Cardiff International Poetry Competition ’14

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Yesterday I attended the results of the Cardiff International Poetry Competition at Waterstones in Cardiff. Rhian Edwards and Lemn Sissay explained how they whittled down 3000 entries into just eight, it was really interesting hearing how they each battled for their choices.

In particular I liked what Lemn said about how you can get to know a population through poetry, weirdly about 10 minutes before he said that I was talking with someone about how interesting it is to talk about poetry with my clients for that reason. It was also briliant to listen to Rhian Edwards talk about the competition too, she spoke about the emotions the winning poems elicited and it was just how I feel when I read something amazing. Both judges seemed very passionate about the competition, and when we heard some of the winners it was easy to see why.

It’s interesting that not only are all of the first three winners female but two of the three are also pretty unconventional in their form; Liane Strauss’ It has no punctuation and Isabel Rogers’ John’s Curious Machines seemed almost like a prose poem when read aloud. I won’t witter any more about the winning poems, they are all of a very high standard and can be read here.

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Hollyhock update: it’s huge.

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Rose update: this is the first rose I’ve grown from before it was a little bud!

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Sweet local street art from photographer Dan Green, it features giant stickers for the lesser known World Cup team, Roath Rec FC!

This weekend: Singing & Reading

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Yesterday I spent Saturday afternoon at a singing workshop with natural voice practitioner Pauline Down. I know Pauline as she has covered for my usual choir leader, and I’ve really enjoyed her music choice and teaching style.

The workshop was on Welsh folk songs, and we learnt

It was wonderful to spend a few hours with some lovely people and learn something new!

Today I’ve spent a really nice few hours reading in the garden, Poetry Wales and The Only Reason for Time by Fiona Moore.

Plasnewydd Community Gardens

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I always pass this little oasis of flowers and greenery on my home from work and today I was brave enough to pop in and have
a chat and a look around. It was gorgeous, will definitely visit again.

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Really enjoyed this poster.

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Plasnewydd Community Gardens

They gave me a lovely freshly cut bunch of lavender to take away

They gave me a lovely freshly cut bunch of lavender to take away

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Passed this on my way home too and it made me smile. Four for you, The Crofts. You go, The Crofts.

Poetry: Self Portrait As A Bride

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Self Portrait As A Bride

On the first day we can marry
I wake in Tooting
in my best friend’s tiny bed.
In her shared bathroom I put my face on.
In the Spring sun my pupils have shrunk
leaving fields of uncynical forget-me-not blue.
With wet fingers I twist last night’s hair
into Bridal curls, and snap you a selfie.

All day I wonder at the girls:
the gallery guides, the waitresses
the ones on bikes in skirts
that I could pull into a registry office
say, Let’s do it baby!
but I’m waiting
to get over the Severn Bridge
to hitch myself to you.

Wrote this in a Roath Writers session led by the lovely Rebecca Roy taking a poem by Colette Bryce as our inspiration.

Hay Festival, other adventures nearer home.

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It feels like a lifetime ago now, but this year I made my first ever pilgrimage to Hay Festival. Despite becoming thoroughly soggy about an hour after arriving and not really drying out until I was back in Cardiff, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
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I saw:

  • Alison Weir talking about Elizabeth of York. She was brilliant, a very knowledgable and engaging speaker.
  • The former Basque president talking about similarities between the Basque country and Wales and how Wales could emulate their success.
  • Hassan Blasim who spoke about winning the 2014 Independent Best Foreign Book award; so convincing and interesting I raced to buy his book The Iraqi Christ and have already finished it.
  • Cynan Jones talking about The Dig. I was really excited about this as I’ve read all his other books so far. He gave some really good writing tips too.
  • Jerry Brotton speaking about Shakespeare. He was passionate and down to earth and I feel like I could have listened for hours.
  • My highlight was probably BILLY BLOODY BRAGG who was phenomenal.
    10308064_10152539082043474_2985243426976679939_n10374016_10152539082543474_6961305141658208883_nMy partner was stage managing at the festival so I stayed with her in her digs. They didn’t have enough keys so I was like a large, literate housecat and was let out in the morning and let in in the evening. I wrote a lot, some of the poems are obvious duds but some are worth working on. Spent a lot of time in the town centre which is absolutely lovely. My top tip for the town itself are the custard tarts in the little supermarket next to the Post Office: mindblowing.

    And I bought this tea set, which I adore

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    Nearer to home I’ve recently been to see Hollie McNish. I’ve mentioned it before but I wanted to mention it again because she was so amazing. Funny, humane, personable, warm, moving, intelligent, witty, topical. She made me cry!

    I’ve also performed at two local open-mic nights; First Thursday of The Month at Chapter and Rhyme And Real Ale at the Mackintosh Centre. First Thursday was a great experienced, Seren authors Sheenagh Pugh, Kathryn Simmonds and Carrie Etter performed from their new work. I was particularly taken with the work from Imagined Sons by Carrie Etter, which I bought. Rhyme And Real Ale was a fun experience, there were twenty-six performers doing everything from music to comedy to poetry.