An update: News on the new book, news on the crowdfunding for baby clothes, and the feeling of fresh starts and future writings

It’s been a while. Apologies for my tardiness, I’ve been getting my ducks in a row. They are now aligned with military precision and I can get back to updating regularly. First things first, I wanted to say how absolutely delighted and humbled I was by the response to the Crowdfunding page I set up just before Christmas. My intention was to raise enough money to buy twenty baby outfits for the bereavement suite in Leeds. I’d originally wanted to get them there for Christmas, so that if someone ended up using the suite on Christmas day, when everyone else was enjoying their Christmas, that person would know that they were thought of, that their family mattered too. However, life got  in the way, some of the clothes took longer to arrive than anticipated and I did not get organised in time. I’m utterly delighted to say that it is done, we surpassed our goal and all of the baby clothes have arrived. The picture at the top of the page shows them in all their glory. They will be winging their way to Leeds tomorrow. We managed to raise £290 thanks to your generosity, and this is what it bought:

Four fleecy, soft baby blankets and teddies

Three knitted cardigans

THIRTY SIX individual baby outfits

THIRTY SIX!!!! I couldn’t believe it. That is a huge haul and will make an enormous difference to the suite, which runs on charitable donations. I’d worried that I would struggle to choose and buy the clothes, I thought it might be too painful. Some of them were Matilda sized, and picking them out of their wrappers, holding them up, looking at their tiny cuteness was very hard. It brought back memories of buying the clothes for her, the excitement of planning. The utter grief of having drawers and drawers of beautiful outfits that she’d never wear. But I think I have reached a point in my life where it is no longer rubbing the wound raw to do this sort of thing. In fact it felt wonderful. It felt like breathing again, of being able to be close to the source of the pain, and to know that i won’t die from it. A lot of the outfits were super tiny preemie size, as many of the babies that die are premature, like my little girl was, so it’s important to have clothes for them.

prem clothes 2

And it was important to me that the clothes were the sort of clothes that I might buy, or any new mother might buy. Not just ‘make do in an emergency’ clothes but pretty, bright, cute clothes.

prem clothes 3

I avoided anything with slogans such as ‘mummy’s little miracle’ on them because, obviously, the person holding their tiny little baby will feel both blessed and completely robbed of any sort of miracle. I think we did a good job. And it’s a weight off my mind to know it’s done. So THANK YOU.

The next piece of news is that my MA is now completed, my manuscript went off and was received. I wrote 68 poems in total for it, and they’re good. In fact they will form my next, next collection, but I want to take a year to really work over them properly. These poems are all about body image, acceptance of body, without wanting to sound too cliched, they are about learning to love yourself and your body, about accepting that you are beautiful whether your face fits expectations or not. The IVF and miscarriage and still birth are large in this collection, it is a story of survival. I hated my body and myself for a long, long time, right from childhood. There’s a lot of childhood stuff in there and a lot of love poems to my body, my poor old body, which did its best. It’s a very personal collection of poems, very honest and it was a fiery collection to write. I feel like I have gone through something with it, and again it feels like a weight off  knowing it’s done and ready to work on. And now I can throw myself fully into the PhD which is super, super exciting.

Next news, and here is the biggie…I have a new book coming out with Valley Press ! I am so excited. It’s my second full collection, my fourth collection in all and it’s called Gifts the Mole Gave Me. It’s about searching for roots, about being inside of nature, about discovery. I think there are grief poems in there, but it’s not about grief. I’ll be talking more about it as we get closer to the launch date. I recently had some photos taken for the publicity stuff, and that was a big thing. It is rare that I would allow someone to take my photo. I am the selfie queen, I can make myself look good in a selfie with filters and angles and just the right lighting. To give myself up to someone else and trust them to see me not as hideous, not as something to be hidden and changed to fit in or to look good, but to just take photos because here, this is what you look like: not a monster…that is a big thing for me. I don’t think I realised quite how big until I did it, and got the photos back. They are wonderful, natural, lovely. taking the photo

The photographer is Phil Rudland who is so good, I love how he uses textures and colour. He was very patient with me in my ‘Minnie mouse’ heels. I can’t walk in them, they are strictly for standing about in. I sank in the sand when we went on the beach. When I felt self conscious he just let me get on with it. he just kept clicking away.  He’s done such a good job. I don’t have them on my computer just yet, but when I do I’ll post one or two here.

After the MA was handed in I decided to take a week off study and poetry and do all the de-cluttering that I have been yearning to do while I have been too busy. And I did. It feels like a fresh new start, a step forward to where I want to be. I feel quite, quite happy right now.

I’ll be setting up a blog specifically to track my PhD and to share the poems I come across, I think a lot of creative writing PhDs happen behind the closed doors of the university, I’d like to share the exciting journey, and the incredible poetry I’ve been discovering. I hope you’ll follow it when it’s up and running.

I think that’s me caught up. It will now be a weekly blog, see you next week.

x

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