White roofs but no snow. I'm dreaming of Iceland - February hopefully - now that my appetite has been whetted by the Christmas flurries. It's surely time for another journey to the High North. I can't wait.
All my reading this Christmas has been ice-bound and thermally insulated. I've just finished a thick, heavy wildlife book on 'ANTARCTICA Exploring a Fragile Eden' by Jonathon & Angela Scott (Collins). This wonderful book weaves accounts of whales, wandering seabirds, penguins and seals with stories of polar exploration from the indomitable Captain Cook and later Shackleton, Amundsen and Scott through to modern scientific research bases on the white continent. The impact of whaling and the fur seal trade is set out in painful detail along with the pressures of climate change on polar eco-systems and the prospects for the future. And it's illustrated with a treasure-hoard of stunning photographs and beautiful drawings. A book to lose yourself in without having to wonder where the blizzard blew your tent to or whether the frostbite is turning nasty.
It's New Year's Day and I see that this blog is nearly reaching it's birthday. And blogging, Facebooking and lately Twittering, have all kept me busy this year. But a review of my calendar also told me that I'd packed in far more workshops and courses than I remembered, learning about the job of writing from the likes of Liz Lochead, John Gallas, Mimi Khalvati, Jean Binta Breeze and the editors of Smiths Knoll, as well as a collection of publishers, agents and industry professionals. So that's all helped.
And the past few months have been packed with meetings to get new projects off the ground, in particular two exciting collaborations for 2010. In January, we hope to launch the Polar Poets, a twinning of myself and Susan Richardson, to take our poetry about the arctic around the country. Look out for an on-line launch soon ... And in February, I get to join film-maker Brian McClave and my sponsors, scientists Stan Cowley and Darren Wright of Leicester University, to present an evening show, the Northern Lights Spectacular, at the dramatic venue of our National Space Centre.
2009 was a year in which I enjoyed sharing stories of the Northern Lights with very diverse audiences, from primary school children to writers, astronomers and festival-goers. It's been wonderful to get to meet people who are so enthusiastic about the material. The aurora certainly continues to work its magic. And this will also be remembered as the year I got the thrill of my own book Firebridge to Skyshore - A Northern Lights Journey (Original Plus Press) arriving in the post. It's an extraordinary feeling, to hold the first book and hear the crinkle of the pages. I look forward to seeing how 2010 is going to top that 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.