September Diary by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
After returning from Cornwall (see September Musings), I have been getting back in to the swing of administrative tasks as well as starting to write more poetry. July seems a long time ago! People seem to have taken longer than usual this year to get back from summer holidays. My house has been turned upside down with my bedroom being painted so everything had to be shifted elsewhere, including me. In such a situation, I then usually find that I cannot remember where I have put things, but it is proving useful in that I am trying to spring/autumn clean before putting everything back.
Suffolk Poetry Society held its annual lecture/reading and tea for its members in a lovely private house in Essex. Paul Stephenson was the guest lecturer, reading from his new collection Hard Drive (Carcanet). He reads extremely well and the audience were very impressed with the poems. A couple of days later I took part in one of Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s online open mic opportunities. One of the main readers was Suffolk poetry friend Nicola Warwick (Twitter/X: @warwick_nicola) whose most recent pamphlet A Human Portion was recently published by V. Press. She also just won Suffolk Poetry Society’s annual Crabbe poetry competition. It was a good evening. I also went to a reading in person by Roger McGough at our local theatre, the New Wolsey theatre. He had the audience in the palm of his hand; he was very amusing but also thought-provoking with poems from his childhood and early adult life.
My main focus this month has been on the two morning sessions (thirty pupils per class) that I did with two groups of year 6 children at a local school in Ipswich, St Helen’s Primary School. This was on the topic of my book Sleeping Under Clouds. The children are studying migration and conflict so the head of Year 6 thought discussion of my poetry could stimulate creative writing and add value. I did a lot of preparation, working out a programme of short bursts of reading and discussion interspersed with writing prompts. The children will now work on their drafts with a view to sharing finished work with parents in November. The writing may take the form of poems or prose. The children will also have a session in October with the artist Sula Rubens. This was the first time I had worked with children in this way. It was very enjoyable. It was also fascinating to see how the staff engaged with the children. I was very impressed by the levels of concentration and enthusiasm shown. Even adults would have found the sessions quite hard work! I am really looking forward to hearing and seeing the finished results.
I have started writing poems in preparation for the mentoring I will have with Rebecca Goss from October onwards. I will share more about how that is progressing at the end of next month. I find I write at all sorts of strange times, sometimes as I am about to go to sleep and sometimes as I am doing stretches in my morning routine. In both cases I have to stop what I am doing, or I would lose the thread! I am sure others must also find they have particular moments when the muse strikes.
Finally, this month I was delighted to read for Red Door Poets and got some excellent feedback. There was a great line up including Katie Griffiths, Ali Lewis and Claire Cox to mention just some involved.
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).