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

My photo
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/

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Sometimes We Bless Each Other

Wow! what a day!

see: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=799524860&aid=290025

And here was the wedding poem - which can hardly do justice to 20 years of companionship and so much more. But sometimes you have to try to say it anyway:

Cartography for the Heart


With you I am a traveller
a maker of maps:

charting the body's terrain
from stone rise of hip
to waist's sloping glen;
by navel's crinkled landmark
I divine the leylines
of your scent.


With you I reclaim lands
waterlogged, history bogged:

on Bohey’s raw hills
we navigate gradients,
search out the ruined tombs
of Tullyskeherny,
doorways of limestone
white as bone.


With you I am circling futures
the mind's latitudes

between trays of smoky tea
we cross Baltic blue seas,
skim ice water in Kvaloya,
drift with bergs in Jokulsarlon
where a midnight sun
is melting colours.

And the afternoons we make
are meadow sweet
puddled with sunlight

talking of places
and things to come ...

(c) Siobhan Logan 2011

Stitching the Cliches

Spring is busy trashing my garden with wind and rain and I see poetry slams and events shooting up all over the place. Something is definitely in the air. But for me, all normal writerly service is suspended for the next week as THE WEDDING approaches. It even demands to be capitalised with barely 6 days to go. Life is now a whirl of menu-choice spreadsheets, table plans and sparkly accessories. For a wedding wraps a writer tight in the very thing s/he most abhors - yards and sequinned yards of cliche ...

However, this nuptial circus training has also entailed the writing of the Wedding Poem - the subject of this week's blog. A very tricky assignment. And not only writing and editing it but then getting it past the censorious scrutiny of the Registrar's Office. On Friday, I submitted my offering in person at Leicester Town Hall. A very helpful young woman cast her eye over the poem and looked uncertain. She passed it to her superior who scanned it with even more gravity and took it away for further checks. I don't know how many officials subsequently passed judgement on it or whether they used surgical gloves. What were the critieria for this entry? Were they hesitant about line breaks, thematic cohesion or the secular connotations of the verb 'to divine'? I'll never know. When it finally secured approval, no critique was given. Whew!

Because I certainly couldn't have produced another one. I'm quite lost when it comes to writing poems for occasions and it's very rare these days I write about personal experiences at all. I'm no Carol Ann Duffy, not a poet of the heart or human relationships. And how do you engineer a love poem that's not riddled with cliche - or a lyric that is authentic and intimate and yet immediately accessible to fifty or so guests? I had to rummage through notebooks as far back as 1994 to find the raw material for this one. Now give me an iceberg ... which did manage to make an appearance in this one:

we cross Baltic blue seas,
skim ice water in Kvaloya,
drift with bergs in Jokulsarlon

And that's all you're getting because even more than the dress, this adornment of words is under wraps. The only people who've seen it are my trusted critics, Leicester Writers' Club, who helped me edit it this week. Much snipping, pinching in and stitches in time. Certainly the groom has not had a peek. Because when you strip away all the language, all the civil ceremony and wedding cliches, he is what the day is all about.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Mad, Hopeless & Possible

sledges packed; huskies fed; maps checked ...

By 2 o'clock in the afternoon, the expedition was underway. In the beautiful space of the Friends Meeting House, with 20 or so hardy companions, I steered into the ice pack of the Weddell Sea. For two hours, we hunkered down to haul the load of this epic story. White Warfare: Shackleton's Endurance Expedition, was my latest show and for the first time, I had travelled South to Antarctica for my inspiration.

It was seats of the pants stuff. A week ago, I was still writing new poems. We only tried out the new projector screen that morning. But thanks to my able techie, Rik, the slideshow ran without a glitch. And I was able to explore how much Frank Hurley's stunning images of ice hummocks and the beset ship added to the poems. (What would he have made of our pocket-sized projector after his enormous Kodak box-camera with its glass plates?) You can still catch an exhibition of his Endurance photographs at the Merseyside Maritime Museum till February 28th. Not to be missed by polar fans.

The event was designed to air the new material, test its mettle. I wanted to see how the whole narrative hung together and it was very useful for me. Lovely to get laughter at certain moments or hear the audience responding to the men's voices - fragments of their own expedition diaries that I was working into the poems. And the balance of illustrated talk with poetry performance seemed to work well.

At half-time, we stopped for cake. Unlike the store-keeper Orde-Lees, nick-named Belly-Burglar by his ship-mates, our cook, Gloria, has never been known to send anyone to bed hungry. We had our fill of her legendary plum-bread and chocolate cake too. Bally fine hoosh!

By that time, in the summer of 1916, Shackleton's Endurance crew had been rescued from Elephant Island. But now we plunged into the much darker story of the Ross Sea Party who had been sent by Shackleton to the other side of Antarctica to lay food depots for his Trans-Continental crossing. The suffering of the the men marooned there for two years belied any of the Boys' Own heroics of the Endurance story. And here were three men Shackleton never bought home. In a darkening hall that was beginning to feel like Polar Night, we hung on for the rescue of the last seven survivors.

My companions stuck with me to the very end. And here were some lovely comments posted afterwards:

It was a really vivid and enthralling description of an extraordinary experience.

Been in the white wilderness so long I now need to go turn on the central heating. No blubber smoke to worry about either.

The poems you read were beautiful and your historical information was
pitched just right...

We were utterly transported ...

... a most joyful afternoon. Marvellous performance!