As my profile says, writing takes you places. Yesterday I headed west to catch up with Susan Richardson in Cardiff. Beside the Bay, we took in the Captain Scott white mosaic sculpture before diving into the Norwegian Church cafe. Cardiff, she told me, was twinned with Bergen and was Scott's departure point. As I tucked into a Norwegian Fisherman's Platter (delicious sweet-cured herrings), we traded arctic obsessions and planned a collaboration. Susan's beautiful collection, Creatures of the Intertidal Zone, is drawn from her journeys to Iceland and other arctic countries in the footsteps of 2 Viking women. My own collection, Firebridge to Skyshore, similarly traces a journey to the arctic to gather stories of the Northern Lights.
It felt like the beginning of an expedition into some white unknown. We took stock, mapped directions, drew up costings. Where are we headed? North certainly. We want to tell our stories of the arctic to diverse audiences who are off the beaten track of arts events. We want to celebrate this frozen wilderness and its heritage even as the thaw sets in. We want to entertain, to bind with word spells. And we figure two polar poets can exert more magnetism than a lone voice. Between us, we can conjure Viking women, arctic explorers, reindeer herders, auroral scientists, penguins and polar bears. Right now, the ship is in harbour waiting on a name ( suggestions on a postcard please).
Meanwhile, back in Leicester, another collaboration is underfoot, this one taking the aurora borealis as its theme. Following two sell-out shows at London's Science Museum (Dana Centre), we have decided to bring this Northern Lights spectacular to the National Space Centre in Leicester. It looks likely to be February 2010. Two auroral scientists from the University will join film-maker Brian McClave and myself to present a fusion of physics, poetry and film of the Northern Lights. It should be a knock-out show in the dramatic Space Theatre and thanks to funding by Leicester University's Radio & Space Plasma Physics Group, it will be entirely free! (Keep checking my website for date and details which should soon be sorted).
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.