The first of an occasional series of videos in which I read poems from my book, Up in the Air.
I wrote Weather Map when I was living in a small flintstone folly owned by the National Trust on the edge of a housing estate in London. At the end of the garden was – beyond a tricky pile of thorny scrub – a beautiful and little-known tributary of the Thames, the River Wandle. I had just started going out with the lovely woman who was to become my wife.
So, here is me reading Weather Map. If you like it, leave a comment.
I’m hugely grateful to New Zealand book blogger Pauline Reid for this review of my poetry book Up in the Air – my first ever Youtube review!
In it, Pauline talks about the sections in the book and shows her own Instagram photo of the book. She does a lovely reading of my poem ‘A Bird on the Moorland’. She also flags up the local interest for some of her subscribers, as one of the poems features the Albatross Statue in Wellington, her home town.
An Amazon bestselling collection, Up in the Air brings together 50 poems that I’ve written over the last 25 years, some published, others new. If you want to read how I came to write poetry in the first place, there’s a post about it here.
I hope you’ll consider buying and reading it. I would be over the moon if you could also write a short review for Amazon (one line will do!). And remember, nothing makes a better Christmas present than some poetry…
Here’s the link, available all over the world as a paperback and Kindle version thanks to the wonders of Amazon:
My new poetry book, Up in the Air, will be out later this month. I am sooo excited!
This book brings together 50 poems I’ve written over the past 25 years. I got into poetry properly in my twenties when studying an MSc in Environmental Management at Stirling University in Scotland.
I love the big outdoors, and it wasn’t long before I began climbing some of the legendary Scottish mountains. Ben Lomond was the first, done in thick snow and cloud after a late night out on the tiles. It was a struggle, but I remember an amazing moment near the summit when the fog lifted and there was half of Loch Lomond on dazzling display. I’d studied Wordsworth before – but it was in the Highlands that I really became inspired by his poetry:
‘Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive But to be young was very heaven!‘
From there, it was a short step to writing my own poems. My first publication was in a regional anthology. It was really a clever piece of vanity publishing – everyone’s family and friends bought copies – but it boosted my confidence as a writer. Next, I had two poems accepted by a much more high profile magazine, Orbis International. One (Old Man) was inspired by a walk on the Old Man of Coniston, a mountain in the English Lake District.
After that, I began to write poems on nature, love, and all the other things that inspired me. Many got accepted in literary magazines, such as Poetry Ireland, The Rialto and The New Welsh Review. I did readings in places such as The Troubadour in Old Compton Street, London (in the cellar where Bob Dylan once performed!)
I always thought one day I would get them published – but along came work and other things. I stopped writing for a while, and when I came back to it I was bursting with ideas for my adventure series, The Secret of the Tirthas. Whilst I continued to write the odd poem, I focused on that for the next decade.
When I finished The Secret of the Tirthas this summer, I realised it was the ideal moment to get the poetry into shape for a collection. So now, after many hours of work, sifting through dozens of poems, whittling down the best, sorting everything into themes, designing a cover (always there in my mind’s eye, with the title decided upon years ago), I am finally there.
It was a revelation choosing the themes, as it showed me how almost unconsciously I kept returning to certain subjects. Birds and flight are a major inspiration, as are paintings, love, and water (particularly ice).
I hope you will consider buying and reading my first poetry collection. And remember, a poetry book makes a fantastic Christmas present for family and friends!
This incident with an adventurous (or possibly confused) housemartin took place when I was staying in a cottage on holiday in rural France. It was an intriguing place, in the grounds of a very small chateau, whose elderly owner used to stand every morning at one of her parapets with a huge Great Dane beside her. The first night I was terrified someone was breaking in because the electrics tripped out downstairs, making a huge cracking sound. That cottage felt like a different world, and a different time.
in through the blue window
hunched up around
angelic beating wings
circling the rafters
tensing our naked bodies
as we read
and drink coffee in bed –
we curl our morning papers,
prepare to drive the thing out.
this bird is no amateur,
doesn’t panic in a crisis –
no, this bird
is a reader of houses
and sees this one’s ours
so retreats quickly
leaving us with only
of the beat
of his wings
in our hearts.
This was one of several poems I had published in the Belmont Art Centre’s Poetry File programme for teaching in secondary schools in Shropshire. It features in my poetry book Up in the Air, available here: