inconvenient chores like shopping, cooking, cleaning, repairing my collapsing home, etc didn't get in the way.

This exploration has left me both inspired and overwhelmed. My mind keeps darting off in different directions and won't settle on any one. I have, however, drafted quite a few new poems, and even tweeted one or two. They have received a positive response. And I'm pretty chuffed about that too. 

The road to happiness is clear.

Saturday 30 March 2024

Writing and connecting

There is a whole world of writing out there. If you write alone, for yourself, then maybe you can stay outside it. But even then, you read, and what you read will affect you, consciously or unconsciously. 

And if you want your writing to be out in the world, then you can't ignore that world, and that world seems to have 'rules' and 'shoulds' about how to write and what. You may react to it in different ways at different times - accept it/reject it, but you can't escape the fact it exists.

But there's still the 'you' that is 'you' alone and the 'you' that has to find your way in that world, and that can mean judging yourself and what you write from that point of view, even when you don't want to. And finding yourself judged by it. Or even excluded by it. Just like life generally, I guess.

And what you write may not be read by others in the way you intended, or may not 'fit'.

Fundamentally, for me, writing is about storytelling. It's about expressing myself and wanting to communicate, connect. Writing has helped me see things differently, to see connections...

This week there has been a lot of new sharing and connecting on Twitter/X, much of which has been inspired by Matthew M C Smith and TopTweetTuesday and I've been really happy to be included and to share.

It's easy to feel that you're not part of the wider world - of writing - or in general. And to cut yourself off, or feel cut off. Some of the things that were shared this week were blogs and websites - and these are ways I can connect - and through Twitter/X.

I've talked about ways forward for me before, but I think now that these points of free access are the way for me. I, like many people, don't have the money to buy all the books and magazines available - much as I would love to, and I'm lucky that I have many in my home that I've acquired in the past, including from friends, and they are still wonderful to go back to.

But, for the future, I can connect via the huge variety of online resources, and likewise contribute and express myself in the same way.