August Diary by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
I started the month with a flurry of activity, driving up to Norfolk to do two readings. I based myself in Kings Lynn for the weekend, a very historic town. I always love exploring Norfolk with its beaches and wide skies. I went to see the Sean Scully exhibition at Houghton Hall. I was particularly interested in his writing about his work which was very poetic. The exhibition of his paintings, writing and sculpture is on until 29th October. Another interesting visit was to GroundWork, an art gallery in Kings Lynn which focuses on art and the environment.
I did a reading and talk with Sula Rubens at Wighton Church which was hosting the North Norfolk exhibition project. We ended up doing our talk twice to small appreciative audiences. That afternoon I also drove down to Wisbech to read at the poetry fringe at the Wisbech Rock Festival. Elisabeth Sennit Clough had put together a programme for this. As well as running the excellent Fenland Poetry Journal, Elisabeth is an award-winning poet. Her latest book published by Salt Publishing, My Name is Abilene, is on the Forward Prize Best Collection shortlist. I was delighted to be invited by Elisabeth to read.
The next couple of weeks I spent in Brussels. I always go there by Eurostar which I find relaxing and generally dependable. The weather was very hot much of the time which was not conducive to much exertion. However, I enjoyed visiting one or two places I had not visited before including the Botanic Gardens. The glasshouses have become arts venues (cinema, theatre etc), so are not filled with exotic plants to see, but the gardens are lovely. Here are some photographs.
Brussels has an interesting mix of soaring glass-fronted buildings and artistic corners of the past. I enjoyed visiting houses slightly off the beaten track which are part of the history of Art Nouveau in the city. I visited the Charlier Museum and also the Maison Autrique which had an exhibition of the Belgian poster designer Privat Livemont. Visiting the Marolles area with its flea market and also the ‘surreal floral exhibition’ in the Hôtel de Ville in the Grand Place and nearby streets were also highlights.
I had a rest from writing and listening to poetry though I did read Ian Humphries’ new collection ‘Tormentil’, soon to be published by Nine Arches Press, which I am reviewing for The Alchemy Spoon. I recently did an Arvon course with Jane Commane and Ian, which whetted my appetite to read his book! Back on Eurostar, I found inspiration flowing again and drafted a few new poems on the train. Now at home, I am catching up and have been sending in poems to one or two competitions and journals – the deadlines always seem to come in bunches at the end of the month.
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Sleeping Under Clouds (Clayhanger Press) and A City Waking Up (Dempsey and Windle).