Category: Robin Houghton

To my fearless guest bloggers

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One of the great joys of writing this blog in the last year has been to invite some of my favourite writers, poets and bloggers to write me something.

In May Beverly Rycroft got the ball rolling with her heartbreaking rendering of homesickness, followed by acute readings of Walcott and Dickinson.

In mid-July Josephine Corcoran took us inside her writing process, specifically how she uses her diary as an act of witness.

Next we had Robin Houghton’s unsparing tackling of the elephant in the room of literary envy. This is essential reading, even if you are not a writer or poet. It reminded me of what John Candy says in Cool Runnings (and quoted by Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird): ‘If you’re not enough without the gold medal, how can you ever be with it?’

In late July I published two posts I still think of as fearless. Kate Bowles’s depiction of returning to work after cancer is one of the best things about the subject that I have read. It reminded me again to the meaning of ‘remission’, literally ‘sending back’, and to feel again the toughness of its double-edged sword.

Also in late July Kim Moore laid bare the process of putting a poetry collection together: essential reading for all poets at any stage of their development.

At the start of the autumn Sue Hepworth wrote honestly and movingly about bereavement, tackling the infrequently mentioned topic of grieving for a friend. In late September the heroic John Foggin wrote about the tension of capturing the lives of loved ones in poetry without their permission. Spoiler-alert: includes evidence of MacCaig. Which is always fine by me.

‘Travelling without a visa’ is the title of Finuala Dowling’s meditation on the call to disobedience in writing poems. The piece began in the form of notes in preparation for her panel discussion on the same theme at last year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and is a fascinating insight into knowing when to hold back and when to let rip.

Shawna Lemay is one of my favourite bloggers. If you don’t know her Calm Things site, you need to find it, right now. Her piece in mid-October tells the story of how poetry has the capacity to transform the workplace, through the simple act of beginning meetings with a short reading before getting down to business. Or perhaps the poem is the real business, no?

I keep using the same words to describe these wonderful people: fearless, heartbreaking, unsparing, heroic, unsparing, honest. Jo Bell is all of these and Jo Bell’s poems are all of these (please check out her book Kith; it’s wonderful). Her guest blog post on emceeing the links between stories of domestic abuse had me in tears.

What a feast of bloggers! Please read them, share them and spread the word. Each of them has given everything and I thank them from my heart.

The good news is that there is still more to come! I have one more guest post on the way for you -and it is going to be a real cracker. No spoilers. But watch this space.

With my thanks again to all of my guests for enriching my life so generously.