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So it seems the secret of navigating a cold Pennine February is simple: publish your first poetry pamphlet and launch a solo exhibition of new paintings inspired by the poetry. No problem…

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Flowers by the Road

Flowers by the Road became a reality after the collection won Templar Poetry’s Portfolio Prize in October 2016. The publisher planned an official launch party at Keats House in London on the 28 February 2017 so all I had to do was write, edit and re-write in time for a fairly generous deadline. That was the initial plan. It all changed, however, when Huddersfield Literature Festival offered me the opportunity to launch the pamphlet in my home village of Marsden as part of their support of local libraries. The only slight problem being is that these events coincide with National Libraries day at the beginning of February. Oops. Fortunately Templar agreed to bring the release date forward and before I knew it I was stood in a library full of people waiting for British Sea Power’s No Man is an Archipelago to finish on the pre-launch playlist so that introductions to begin.

You can see pictures of the launch event here.

Back in November 2016 the volunteer group, Friends of Marsden Library who had agreed to host the event at Marsden had secured the services of Simon Armitage for a night of poetry and library fund raising. It was during this event that I met some of the people who would be supporting my own event and afterwards, following a few celebratory drinks, where I agreed with local gallery owners, Sharon and Kevin, that it might also be a good idea to commit to a solo exhibition to coincide with the launch. Unsurprisingly I woke the next day with a slight hang-over.

The idea behind the exhibition was very simple: the paintings would have some connection with the poems in the collection. From this I began to plan a series of images inspired by single lines from various poems; the result being that the line of text serves as an introduction to the narrative of the painting rather than the painting simply being an illustration of the poem. Eight paintings were finished in this style and finally exhibited alongside a number of other works.

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A Fox Walks Across Our Path, Still Looking

The exhibition continues throughout March with pictures available to takeaway on the day.

Gallery

Enjoy Art, Marsden

We eventually made it to London, enjoying the sights and making the most of our trip with visits to the Theatre and the Hockney retrospective at the Tate. Whilst the launch did clash with the premier of Kong at Leicester Square it didn’t seem to impact on audience numbers, so much so that after I finished my reading a late comer had pinched my seat! The wonderful Ellen Cranitch followed my reading with a spell-binding performance of poems from her latest Templar collection, The Immortalist.

So that was February. Now with feet firmly back on the ground and the sun making a re-appearance it’s been a time to get back out in the garden and do some digging.

The Blue House

The Blue House

Marsden Launch – pre-launch playlist:

Walls – Kings of Leon

The Ghosts on the Shore – Lord Hunron

Eyes to the Wind – The War On Drugs

Don’t Panic – Coldplay

Picture of You – Richard Ashcroft

Icebox – Rougue Valley

29 #Strafford Apts – Bon Iver

Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteem

Magnificent – Elbow

No Man is an Archipelago – British Sea Power

interLitQ

Ruth Sharman Ruth Sharman

Ruth Sharman gives 3 question interview to Interlitq.

Interlitq: You refer in some of your poems to your childhood in India. Do you feel you need to travel to exotic places to gain a sense of wonderment?

I do feel a sense of wonderment – largely second hand – through my father’s experience of remote regions like the Amazon Rainforest and the evergreen jungles of South India. What could be more wonderful than seeing a cloud of lime blues, several thousand strong, rising from the banks of a stream in the Nagalapuram Hills? But I was lucky enough to develop a real passion for nature while walking with my father as a child in the English countryside. From early on, the tiny worlds that took hold on a rotten tree stump – the forests of moss, the clumps of wood sorrel – were as much a…

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Marsden Launch

 

The first launch event of my debut poetry pamphlet, Flowers by the Road took place on Wednesday 8 February to a full house at Marsden library as part of Huddersfield Literature Festival’s celebration of local libraries. The event coincided with library events taking place across the country to celebrate National Libraries Day which launched on the 04 February. It was wonderful, if a little nerve-racking, to see so many friends, family and supporters of poetry and libraries turn out on what was a bitterly cold mid-February night. Heartfelt thanks to all who came and made the event such a great success.

Friends of Marsden Library have created a picture blog about the event which you can see by clicking this link

The next launch event is at Keats house in London where I will be reading alongside the wonderful Ellen Cranitch. The event is free but booking is required. Find out about the event here

Flowers by the Road can be ordered direct from Templar Poetry – please follow this link

Please get in touch via the contact page if you would like me to read at an event or to request a review copy. Thank you.

My debut poetry pamphlet, Flowers by the Road (Templar Poetry) is now available to order direct from the on-line book shop at Templar Poetry. Price includes free UK shipping.

The collection was a winning entry in Templar Poetry’s Portfolio Awards 2016.

To order a copy please follow this LINK

Thank you

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Flowers by the Road – 2017

I’m delighted to announce that my poetry collection titled, Flowers by the Road, has been chosen as the winning entry in the latest Templar Poetry Portfolio Awards. The collection will be published by Templar Poetry as a pamphlet in early 2017 and launched with a special reading at Keats House, London.

Please keep a look out for more news and release dates.

In other news the painting, Neighbour (pictured below) completes the series of paintings under the heading, Two Houses by the Road and all works are now available at the Millyard Gallery, Uppermill, Saddleworth.

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Neighbour – acrylic on board 30 x 30cm

Pushed to choose a favourite word then without hesitation it would have to be spangled. Not only does it sound wonderful, but the child like mystery it evokes when added to basic word recipes adds glitter to the dullest imagination. It sounds pure and alive.

I generally keep my word obsessions private so I can only think that stars must have aligned across a spangled sky when Peter Spafford of East Leeds FM, sent me an email to advise that, as part of the 100 Poets project , my chosen rugby nation was the USA.

The 100 Poets project is a fantastic idea that brings together one hundred poets from across Yorkshire who will perform a series of poetic suites prior to the Rugby League World Cup match at Leeds Carnegie stadium on 08 November. It’s a meeting of poetry and rugby and a sell out crowd of twenty one thousand people.

Without wishing to give too much away, each of the sections has a world/sporting theme with the penultimate being the challenge to write a new anthem for one of the rugby nations. I’ve promised to dress for the occasion so if you see a dusty bow-tie and hear the word, spangled, then stop and say hello.

Friday will see the end of what’s been a busy couple of weeks, spangled with the glitter of poetry.

Hardcastle Crags

During half term we finally managed a walk I’d been planning for what seemed like years. Setting off from Hardcastle Crags, we completed a relatively modest circular walk inspired by the poetry and places of Ted Hughes. Half way point was the house, Lumb Bank set within its own walled garden amidst twenty acres of woodland. The house, once owned by Ted Hughes, now belongs to the Arvon Foundation and has no doubt inspired countless writers who have been lucky enough to attend one of the many residential courses.

Whilst the setting of Lumb Bank can be described as magical, with the golden canopy sun spangled, the silent steep sided valley is somehow awash in its own melancholy. Only after re-reading Hughes’ poem, Stubbing Wharfe (the pub which was our intended final destination), did I really begin to understand my own reaction to the place; a sense of loss for something unknown.

Lumb Bank

Retreating back up the steep lane, the autumn sun had tricked us into believing that there was still an abundance of daylight left above the valley. Only on reaching the footpath leading towards Heptonstall did it become clear that clouds had rolled across the moors bringing with them an ominous darkness. Winter was upon us.

Heptonstall is, of course, Sylvia Plath’s final resting place (and is again referred to in the poem, Stubbing Wharfe, ‘you saw only blackness’) and behind two newly raised headstones, laid her grave with its usual adornment of pens and trinkets. We silently paid our respects and left.

The darkness was rain which chased us back through the woods, down an impossible steep path, to our car. The intention had been to eat at the Stubbing Wharfe, our new favourite destination after summer walks, but the rain and darkness had made for an early retreat so we hopped back over to the Colne Valley where a split in the clouds brightened the last of the day.

The weekend welcomed the eighth Derwent Poetry Festival at Masson Mills in Matlock Bath. This unique festival showcases new titles from Templar Poetry. I had been invited to take part in the launch of the new anthology, Peloton which includes two new poems, The Cat Stone Cast and Late September. Sadly, due to work commitments, I was unable to make the Saturday which did feel a little like missing the ball but also gave me a steely determination to make the most out of Sunday.

The drive from Marsden to Matlock must surely be included in a list of one hundred drives to do before you die as unspoilt landscapes flood your vision from any direction as you pass through the High Peak and then on through the Derbyshire Dales. The return journey was even more spectacular with the setting sun adding the spangles.

This was the first time I had read at a festival so was a little unsure about the format and would have got a little nervous if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was first up with little time to worry. If I had worried then it would have been a worry wasted as the reading was over in a blink of an eye without any stumbles or mishaps. Next up was Gareth Prior who, along with all the poets, entertained and thrilled the audience. Gareth has written an excellent review of the festival which can be read by following this link, Derwent Poetry Festival.

The festival ended with, not wishing to sound like a beer advertisement, probably the best open mic session ever.  I had been invited to read a couple of extra poems and again was up first to avoid the waste of a worry. It’s a good thing because the list of readers that came next was astonishing. Paul Chambers and Rachel Spence were followed by the excellent Mat Bryden reading from his new collection, Boxing the Compass. Paul Maddern followed before the wonderful Dawn Wood, again celebrating the release of a new collection. Jane Weir then treated us to a couple of poems including the brilliant and timely Poppies and then, bringing the festival to a close, the fabulous Damian Smyth treating us to readings from Apparitions: A Hurricane.

Back on the Yorkshire side, we ended the day enjoying the surroundings of the Rose and Crown at Cop Hill on the Slaithwaite/Marsden borders where, on a clear day you can see as far as Selby and York. The sky was littered with fireworks. Explosive spangles.

This week’s short player comes from a game of music association. Starting with the Star Spangled Banner we skipped to 1969 and Woodstock and the legendary Jimi Hendrix before arriving at the much overlooked electric jam from the Waterboys 1993 album, Dream Harder.

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