I have walked through many lives

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My book Baggage and The Wild Braid by Stanley Kunitz in the forget-me-nots

 

A long time, no blog.  My immediate excuse is that it’s taken me a long time to get this new website up and running.  And when I say ‘a long time’, that means more than a year. It’s always at the bottom of the to-do list – even below ironing.

But I am determined to get back into the habit of a weekly blog based on how a poem, or other text, sheds light on my every day life.  And I invite you to live with these poems and reflect on what they might say to you.  As I teach, a poem can be many things – a prism, a house of many rooms, a journey, a box of surprises and a friend.

A line from The Layers by Stanley Kunitz has echoed this week as I launched my memoir of pilgrimage and marriage on Monday.

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Clive of Francis Boutle in the Westgate Towers

That too has taken a long time and the book covers material that goes back twenty years.  The perennial question in biography, autobiography, memoir or life-writing – and even ‘travel writing’ is whose material is it? To paraphrase Stanley Kunitz, some of it’s my own.   Baggage – A Book of Leavings is about walking.  What does it mean to ‘walk through many lives’.  Walking and living happen in time and space – also slippery concepts.

Another reason Stanley Kunitz is on my mind is that I am attempting to get to grips with my garden.  I like it wild but not so wild, small plants and creatures can’t find a home, and that hinterland between the two can challenging.  Stanley Kunitz was an enthusiastic gardener, and lived to be over a hundred.  ‘The Wild Braid – A Century in the Garden‘ is a book I return to over and over as a source of inspiration – it’s a mixture of autobiography, poetry and garden philosophy.

A few more random thoughts before I hit my maximum word count.

Writing and community – there’s still time to catch two wonderful events at opposite corners of England.

Wise Words is a literature festival embedded in the community and physically located in the Grey Friars Gardens in the centre of Canterbury. Lots of free events and the ticketed ones are affordable. It’s on till Sunday and I’m planning to be there for several events then.

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Lapidus will be twenty years old this year. There’s a one-day conference in Chester next Saturday 14th May and bookings close today.  For those of us involved in the transformational power of language, it’s a home-coming.  So looking forward to seeing old and new faces there.

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And, coming back to poem as friend, one of the presenters next Saturday is Fiona Lesley Bennett with her recording project – check out The Poetry Exchange.

She’s just given a workshop at Wise Words, together with Sarah Salway, novelist and poet, who is famous for her writing about gardens in all their forms. And here am I being interviewed by Sarah at Wise Words on Monday.

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See, it all joins up and I’ve got a few words to spare …