Follow me on the daily commute.
Broadcasting daily between 08:05 – 08:40
on twitter @wordpoppy
At the terminal the coach heaves,
swallows me and my every possession
You said “goodnight, not goodbye.”
We thunder down the highway –
three days to Ayers Rock
I begin to unravel you and me;
unpick the horrors of what we did
and I see nothing but an emotional landscape
and when I reach Adelaide
angular, flowered, calm city
my accent still marks me out
and nobody shares these harsh pillows.
We skirt the Flinders Ranges.
Grey bushes break up the red stony soil
and lone houses break up the hours.
The water pipeline follows the road for hundreds of miles
and far away at Stony Point where you worked
a fire is burning
No doubt the sharks are breeding now.
I met Dave Peak over twenty years ago, when I attended his evening classes in creative writing. He was always hugely encouraging to fledging writers including me. Graduates of his classes have set up writing groups and gone on to work in magazines such as The Spark.
Dave encouraged me to celebrate my ‘unique voice’. As he put it recently if there’s 100 people in a room 50% will like you and 50% won’t, but there will be no-one else who can write in your voice, in your style. He also encouraged me to believe in my writing, something I’m still struggling with, but which makes an enormous difference to my ability to be creative, and get to the nub of things.
I left his class when I had my first child and lost touch with him until recently when he read at a spoken word event – Word of Mouth, at the Thunderbolt in Bristol, last month.
Dave has had three novels published: No 4 Pickle St, The Cotoneaster Factor and Go Gentle.
This is an extract from his unpublished novel, Miss Woo Country.
Once the storm passed a hypnotic wind came through the french windows carrying with it the smell of the hedgerow. I doubt Colquahoon noticed. He’s more a numbers man. Most times he crosses the dayroom
without sound like a butterfly on a summer day. Is it summer? Or summer’s? Jugg used to explain that sort of thing and then he’d make transgressors – of which I was one – write it out oh a hundred times.
I shall not in italics do whatever it is again. Such severity had its good points. For example I’ve never since spelt different wrongly. I used to miss out the first e. Jugg wore linen jackets whose pockets
were dappled with chalk dust. I don’t think he ever married though he did have a number of whitened cats. They were in the paper when he died. Homes Wanted. Ten to one they drifted back. Cats don’t settle
easily elsewhere. The word’s territorial. Like me. I was never one for roaming or for following in the footsteps of whoever. I was afraid something might happen while I was out of range of home. A certain oh
no leapt to mind if ever anyone suggested a night away.
If only I could make it out to the patio under my own steam. It’s an ache. Not an unpleasant one necessarily. I’m perturbed by Colquahoon’s fixation on his Times when he can – in fact – get up and go out there
if he wishes. Perhaps he’ll occasionally cross his slippers or clear his throat. Any number of things. I heard Harry invite him earlier – Harry’s good like that though not with me evidently – for what he
called a turn round the grounds. Old Colquahoon dug his heels in. I’m fine where I am, he said gruffly. I enjoy the occasional adverb even though Jugg said too many are a sign of laziness. I’m not even sure it
was gruffly. I used it because it made the sentence scan in my head.
Dave – thanks so much for sharing your latest work – Grace.
As part of my blog I want to inspire others to write. What better way than to showcase excellent writing? The classic advice given to writers is to show, not tell. Simon and I have been part of a writers’ group for over four years. His poem is about the process of critiquing writing.
Today’s guest writer is Simon Tonkin
Simon Tonkin is a writer and illustrator from Bristol. His poems first began littering the Small Press scene in the early Seventies and he won the Dylan Down the Ups short story competition in 2009. Since then he has become a full time artist and writer.
His first novel, The Writing Shed – as the title suggests – has the ghost of Dylan Thomas at its heart. He’s working on a second, Other Tongues and hopes to complete that shortly.
A Walk in the Park by Bernice Wicks
At the weekend I visited Cornwall. Here’s a little something that emerged from the trip.
Water, rock, survivor, water, rock, survivor. The sea boomed and called whilst the moon continued to shine over the jagged coastline and the container ship anchored far out to sea.
In Watch Tower Cottage Peg picked up her thread and continued with her cross-stitch tapestry of rhubarb and shears. She’d found it lying in a charity shop. Someone had lost their thread and failed to complete the pattern. Peg was naturally a completer finisher and took on the challenge gladly. You could discover a great deal about people’s lives from charity shops.
She wondered about the scent of death – if the person who donated the mac or the pair of trousers had thrown things out or whether someone’s entire wardrobe had been donated after they died. On principle she did not buy clothes which looked as if they were worn by anyone under 60. An arbitrary figure but one she felt comfortable with. Her mobile began its irritating trill. The screen flashed a message from Anthony.
‘Sorry Peg, but it’s over. No hard feelings eh?’
She laughed; her feelings weren’t hard they were raging explosions. She swam in the heat of them – a hot flush slicked her body with an instant sweat. It was true then, he had been sleeping with her. She looked down at her hands, her thighs, thought of what she’d given and got. No hard feelings eh?
She texted back: ‘Of course. Come round to say goodbye.’
Then she began to plot: Water, rock survivor, rock, needle, spine.
John paced. Four strides each way. You’ll wear a hole in the carpet is mother had said. But in here there was no carpet.
My Neighbour’s Sunflowers
From stripped rooms
but loved allotment
come his sunflower bunches
hand tied with twine
given to hold up the sky
to keep back the rain
in recognition of my pain
I accept, awkward at the door
avoid the dog breath stagnancy
of his shot liver
he smiles and says
‘Look out for the earwigs
nesting in the petals’