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:

Visit the writers' development service I co-run at: https://www.facebook.com/TheWritersShed/

About Me

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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. In addition, I co-run The Writers' Shed, a service for writers, at: https://www.facebook.com/TheWritersShed/

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Auroral Magic at the Space Centre

All night long the blue glowstick shone out in my room - a souvenir from a wonderful evening at the National Space Centre. When we kicked off at 7.30pm by lighting the Shuttle Suite with glowsticks in pink and blue and green, it gave us just a glimpse of Northern Light enchantment. So maybe there were kids - and adults too - still enjoying that glimmer of memory this morning.

The event was the Northern Lights Spectacular, a show that had its première at London's Science Museum in 2008 . This fusion of poetry, physics and film about the aurora borealis was sponsored by a group of auroral scientists from the University of Leicester, the Radio & Space Plasma Physics Group. And despite the sleet and ice, the Space Centre's Shuttle Suite was packed out with families and auroral fans who came to enjoy a taste of the Arctic lights.

Brian McClave, an award-winning photo-video artist, also travelled to Leicester to introduce the world's 'first successful stereoscopic video of the Aurora Borealis', a film he'd created with physicist George Millward. Donning spectacles to watch his 3-D films of the aurora and solar flares, we saw a green aurora unfurl itself in the dark and watched eruptions and storms on the surface of the sun. As Brian said, these fiery images were somehow 'chilling' to see in all their ferocity and beauty.

Meanwhile I performed ancient stories of the Northern Lights as told by indigenous Arctic peoples. (See: Firebridge to Skyshore: A Northern Lights' Journey published Original Plus 2009). I particularly enjoyed Last Breath Singing where the audience become 'friendly spirits' waving coloured glowsticks in the dark to re-create the eerie spectacle of the polar lights.

The Space Centre provided the perfect setting for this other-worldly phenomenon. Where Inuits and Saamis saw the 'Land of Day' as a realm of spirits, science reveals the dimension of space opening in our skies.

Dr. Darren Wright unveiled the story of how the aurora are created by solar plasma interacting with gases in the earth's atmosphere. Dr. Jon Nichols was able to show film clips shot from space of the aurora. His presentation included a recent film of images of the aurora on Saturn he collated from the Hubble Space Telescope. Our audience reacted enthusiastically to the mix of physics and imagery and poetry. Here are some of their comments:

'Good for the brain and good for the soul!'

'This show really brought out the WOW! factor in astro-physics.'

'Beautiful poems, and so well performed.'

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