Ellen

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8 May 2009 Entry: "Laughing and crying"


Iím absolutely delighted that Flambard are going to publish my first proper poetry collection this autumn, the poems I worked on and put together for my MA portfolio, and the title is Breath. About 45 poems in roughly three sections, my childhood, moving to the North East and the cultural landscape of Newcastle, and then a final sequence of the journey of the last few years: losing Keith and the whole turmoil of my life since then.
As a friend pointed out, it is another sort of closure. As I was putting the sequence together, I was quite shaken, remembering the provenance of the poems, reliving exactly how I felt. Now they will have a home in the book and I can move on. And as it comes up to the fourth anniversary, I do feel as if I have moved on in some ways, although Iíve thought this before and been thrown back down the abyss.
Iím pleased that Flambard wanted them. Iím glad Iím in one of the north eastern presses that we worked so hard to support and make links with through Independent Northern Publishers. They have a quality reputation and their books look good. I wanted a particular Winslow Homer painting for the cover, title Rowing Home, and theyíve managed to arrange to use it, so Iím even more thrilled. It shows a small rowing boat with three people in dark silhouette, rowing across a stretch of water lit by a red evening sun, the sky is misty and pink, all rather indistinct, and mysterious. In my imagination itís Julia, Keith and Joe rowing home.
Peter Lewis told me they wanted to bring out some new writers alongside some of their existing poets, so I believe Jackie Litherland and Cynthia Fuller will also be bringing out new collections - so we can have some great readings all together. I find the ones about Keith arenít all that easy to read, but there are a mixture of others and some are humorous, so I donít have to read the last section at all if I donít feel able to.
I arranged for my friend Annie de Courcy (partner to Tim Dalling, one of the Old Rope String Band with Joe Scurfield) to take an up-to-date photograph of me for the back cover of the book. So on cold windy May bank holiday monday, I brushed my hair and put on a bit of lippy and sat smiling in her back yard as her daughter Rhona held a big sheet of white cardboard behind my head. We tried hair up, hair down, scarf on, scarf off, and in the end lipstick off too.
Digital cameras are amazing - within an hour, we had played around taking different types of photos, loaded them on to her computer, picked out half a dozen decent images and put them onto cd for me. I can almost fool myself I really look that glamourous.

Iím delighted too, that our latest poet of the month, Pippa Little, won the Andrew Waterhouse award in the last round of Northern Writers Awards. She is a great poet and really deserves the recognition. Her star is rising.

We went up to a cottage in the grounds of Cragside with Bev, Scarlet and Florrie and Vicky Darling to celebrate Juliaís fourth anniversary. It was very peaceful, looking at all the colourful flowers in the gardens, and reading her poems, laughing and crying. Thatís life, I suppose. I sometimes think I wouldnít be having this collection out, if all those dramatic and sad events hadnít occurred. When you stop crying, you have to laugh.

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