Looking forward to a couple of days at the seaside! I'll be reading with Janet Sutherland, whose collection 'Home Farm' enchanted me last year. Poems, writers, and oh please, an ice cream or two, even though it's the season of February storms.
I'll be reading poems from 'White Roads' at this festa next Saturday, 12th October, in the hilltop church at San'Angelo in Colle.
Dual language event, with help from Lisa Annicchiarico and readings in Italian and extra poems by Matilde Albertin.
The whole weekend looks great - follow the link here to find out more!
Salaiola Festa in September was really lovely - a jewel of a poetry event in a remote corner of southern Tuscany. Even though I arrived late, the highlight for me was walking up into the steep woods outside the village with organiser Kevin Zweck and assorted Italian poets, to sit in a shady rocky ravine that seemed a million miles for the cares of the world. We just waited to see what words might come...and of course, the world was there anyway, in the rocks and the cascading water and even in the ivy strands hanging down into the ravine, waiting to be noticed or not noticed, needing nothing other than our quiet respect . Why is that so difficult, I wondered.
Later there were readings (and a philosophical talk) from some wonderful poets, including Kalyna Temperley and Kevin Zweck. Not to mention the delicious never-ending buffet prepared by the village Circhio. A real treat.
After a long, hot summer, it's the season of storms. In a way, I look forward to it, the way it gathers and unleashes something. I'm sitting writing at our kitchen table, overlooking the green valley between Pianello and Travaglio, as thunder rumbles over the town and the first raindrops start to patter on the terrace.
Looking forward to reading a few poems and hearing many more at the Festa della Poesia tomorrow at Salaiola, a lovely little town on Amiata, our local extinct volcano.
A great evening reading alongside Merrie Williams, Ilias Tsagas (thanks for the photos Ilias!), Danuta Dagair, and other examples of Greenwich talent.
There is so much concern appearing in the media and elsewhere right now about damage to the environment and the extinction of species; having just read Ali Smith's wonderful 'Winter', I'm struck by her firey critique of the relationship between art and the possibility of real change. I wish that poetry could do more to make a difference. Perhaps at least it can remind people about all that might be lost if we don't make changes now.
Here in Italy I've been enjoying the energy of May as I always do; there's still so much exhuberant life all around at this time of year.
Buds open; out they come
yellow butterfly wings
impertinent spotted tongues
jittery space invaders
swarms of flying horses
pistil, anther, stamen
flame, keep on flaming,
bold as you like.
One more 'White Roads' post - I can't resist adding a link to Eleanor Shannon's very kind review of our poetry reading and wine tasting in Siena, on her blog, Uncorked in Italy. I've never read such a sensitive poetry review from a wine expert! Thanks, Eleanor, you helped to make it an unforgettable evening!
After our amazing dual-language launch event in Montalcino (where most of the poems were born), I'll be heading to Siena for a reading there on February 9th at Libreria Beccarelli. Watch this space for more details.
White roads, strade bianche, are everywhere in the part of Italy where I live, and I love to walk on them. They don't always join up like 'normal' roads. Sometimes they just lead to a forgotten shed, or the edge of a wood, or an eroded crevice, and then stop. They are a network of fine detail. In summer, white dust gets into the corners of my life, rather like sand after a visit to the beach. It redecorates my shoes, lines pockets. It creeps into poems too. So my new collection is named in honour of them.
While I was writing the book I met Silvana Biasutti, who lives in a small village near where I live in the Val D'Orcia. Silvana's beautiful drawings celebratre the landscapes and human traces that are everywhere in our part of Italy; I was more than delighted when she agreed to contribute some of her drawings to 'White Roads'.
I'll be reading some of the White Roads poems at the Poetry Café,
Betterton Street, London,
on Wednesday 18th July from 7.30 free entry
alongside two fabulous poets Rebecca Bilkau and Susan Castillo
I hope you'll come along for a free glass of wine and an evening of poetry.
They call them the white ways,
half-made roads unmarked on the map
or shown as hollow parallels that bound
across hills, falter to a trail of dots
beside a bare torrent-bed,
white-goods dump or ruined farm.
Everything in the reach of a white road
is white: trees, bushes, grasses wilt
under the weight of white. Wild boar
twitch with dust as they skulk
into the undergrowth. The air
is smoke, long after the tractor.
And dogs. Out of sight. I sense them,
wakeful, chained in midday heat,
passing the news of every traveller,
fortissimo. Signs on the track
define territory, quicken my steps:
a half-gnawed bone, towers of turds;
to walk the white road is to squint
over my shoulder, glance ahead,
to notice fine tracery, cloven tracks
around a hot spring. Mud sprayed milky,
not yet dry. Heart high as summer cloud,
white on white, I’ll follow.
I like what Franz Kafka said: