Mid-mid, most inclined

It’s the year’s midpoint; midsummer’s day. In Cumbria the longest day seems to be marking the end of a small but impressive heatwave: the storm arrived around the solstice hour itself. Today has been a mixture of warm rain and steaming sun.

Avoiding even touching on the state of the nation(s), it’s been an interesting few months.

One of the highlights of this Spring for me was reading with Emily Blewitt, Siobhan Campbell and Rhiannon Hooson at the Seren Poetry Gala at Hay Festival.

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Amy Wack, Siobhan Campbell, Me, Emily Blewitt, Rhiannon Hooson

At home in Grasmere, we celebrated the launch of Basic Nest Architecture, with featured poets Mark Ward and Megan Beech, and a magnificent performance from Jenn Grant and her band. This still seems like a particularly unlikely dream.

 

Last week I travelled down to Cambridge for the Rialto Nature and Place Prize reading, which was a warm and inspiring event, championing the capacity for poetry to forge connections between humans and the non-human world.

froggy

A Midsummer Night’s Frog

From August onwards, I’m going freelance. I’m really looking forward to it, though not to the return of financial insecurity: it is a truth universally acknowledged that you can have time, or money, but not both. I’m hoping to use some of my time taking the book to exciting places, as well as working on various new writing projects. The rest of 2017 is already dotted with events near and far, including:

  • Guest Poet reading at The Garsdale Retreat, on ‘Writing The Land: Crafting Poems from Inspired Communion’ with Helen Moore, Sedbergh, Wednesday August 23rd 2017.
  • Reading for Caught by The River at The Good Life Experience, Hawarden Estate, Flintshire, Saturday September 16th, 2017.
  • Durham Book Festival ‘Northern Poets’ event, Saturday October 14th. Details tbc.
  • Reading at Kendal Mountain Festival. Details tbc.
  • Throughout the autumn and winter I’m also going to running a monthly Poetry Reading Group in Dove Cottage for The Wordsworth Trust. It will be on the first Thursday of the month, October – March, 7.30-9pm (except January, when the cottage is closed). The poems will be picked to reflect the seasons, taking us from Autumn, through Midwinter and back out into Spring. No prior poetry reading experience necessary!

Here is a flashback to an earlier Summer Solstice, with less appropriate weather, and some things that may or may not have happened outside the poem.

Solstitial

from Basic Nest Architecture

 

We are drawn by a map of sweet ash winding

through the twilit streets. There should be three fires:

one of clean bones, one wood, one both.

 

We have only split logs and white wax to offer

and a tithe of furred moths, and a swan’s egg washed

to the shore in a flood, two days earlier.

 

We pass the sloshing oval from palm

to palm, cold as stone, full

of things that will not happen. We float

 

wreaths from the candle-lit jetty to the dark

fretful heart of deepest water;

bunches of foxgloves and elderflowers;

 

give ourselves to the lake to slake

the calamitous storms of the future; muttering

moonshine, mid-mid, most inclined,

 

axial tilt. We drink. We burn

the sickly half-year, leap the flames

solemn, hallooing. Our voices spin

 

round the dish of the vale, which is also a crater,

which is also a wheel. We want to sing

through the centre but the night is too light here, cloud

 

confusing the jagged horizon. We try

to feel it. 23.09. Maximum

cant. The exactness anachronistic.

 

Mid-mid most-inclined we chant

like a hymn or something older.

We will wash our faces with cold grey dew.

 

We will sleep with flowers pressed under our pillows.

We will run the streets naked at three in the morning,

the sun almost starting to rise.