November Diary by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
I enjoyed some culture in Brussels at the beginning of the month. When I visit art galleries, I take photographs to have the images to work from if I decide to write a poem. Sometimes, however, I draft a poem on the spot. I went to an interesting exhibition, ‘In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine 1900s-1930s’, which also highlighted the much-fought-over history of the country. Later in the month, back in the UK, I went to see the Frans Hals exhibition in the National Gallery. The detail in his paintings is breathtaking.
I sent ten poems to my mentor Rebecca Goss as my ‘November batch’ and then worked on editing them after feedback. I am looking forward to our Zoom at the end of November, which will help me step back a bit to look at the broader picture of what is developing in my work and detailed comments. I also found time to send a collection manuscript to a competition; I should know the result in early January.
It was lovely to meet up with Jean Hall, Paul Stephenson, and other poets in Aldeburgh. They were there for a few days at the time when Poetry in Aldeburgh would normally run – it will be running again next year, which is very good news. Aldeburgh is not far from where I live. I also saw Jill Abram and Rodney Wood at the latest Pomegranate Magazine launch at the Westminster Music Library. At their launches, Pomegranate Magazine always puts on a wonderful mix of music, poetry, theatre, and dance. Mid-November I went to a gig by Cornish singer Sarah McQuaid from Penzance, at St Peters on The Waterfront (a beautiful old church) in Ipswich.
Sarah Westcott ran an excellent workshop on the theme of ‘Edge’ for Second Light, which encouraged participants to think about different kinds of edges: living on the edge of a place or being on the edge of a life experience. I also took part in an open mic following on from this as part of Second Light’s autumn festival, reading my poem ‘Passage’ about a sleeping child, a refugee on the edges of society.
I have had two readings recently of my own work, one with Finding the Words (York Explore Library) curated by Carole Bromley and the latest with Cheltenham Poetry Festival online events. Both were delightful events alongside other readers. I was particularly impressed by the poems of Emilie Jelinek and have ordered her book from Against the Grain Press. The presentation by MacGillivray (Kirsten Norrie) about her research into the Norwegian-Shetlandic poet Kristján Norge was fascinating, and the two poems she read quite mystical. In both readings, I read from A City Waking Up, then Sleeping Under Clouds, and finished with a couple of poems from my next pamphlet, Once There Was Colour (details below). There are linkages between the pamphlets, though they were not written as a set.
I am also exploring collaboration with Suffolk Archives at The Hold, which has just opened an exhibition The Arrivals, about historical and contemporary migration to Suffolk. The Hold has also taken copies of Sleeping under Clouds to sell in their bookshop. Finally, I look forward to returning to St Helen’s School at the end of November, where I did workshops relating to Sleeping Under Clouds (see my October Diary) for a ‘show and tell’ by pupils for their parents. It will be wonderful to see what poetry, prose, and art emerged from the workshops Sula Rubens and I ran earlier in the autumn.
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Sue Wallace-Shaddad was born and brought up in Suffolk and now lives there. Sue has an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University with the Poetry School London. She is Secretary of the Suffolk Poetry Society, organizes poetry events and reads her poetry regularly in venues around Suffolk. Sue is the digital writer in residence for Causley Trust’s ‘The Maker’ blog.