‘the pole bent down like a goose’s neck’…

Today at Acton Scott I enjoyed sunshine, the amazing Half-and-Half Pig, bushels of talented children and even managed to watch a donkey scuffling a strawberry bed…

Poet on the Farm

Easter Monday brouShepherd Poet's Hut mrght sunshine to my Shepherd Poet’s Hut.  Yesterday’s poems are all fluttering inside it, and today brought many more.

First I put up the poems that are already coming in for our Poetry Fence… to see them click here for the Poetry Fence Page.

George and Half&Half Pig mr

The Easter Sunday piglets had admirers gathered around them all day.  This is George, with the quite remarkable Half-and-Half Pig.  He’s half Tamworth (dad) and half Old Spot (mum).  It’s as if he’s been dipped in chestnut paint up to his middle.  I can’t count the number of people who asked me to write a poem about him, so I am.

Ansel (6) was very taken with the hens and the Shell crack poem Anselwhole question of eggs and chickens.  He wrote:
Shell crack
Shell crack
Chicken inside
Peck, peck, peck!

Elin (9) came to the Shepherd Poet’s Hut straight from the bodger and his Elin 'Pole Lathe'pole…

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Best Scottish Poems of 2013

I’m so proud to have a poem chosen for Best Scottish Poems of 2013,  an online selection of twenty of the best poems by Scottish authors to appear in books, pamphlets and literary magazines during 2013.  This year’s editor was David Robinson, books editor of The Scotsman.

The screenshots enlarge if you want to read them!

Best Scottish Poems Best Scottish Poems2

Swifts, a poem, a handmade book

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I’ve never lived under swifts before.  Last summer they tilted up Ludlow’s steep hills, riding the warm air and skimming the garden.  Then they soared back over the eaves of the Victorian terraces.  Again and again, in screaming, flaring groups.  And then at the end of July they were gone.

I wrote a poem about them, which played in my head for weeks after they’d started back to Africa.  Eventually, to ‘slow’ the poem down, I experimented with turning it into a book.  For a couple of weeks I had a great time tinkering around with gesso, pastels, glue and scissors.  Talented artist and poet Emily Wilkinson encouraged me and we spent a floody January afternoon making books together.  Emily makes beautiful artworks from found poetry – more on her blog.

I asked at the Library and they found me a late 19th century map of Ludlow, which actually shows our house and garden (with paths, and bushes), and even better, another, earlier map, which details the fields, and their field-names, before the houses were built.  And year on year on year, the swifts flew back to Ludlow.

Now it’s April, and soon I’ll see them again.

Planning for Poetry at Acton Scott

I’m very excited to be starting work as Poet in Residence at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm in Shropshire.  I’ll be on site there for 18 days between Easter and mid July, with a further 5 writing days as part of this project supported by Arts Council England.  Here’s a flavour of things so far, reblogged from the Residency’s new blog, Poet on the Farm.

Poet on the Farm

A glorious 1st April morning at Acton Scott!  Sunshine warmed my back as I was shown round the farm.  A Norfolk Black turkey cock gobbled at us and fanned his tail.  A small hen took a dustbath under a waggon.

Acton Scott Roadman's Poet Hut lr“Would it be alright if you worked in this?”  said Sal.
It really would.  Very alright.

You’re looking at the Shepherd Poet’s Hut.

From here poems will be read, written, shared and hugely enjoyed.

We Acton Scott dairyexplored the bailiff’s house, which contains a dairy whose years of cheese-making have permeated its cool walls, so that you breathe in a faint sour scent of milk just as the door opens.

Acton Scott schoolroom

Upstairs is a schoolroom, with single wooden desks and an authoritarian atmosphere.  This is the kind of place to write poems that require syllables counted (on the abacus?), or a very strict rhyme scheme…

We’ve got an outline now of the days…

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