For the first time since I started my blogspot in 2015, I am lost for words. Now the PhD is done, I have noting to say; and my old Aunt Mary used to say, ‘if you have nothing to say, say nothing.’ I’m in a wonderful and unusual state of having nothing extraordinary to write about. I’ve had a most boring week of not much happening; although I’ve responded to several poetry opportunities, so I know it’s just a short dearth. I did go walking with Amie and the Cockerpoos a couple of times along the canal from Uppermill to Diggle for coffee and doggy sausages at Grandpa Greene’s: we managed to avoid the worst excesses of Storm Brendan, although the towpath was very muddy after all the recent rain.
And then on Friday I went into Manchester with my poetry twin, Hilary Robinson. It was Hilary’s birthday on Tuesday so we took one of our legendary CCP days–cider, cake and Paperchase–to celebrate; although we had wine instead of cider, and churros instead of cake. We had a long, leisurely lunch in Wahaca in Exchange Square. We did do the Paperchase bit though, where I bought some new notebooks in the sale (as if I haven’t got a cupboard full already) and started my Christmas shopping for next Christmas. In the Doc Marten shop I resisted the urge to buy some new DMs, but it was a fight. They were gorgeous but a bit tight over the instep. I’ll keep looking.
The rest of the week has been mostly about processing online entries to the Poets&Players competition, which closes at midnight on Tuesday so you still have time to get your entries in: https://poetsandplayers.co On past experience, it’ll be about all I’ll be doing this week, because entries come in thick and fast in the last couple of days; and I have to have them off to our judge, Sinead Morrisey by the beginning of February. It’s an exciting time, but not as exciting as waiting to discover our winners. I’ll keep you posted. While I’m on the subject of P&P I’ll throw in a reminder about our upcoming events. We heard recently that our Arts Council bid has been successful, so we can keep organising our wonderful, free-to-our-audinece events for at least another twelve months. We’ve got some terrific events planned, so check them out here: https://poetsandplayers.co/future-events/ and come along to the Whitworth Gallery on Oxford Road for as many as you can. Where else do you get this quality for no outlay? Our 2020 kicks off next Saturday with a Jo Shapcott workshop in the morning, followed by readings in the afternoon by Jo Shapcott, Kim Moore and Jennifer Lee Tsai, with music by Chris Davies. I’ll be introducing Kim Moore, the easiest job I’ll have all year. I’m really looking forward to it; and hopefully to writing something worthwhile in the morning workshop; and to having something to write about next week!
Because that’s it for this week. I’m off for another walk to Grandpa Greene’s this morning, then I’ll be processing more entries. Keep ’em coming and have a good week.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Australia these last few weeks, with the awful fires raging around the south east of the country. Bill and I followed the cricket there in 2007 and again in 2011. So my Facebook ‘memories’ are mostly about Australia at the moment–we were there in January into February both times. My poem this week is a reminder of our first visit and why we went there in the first place. We were lucky enough to be in the Sydney Cricket Ground when Glenn McGrath bowled his last ball for Australia, an amazing and memorable moment. This poem recalls that moment; and was shortlisted in the Ilkley Poetry Festival competition a few years ago.
McGrath’s Last Ball for Australia
Sydney Cricket Ground 02.02.07
In these dying moments of the match
as you bend to a setsquare buffing the ball,
does your brain replay your international career:
the thousand or so leg befores,
catches behind, in the slips, in the deep,
all those middle pegs somersaulting to Gilchrist,
the dogged run chases wagging the tail?
Or do sixty thousand feet tracing your paces
on grandstand floors, hands drumming your beat
on chair-backs, voices rising in a tsunami of sound,
flush all thought before it?
A deafening noise, a roar of Thor
covers the ground, darkens the sky, places
a thunderbolt in your hand, lightning in your stride so,
as if in glorious slo-mo, you run up, plant your feet,
deliver the ball—it is, after all, just a ball.
It bounces short of a length.
Nixon thinks he’ll steal your thunder,
lofts it high over extra cover
where it seems to hover.
English voices join the noise
but on the boundary, buoyed by the tide,
Hodge stretches, hand open
and Nixon c Hodge b McGrath.
(more years ago than I care to recall!)