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/

Monday, 3 May 2010

May Day at Middle Stanley

Sunday May 2nd 6pm

Well, here I am in my little room at Middle Stanley farm, gazing out to a rolling Cotswolds hill and listening to the birds' evensong. And if that isn't idyllic enough, I've just finished typing up a half-dozen new poems at this writers' retreat. I'm here with Leicester Writers' Club for our annual May Day weekend of workshops, feasting and discussion.
We're very fond of this secluded spot with its wonderful converted cottages and barns and grounds that are a delight to explore in this spring weather. But it's as much the chance to socialise and share ideas and resources within our writing coummunity that makes Middle Stanley so special. And lest partners and pets are feeling neglected, here's a run-down of the workshops we ran this year:

Creating Your Characters' Story
Writing about the past
Poetry workshop on the theme of 'Still'
Social Media for Writers
Books in the Digital Age
Voicing Your Work

A Blind Reading
Where is Your Writing Going?

We rely on willing volunteers from our own ranks to provide these workshops (no fee – not even bribed with cake!) and it works really well. My job is putting the programme together and keeping things on track. For myself, I particularly enjoyed the discussion on Digital Books where Chris de Lacey drew on comments from his publishers and agent to give us the inside story; the sharing of writers' stories and tips in Where is your Writing Going?; and the feat of a sonnet in 20 minutes in the poetry workshop. One of my own workshops was Voicing Your Work - great fun with an enthusiastic group. It's now known as 'the Humming Workshop'. I even had them doing Intercostal Diaphragmmatic Breathing (not as painful as it sounds!) and here's the photo evidence.

Unusually, I gave myself sometime out for just writing this year and finally got a chance to dive into some new writing based on my trip to Iceland at Easter. So there's 6 poems for an Icelandic sequence – with an eye on our first Polar Poets gig – and ideas for more. They're rough drafts but it's a joy to be in the flow of a fresh project. Exactly why you sometimes need a writing retreat to get going.
And now it's my turn on the rota to help with preparing our final feast. Liz and Gwyneth, our indefatigable Middle Stanley organisers, have whipped up some kind of Hazelnut Dream Dessert to follow. But I think you'll agree we've earned our treats with 8 workshops in 2 days and a torrent of creativity behind the scenes. Thanks again to all who attended and made it so enjoyable – and to Nick, my unflappable chauffeur!

PS Liz's Hazlenut Bread & Butter Pudding went into my top spot of fave desserts - so much so I snapped a picture of it! - now uploaded with more Middle Stanley pics. ...


  1. wish I could translate but hi there!

  2. I'm impressed that a writers' club can sustain such an event, but looking at the list of workshops I'm not so surprised. The group I go to (Cambridge Writers) sometimes runs in-house workshops but I think the last halfday-trip attracted 3 or 4 people. Maybe our members were worn out by the 50+ meetings on offer each year.

  3. Yes, our group meets every week too. And I see we've been running the residential weekend since 2004. It's been very popular and we've always taken 16 people which is as many as fit around the dining-table and a good workshop number. There's a core of regulars but each year we have new people there too. With a club membership of 50+, there's always a good take-up.
    As it's been so popular, we're now also running a Saturday event in June within Leicester for people who can't make the May weekend. These events are self-financing as we do our own workshops and that seems a good way to go.