December Diary by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
I see December as a month in two halves. The first half has been full of events, a last flurry of energy before a quieter time leading up to Christmas. Following a successful launch of the Ripples anthology (marking Suffolk Poetry Society’s 70th anniversary) at Poetry in Aldeburgh, I also organised a Zoom event with different readers and different poems from the anthology. This just showed the strength and depth of the anthology. Most recently I organised the third in my series of Green Room café evenings Chez Nous. The café is a few steps from my house, so very convenient. The theme was ‘Christmas/winter’ and there was medley of poets reading for five minutes each. It was a great start to the Christmas season.
I am in the process of putting to bed the last poetry reviews of the year. One short review will appear in the issue 8 of The Alchemy Spoon. This poetry magazine is of excellent quality, with rigorous selection of poems and editing of reviews. The editors are particularly interested in ‘poems from new phase poets. These are poets who have come late to poetry, often following retirement, or a life-change’.
I have just started an exciting new project with another Suffolk artist, Tessa Newcomb (Instagram: tessanewcomb). I have written three poems about her work so far and we had a meeting in her lovely two-cottages-knocked-together where we found we had a lot in common. I got some useful feedback. One of the poems needs more work as its main focus is not clear. We might work towards an exhibition that Tessa has in 2024.
I am getting near to the end of the weekly Sunday workshops run by John McCullough for the Creative Writing Programme. We have covered a lot of ground. John introduced us to a wide range of poets, gave us plenty of tips from his own experience, provided challenging prompts and ensured all the participants got feedback from the group on two poems during the course. So, there is a lot to take forward.
If you don’t know The Arts Society, have a look at their website. It is a major national organisation with many local groups. The South East Suffolk group is very active with monthly lectures, study visits and residential trips. The most recent talk this month was a fascinating one about jewellery and fashion from 1890 – 1929, with plenty of inspiration for poetry!
The weather is making travel decisions difficult. I took a train instead of driving at the weekend to be one of the guest readers for the launch of Antony Johae’s new book Home Poems published by Orphean Press. It was a lovely evening though not everyone got there. I am also due to go to a gathering of Poetry School friends in London before Christmas, trains willing.
I would like to wish all readers of this blog a very happy Christmas and bright New Year!
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