Friday, 21 August 2015

The Book Launch


It has been three years and three months since I left my full time job as a journalist. I wanted to see what would happen if I made the time and space in my life to write more creatively. This is what happened, this book!

My debut collection, 'The Spaces in Between' will be launched on Wednesday, September 9th, at 7.30pm at The Cellar Bar, Cardigan, which is where it all started really.

Here's a bit of the text from the back cover:

"Love, relationships, death and loss, and the fiercely political are all here in The Spaces in Between, the debut poetry collection from Jackie Biggs. Her work draws on ideas of memory, reflection and the human emotions that colour our daily lives and she brings nature and landscape to life in her poetry."

And here's a link to a podcast of me talking with Martin Locock of Spoken Word Wales about poetry, this collection, writing haiku, PENfro Book Festival (which I am chairing this year) and spoken word events around west Wales:

http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/sww04-jackie-biggs_54202

'The Spaces in Between' is published by Pinewood Press, Swansea, costs £8 (+£2 p&p by post). To order please email me at: spreadthewords@mybtinternet.com







Tuesday, 21 July 2015

More Hot Pots



I am delighted that I was able to be part of the Hot Pot Creative Writing activity at Aberystwyth University earlier this year.

There was a series of workshops run by writer and tutor Katherine Stansfield in the Ceramics Gallery at the University. A group of poets and prose writers studied the work of the potter Michael Cardew, which has an extensive exhibition there.

And we talked about the many pots and plates, how they were made and their uses. They are not just show pieces, they had a real life, as some of the amazing stories that came out of this project show. Through our meetings we talked about and shared our feelings about the process of creating new work, whether it be pots, poems or prose. And we created much!

Katherine's own poetry and the work of seven participants on the project is included in this publication, which formed part of the Programme/Brochure of the International Ceramics Conference, held at the University early in July 2015.There was also a public reading of our work.

More info on the Hot Pot project here:
http://www.ceramics-aberystwyth.com/exhibitions-ceramic-aberystwyth.php

and the link to the publication:
http://www.ceramics-aberystwyth.com/documents/HotPotpoems.pdf

I also wrote abotu the project for an earlier blog:
http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/recipe-for-poem.html








Saturday, 18 July 2015

Paint them in gold


If we could worship the homeless people,
because they are strong,
because they have learned to live without walls,
because they have no boundaries to contain them,
and can exist on almost nothing,
because they can carry life in a bag,
with few possessions, because they are free,
if we worshipped them, how would the world be?

Their swept up lives exist in doorways
spiked with danger and zero tolerance,
relics in the dust and debris of our days.
If we could venerate them, revere them,
cover them in gold,
break out of the mantra of meanness,
if we were truly bold,
how would the world be?

If we worshipped the homeless people,
if we painted their portraits and decorated their images with jewels,
as the old icons were adorned,
and placed them so we could look upon them with reverence,
if we exalted them and made them saints,
if we gave them beautiful blankets to keep them warm,
if we lauded all the roaming people,
how would the world be?


Written after seeing ‘Man with a plaid blanket’,
by Thomas Ganter, right.
(first prize BP Portrait Awards 2014)

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Coffee


A silly one from my growing 'foodie' collection:



    Steaming
               mysterious
                                foreign
                                       hot pungent scent
                                black, very black,
                                      deep black
                                promise of …
       synapse stimulation,
 the racing heart
                 the bitter taste.

Coffee, I love you

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Autism

This is all true. It’s an account of an ‘interview’ experienced recently by a friend of mine. First published online by I am not a silent poet.

 
Autism

or: how the psychologist ‘interviewed’ the mother of an autistic teenager,
who after years of trying finally got an appointment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (or CAMSH – Can’t Actually Manage to be Supportive of Humans)

You may as well talk to one of these.
“Did he have problems when he was younger?
Ah, I see,
he had a few issues at nursery –
well, that’s just children for you isn’t it?
When did he attend referrals?
Oh come on, do think now,
can’t you be more specific?
Well, how often and where?
Ah. You must know these things,
let’s get it all down straight shall we?

I do need to know all the facts.
You seem very muddled about this,
do you have problems with your memory?
haha, it may have been ten years ago Mrs M,
but most people would certainly remember those details.
It’ll be your age, of course.
Oh no, your memory isn’t good compared to others.
I expect it’s your hormones,
you’ll be going through the change by now.
Well, that’ll be all for today,
time’s up.

Take this medicine for him
and come back next week, same time.
Will you remember that?”


*First published here: https://iamnotasilentpoet.wordpress.com ,
an online magazine for poetry and artwork protesting against abuse in any of its forms.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Red Kite: Dunkirk

Red Kite: Dunkirk: Dunkirk veterans James Baynes, (94, right), Arthur Taylor, (94), and Michael Bentall, (94, left), walk along a beach in Dunkirk. Credit: G...

Monday, 18 May 2015

Magical short stories



BOOK REVIEW

In Margate by Lunchtime
by Maggie Harris

(Cultured Llama Publishing www.culturedllama.co.uk)

I don’t often do book reviews on here, but this one had such an impact on me that I wanted to write something about it.

A strong sense of place, mixed with the dreamlike, a good dash of realism and more than a touch of the surreal work together to create a magical whole  in the new short story collection by Maggie Harris, In Margate by Lunchtime, just published by Cultured Llama - www.culturedllama.co.uk.

Born and brought up in Guyana in the Caribbean, Maggie arrived in the UK when she was 18.This collection is set entirely on the Isle of Thanet, where she settled, married, raised her own family and developed her career as a poet, story writer and tutor.

She gives us a series of colourful images of the towns of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs, from some unusual points of view. Sometimes the stories are firmly rooted in a time past, sometimes they are magical or whimsical – but they are always poetic and always take you under the skin of the characters of this place before you realise quite where you are, or how you got there (it could have been on a Vespa driven by a mermaid!).

At the beginning there is a conversation with a parakeet. “We are the ones chosen to light up these drab skies of yours, provide a flash of effervescence,” it says. Yes, that’s what this writer does, she brings light to the animation of the place, the vibrancy of all its levels, from the arrival of the flamingos, to Benjamin Zephaniah, to Turner and TS Eliot. Towards the end we have some words from The Wasteland:  “I can connect/Nothing with nothing.” But straightaway the narrative is decisive and tells us: “I think not.”
Many connections are made in this book, between the characters in the various narratives and the reader. In a direct statement toward the end of the collection, the narrative tells us to “think of this as a pointillist painting, these impressions of ordinary lives in a corner of England…” They are all connected and intertwined and they have an impact beyond that created by a group of impressions. It’s a hallmark of a great story collection that the individual stories stand alone, and stand out, yet the whole taken together has a depth of meaning that is greater than the sum of the parts.

This book had me turning pages, eager for the next story, the next chapter, the next new character, much as an exciting novel would. It creates images, feelings for a place and for people in a way that only the poetic imagination can. 

Maggie has won awards for her stories before – she won the Guyana prize for Literature in 2000, and was the Caribbean winner of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story prize. This collection should be an award winner. I would expect to see it on some prize list in the next year or so.