She has returned. I've been longing for the crunch of blanketed snow under my boots, its muffled thuds, feathers on my face. A trip to the park this morning ushered me into a world I'd almost forgotten. There was the Victorian lampost with its red signs and there was me, wearing the contents of the wardrobe. Trees were giant creatures, frozen under her spell. Lakes were fallen fields of white, across whose surface a moorhen picked delicately. Boundaries were lost. Birds hushed. Black railings traced hieroglyphic warnings. This was a world etched in ink and light where skeleton beeches threw impossibly long lines of violet shadow.
In the Japanese garden, red dragons snaked between weeping willows, their writhing forms echoed in the twisted branches of the maples. The mirrored shadows across the lawn had me mesmerised but as I turned, easterly winds were shaking a fine ash of snow from the pines. And then came real flakes, fattening on these icy gusts, whipping across my vision. I heard jingling high above me. It proved to be a rag of cloth flapping on the flag-pole. But it might have been reindeer. She is close by, the White Witch, and I am one of her minions. Specks of glass glitter even now in the sunshine like promises she scattered.
I was urged on this morning by the voices of two writers on the radio, enthusing about how winter landscapes inspired them. The poet Susan Richardson and novelist Margaret Elphinstone, told John McCarthy on BBC Radio 4's Excess Baggage, how they relished the disruption to routines and the usual rush of life. Susan spoke of 're-learning to wait' in the snow and mentioned the Finnish tradition of 'keeping the twilight'. Margaret recalled being snowed in for weeks on end on a Shetland island and how it allowed her to just settle into 'being here and now'. Both of them felt they did their best work in the winter and I'd echo that.
So could there be a more perfect time to launch the Polar Poets website? Yes, we've even arranged the weather. From Monday 11th January, Susan Richardson and myself will be joining forces, to bring poetry and stories of the arctic across the country. We will be going live on Monday and all through the week, there'll be interviews, competitions and blogs, with something new each day. I hope you'll drop in, add a comment, maybe even win a prize! And for this week only, I'll be linking up 'Shaking the Colours' with this sister-blog. Just let the ice enchantment last a little longer ...
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.