Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Reading material

Our weather over the bank holiday weekend has been very disappointing - four seasons in one day,  a wash-out and dreich at times! So it's been perfect reading weather and I've enjoyed some free time indulging and catching up on my reading material.  In the last week a lovely 'wee' poetry book dropped through the letterbox. 

Published by Dreich poetry, this is book three in a trio, and I'm thrilled that it features two of my  poems. You can get a copy here  https://hybriddreich.co.uk/wee-books/

And I enjoyed watching the launch of the latest issue of the Bangor Literary Journal over the weekend. 

It's packed full of beautiful images and writing (and I'm delighted that I have a photo included in it). You can download the issue here   https://thebangorliteraryjournal.com/2021/05/03/download-issue-14-now/

Monday, 26 April 2021

Then and Now

I've loved playing with words for as long as I can remember, writing poems and stories for enjoyment. And I've been enjoying entering writing competitions for much of my life. One of my early successes which resulted in subsequent publication was when our local newspaper, The Belfast Telegraph held a Fathers' Day poetry competition. I penned a few lines about my dear Dad, edited the poem and then sent it in. I can remember my delight a few weeks later when the newspaper was delivered, leafing through it to read the results and reading my poem had won a prize. I was also tickled with the illustration the paper's cartoonist had included with my poem which was a very apt likeness. The following days Dad was asked by his work colleagues who had read the poem what had happened to the shelf? He reckoned it was poetic licence. That was then.

Last year I read about an opportunity in 'Writing,' magazine - Aurelien Thomas was collating an anthology about fathers. I'd lost my dear Dad a few months previously and I submitted the poem I'd written a few decades ago to remember the wonderful man who had inspired my love of poetry. The project has been in development for a few months and the book, 'To Dads - with love' will now be launching in the next week. You can watch the promotional video here

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the book and reading all the contributions and remembering fondly how proud my Dad was the first time this poem was published.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Playing with Words

I spent a lovely morning yesterday with Coney writing friends on our monthly Zoom catch up. We chatted about how we're all coping through lockdown, juggling work and family responsibilities and shared our good news on the writing front. It was great to see such success for Coney Writers at the recent Waterways Storymaking Festival with two of us shortlisted (and subsequently winning prizes) across two of the three categories.

I've continued to bake my chocanana writing fuel muffins for our writing meetings throughout lockdown even though I obviously can't share them with the group. Early morning baking is such an important part of Coney catch ups for me - a ritual I want to keep going when we emerge through the other side of this awful time. My family are benefitting as there are more muffins for them! So over coffee and cake yesterday we did some writing exercises, played with words and stretched our creative muscles.

We're all looking forward to when we can actually meet up for real at Coney - hopefully we're getting closer to that day every day. In the meantime we have to make the most of things and are grateful for the encouragement we give each other and support we have in our small group in between our virtual meet ups, whether through sharing writing opportunity news or helping each other on a piece we're working on. It's the sign of a strong team that we've continued to stick closely together when the going is tough and I feel very blessed to be part of such a friendly supportive writing group.

Sunday, 28 March 2021


Yesterday I took part in the annual Waterways Storymaking Festival awards ceremony. 

As always a huge amount of work must have gone into the planning of this event because it all came together seamlessly on the day. The organisers really excelled themselves in presenting such an enjoyable and uplifting event - just what we all need at the moment! And this year the event was different as it took place remotely. While we were able to enjoy the ceremony from the safety and comfort of our homes on a blustery March afternoon, for an hour and a half (which flew in), we were transported across our beautiful country through the evocative words and images submitted by entrants.

I've participated in several of the previous awards ceremonies and have been very fortunate to have had entries shortlisted and won prizes in previous years in the poetry and prose categories, so it was lovely to listen to the shortlisted entries in each of these categories this year. I was delighted when a couple of my writing friends had their talent and work recognised. Well done!

And I was thrilled that this year I had an entry shortlisted in the photograpy category. Instead of being on tenterhooks waiting to see the other entries, hear the judges comments and the results in an auditorium, I was going through these emotions at home. A beautiful photograph of a swan and it's reflection rightly won this category but I was delighted to be a runner up with my entry called 'The Sun Sets on Summer'.

If you missed the online event yesterday, you can watch it here and see all the shortlisted photographs and hear each entrant speaking about their image, along with all the shortlisted poems and stories.


I thoroughly recommend it as a restful way to spend an hour and a half looking at beautiful images of our wee country and listening to the creative words such beautiful words have inspired. Thanks to the Waterways Storymaking Festival for making this such a memorable event. Well done everyone!

Friday, 26 March 2021


As we look forward to the days when we have a bit more freedom, many of us are desperately looking for dates to plan towards - when we can meet up, when we can eat out and when we might even go on holiday. It's good to have something in the diary to look forward to, but at the moment taking things one day at a time and not looking too far ahead may mean we're not too disappointed if plans don't go as we might like them to.

During the last week I celebrated a couple of important dates in the diary - World Poetry Day (21st March) and the first Northern Ireland Writers Day (23rd March) by taking some time to write. And I was delighted that the poem I created on World Poetry Day, aptly called 'I've  a Date', subsequently featured on Inspiration in Isolation's site this week. You can read it here https://www.inspirationinisolation.co.uk/post/i-ve-a-date

And on Northern Ireland Writers Day I was lucky to be able to take part in a Poetry workshop facilitated by Daljit Nagra through the Royal Society of Literature where new writing prompts resulted in a few creative sparks - never before had I thought that 'maths' and poetry could be so closely linked. Watch this space to see what might develop...

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Constants in Chaos

Photographs came up on my timeline today from one year ago. They are from our last trip out before we went into the first lockdown. Little did we know that day as we made our way to HMS Caroline what the next year was going to bring. It was a dreich day and there were very few people on board as we explored. As we walked round each deck we were careful not to touch handrails and doors and were already carrying small bottles of hand sanitiser.

During this strange year there have been some constants that have kept us anchored and grounded. For me, keeping connected (virtually) with friends and family has been so important. In the old days I always looked forward to our monthly writing workshops with Coney Island writers and being able to keep meeting (albeit virtually) throughout the last twelve months has been one of these important constants. Our Saturday morning meeting has been something to look forward to and yesterday was no different. It was lovely to see everyone across the screen and hear what everyone has been doing (or in most of our cases not doing) in the writing world. It's difficult to keep the creative juices flowing all the time but when they don't flow it's important not to beat ourselves up about it. Recently I've struggled to write, and to be creative. And when that happens I've consoled myself knowing it's temporary. This strange period will end, eventually. And instead of writing I've lost myself in someone else's writing.

Last week when World Book Day was celebrated, alongside spending some time reading from my current pile, and taking part in a couple of workshops organised by Women Aloud Northern Ireland, I treated myself to this gorgeous anthology. And I'm loving dipping in to it every day. In a busy world  when some days there isn't time to read a chapter from a book, there is ALWAYS time for a poem. And already I know this is going to become a favourite, and a new constant in a chaotic world.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Every Picture Tells a Story

I heard a couple of weeks ago that a photograph I'd submitted to the Waterways Storymaking festival has been shortlisted in their photography competition. 😀 This week I took part in recording 'telling the story' behind the picture, in preparation for the virtual Storymaking festival event at the end of next month. 

Below is another photograph I took the same evening, just a few minutes before the one that's been shortlisted was taken.

The Lagan Navigation Trust's Waterways storymaking festival is always very well organised and celebrates storytelling about our inland and coastal waterways in a variety of creative expressions including prose, poetry, music, photography, video, art and embroidery. I'm really looking forward to the virtual event next month. Fingers crossed 🤞