The photo is a teeeeensy weeeensy image of me performing in a recreated Roman amphitheatre, in Cyprus. You don’t know performing ’til you’ve recited something in an amphitheatre. In the end I sort of encouraged a mini open mic, including dance, a Cypriot reciting something, and an Italian fellow ‘poeting’ too. I am a politically active poet and an anthropologist and like to say I’ve locked up the two most highly paid professions! Words have always fascinated me. I was reading by age 3, and by 5 had exhausted the meagre supply in the children’s section of the local library and so read adult non-fic shortly after that. Perhaps early exposure to adult topics such as Nazism, war; the Titanic; and biographies of people like Harriet Tubman and Edison shaped my political awareness. I remember my parents glued to the TV when Ruby shot Oswald. I celebrated their distraction by eating an entire bottle of baby aspirin, humming to myself, unnoticed. (I remember the stomach pump on a metal gurney.) I’m also mom to a resilient, kind and yet wonderfully snarky special needs young adult, now finding her own way in University. Emily appears as guest star or walk-on in many of my poems. My writing themes are fairness, motherhood, sex, death, religion, love, and human skeletons, and I’ve had work appear in newsprint, books, magazines and on-line forums. I prefer to share my observations with passion, cynicism and a sense of humour rather than angst: sometimes I’m told my work is ‘a little dark’, whatever THAT means. The best poem is a tiny short story: a slice of life, an observation, a series of images, even a tale from start to finish. I returned to writing after a very long break, mostly in response to a small family tragedy. This small death informed my writing and in the space of a year I wrote about 80 poems. I have written a novella and a few short stories, but my other interest is in expressing my enthusiasm for human skeletal remains, and what they might tell us about life in the past. I also write non-fiction, both creative and academic. In early 2005, my partner Alan and I changed the direction of our tiny business Stairwell Books from printing out pamphlets for our readings, to a small press focusing on poetry. By 2007, we’d also taken on prose, and now have a small but profitable business publishing 10-15 books a year, both in print and e-formats. Our most successful authors are the forward, confident ones who delight in sharing their words. Since 2011, Stairwell publishes Dream Catcher Magazine, which originated in York. Finally, for over 13 years, Alan Gillott and I have run a poetry open mic on the first Tuesday of a month: here in York (at The Exhibition Hotel since January 2006) and before that, at a Borders Books near our Connecticut house. Once a month, every month, is more of a commitment than you’d think, but I love hearing stories and poems in all sorts of styles and at all levels of experience; we both adore watching authors find their ‘voice’ (to use that all-too-accurate cliché) and become ever more comfortable in their writerly skin. Also a few months ago I realized my favourite part of the month was when the pub’s kitchen doors open, the staff pass out plates of chips and salad, and poets rise to reach out, take them, and pass them hand to hand, onto a waiting table. Then, we nibble and chat. Then, some leave and the rest of us get ready to read one more poem. This shared community of plates to hands to hands glows with love.
Can’t we just walk someone has failed someone can’t face another loser day of pain isolation someone is drawn by shiny steel, giant engines cement platforms that stop at death. someone screams someone claps a useless hand on EMERGENCY and drops DEADMAN BRAKES to no avail. Someone takes leave of absence quits the job walks off the platform too, different direction. someone just shrugs he’s hit 13, his lucky number says “Ain’t my fault, soft bump, I just keep going, So what? What’m I supposed to do?” and someone shouts. demands answers. she is late, he has a date they have a meeting! he is angry, she’s inconvenienced aren’t they selfish these useless fools-- can’t I just walk. can’t I just leave the train. I have somewhere to go. someone has failed someone has lost the plot at being human and someone somewhere waits someone despairs someone is scarred someone will leave someone will rage someone will shrug
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