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, 29 December 2010

Listening for Ice

While the post-Christmas thaw sets in here with its slush and grey skies, I've been hibernating in a corner of Antarctica. Mornings huddled over my Shackleton poems, wrestling sea leopards, hauling boats across hummocks, listening to the sounds of ice pressure and Emperor Penguins. Sometimes I don't even make it out of my pyjamas. The opportunity to fully immerse myself in this alien landscape, in the detail of the story, is too precious to squander.

Progress north is good so far. A dozen poems more or less edited, three new ones bashed out to plug some gaps in the narrative. Because it's all about story, this sequence - a staggering tale of 28 men drifting backwards and forwards in the pack ice while another party of 10 braved the worst conditions of the continent to lay food depots for an Imperial Transcontinental expedition that literally never got off the ground. The kind of winter tale you can really lose yourself in.

This afternoon, I'm checking out the scavenging habits of skuas, the blow-holes of killer whales and terms for ships's parts and ice-bergs. Binnacle for instance; and growlers, bergie-bits and brash ice. These words lend a particular texture and even music to the poems. I'm also trying to channel voices that might convey the story from within that tight-bound group of men. My sources, books and films, carry lots of extracts from the diaries that men were required to fill for the expedition. Shackleton was a consummate storyteller as well as a master of the psychology of survival.

And now that the sequence of around two dozen poems is firming up, I'm starting to think that I'd like to try them out for performance. A reading at the very least - hopefully with some pictures and context. Shake out the pages, open up those voices and see how the tale hangs together. Something to aim for in the New Year - we'll see. For now, I'm hunkered down in my tent with the prospect of blubber and dog pemmican for tea. I may be some time ...

1 comment:

  1. So many words that are new to me: I'm intrigued and looking forward to hearing more Antarctica poems!