It’s not often that a poet’s sock is handed to you in the local pub and rarely is it as exciting as the insulated brown one that was dangled in front of me last night whilst squeezing the last of the Butterley bitter out of my shrinking pint glass. This sock has a story to tell.

The sock in question was the one made famous by Simon Armitage during his mammoth trek down the Pennines during the summer of 2010. The walk, which was later chronicled in the fabulous book, Walking Home, relied on people paying Simon what they thought he was worth following readings at various locations each evening. He was paying his way with poetry and the sock was employed as a means of collecting the rewards.  As far as a sock’s life goes, this one’s had it pretty good. It must have wondered, however, what it was now doing in the Riverhead with a bunch of strangers after such celebrity.

The sock was in the company of the poets, Michael Stewart, Julia Deakin, Gaia Holmes and William Thirsk-Gaskell who were preparing to set off to the Ilkley Literature Festival by walking the 47 mile Stanza Stones Trail.

The Stanza Stones consist of six poems by Simon Armitage. Each of the poems have been hand carved by Pip Hall into ancient quarried rocks at atmospheric locations along the trail. The walk covers the 47 miles between Marsden and Ilkley. Each of the poems focuses on water in its many forms and, mysteriously, there is another stone, the seventh stone, which, at this time, remains undiscovered. You can find out more about the trail here Stanza Stones

cotton grass 012

Enjoying its break from retirement and having been sent to Michael rather enigmatically from Simon without any note or explanation, the sock was collecting for charitable causes following some excellent readings by all four poets as a way of launching the project, aptly named, Walking the Line.

Members of the public are invited to join the walk over the next three days which will also see readings taking place at Hebden Bridge, Saltair and finally, the Ilkley Literature Festival. You can find out more by visiting Walking the Line. I had hoped to join the team for the first leg but a rather unfortunate incident with a scaffold board and bag of chicken food has left me receiving strict orders to rest.

Having returned to normality after an extraordinary summer that saw great holes being excavated in my front garden (more later), European road trips and sun, poetry has once again come back into focus with lots of exciting events.

Last weekend saw the fabulous Marsden Jazz Festival (I’m sure there should be an international in the title somewhere) host the fourth Poetry Jam. This was the first time I’d managed to make the Jam due to work commitments, and what a fantastic event it was. Hosted by Write Out Loud’s very own Julian Jordon, the family friendly event saw poets from across the country lining up to read to the packed out pub. You can read an excellent review here Marsden Jam

In other news, I’ve had a couple of new poems accepted for publication by two excellent on-line journals and also two poems have been selected by Templar Poetry for their latest anthology, Peloton, due for release in November. I will be reading at the launch event of the anthology at 12.00 on Sunday 03 November during the Derwent Poetry Festival. The full programme can be accessed here Derwent Poetry Festival .

In the Halls this week, getting heavy rotation alongside excellent new albums from Lanterns on the Lake and Pearl Jam are Embrace whose new album will hopefully be released in the next twelve months (Embrace fans will understand). While we wait, here’s the poetic Higher Sights from the debut album, The Good Will Out. I’ll put a sock in it now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJBoolS6JXo