Monday, 14 June 2010
Well, it's that time of year... and I'm pretty bogged down with exam marking work (on top of my full-time teaching job) so I'll be out of bloggy action for a couple of months. This year I'm marking 2 GCSE papers... R.S. and Citizenship (yikes!) Also, I'm still busy looking for more suitable/permanent work against September (fingers crossed, something turns up soon:) And, my MA Poetry portofolio is due at some point this Aug/Sept. Talking poetry... I leave you with a link to an e-book, an anthology of experimental poems titled 'If I knew where poems came from' by MMU creative writing students. Do have a look... as some of my poems feature in this anthology (plus there are other very inspired reads in the collection). Hope you enjoy the read until I'm back online. Hope to resurface properly by early August after a long weekend in Cornwall (my treat after an exhuasting couple of months). I will stay connected reading and commenting on blogs when I can. Cheers.
Sunday, 6 June 2010
It’s taken a while to blog about my recent charity walk of 23rd May. Fully recovered, here goes...
After making the 1-hour or so train journey from West Kirby (where the B&B was located) to New Brighton station, we proceeded to make our way towards Seacombe Ferry on foot. This was the start point for the 15 mile walk. What a mistake! Walking along the coastal front, it was as we were walking against a tide of thousands of walkers that we realised that something was not quite right. Trying to stay positive, I hoped that the start point wouldn’t be a long way off despite the fact that we’d asked a helpful lady what the distance was from the start. She’d replied that it was ‘a long way off’. My walking partner was getting visibly irritated at our mistake. Fifteen minutes turned into half an hour, and this in turn became 45 minutes. It took a good 4 miles in the steaming heat just to register in order to commence the walk. Not the best way to start an epic trek (grin!). Anyway, we got ourselves registered (just in the nick of time too), as the deadline was 11 am and we were stamped in at 10:45 am. After a brief pep talk, we both managed to get ourselves into the right frame of mind for the journey ahead of us.
In spite of the ropey start, it turned out to be an absolutely glorious day. This coastal walk meandered from Seacombe Ferry through New Brighton, Meols, West Kirby and finishing up at Thurstaston Country Park. Surprisingly, the terrain was varied and arduous in parts. We trampled across asphalt, sand and woodland. I found the sand (about halfway through the route) the most difficult to navigate through. Walking on sand for a lengthy stretch was incredibly wearing on the legs, even though, it was beautiful walking along the coastline of some truly gorgeous Wirral landscape. As I powered on, my walking partner (a 10 time marathon runner), laden with a bag full of fruit and water, had more time and energy to take in the spectacular scenery and snap some photos. All I had to do, was to focus on my pace as I aimed to clock in a time of under 4.5 hours. My earlier training suggested that I could do it, and indeed, the two months training paid off. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 15 minutes. Hurrah. What an achievement for me, who has been slowly regaining my general health and wellbeing over the last couple of years, and who has been out of a gym for almost a year with lower back pain and tendonitis.
The highlights of the day... the fab vibe of the 5000+ walking community that took part in this walk, a wonderful array of young, old and four-legged; the varied and interesting route even sporting a lighthouse mid-way; meeting a dear blogger friend of mine en-route (J who lives in the locality spotted me in the red Action Aid T-shirt and came up, introduced himself and said ‘hi’); scoffing a couple of ice creams to cool down; a much needed loo break in a designated men’s toilets (yep, the ladies had taken over ALL the toilets in sight (lol)); not developing any blisters, although I was well prepared with Compeed - a suggestion of a Birmingham friend of mine who’d recently completed a tough hill walk challenge raising money for Endometriosis UK; and my finishing time. The only negative was possibly walking in the searing heat for 4+ hours. And in fact, much to my surprise, I suffered from sunburn - sore and peeling skin for days after. Oh dear, I looked dreadful. Normally, I tend to steer clear of the sun, so I guess my rather delicate skin took a real roasting (no pun intended) and I suffered for it. I didn’t realise how affected I was until I took a shower later that evening and felt a prickly sensation across my forehead, nose and neck. On closer inspection, I saw the darkened wrinkled blotches. Thank God for my dark colouring which meant that I didn’t turn a humming red as my walking partner did (he too had failed to take a hat!) So that’s the lesson for next year... take a hat!
On this occasion, so far I have raised about £450 to be split between two organisations - Action Aid and PDI International. My ultimate goal is to raise £1000 this year to be shared between the two charities and I hope to do another event later this year to meet this target. Huge thanks to all those who have supported my Wirral Walk endeavours. Your contributions will go so far to the HIV/AIDS work of Action Aid and PDI International. Those of you who would still like to support this effort, it’s not too late... you can make an offline or online donation. Follow the link or contact me for more information on how to do so. Those of you unable to sponsor this effort, I hope you might be able help me meet my £1000 target by supporting my autumn endeavour. Stay tuned for what I’ll be doing next. Once again, thank you... thank you... thank you... for all your support!
Thursday, 20 May 2010
I’m reminded of pumpkin moon lodged
in Omoba sky; under which my young
fanny was fingered by Uncle Innocent’s paws.
On frayed mat in a camphor tinged room,
I wriggled; bewildered, until my movements
became bound by the spell of magic moon.
Now: I imagine pumpkin moon has the power
to reach into my skull and crack its wall,
scattering the pips of dormant gloom. It near-
succeeds, tugging the corners of Vaselined lips.
Sunday, 16 May 2010
Today’s training was an easy 2-hour amble... the wind down (in terms of training) before the big day next Sunday (23/5). Through a local forest land, it was lovely walking through the embrace of the warmish May sun among the chorus of chirping birds. I must say that after almost two months of active training and one month of fundraising, I am really excited about next week’s walk. So far, I’ve raised between £450 and £500 (to be split between two charities)... quite a way off from my £1000 goal. But as I started my fundraising efforts quite late to meet this optimistic target, I’m hoping to pick up some last minute donations over the next few weeks. Also, it’s likely that I will probably commit to another event in August/September to raise the difference in donations needed to hit the £1000 mark for this year’s fundraising goals. Well, I will be writing again and posting some photos on the other side of the walk. Many thanks for all your well wishes, support and donations.
ps If any of you are in the Wirral area... I'll be the one in the red Action Aid T-shirt... do wave or come over and say 'hello'!
Saturday, 8 May 2010
In this aquarium room;
metallic bile rises
- Yvonne’s death at
thirty-five, a red-ribbon noose,
marriage meltdown - loss
climbs on loss, like rats
scrabbling on rats
in this blue cube...
where the only sweetness
rising is the scent
of sawdust, a reminder of a time
before cubed blue.
Monday, 3 May 2010
The goat with a slit throat,
tongue lolls, blood droplets
form burnt skin blisters
on baked Omoba soil.
My witchdoctor grandfather
cuts up the carcass, spending hours
cleaning, praying and cutting
as the stink of goat douses the air.
Seven-year-old eyes transfixed
by the smirk on the goat’s face.
This sufferer with mirth
as his song – has he breathed
his last chuckle, or has Imo miri
thrown him a lifeline?
*Imo miri - God of the Sea
Do stay connected with my Wirral Walk training updates HERE. This week's entry is titled 'Upping the ante' :)
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Training under an April Sunday shower!
Today’s training was hard hard hard! I set off with my trainer friend, Al, at 11:30 am. Although, there was some promise of a splendid sunny Sunday, the skies gave way to a downpour midway through our 4-hour walk. It took us two hours to walk along the canal from Manchester City Centre to Sale (a pleasant suburb in Greater Manchester). In the dry part of the afternoon, it was lovely to share the wonderful sunshine with ducks, fishermen, all manner of narrow boats meandering past, runners, joggers and other walkers. It really was bliss! However as we arrived Sale the droplets turned into downpour and at this point, we did a U-turn and pressed on homeward bound. My pace slowed down, and Al (a hard task master) was on my case to keep up my pace. But the sludge and slippery pavings at various points on the course made it difficult for me to maintain my pace (well, that’s my excuse anyway :) By the 3-hour mark, I could feel a dull ache in my legs and the sharp pain jabbing my feet. (I’m still struggling with feet issues which is being managed by regular Podiatry and Physiotherapy clinics - apparently my ongoing tendonitis/foot/lower back problems are a result of my aging flat feet/damaged nerves). By the 3 1/2-hour mark, my lower back started on me and it took every ounce of energy to complete today’s training. It was agony!!! For my efforts, I managed 12 miles in 4-hours. I really need to up the anti next weekend, if I am to complete the 15-mile walk in May in 5 or 6 hours (being more realistic) as opposed to spending an entire day completing the route (lol). I must find an extra 1.5 hours in me to succeed in this walking challenge (yikes!)
All in all, my training hasn’t been too bad in the last four weeks or so. Prior to going back to full-time teaching, I was managing TWO 1.5 to 3 hour walks a week. Since returning to work, I am walking the 40 minutes each way to the school and then committing to a long walk on Sunday. Well, just under a month to go... so, keep supporting me through reading my updates and/or sponsoring me online (or via post). I really appreciate all your support and well wishes!
Until my next post...
Sunday, 18 April 2010
On the windowsill
sits a feathery cactus
bulb and a silken candle.
Tidying fly-away braid
neatly beneath headscarf, I watch
yolk gel escape
into a milk jug.
A minute or so later,
heated gloop becomes
Beside the pan: creased silver
foil envelops flesh of freshly
For the meal later:
rice grains washed twice
in sieve, gravelly cr-ra-cr-ra
grating wired nerves while a few
grains scurry down
water, stream of cold
and smooth like the smooth sheet
which wrapped slothful curves - tangled
between thighs and whys? - the night
before in my lover’s den.
Monday, 5 April 2010
I’ll race you to Oyiboland
where we’ll feast on
bananas and buzzards...
is what I might have said to my boy
cousin whose hands were chained
to a pole in the middle of our Umugbede
chained up all day and all night,
he cussed all night and all day.
Mad, he was.
Friday, 26 March 2010
He traipses along with dog in tow
splattering of black and beige dancing
about feet. On his back rests a guitar
wrapped in bizarre colourful sarape.
Within minutes the pair arrive their daytime
destination: Sainsburys. He unpacks his tool –
begins to strum a stream of dated tunes,
bringing to life 1980s ghouls. Eight o’clock:
humanity ascends, fills the streets like humming
midges; man in tweed coat, paunched woman
with crucifix dangling from her throat, veiled woman
pushing silent pram. In the foreground: youth bristle
a gregarious animation of rooks. And he remains
unnoticed, a guinea fowl foraging beneath soggy leaves.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
On Sunday 23rd May 2010, I will be participating in the Wirral Coastal Walk to raise money for two charities - Possible Dreams International (PDI) and an Action Aid project. The goal is to raise £ 1000 (or more) to be split equally between the two organisations!
Possible Dreams International, Inc. (www.possibledreamsinternational.org) is a non profit organisation with a lion’s heart. Their vision statement is “to empower communities in areas of deep and immediate need throughout the world. Through the organisation and financing of community based projects and the raising of awareness regarding issues such as endemic disease, poverty and malnutrition we aim to bring tangible hope into the lives of those for whom the flame of hope seems to flicker on the brink of extinction.”
As a grassroots organisation they “work intimately with community leaders to empower and engage individuals as they walk the road to self- sufficiency. This is achieved through distinct community and family based projects.” To read about some of their recent projects go to: www.possibledreamsinternational.org/the-movement/ and www.possibledreamsinternational.org/swaziland/!
With a commitment to ending poverty Action Aid UK aims “to improve people’s lives every day. But we know that’s not enough. So we work relentlessly to change whatever is keeping them trapped in poverty.This means we have a better chance of ending poverty for good.” For example ActionAid in Burkina Faso: “Focuses on helping families to improve their farming techniques, improving access to health and education, and helping women to generate new sources of income. We have helped establish gardens in schools. One initiative has set up a drying unit to process local fruits and vegetables for sale at market. We support community-run health and HIV & AIDS awareness campaigns, and are working to improve local health services. We also support adult education projects to help adults learn literacy and communication skills and how to access local services.” To find about more about the work and projects of Action Aid go to: www.actionaid.org.uk!
The hope is that the monies raised from this walk will go towards supporting a PDI HIV project in Swaziland and an Action Aid HIV project.
For more information on how to support my efforts please contact me via email. Or visit:-My Action Aid: Wirral Coastal Walk!
I hope you stay connected with my training and fundraising endeavours towards this event.
Monday, 22 February 2010
Well folks... I’ve done it! A poem a day, for thirty days... hurrah :) Gosh, what an endeavour but its been great fun doing this bit of fundraising for Haiti. I raised £100 from a single sponsor who inspired the project. But, of course... all your support in reading and commenting has equally supported me in this journey. So, thank you all... so very much! Btw, the money raised will go to Haiti via Action Aid (a charity that I remain committed to - as I sponsor a child in Lesotho through them, and I have done a 10K for them too, in the past). Well, just to let you know that this isn’t the end of the story... as some of the poems that were conceived during this process will be reworked for my MA portfolio in due course. That's all for now...
His photograph hung
for a year at the Urbis
locked in a dark frame
matching thick Latin brow.
Long delicate lashes
tickling time squeezed
into air-tight jam jar. His breath,
damp and dangerous;
his sting far-reaching, untapped
wet bite slides on slippery angles
of glass separating us. Every
day for a year I visited Banana
spider in his rectangular mount,
thinking I was safe from his fount.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Friday, 19 February 2010
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Thin cutting pain;
sharp stab - stabbing
the arch of my flat left
foot, vestige of three-
hour Sunday walk along
Manchester's cloudy canals ending
in Castlefield basin where narrow boats
(enveloped by night-life chaff) moor
as if sleeping the winter away.
Left brain responds to jabbing pain:
says, it corresponds to knotted
tissues of a relationship in knots;
where conversations around whether
the sofa-bed in the second room should be out
or not; and heated discussions over house hygiene
rules bubble over. If only Men are from Mars
and Women are from Venus could resolve
this current of conflicting egos. If only
marriage was as simple as tiffs over questions
such as 'Does my bum look big in this?' If only
matrimony was not bristly like tendonitis.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Monday, 15 February 2010
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Friday, 12 February 2010
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Monday, 8 February 2010
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Threaded track trails
from here to somewhere
and back again. The distance
that has crept between us reminds
me of dotted phone poles,
and parallel wires bounding
for miles and miles;
a continuum of the ‘here
and now’ dissolving into faded
sepia, like the static on a BT
line, we are nowhere, and the distance
between us continues to swell.
Friday, 5 February 2010
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Monday, 1 February 2010
Sunday, 31 January 2010
Saturday, 30 January 2010
Friday, 29 January 2010
Thursday, 28 January 2010
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Monday, 25 January 2010
Sunday, 24 January 2010
Sunday, 17 January 2010
rend through this Northern
and garish plastic
displays in off-beat vintage
boutiques, a new cool
On pliant breast,
this nipple of Manchester
with its neon milk
ducts along streets running off Victoria
station down to Shudehill...
like a ubiquitous Babylon.