Monthly Archives: June 2016

Referenda and a right laugh

Well, that was the week that was! Highs and lows; highs and chasmic, abysmal lows.

On Sunday, I went to Sheffield to meet an old schoolfriend and her husband. We met more than half a century ago – how scary is that to write – when we were both 11 and starting grammar school. I’ve mentioned the Demon Headmaster before, and when we get together we like to come up with new atrocities that were perpetrated on us. Apparently, we were the two of five hundred or so students in the school who were charged, found guilty and punished for marks that appeared on the lovely clean walls of our new school. We were singled out as the ‘markers’ and made to pay by missing lessons and being incarcerated in the school library (unsupervised) for a couple of lessons. Now, I didn’t remember this, but what I am pretty sure of is ‘it wasn’t me your honour’. Not because I wasn’t capable of marking the school walls; but because if I had it would have been on Banksy proportions and have carried some political message to the oppressive establishment.

O.K. I don’t mean to get political, but messages to the oppressive establishment slides me nicely into Thursday’s referendum. I sat up until 3.00 a.m. to watch coverage of the result. When I went to bed, ‘Remain’ were marginally ahead. Being a fully paid-up insomniac, I was up again at 5.00 a.m. and ‘Leave’ had collared the night, a predicted win of 52% to 48%; and that pretty much is what happened by six o’clock when the win was officially declared. I voted to remain in the EU, so it could be said I was desperately disappointed with the result, and spent Friday comfort eating and wondering how many points I could get for emigration to Australia as a pensioner prepared to write a few sonnets for the government if it would raise my profile. Of course, I recognise the democratic right to vote ‘Leave’; but I hate all that ‘Leave’ stands for. Throughout the day, social media was full of feeling: ‘Remainers’ decrying the state of the nation, calling for second referenda, offering virtual chocolate to their similarly beleaguered friends, ‘Leavers’ accusing us of being bad losers and giving us the virtual middle finger. I went to bed on Friday night feeling thoroughly down-hearted and spiritually broken.

Saturday brought new optimism; imagine my surprise when the first thing I read was that Farage had admitted that the promise of funding redirected from EU to NHS ‘was a mistake’ and probably wouldn’t happen; followed by Tory MEP Daniel Hannan admitting that ‘Brexit’ (I hate that word) promises of curbed immigration probably won’t happen either. The two cornerstones of ‘Leave’ campaign propaganda revealed as lies: great big, monumentally big lies. And here we have Scotland calling for a second independence referendum, the United Kingdom in danger of disintegration, the pound at its lowest level since the Jurassic period, the PM resigned,  scurrilous leaflets posted through the doors of Polish workers in Huntingdon and extreme right-wing posters with the legend ‘Rapefugees are not welcome’. Add to that the fact that many ‘Brexit’ voters (I so hate that word) had contacted the Electoral Commission to change their vote, they didn’t mean it really, and you have a situation that would be farcically funny if it wasn’t so desperately sad and frightening. And what has it all been about? The whim of a few public school boys who thought it would be a wheeze to shake up those upstarts in Brussels. Well Johnson, Gove, Farage, IDS, you made this mess, you can either sort it or spend a couple of hours in the library without supervision until you’ve paid for your dishonesty. Who knows where this will lead now. But I do feel sorry for those ‘Leave’ voters who voted in the best interests of the country as they saw it. And I feel sorry for the ‘Remainers’ who were defeated; we were all robbed, by rank dishonesty, of our democratic right to an informed vote. Electoral fraud in my book; justice should be served.

Those two events spell it out, really; how life can be  brilliant and it can also be crap. Unfortunately, life has curtailed my will to work: for the first time in my life I have been feeling ‘what’s the point if I’m planning to be a poet in Australia?’ But, of course, we terminal optimists have an incredible ability to bounce back from despair to something more positive and I have. Well, nearly. So yesterday I got down to working on my writing plan and sent it off to my Director of Studies in preparation for our meeting on July 4th. Also in the week, I received the promised Amazon token for attending last week’s focus group meeting. I immediately went on to Amazon and bought two more books: a Winnicott and a Bowlby, which promise to take my reading down new and relevant paths. The Bowlby arrived yesterday and I am very excited about it: it is readable, which is always a bonus when you’ve been reading Lacan; and it is even more relevant to my research project than I suspected when I ordered it. So life is not all bad.

On the poetry front, I have been sending poems out to various journals and competitions this week. Refining poems for publication is always a joy and a conundrum. I sent last week’s blog poem, ‘Like Penelope’ to Rebecca Jane Bilkau at Beautiful Dragons press. She loved it; except for a comma at the end of one line: was that comma really necessary given that the thought carried onto the next line (enjambment as we poets call it)? Now, that comma had been in and out like a fiddler’s elbow so I advised her to take it out and be done with it. That is what editing poems for publication is like: picking nits.

Later today, well just after an early breakfast actually, I am hitting the road for Kendal Poetry Festival. I have a Hilda Sheehan workshop at 10 o’clock, followed by a Fiona Sampson talk about Mary Shelley and then a reading by Fiona and Greta Stoddart. The festival was organised by my friend Kim Moore, so I just know it will be brilliant; I’m excited for a day of poetry. So I must get myself in gear and leave you with my poem.

This week’s poem is so new it’s still cracking its shell to escape. The political events of the last few days haven’t been conducive to creativity; but I have fulfilled my pledge to write a new poem for my PhD portfolio every week. I sat up in bed last night at 11.30 writing this, so I guess they don’t come much newer than that. It is inspired by the tablespoon my mother used to rap our knuckles with if we misbehaved at mealtimes. It’s a sonnet about those times as children when you know there are severe penalties for laughing, but you can’t stop laughing anyway. And why should you?


What I remember about the spoon is

how it was her crowd control at mealtimes

how she held it upright in her hand,

it’s handle to the table-top, how it tapped

a rhythm like a slow drum


how when we laughed we knew the spoon

would greet us with a firm handshake,

a spoon shaped bruise would raise itself

on the back of our hands, how we tried

not to laugh but it was a contagion


how you tried to drown your laughter

in a cup of tea but one snort spread tealeaves

across your face like freckles and we laughed,

laughed so much we knew. Here it comes now


Rachel Davies

June 2016





Life is what happens…

…when you’re busy making other plans, John Lennon sang. Well, the PhD work has been knocked into second (third?) place by life and poetry this week. Still, I have managed to do some PhD work in a manic week. I’ll take my week day by day, as we all must of course!

My old Aunt Mary used to have some very wise and amusing sayings; one of my favourites was ‘I love hard work; I could watch it all day’. Another, the obverse of this, was ‘Everybody’s willing: some’s willing to work and some’s willing to let them.’ This week I’ve been willing to work. My Poets & Players committee work took over my weekend. It’s Arts Council England bid time again and this year (the goalposts change every year) we need a ‘Constitution document’ to accompany the bid. I volunteered to write it. If you want something doing, ask a busy person, isn’t that what they say? I drafted the document and e-sent it to other members of the committee for comment. We also need evaluation data for the bid, and evaluation is one of my responsibilities on the committee. I had a backlog of events’ evaluation forms to analyse, so I spent the weekend getting them up to date too. On the whole, they are very positive about the work we do; the main complaint always seems to be about the lack of comfort in the chairs (they’re not that bad in my opinion), and there’s not a deal we can do about them anyway. I don’t think ACE would appreciate us spending public money on comfy chairs. So we have to go with what the Whitworth provides. I worked on the evaluations on Sunday, even doing a batch in bed on Sunday night, then up at 5.00 a.m. on Monday to finish them off. So good to know they are all up to date and ready for the bid.

Later on Monday I went to my aerobics class, trying to get back into the groove. I’m pleased to announce that already it was easier than the week before: face pink rather than scarlet, aprés-aerobics cappuccino less of a life-saver, more of an indulgence.

On Tuesday I swapped my usual day for going into my daughter’s gastro-pub to do her books, a job normally reserved for Wednesday. I swapped, because on Wednesday I went with her to the Christie again for a six-monthly CT scan to monitor the progress of her melanoma treatment. This is a horrible, horrible disease and, as cancer cells had invaded her lymph system, the chances of it returning as internal metasteses are relatively high, so a six month scan to keep check. The scan is a bit of an ordeal, not least because of the radio-active cocktail she has to drink before she goes into the machine. She positively glows with the internal heat on the way home. She calls it ‘the worst cocktail bar in Manchester’ and I wrote a poem about it once, after her first scan eighteen months ago on a bitingly cold day in late December 2014:

The Worst Cocktail Bar in Manchester

 Waitresses dressed as nurses come to the tables,

greet you cordially, take your cocktail order: Strangled

Gland, Corpse Reviver, Black and Blue, Lacy Legs.


You consider Lacy Legs, but settle for Black and Blue.

You knock back two glasses, pull a face, wait 15 minutes,

take a chaser. You look around, see people downing


orange cocktails, yellow. One woman sips a white liquid

like breast milk. You pour another glass, retch, hold

your nose, keep it down. Something in it smells


like aniseed but not quite. You swear you’ll never drink

Pernod again. You save the last shot for just before the scan.

Really, you say, this is the worst cocktail bar in Manchester.


You try not to lick your lips, begin to feel the blood heat

coursing. On the way home you ride with the windows down.

In the back seat I ignore the December freeze, keep my gloves on.


Now, the wait for the results; the longer the wait the better, we’ve been told, because if there is a problem they will get in touch sooner rather than later. But the wait is always an anxious time. So far no news, so good news, right?

On Tuesday evening I went with a friend to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester for an unusual poetry reading. Two MMU MA Creative Writing students were the starters to the reading; and very good they were too. Then the main course: Michael and Matthew Dickman are identical twin brothers, both poets. They have written a collection of poems, ‘Brother’, which tells their experience of their older brother’s death by suicide. You can imagine, this is an unusual book. It is also produced in an unusual way, ‘top to tail’ as it were, with Michael’s book starting at one end and reading one way through the book, and Matthew’s starting at the other end and reading the opposite way through the book. Their voices are very distinct too: if I had to buy half the book, I think it would be Matthew’s half. His poetic voice is exciting and surprising. Michael had too many  flies in his half; just my opinion. I could see why they were there: all to do with the dreams he had in the aftermath of his brother’s death, but an image a touch over-egged for me. A quality evening, though, I’m glad I went and I got to meet up with lots of poet friends, which is always rewarding.

On Thursday morning, I went to Manchester Metropolitan University’s Business School for a focus group meeting about doing a research PhD. Several research students were there, hooked  like me, perhaps, by the bribe of an Amazon gift token! Two striking things: one, how much older I am than all the other young women (yes they were all women) there; two, how I was the only ‘Humanities, Languages and Social Science Faculty’ student in a roomful of ‘Science and Engineering Faculty’ students. I felt as if I was in a parallel universe; as if I had walked onto the set of ‘Brave New World’ and I was playing the Savage! Their main issues were around not  getting their own laptops on their own desk-space in their own designated offices early enough. What? I’m a poet: isolated in my garret, I beaver away on a laptop I had to buy myself. Clearly, I made poor career decisions in my life! It was an interesting meeting though; and one of the brilliant things about being a student of mature years is seeing the sceptical look on young shop assistants’ faces when I ask for student discount.

On Friday I sent my entry to the Manchester Cathedral Poetry Competition. The closing date is later this week so get submitting , details here:

Fingers crossed for that one. Apart from that, I took the day off to indulge my love of sport. I have been following the football all week, of course. England are sitting nicely at the top of their group, and the other home nations involved, Wales and NI are holding their own. I must say, though, that none of the teams looks like champion material yet: none has taken my breath away, all a bit of a damp squib so far. Perhaps someone will step up to the mark in the knock-out rounds?

On Saturday I did at last get round to some dedicated PhD time. In fairness, I have been doing reading in bed – at both ends of the night – all week, but this was the first time at my desk (in my garret) concentrating on PhD work. I had an email from my Director of Studies in the week setting up the next planning/review meeting on July 4th. So I spent Saturday writing a writing plan for the psychoanalytical chapter. I’m not going to start writing it before I meet the team, but I am taking along a plan to discuss, so that I can get down to serious writing through July and August to have a chapter to discuss early in the new academic year; all supposing I get through the year one review and get myself registered for year two. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t expect to fail the review, but I haven’t heard back from Michael Symmons Roberts re a meeting date yet. I sent a reminder yesterday.

On to this week’s poem. I have taken my poetic sling-shot and killed two birds with the one stone. I am currently working on a Beautiful Dragons project inspired by Earth’s seas. This is my third Beautiful Dragons collaboration, although there have been more than three. I was first involved with Rebecca Jane Bilkau, the editor and producer of these high quality anthologies, three years ago when I was invited by a poet-friend to sign up for a poem in the ‘Heavenly Bodies’ anthology. The deal was, a spreadsheet was prepared by Rebecca Jane with all the relevant constellations and planets in the known universe and poets put their name against the one they fancied and wrote a poem to that constellation. I chose Gemini on that occasion. Last year’s project involved the elements in the periodic table. Imagine, over eighty elements, over eighty poets, all meeting the deadline and producing together a wonderful anthology of themed poems. I chose ‘phosphorous’ for that anthology and my poem ‘Phossy Jaw’ is published in ‘My Dear Watson’: elementary…? This year’s theme is ‘the seas’. I chose the Ionian sea, an area I have holidayed in several times and I have combined that commission with my mother/daughter theme to write a poem loosely based on the Odyssey. You can find out more about these wonderful collaborations, and perhaps buy some to help out an excellent small press, here:

So, my poem:


Like Penelope

she wove the shroud of her days

from remnants of hope and love

unpicked it in those lonely nights

while demons competed to possess her,


no, not Antinous, Demoptolemos or

Peisandros, not Bob or Tom or Jim.

Frustration, Anger, Disappointment, these

were her suitors; and the long empty years


and the looking in the glass and seeing

a woman she didn’t recognise,

to these she was in danger of losing herself.

She was already tied by grief to her Telemachus.


Her husband wandered for years

from brain bleed to death, on that odyssey

lost speech, his senses, his way, himself, her.

He never regained Ithaca.


Rachel Davies

June 2016



Shakespeare, sport and a suicide pact

When I started the PhD, after I’d tackled and defeated the RD1 submission thing, I made myself a promise to do two hours of reading a day. I stuck to it for the first month, felt very smug; stuck to it for the second month, realised it wasn’t going to be enough. Upped it to two hours a day, plus full days on Tuesdays and Saturdays, the two days of the week the house is empty and I have the space all to myself. It still wasn’t enough. I put all the books I want to read in a pile on my desk, and beside it, the books I have read. There was a vast discrepancy in the piles: about six in the left-hand (finished reading) pile and 17 in the right-hand (still to read pile). The book in the middle of these piles is ‘the book I’m currently reading’. This clearly needed a radical rethink. Now I read every spare minute I have. No more watching ridiculously boring and formulaic daytime television: spend the time reading; no more sitting in the garden with a cup of tea: read while drinking the tea. How much it has helped me to actually see the reading piles, and how refreshing and with what a sense of achievement to see them equalising. I have taken a picture of them as they stand today. The good news is, I have done most of the reading I need to do to help me re-write the chapter on ‘psychoanalytic theory’. The remaining books on the right are relating to feminist criticism of psychoanalytic theory, the next chapter, deferrable reading.


I have found these piles useful: of course you can only use this method if you have the books to hand. I used to borrow books from the library and get really annoyed when they wanted them back because someone else wanted to read them (how selfish!). So my trips to the library these days are to assess the books: if they are worth reading, I buy them second hand from Amazon. I always buy in ‘excellent’ or ‘as new’ condition, because nothing is more distracting than finding someone else’s highlighting in a book: ‘what am I missing here?’ – and this also happens  when you borrow from the library. I am a bibliophile: I can’t bear to deface a book in this way, or to turn down the corners of its pages. I use three or four bookmarks for each book: one to tell me where I’m up to, one to mark the end-of-chapter notes, one to mark a glossary or a bibliography etc. I treat books as friends; because, on the whole, that’s what they are. I am becoming a reading snob, though: the importance of the bibliography. I have realised that Écrits: a selection and Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English contain almost identical material, the latter being the full collection, the only difference that they are translated differently. Silly to read both, I thought, so I have decided to run with the big book on the top of the right-hand pile; not just because it is big, but because it is published by Norton and will look better on the bibliography. Plus it has more ‘écrits’ in it, obviously.

So, due to upping my reading régime considerably, this week I have finished Mitchell’s Psychoanalysis and Feminism and waded into the Écrits of Jacques Lacan. Oh my word, how hard is he to understand? But small understandings are victories so I plough on. Jouissance, Objet petit a, the unconscious structured as a language: two weeks ago I thought these were difficult concepts to grapple with; but Das Ding, The Thing, what is that? The unknowable sense of loss, the loss we can’t know but we feel. It took me sometime to work through this one, then I thought of a friend who always seems to be missing something in her life without knowing what it is she’s missing, sort of searching for the thing she doesn’t know is what’s missing. The Thing she doesn’t know is missing. So I guess that’s as close as I can get. I struggle on, being selective in my écrits: I’m not training to be a psychoanalyst, just want the framework for literary criticism, after all.

Also, on the PhD front, I have started to organise my folder ready for my Year 1 review. I printed off poems and the first (disastrous) attempt at writing and put those in, plus the ‘reading’ photo above (saves writing a reading list). I collected all my RD9 records of meetings, my RD1 and original proposal and my certificates of attendance at the research mini-courses: all in the folder. It actually looks quite impressive for an annual amount of work, so I’m pleased to have done it. I hope Michael Symmons Roberts is similarly impressed! I also had an email yesterday from my Director of Studies, prodding me toward another meeting re progress. I’ve asked if we can set up a meeting in a couple of weeks, by which time I’ll have my plan of action for re-drafting Chapter 1 on psychoanalytic theories.

In other news, life goes on apace. This week I went to the cinema with friends and partner to see the live screening of RSC’s Hamlet, with Paapa Esiedu in the title role. He was fantastic, what a talent! This was a predominantly black, African-heritage cast, and the play had lots of African influences. The sets and costumes were stunning, the acting and direction brilliant. I love a bit of Shakespeare, and Gertrude has one of my favourite lines from the Bard: ‘one woe doth tread upon another’s heels, so fast they follow.’ How often is that true in our own lives, hence the saying ‘things come in threes’?

On Friday, on  a complete contrast, I went to see Dr John Cooper Clarke at the Albert Hall, Manchester. This was a Christmas present from my son Richard, whose birthday it was on Friday, so it was a day of double celebration. JCC was supported by Luke Wright and Mike Garry, both excellent spoken-word poets, and a poet from Yorkshire whose name I didn’t catch, who was dour in his flat-capness. JCC, of course, was fantastic, energetic, entertaining, ironic. My favourite line of the night, being an Oldhamer, was JCC, talking about my home town: ‘Oldham isn’t twinned with anyone, but it’s got a suicide pact with Gdansk.’ Ha!

On Monday I took someone very dear to me to Christie hospital for a follow-up with the plastic surgeon re her malignant melanoma. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, so I won’t go into it again, but the check up was positive, return in six months. She has a six monthly scan booked for Wednesday this coming week, and that’s always a scary event until the results are published, but so far so good. It’s nearly two years since the original diagnosis,  we’ve come a long way, and learned a lot since then. I had hoped that the appointment at the Christie would preclude my Monday aerobics session, but we were seen on time and home by lunch; so I had to grasp the nettle and go to the gym. If I tell you that Monday activities have kept me from aerobics since before Easter, you’ll understand how hard that session was. But I did it; I had a face you could have boiled a kettle on afterwards, but I did it. The best bit about aerobics is the cappuccino afterwards, and on Monday it was a life-saver!

Among all this I found time to indulge my love of sport: I watched Djokovic severely demoralise Andy Murray in the French Open men’s final. After grinding out a win in the first set, Andy really couldn’t get a foot in the door; but although I was sorry Murray couldn’t win, it was very special to see Djokovic be the first man to hold all four grand slam titles in a single season since Rod Laver in 1969. Amazing achievement, a real tennis great.

I watched England (cricket) achieve another innings defeat of Sri Lanka in the second test match; and watched England (football) look promising in their first Euro match against Russia. They only managed a 1-1 draw though, conceding a goal in the dying seconds. Will they live to regret it? Only time will tell.

So, my poem. I have been working on a poem for the Manchester Cathedral Poetry Competition this week,  I was placed third in this competition last year so it would be good to do at least as well as that again.  Because of that, I have short-cut the portfolio poem somewhat and reworked a poem I first-drafted while I was away on our Bitch retreat in May. I included this poem in the Stanza anonymous workshop last week and have listened to feedback. The poem is printed here, but first a link to the Manchester Cathedral Competition, for those of you who are interested; you’ve got to be in it to win it:

So, the poem:


Boys only want you for one thing, she said


 But what if I never find out what that is?

I’m climbing the steps to that bumpy slide

at Wicksteed Park though ladders confuse

my sense of being right side up in the world


but he’s behind me so there’s no way back,


and when I get to the top, I’ll have to sit

in the little house with my feet overhanging

that chute with a hundred miles of metal

humping between me and solid ground.


How he’s pushing me

and I’m learning about exhilaration


Rachel Davies

May/June 2016






Life, literature and a little lunacy

I heard someone on the radio the other day say she was dreading retirement because she didn’t know what she’d do with herself all day. Really? It’s never been a problem for me! I have been retired now for thirteen years, I took early retirement from primary school headship in 2003. I love retirement, it’s the best job I’ve ever had. In those thirteen years I’ve been to Australia twice, visited Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Cape Town en route; I’ve completed a BA literature with the OU, an MA Creative Writing with MMU; and now this, a critical/creative PhD in poetry. I’ve steeped myself in poetry and still managed to find time to feed the cats. And Bill, obviously. I hate it when I hear people say ‘I’ll be bored with nothing to do’. Use your imagination. Do what you’ve always wanted to do and haven’t had time until now; and if that’s only put your feet up and watch telly, all to the good. Forget your school days, these really are the best years of your life.

So, down off the soap box. Really, I’ve had another fantastic week. I spent bank holiday reading. I finished the Cambridge Companion to Lacan and started another Juliet Mitchell: Psychoanalysis and Feminism. When I’d finished the Lacan, I decided I needed to read him in his own (translated) words, so I went on Amazon and bought three books by the man himself. Just when my two reading piles are equalising, I have added to the ‘to read’ pile by three more books! Is this how it will be? Will there never be an end to the books I need to read? I’ll have to make my own decision on that one, I suspect. I’m enjoying the Mitchell: she’s a readable writer, her chapters are short, her subject fits my research very well. I loved her writing about Freud, it revised my own reading of Freud. I loved her writing about Lacan, I attained a bit more understanding of his work. Her writing on Reich has surprised me: I didn’t know his theories at all, but I love the way she questions his use of Freud and Marx to suit his arguments, cherry-picking (according to her) and adapting the bits to fit. All this reading is a journey and an adventure. If I never get the PhD, at least I’ve had these challenging books.

But, of course, I’m going to get this PhD. The power of positive thought. And this week I had a reminder that my first year review of progress is due. I’m to meet with Michael Symmons Roberts before the end of August to discuss the work I’ve done so far, the meetings I’ve had, the courses I’ve been on. So I need to start thinking about that over the next few weeks, putting together a proper resumée and printing off some poems for him. And, of course, there’s an official form to complete.

I have continued to read Plath at bedtime, getting a long-list of poems I can use for that section of my work. She is a poet who is known for her focus on her dead ‘Daddy’, but the maternal references in her work are more subtle and just as interesting. And in her journals, her private journals that became public after her death, she talks a lot about her relationship with her mother. In her letters home, lots of references to her love for her mother, obviously, but in her journals a slightly darker side to the relationship. This side is reflected in her poetry, I think. Speaking of poetry and speaking of Amazon, on FaceBook this week I read a review of Selima Hill’s latest collection, The Magnitude of my Sublime Existence. Selima Hill is another poet on my PhD focus, and what a fantastic Selima title that is: had to buy it! I’d be rich if it wasn’t for books. Except of course, books make me rich.

On Tuesday I spent the day with two friends getting down and dirty with fleece and soapy water. Hilary invited Penny and me to a day of felting at her house, lunch included. Penny and I had never done felting before, so another new experience to add to the retirement activities! We had a great day. I made a felt picture of a fenland sky using various shades of blue/grey wool tops (the name given to the dyed fleece we used). And I made a greeny/brown felt bracelet in the afternoon. Between those two feltings we ate tartiflette with garlic bread; and more of Hilary’s scrumptious scones with clotted cream. I love that I have friends who are terrific cooks and that they invite me for lunch sometimes. In the evening it was my Poetry Society Stanza for May, so I stayed at Hilary’s for tea as well and we went on together to the Buffet Bar for the evening meeting. It was an anonymous feedback session this week. Seven poems by unnamed poets from the group; seven good poems, lots of interesting discussion. We were joined this week by a woman, Briony, from Aukland NZ. She is on holiday in UK at the moment, spending time in Manchester and she’d looked up poetry events on tinterweb and found us. The community of poets, eh? It spreads its net wide!

Friday should have been Spelks, my favourite event in the monthly calendar. Except this month I had to miss it, yes, I missed Spelks for the first time in its history. I was gutted, as they say. I didn’t think I would ever miss a Spelks. So the reason for my apologies would have to be momentous. And of course it was. My lovely children, grand- and great-grandchildren came to visit, and Friday was the only day that didn’t involve any one of them in work commitments. So Friday it had to be. I spent Thursday getting ready, preparing beds, giving the vac some exercise, stocking up on nibbles and beer. We had a lovely day on Friday: we took my daughter’s dog for a walk along the canal path at Diggle, stopping half way for Grandpa Green’s ice cream. Grandpa Green supplies ice cream to a lot of the local restaurants and if you like ice cream you’ll love this. Check it out, an ice-cream lover’s heaven:

In the evening we had a Chinese meal and played a board game, Eight Out Of Ten Cats. They all left after breakfast on Saturday, my own cats came out of hiding and the house returned to something like normal. And guess what I did next. Yup, I got down to some more reading.

In other news, I heard I have been long/short listed for the Erbacce Press collection prize. There were 8000 international entries for this competition; yes, eight thousand! And my entry is included in the last one hundred, so that’s an achievement in itself. I haven’t heard anything further yet, but I’d be grateful if you could keep your fingers crossed for my little poems whatever you’re all doing for the next few weeks. It would be good to progress further in this one.

And speaking of my little poems, here’s one I wrote yesterday. One of the anonymous poems on Tuesday was a particular form I hadn’t heard of before, a form invented by the poet Michael Egan, whom I met when we were both doing the MA Creative Writing at MMU. The form is called ‘motivism’, apparently, and it works like this: the one-line first stanza is a statement. The second stanza is a three-line mental wander through something as fantastic as you want it to be. The third stanza is a memory. The last one-line stanza is a return to the first statement in some way, another linked statement. I liked its simplicity combined with its ability to surprise. I have my friend Keith to thank for introducing me to it at Stanza, and I thought I’d give it a go. This is my poem for this week:


She’s wasted years at that window, waiting.


I don’t belong to him, I’m certain of it. Some day

the real one will arrive disguised as a moon-man

to claim me back. And I’ll go, I know that much.


I saw the photograph once, the victrix ludorum gold

its ribbon round her neck, his moon face smiling,

her personal Caesar dipping his toe in the Rubicon.


I can make out the waxing moon through the curtains.


 Rachel Davies

June 2016