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Robin Hyde, Whanganui

Peter Clayworth, Ann-Marie Houng Lee & Redmer Yska with Robin Hyde

It was great day in Whanganui on Saturday (17th August, the day after National Poetry Day).  The Sarjeant (which supported the event) was closed for earthquake checks but Element cafe kindly stepped in – very cool venue in an old bank building.  Dr Mary Paul and Redmer Yska gave us some fascinating insights into Robin Hyde/Iris Wilkinson’s life and writing (including Redmer’s reading of her poem ‘The White Chair’), I read a few of her poems and a few of my own, and the legendary Glen Colquhoun rounded out the afternoon with a lively performance of poems dedicated to Iris.  Despite all the shakiness of the day before, there was an impressive turnout of around 80 lovely people, some of whom had travelled from Palmerston North and Wellington to be there.

The event was the brain-child of Whanganui-based writer Ann-Marie Houng Lee who did a fantastic job of organising the event. She told me it was sparked by the Tuesday poem I posted (If you have linen women) a couple of months back.  Worth checking out if you haven’t read it before.

2005-01-08 12.39.17    Me with Robin Hyde outside the old Chronicle building

 

 

This is a poem of mine that was originally published in the wonderful Blackmail Press.  I wrote it after a visit to Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.  Joseph Plunkett, one of the Irish rebels who took part in the 1916 rebellion (or “Easter Rising”), was executed hours after marrying his sweetheart, Grace Gifford.

Joseph Mary Plunkett

Easter Rising (Joseph Plunkett, 1916), by Janis Freegard

 
they blindfolded him
our guide explains
for the benefit of the soldiers
(six standing, six kneeling)
so they wouldn’t see his eyes
when they shot him –
a piece of white paper
marking his heart
 
the day before, he’d married
in Kilmainham Gaol –
the proposal’s on display
You will marry me and no-one else
he’d written to his Grace
I’ve been a blind fool
 

Cross marking the place of execution of the le...

Spent a lovely weekend in Foxton (many thanks to the Beatsons) with the poetry group I belong to.   The only downside was the early morning duck-shooters, but the spoonbills made up for it.

Shopping is part of my DNA

The modern hunter-gatherer. Shopping trolley sculpture in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Scottish Poetry Library

A highlight of our recent trip to Edinburgh was the Scottish Poetry Library – a lovely tranquil space where you can while away the hours browsing the shelves, checking out the poetry magazines, buying the odd book, writing your own poetry or being impressed by the lovely little sculptures made out of books that have been anonymously appearing there.  There were more to be found at the Writers Museum.  Well worth a visits if you’re in Edinburgh and you like poetry (or little paper sculptures made out of books).  Best to check the opening times first, if you’re planning to drop by.    I gather there are other poetry libraries in London (South Bank Centre) and Morpeth, Northumberland (the Northern Poetry Library).  Something else to look forward to exploring.

Peter and I have just returned from a lovely holiday in the UK.  We were mostly based in South Shields (where I was born) but made several trips to nearby areas such as Newcastle and Ebchester, and spent several days in Scotland (Edinburgh & Dundee).

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We were lucky to hit surprisingly mild weather – one or two frosty mornings, but mostly crisp and sunny.  Perfect for walking about in if you’re well rugged up.

Wordle

Wordle: janisfreegard.com

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