Tag Archives: Ian Parks

Gladstone’s Library

My residency at Gladstone’s Library is fast approaching and I am looking forward to spending time there away from the hustle and bustle of my daily life as a writer. The library is doing marvellous work with these residencies, and I have enjoyed attending events led by Ian Parks and Katrina Naomi since the scheme started.

I have three very different public events during the residency, so there is something for everyone. on 10th October there is a free early evening reading at 5.30 pm wth the option to book dinner at £12. This does need to be booked ahead.

On 12th October, I have planned a rich a varied day long writing workshop 10 am- 4pm. This is focusing in particular on writing poetry for children but we will be writing poems and learning techniques as well. The price of £28 includes drinks and a generous lunch. Pre booking is essential. It is a Saturday so hopefully people will be able to attend.

Lastly on 17th October, I am giving a talk and reading poems from The Lightfoot Letters, and showing slides of Maria Walker’s artwork as well as photographs of the letter writers, who happen to be my father’s family. Until I met Maria Walker, I had no idea these letters existed but they do offer a fascinating insight into 1920s life in a working class family.

In addition to these events, I am looking forward to focusing on writing some new poems and tackling a new critical book I am planning, if I can finish my John Clare book which is almost ready now.

The resources at Gladstone’s are amazing, and the peace and quiet of the surroundings very inspiring. I feel a little like I am going to live in Chrestomanci Castle! The food is absolutely lovely, and my only worries are putting on too much weight and missing my family – but then it’s not too far away so hopefully they will come and visit. I’m also planning to take my watercolours as painting helps me notice things.

Do consider coming to some or all of the public events. The library deserves everyone’s supportImage

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‘The Next Big Thing’ Blog Tour

The Next Big Thing, for those who don’t yet know, is a way to network with fellow writers and to find out a bit more about what they’re working on. The idea is fairly simple. The writer answers a set of questions on his or her blog one week, and then invites five other authors to answer the same questions the following week. They in turn invite five more.

I was invited by Geraldine Green

What is the title of your new book?

Paper Patterns


How did you choose the title?

I spent a long time deliberating this and then went back to my original idea. One of the poems is called Paper Patterns, and it came out of collaborating with a textile artist, Maria Walker. There are a few poems in the book which she has used on in her art work, and one of the sequences was written for a joint exhibition with her, all based on some family letters she had bought in a junk shop before she met me. After collaborating for a few months we met up, when we made the astonishing discovery that these letters she’d found so inspiring had been written by my father’s family. So the title reflects the work I had done with Maria.

The cover art is actually a piece of her work on which she embroidered words from the poem, Paper Patterns. I love that picture and she kindly gave me permission to have it as cover art. (Actually ALL my books have cover art by friends apart from my Salt books and my Rack Press pamphlet, because those publishers have a certain style and took charge of the covers for me.)

Also, the title resonates, because poems themselves are patterns on paper.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

As a poet, I tend to write the poems as I go along, and when I am putting a collection together, I think about which poems I want to include. Because this is a full length collection, it has several different themes and moods. It’s important to cut in some variety in poetry books. Although I know most readers will dip in and out, I have carefully arranged the poems so they speak to each other and take the reader on a journey throughout the book. For instance, the last few poems are about regrets and ageing, whereas near the start there are more light-hearted ones. The book also includes several sequences. One is The Lightfoot Letters which includes the poems written for the exhibition, another is Catching On, which brings together ten poems from the Rack Press pamphlet with 6 poems from my Salt collection I Sing of Bricks, about my friendship with poet Matt Simpson. There is also a new coda to that sequence, which charts the stages in our friendship and also the stages of coming to terms with his death. The third sequence is a small one of miniature poems in which wild plants speak their story.

Some of the poems were written on a course with Penelope Shuttle in France, and one was written after attending an inspirational reading by Pascale Petit. There are also some poems about birds, one of which was in Poetry Review, and several poems about fruit, written at a workshop by Jan Dean. Some were even written at my own workshops, where I tend to write as a way of timing the exercises and seeing whether they are good to work from. It’s not for me to track themes – I will leave that to the critics, who can be very perceptive.

What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry. It’s not highly experimental. I write poems which are accessible but complex in terms of their layers and resonances. I think every poem is an experiment. I tend to write instinctively and then bring my intellect to bear at the redrafting stage, where I am quite a harsh self-critic. I like poems which both stimulate the intellect but ultimately move the reader, so that’s how I aim to write.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

That scenario is very unlikely in the case of a poetry collection. But sometimes poems are performed by actors. So actors I would most like to perform my work: David Tennant, Miriam Margoyles (who already did a splendid job with one of mine), Patrick Stewart, Frances Barber, Colin Firth, Dervla Kirwan, Sarah Lancashire.

Who has published your book?

My publisher is Lapwing, an independent press owned by Dennis Greig, who is based in Northern Ireland. He expressed an interest in my work when we were discussing, over email, a mutual friend, the late James Simmons. Dennis had published a few friends of mine including Janice Fitzpatrick, Ian Parks and Andrew Oldham. I felt that the house style would suit Maria Taylor’s artwork and Dennis and I very much see eye to eye on the current state of the poetry world, so I decided to send him my collection. I hope to do an Irish tour to promote the book, as soon as I have arrange some free time. I am of Irish descent and very proud of it. I’ve started to explore it more in my work.

What other books would you compare ‘The Other Side of the Bridge’ to, within the genre?

I think this one is best picked up by reviewers too. I hope I write in my own way and not leaning on the shoulders of others. My favourite poets include John Clare, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Edward Thomas, Elizabeth Bishop, Matt Simpson, John Agard, Pablo Neruda, Ian Parks, Martin Figura, so it’s possible that their work and mine has some similarity. Helen Ivory is another poet I admire, as is George Szirtes, but I wouldn’t say this particular collection is similar to their poetry.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think this book is a development from my earlier collections, although family and friends are still inspiring poems. Myth and nature are strong themes and everywhere I go I am writing poetry, so this book includes poems set in Egypt, France, different parts of the UK including London and Scotland, Whitby and the North York Moors. I also wanted to bring the sixteen elegies for Matt Simpson, which appeared in two different publications, together so I could finally call the sequence complete. I have touched on some of the elements that went into the book in my previous replies, also.

What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?

I love it when people say to me that my poems have helped them work through difficult or meaningful times, like bereavement and childbirth. Readers can emotionally connect with my work; it’s not about me showing off or being clever, but a genuine attempt to communicate with others.
Also, I use a variety of forms, sometimes sonnets and other strict forms do the job, and other poems feel more comfortable in free verse.
The moods of the poems range too, and there is an unfolding narrative if one reads the collection in order.
Although I do write personal poems, I also reach further, for example I explore personae and history, myth and story. I also write for children and sometimes my playful side shows in my work for the general adult reader. I live a fairly ordinary life and celebrate the little things that provide moments of piercing joy.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

The book’s blurb begins: Angela Topping unravels the threads that hold families and friends together, exposing the frailties, joys and tenacity of love, in these strong, spare poems.

I think that just about sums it up.

The following writers are contuining the tour. Do vist their blogs to see their responses to these questions:

Lindsey Holland

Adam Horowitz

Steve Ely

Catherine Edmunds http://catherineedmunds.blogspot.co.uk/

Fiona Sinclair

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Filed under poetry, Poetry Collections, The Inspirational Old Letters

Feeling Positive

Being a writer can be a lonely occupation, which is why we all love doing readings. But we also love the company of other poets, al least I do. Recently I have had the priviledge to have Ian Parks staying over when he came to read in Northwich Library at my poetry series. We talked about poetry until we were both exhausted and happy, and Ian gave me lots of advice, for which I was deeply grateful, about which magazines might like my work, and people to contact etc. Best of all, we are now firm friends.

The same thing happened with Ira Lightman last night. We was just passing through, and I offered the use of our spare single room. It was fabulous to meet someone whose hero is Wordsworth, who loves Milton and Tennyson and is so knowledgeable about poetry, but in different ways to me. Ira will be coming back. So will Ian. And I feel at last that there ARE people I can really talk poetry with as well as dear Matt Simpson.

I seem to be moving forward at the moment. The New Generation is doing well, but I am waiting for a reprint at the moment. I have an offer to be interviewed for a Welsh radio station, seven glowing Amazon reviews, and several school bookings. Best of all, Salt has arranged for me to read at The London Review of Books Bookshop 0n 28th November because I am in their Christmas catalogue. I will be reading with Philip Gross! Yes, I know. PHILIP GROSS.

I am also making a London debut with my adult poetry (not that there is a huge difference – my adult poetry is more about things that children are less interested in) the night before at The Shuffle, at the Poetry Cafe. I have a guest slot, along with some other interesting poets I have heard of, who will be good to meet.

I am looking forward to my Salt chapbook, having done the proofs last week. It’s looking good and I am going to enjoy reading from it. I am also putting together a brand new sequence of elegies for Matt Simpson, looking back on our friendship and some of the happy memories I have. I suppose this is part of coming to terms with his sudden death last year. I recently wrote an article for a Liverpool magazine, The Accent. I was grateful to be asked, and am keen to do anything that spreads appreciation of Matt. I don’t want his poetry to disappear.

I feel very blessed right now and hope it continues. Sometimes trying to build a reputation and get bookings seems so hard. The quality of the work and performance should be enough, but it isn’t. It’s all about discoverability, as Chris Hamilton-Emery tells us in his book, 101 Ways to Make Poems Sell. I care about sales for the sake of my publishers. Personally, I want to share my work and be read &

A perfect Christmas present for children and adults in touch with their inner child.


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Filed under Children's Poetry, poetry, Poetry Collections, Salt, The New Generation

Ian Parks at Northwich Library

on 27th October, Ian Parks, well known Yorkshire poet, is coming to read in Northwich Library, starting at 7.30pm. He will be introduced by me and followed by tea and biscuits and an open floor. I am very much hoping to have a bit of Hallowe’en flavour to the readaround, with this important date coming up. I love Hallowe’en and it’s always good to see the shops making a bit of an effort, like in Nantwich today where many displays provided hooks for the imagination. Hallowe’en is a chance to enjoy gothic stories and old ballads, to read M.R.James and relish the thrill of spooky things as the night draws in.

I will be reading some of the Hallowe’enypoems from The New Generation. Here’s one example:

Hallowe’en Party


We’ve made a pumpkin lantern

And fixed a candle within.

The apples are floating in a bowl

Treacle toffee’s cool in the tin.


Toffee apples are gleaming stickily,

stories wait to be shared,

Mum’s made a heavy parkin cake,

our costumes are fully prepared.


It’s nearly time for the party

and I’m straining up the lane

to see if anyone’s coming –

Yes, here’s Jennifer and Jane


One is dressed as a devil

in tights and cloak of red.

The other looks like a vampire

as pale as one undead.


Now here’s Meeta and Annabel-

a skeleton and a ghoul.

You’d never know so many spooks

went to our school.


There’s witches and wizards,

monsters, devils, ghosts and sprites.

Now it’s time for stories.

Turn off all the lights!


Now listen while mum tells us

about blood-sucking Loupgaroo,

the story of Janet and Tam Lin

and lots of others too.


Till our eyes droop in the candlelight,

our heads are full of dreams

and it’s time for friends to go back home

until next Hallowe’en.


Ian Parks: I know how good he is because I reviewed his first collection as I thought it was excellent – and he told me he quoted it on his next few books! He has several books available and one of them is a collection of his love poems. We are looking forward to meeting, and I hope many people will come to the reading. We don’t have many poetry events in Northwich, and we need to pull in a decent audience, or we will not even have these.

The evening ends at 9pm. So it is do-able for everyone, even if you have work the next day. The open floor is always a treat – and we even have a regular young poet who reads her work. Yes, the evening is suitable for family audiences – and after all, is IS half term!

The New Generation is published by SALT at £6.99, but Amazon have a really good deal at the moment. Do consider buying the book. Copies will be available on the night, along with books by Ian Parks: The Landing Stage (Lapwing 2010 £10) and Love Poems (Flux 2009 £7.95) Perfect for unusual Christmas presents.

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Filed under Children's Poetry, poetry, Salt