Dying Matters

‘Dying Matters Awareness Week’ in the UK ended yesterday. For those who don’t know, Dying Matters is a coalition of 32,000 members across England and Wales — including the NHS, bereavement charities, social service organisations, academic bodies and more — which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to…

Launched

My favorite definition of the verb ‘launch’ is “to send or shoot (something, such as a rocket) into the air or water or into outer space”. When anyone talks of launches, I think of NASA countdowns, young children building homemade rockets, my New Year’s Eve friends setting off fireworks. Two weeks ago, I had my own…

In Anticipation

­Tomorrow is the day. After nearly four years of lock-myself-in-the-house-at-night-poetry-making, my debut collection, More than you were, is launching in Cardiff. Friends are already messaging me this morning – ‘Are you excited?’, ‘Can’t wait to see you!’. I am certainly excited, but I am also humbled and grateful and blooming with joy to see these…

Lessons

After my father died, my childhood memories came flooding forward with a force I wasn’t expecting. I remembered his swooped back hair, his over washed jeans, his too loud laugh. I remembered watching the same films with him over and over again, lazing on the couch during hot summer days, threading worms onto our fishing lines. At his…

GUEST POST: Grieving graphically

Last week I posted my first guest blog by Elisa Auvinen, a Finnish writer and PhD student I met during my teaching exchange in Finland. This week, I would like to share the second guest post, written by the talented and engaging Katja Kontturi. Like me and Elisa, Katja also lost her father. We spoke about this…

GUEST POST: The point of the first question

During my teaching exchange in Finland, I met so many bright, passionate and talented people. But there were two women in particular whose stories and creativity really spoke to me. I have asked both of them to write guest posts for my blog about themselves, their fathers, their writing and more. Please enjoy the first…

Warmth & Writing at the University of Jyväskylä

During Cardiff University’s reading week in February, I could be found on the University of Jyväskylä’s snowy campus in Finland. Both institutions are members of the European Association of Creative Writing Programmes (EACWP) and formed a link in 2015 with the first teaching exchange between Dr. Shelagh Weeks and Terhi Forssén. I was delighted that my visit…

The Joys of the Pre-Order

Last year, I pre-ordered two debut poetry collections: The Sobbing School by fellow Marshall Scholar Joshua Bennett and The Knowledge Weapon by the winner of Bare Fiction’s Debut Poetry Collection Competition, Annette C. Boehm. I was desperate to read these collections so I ordered them the first chance I got. Then I waited, full of the…

Finnish Poetry

I am writing this post from a warm and colourful studio in Central Finland, sipping tea and eating pumpkin seed bread. This week, on behalf of Cardiff University, I am visiting the University of Jyväskylä to observe seminars, give presentations, teach workshops and learn more about creative writing in Finland. It has been extraordinary so far…

Semi-Detached

My last post was in May and a lot has happened since then. Summer is my busiest season and as work for my day job, PhD and freelance projects increased my blog posts and personal writing took a reluctant back seat. Luckily, things are cooling down, both literally and figuratively, and I can now take…

Vetoed Wedding Poems

I got married last week. After years of saying I would never get married, I did. I suppose I always believed that marriage would stifle me, take away my freedoms, hinder my ability to pursue my passions. However, over the last six years my partner has done the opposite: he builds platforms, creates more opportunities, supports…

Grieve, Read, Write

My Dad would have been 48 this Boxing Day. I wished him a happy birthday three years ago, chatting casually about the ham he was cooking, what he and my grandmother did for Christmas, what his plans were for New Year’s Eve. He seemed happy. He’d finally won a disability settlement he’d been after for…