February Diary by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
On my way back from Cornwall at the beginning of the month, I stopped off in Bath to visit that city for the first time. I was very impressed with the scale of the Roman Baths. Being a Jane Austen fan, I enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere (forgive the pun!). I stayed in Corsham and was surprised to find out that it had been filmed as Truro for the Poldark series. It was enjoyable walking round the streets as I waited for dense fog to lift before driving home.
To quote Alexander Graham Bell ‘when one door closes, another opens’. Recently I parted ways with a small press who had been interested in my collaboration with Suffolk artist Sula Rubens. However, I have now found another press willing to publish a book of poems and art work this April to coincide with Sula’s solo exhibition in Norwich. So proofreading and promotion lie ahead. I will share more details nearer the time.
I sent in the full poetry collection I have been finalising to a submission window, but will need to wait till June to find out if that has had any success. Meanwhile I have signed up for a five- week on-line Arvon course, ‘Poetry: Towards a collection’, with a view to working on a different manuscript I have drafted. The tutors are Jane Commane and Ian Humphreys. I was due to go on a similar course in-person in 2020 but that was cancelled because of the pandemic situation.
I had a good visit to London this week taking in art and poetry. I went to see the Cézanne exhibition, the newly revamped Courtauld Gallery and the Royal Academy’s ‘Spain and the Hispanic World’ exhibition. I recommend all three! I find it is well worth subscribing to the Art Fund as you get excellent discounts on entry prices. I spent some time at the National Poetry Library looking at magazines. It is great to see where friends are getting published and to read their latest poems. I also went to a private view of work by Tessa Newcomb at the Crane Kalman Gallery, Brompton Road. Tessa paints wonderful Suffolk-inspired scenes and I have started writing poems in response to her work.
Seren’s First Thursday readings with open mic have started again so I took part in the February open mic session. They are always very welcoming. I am also reading in an Oxford Stanza 2 open mic this week run by Kathleen McPhilemy. Kathleen also runs the poetry podcast magazine Poetry Worth Hearing. Red Door poets run regular readings on a Sunday and featured a very interesting interview with Sarala Estruch on 26th February. Sarala’s debut collection, ‘After All we Have Travelled’, has just been published by Nine Arches Press. I got to know Sarala via the Poetry School; she is now a post-doctoral candidate at the University of Liverpool.
I attended an amazing launch of The Pomegranate Magazine Issue 4 at Westminster Music Library. It featured dance, opera singing, poetry, flute-playing and much more. The magazine publishes stories, essays and poems on artists. They have an interesting competition calling for ‘staged poetry works as part of a combined arts performance’: The Pomegranate Poetry Theatre Prize closing June 30th judged by Mark Baldwin OBE and Martin Figura.
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