Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Light Nights, Full Belly

So, I finish work early. I've had a full, rewarding day full of people and learning and hard truths. I ate lunch outside on the grass, sitting with the lovely women from my workplace, and the sun was warm on my skin. It was a conference day all about Women and Asylum. It was sometimes hard to listen, upsetting, bringing me feelings of anger and frustration and sadness, hearing what I already know is happening in the world and our country, but somehow it never gets any easier to hear.

I head to the allotment afterwards, planning to water the seedlings I've lined up in trays in the greenhouse, as it's been unusually warm here in Manchester for March, almost like summer. I open the gate and walk up the path, and before I know it I've kicked off my shoes and my jeans are rolled up, feet in some old holey wellies. I'm stripped to my vest with a fork in my hand, digging over a raised bed. It's just too tempting to do a little work, and maybe just maybe, soon I might start to feel better with these light nights. It's been a tough winter. But maybe I can leave work early more often and get stuck in for an hour or two, digging, or tidying up the strawberry patch, or planting some seeds.

I meet a new friend today. Derek is holding onto the allotment gates and my neighbour Jill hollers me over. He's struggling for breath a little, leaning against his stick. He's maybe 80, I'm no good at guessing people's age, but of course I'll give him a lift. I hold open the car door while he struggles into the passenger seat, lifting each leg in, and taking his time, wheezing a little. He tells me he had cardiovascular surgery and he has an illness I don't recognise the name of, so it's not so easy for him to walk. He couldn't quite make it home from the shops, and a neighbour carries his shopping bag, while I lean over to fasten his seatbelt because it's awkward to reach, and I let him try but he can't quite get it fastened. He asks which is my allotment, and he is smiling as I show him. He says that was his allotment, and his dad's allotment before that. Me and Derek drive the 200 yards round the corner to his house and he struggles out again. I invite him to come to his old plot any time, and tell him I've always got spare veg.  

I dig again, and another hour passes, and I don't realise it's getting late until my belly grumbles for food. These lighter nights are just heaven. I grab some stalks of rhubarb to stew for my pudding and smile all the time I drive home.

There are many things to be grateful for, but I don't always see them. Some days are darker than others and it's more difficult to see what it's all for. Depression can be very pervasive and since November it's been different kinds of hard.

But today, everything is good. I have a full belly, a holiday to look forward to, part-time hours after this week, lots of plans with friends, and a whole summer of light nights where I can head to the allotment and dig and watch everything grow.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Venturing Out as a Poet

I rarely do readings these days. I shy away from the, as reading does make me a little nervous, but recently had two lovely invitations to read and decided to say yes. So very soon, I will be reading at two events in Chorlton.

The first is this Friday at Chorlton Library. Manky Poets has been running for many years, and I was really pleased to be asked by copland smith to be one of two featured poets. The other is a new poet called Katherine Horrex. I'm going to read a strange mix of very old poems and very new ones. It's a long time since I've read so I want to revisit some poems I haven't read for a long time. And also test out some new prose poems I've been writing with artist Gemma Lacey as part of our new project called keepsafes. Manky Poets is a meagre £2 or £1 and it starts at 730pm I think, side door of Chorlton Library. I hope we might get a warm, friendly crowd of people, and there are chances to read your own poems too, as there are openings for poems from the floor. Please come and say hello.

The second reading is in a few weeks, Tuesday 10th April. Lead Poets + Prose is upstairs at the Lead Station on Beech Road in Chorlton. I've read here a couple of times before, and it's always a lovely intimate reading. There is always an interesting mix of poets, and I think they added prose for my benefit, as I asked whether I can read a very short story. It's a very poetic story, so I felt it might fit in with the night and I'm dying to have the chance to read it so I can gauge how it works. I'm a little nervous as only one other person has read this story, so it's my chance to get a little feedback as well. So, if you are there, please come and let me know what you think. I give permission for people to be honest... There are a wonderful selection of poets, and I think (but am not entirely sure) that the event is free... It starts at 7.30pm and poets for the nights are

Annie Clarkson
Sarah L Dixon
Edmund Prestwich
Gary Parkinson
Melanie Rees
Rachel Sills
Stevie Turner

I usually wander along to these events all on my lonesome, so any friendly faces will be most welcome...