So I set out on an ice-bound Monday morning to Bishop Ellis primary school for my Polar Poet gig. How perfectly the weather chimed in with our Arctic theme! The kids have been studying the arctic for a month now and have already heard from a mountaineer. Perhaps because of that, their questions to me were on the rugged side - 'What do you do if a polar bear runs at you?' - 'how do you pee?' 'have you suffered from malnutrition?' I had to confess I arrived in the Arctic in a plane and stayed in a nice comfy hotel.
But I showed them the reindeer that I got to feed and the Saami herder we spent a morning with and best of all - the magnificent Northern Lights. The kids were beautifully behaved and there was a sea of hands everytime I asked for volunteers to help me perform my arctic poems. So we played games with the Northern Lights and took our reindeer herd on a trek. They learnt to say hello in Saami and did the Reindeer quiz and read 'The News from the North' on climate change. At lunchtime as I packed up, there were giggly girls calling out 'Hello Miss Polar Poet!' - so I think a good time was had by all.
The other excitement of the week was seeing the illustrations added to my book. By good fortune, my sister is a talented print artist. She's been working away on these fiddly woodcuts and we now have 6 beautiful pictures for the section pages dividing the poetry and prose. They punctuate the story of the book, giving little windows into this arctic world. I particularly love the one of the starry moss and blueberries I found on a Norwegian mountain. And we're actually looking at a mock-up of the front cover now - which makes me want to pinch myself!
Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.
Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
- Leicester, East Midlands
- As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.