I spent a delightful evening on Monday with a writers' group based in Lutterworth. This small group of local writing enthusiasts was boosted by some visitors from both Leicester Writers' Club and the Grace Dieu group from Coalville. Which just goes to show you that stories are written into the hills of Leicestershire.
I'd been invited to give a talk on the Northern Lights. And being as this was a group of writers, I reflected on how this project has developed over the last 4 years. It was November 2005 when a fellow writer and artist Jackie Stanley first asked me to write some poems about the Northern Lights for a film she wanted to make. It's rare to stumble on a subject that proves so rich in inspiration. Since then, I've visited the Arctic to see the lights for myself and performed my poems in places as diverse as the Science Museum in London and a primary school hall in Leicester.
Audiences never fail to be fascinated by the mystery and spectacle of the Aurora Borealis and Lutterworth Writers were no exception. We had no powerpoint facilities this time but we managed with a map of the Arctic, a handout of pictures and our imaginations. (see more of these fabulous pictures by Bjorn Jorgensen on his website.) My talk ranged through the stories created by indigenous peoples of the Arctic over many centuries and then on to the modern narrative that science offers of the origins of the aurora. We took a break for tea and fig rolls and book signings and then a busy question/answer session. It's great when audiences are so engaged. A lot of the questions were about how I came to get my book, Firebridge to Skyshore: A Northern lights Journey, published - always a topic of interest to writers!
There was a lovely atmosphere in the little Church Hall and I was surprised with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers as we finished. Many thanks to Frank for chairing and Cathy and Michael for chauffering me. I'm very happy that my first gig since the summer was such a pleasurable one.
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.