Some highlights from 2015, and what’s ahead in 2016

Highlights of 2015 have been: adventures in Rwanda for sure, including working in a teacher’s training college, and travelling north, south and east, and heart and mind experiencing new sights, sounds, feelings and things to witness and absorb. Leading also to a sequence of haikus. In this country, delighted that Iron Press (the fabulous Peter Mortimer) accepted my manuscript for a full collection to come out in 2016 or 2017, featuring haiku journals from Texas, Turkey, Germany and Cleethorpes. Feeling more like a real writer this year, sending work to magazines regularly, and also a good collection of acceptances. A fabulous project with The Derbyshire Embroiderer’s Guild, and Paula Moss, leading to a tapestry to be hung as a permanent hanging in Chesterfield Library. A gorgeous series of workshops at NUSA Academy in Nottingham leading to a book. Memorable workshops with musician Julian Butt commemorating the First World War, a gorgeous time in Birmingham Moor Street Station gathering stories and writing, and an end of year commission writing for the Morris Dancers in Chapel-en-le-Frith.

And 2016 is looking very exciting. Highlights on the horizon are numerous, but top two for me at the moment are writing some poems inspired by an exhibition which will be in Leamington Art Gallery from July to October – The Art of Deception – which celebrates the fact that Leamington was the town where the Camouflage Unit was set up in WW2. Over 250 artists from the Royal College of Art came and lived here, and Leam was called Party Town! And the other highlight is working with Professor Georgina Endfield, at the University of  Nottingham’s Geography Department, who has been coordinating 9 people collecting writings from all over the UK, from the last 500 years, which describe extreme weather. An amazing database is being created, and I’ve been asked to write some work inspired by this, which is a gorgeous job.

Also fabulous are – working with Derbyshire Records Office, and Paula Moss, on their pop-up archive project; plans to celebrate Roald Dahl with Maria and Maya Whatton, in a feast of storytelling, mask-making, music and poetry, including fulfilling a long-held fantasy of mine to make a Giant Beard for Mr. Twit; mentoring the new Warwickshire Young Poet Laureate, the wonderful Harry Jenkins; and being joyfully inspired and reinvigorated by Saturday sessions with Leamington Young Writers.

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