August Musings by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
I am spending quite a lot of time travelling at the moment whether driving or taking a train. I find being on the move very helpful for getting reading done and a journey can sometimes stimulate new writing. Reading poems inspired other countries and cultures also has a magnetic appeal for me. Abeer Ameer, Jess Mookherjee, Pascale Petit and Zeina Hashem Beck are just a few of the poets I enjoy reading. I doubt I am going to visit any of the countries they describe, but there is tremendous richness in their writing.
A poem itself is a journey which can have unexpected stops and even a different ending than expected. ‘Adlestrop’( Poetry Foundation), the well known poem by Edward Thomas, tells of an express train pulling up at an empty station, which Thomas then uses as a springboard to a lyrical countryside scene. We are transported beyond the platform by his words. Stations are places of greeting and farewell, busy intersections for humanity on the move. There must be so many back stories to all those people hurrying by; a rich seam for poetic imagination. ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ by Philip Larkin (Poetry Foundation) is another evocative poem. It traces the landscape that a train runs through as well as commenting on the hustle and bustle of weddings seen from the carriage. These poems undoubtedly reflect the times in which they are written and I wonder if modern train journeys engender the same sense of nostalgia. Travelling at speed does not really lend itself to detailed observation of the countryside.
On another topic, I was delighted with Diana Cant’s review of ‘Sleeping Under Clouds’ in the latest edition (10) of The Alchemy Spoon. As well as finding the book ‘moving’, she really enjoyed it ‘ as an object in its own right – it is very beautiful.’ It was very important to me that the book do justice to the paintings of my collaborating artist Sula Rubens and Roger Bloor of Clayhanger Press made a wonderful job of this. I am never sure who reads reviews but good ones are certainly encouraging for a poet! Full House Literary did a review a couple of months ago and I am expecting a couple more in the autumn.
I am scaling back some of my reviewing of other poets from October when I focus on the mentoring I will be having with Rebecca Goss. I feel that in August I will be pausing from writing. I will then be under pressure from the autumn to write ten poems every 4-6 weeks to send to Rebecca for feedback. Generally I respond very well to deadlines so I am looking forward to what emerges!
I wish everyone a good summer with hopefully some better weather..
If you would like to contact me to comment or follow up, please send me an email via the contact box on my website . You can also contact me to buy a signed copy my books
Sleeping Under Clouds (Clayhanger Press) and A City Waking Up (Dempsey and Windle).