#atinylife blurb

This week’s blog is a sort of guest post – I’d like to share this blurb about my pamphlet.

Parent. Worshipper. Carrion. is a powerful collection of poems that touch on core but often under-represented aspects of what it is to be human. From parenting to gender, religion to mental health to the natural world, the themes of this pamphlet may be specific to Stella Hervey Birrell’s own life but they are also universally recognisable. Stella has a gift for finding the quiet truths in moments when the balance of life is shifting. These poems are skilfully crafted while still retaining that rawness that makes you sit up and say, “This is it – this is the real thing.”

Rae Plummer, author of Wain.

A link to Wain, which you should buy if you haven’t already.

A link to Parent. Worshipper. Carrion.

#atinylife what’snext?

I’m super late to the party, but me and Mr HB have finally started watching West Wing on All4. So, of course President Bartlett has filled the role of ‘favourite fictional character,’ previously held by Atticus Finch.

One of his signature phrases is ‘what’s next?’ It’s meant to show his enthusiasm, his thirst for everything he can fix.

I can do that, too. With this pamphlet coming out, I’ve already got my eye on the next thing. What would be a good next step for me? How can I build on this success?

But I don’t think this is the time for that. This is not the time for ‘what’s next?’ This is a time to acknowledge my achievement, and the recognition of the quality of my work. I need to hold onto this feeling, however fleeting it may be.

#tinylife Parent. Worshipper. Carrion

Following on from last week’s introduction to Parent. Worshipper. Carrion. this week’s blog is about the wider themes of the pamphlet. I write in the domestic sphere, so expect lots of laundry references! Nature also inspires and informs my work. Something you may not have seen from me before is the inclusion of religion and church-going. Lastly, as a person who has recently embraced the title of ‘fat,’ I write a lot about bodies, especially the invisibility of older cis women’s bodies.

There is no point in telling you the pamphlet is an easy read, or full of positivity. There are glimpses of light in a landscape of brutality and pain. I am nervous about putting so much of myself out into the world, but I’m proud of these poems and hope readers can find something they recognise within them.

#atinylife countdown

The date sits at the end of a finite line

visible now, one turn of the calendar,

three more changes of plan, at least,

eight thousand emails between

me and a solicitor who works from home.

 

I get a new jar of Marmite

huge, the usual one but ballooned.

And I think ‘I’ll still have this when we move,

I’ll be eating this Marmite at this table

in our new kitchen,’

with the trees outside

and the rotavated soil of the garden ploughed up like

a life packed into boxes

a glut of lists.

countdown

 

I don’t know how many more

early risings.

Fuel is adrenaline sourced:

instead of sleep, I spread out maps

containing our new house

on the table at 3am,

tracing burns and reservoirs,

forests,

roads with

living beginnings,

and dead ends.

tinylife will be back in September.

#atinylife book week 2019

Next week is Book Week Scotland!

It’s a great chance to get out and about in the writing/reading community. Get inspired, make connections, give yourself an enthusiasm boost as the nights start to draw in.

This year, on Tuesday (21/11/19) I’m at one of my closest libraries: the John Gray Centre in Haddington. Fitting, as our topic is ‘Local Blethers‘! Myself, Rebecca McKinney, and Charlie Laidlaw will be talking inspiration, setting and how our localities feed into our writing. We’ll be blethering from 6pm-7:30pm and the event is free.

On Thursday I’m taking up my new position as co-host of Listen, Softly: EdinburghBook Week 2019. This isn’t just a one-off Book Week visit, I’m joining Claire and Dom to help with programming, sound, and the usual ‘any-other-duties-as-required!’ I’m excited and honoured to be involved in this popular addition to Edinburgh’s spoken word scene.

#atinylife ListenSoftly

I’ve managed to snag myself a slot at the new(est?) spoken word night in Edinburgh, on Thursday (21st March 2019), at the fabulous Golden Hare Books in Stockbridge.

Also on the bill are Leyla Josephine, Dean Rhetoric and Chris McQueer. So to say I’m in good company is a bit of an understatement!

I hadn’t been to a live poetry event until maybe three, four years ago… they are now one of my favourite things. I’d love to know which nights you go to, how you feel about live poetry. Let me know in the comments.Listen Softly

 

Anyway, for Listen, Softly, we’ve all been asked to recommend a book as part of the evening, there’s a raffle, there’s open mic slots available, I’m reading, did I mention that Golden Hare Books is the most gorgeous bookshop? Maybe see you there, too!

#atinylife going, going

Going…going.

ten thousand I am bid:

fifteen at the back,

come on now,

this unique lot! You’ll not see this again.

 

Puffin searches in vain for sandeels.

Swan sickens, poisoned by anglers’ lead.

Gannet, strong, snared in plastic net.

Spring rains fail, sand sweeping over pasture.

 

Fifteen at the back, twenty five online

Yes, sir, that’s more like it, thirty-five for this trophy

stuffed and so beautifully mounted.

You’ll not see another, not anywhere

– forty at the front –

now who’ll give me the reserve price? Fifty?

Thank you, sir. Going… going…

 

In secret hideouts, bitterns still boom

guarded.

Otters gambol and play,

no longer hunted.

Polecats lurk

White tailed eagle soars.

 

Sixty thousand I am bid.

Any advance on sixty? For this handsome Great Auk

shot, stuffed and preserved for posterity.

All done at sixty thousand?

Going…going…gone.

going going

#atinylife poetry inspiration

Things I have written poems about,

an incomplete list:

My stretch marks

My grey hair

The incompatibility between birdwatching/cycling, and being a parent/creative

My nephew’s shoelaces

A bird I didn’t see

The village I live in

Batman’s Hot Pants

Art by Kirsty Whiten

A window

Mental health recovery

Food banks

My house

My partner

 

Domestic drudgery

Men sewing

Walking on a beach with Jesus

Washing up with Jesus

Being a jumped up little madam

Eavesdropping in a coffee shop and judging the people around me

An official council planning meeting

Michael Rosen (in the style of Michael Rosen)

Radio 4 (in the style of Hollie McNish)

Parenting (in the style of Helen Fielding)

Reading (in the style of Vicki Feaver)

Playing cards

tinylife Poem

Dragonflies

A tent

Metaphor, via the vehicle of paper aeroplanes

Gender

Cancer

Time

and

Kindness

 

What’s on your list?