I don’t know about you, but this year seems to have been a lot. We’ve had one major health issue, resulting in my husband spending six weeks in hospital, with the consequent falloutfor those dealing with that level of stress and uncertainty. We’ve had one grandchild starting school, and another doing crucial exams. We have been involved in finding care support for one family member, and arranging a move to a new flat which is closer to us, and less inaccessible by public transport. I’ve dealt with a few health issues myself, and I finish the year in a very much happier and more confident frame of mind than I started, but my goodness, it’s been a rollercoaster!
The national and international news hasn’t been great either. War in Ukraine and Gaza, famine and destructive weather, no clear action proposed to tackle climate change and some very shoddy political behaviour at home have all combined to create a very gloomy outlook. But against that, so many people are resisting the drift to disaster – protesting against the wars, taking their own climate initiatives, helping at foodbanks and raising money for refugees, making it clear to the powerful that we are not for sale to energy companies or devious media moguls. There is more to us than the news!
It hasn’t all been storm and stress, however. The garden has bedded in beautifully, and roses and lavender, sweet peas, marshmallow and elecampane have bloomed generously, and filled me with delight. I haven’t managed to do much with them, but I have more concrete plans for potpourris and balms for next year.
Now that the greenhouse is established, I’ll be making more adventurous use of it, although it is the smallest one you’ve ever seen. I can still grow tomatoes and peppers, and take all the cuttings I want, so the herb garden is coming together.
I feel that I haven’t done much writing this year, but I did bring out Charms for the Healing of Grief, a lovely project with Hugh Bryden of Roncadora Press, which is selling well ( as it should, with those beautiful illustrations, which you can see here). I’ve also had a poem in the anthology compiled by Gerry Loose, The Earth is Our Home, and reviewed by Alan Riach in The National in July, and an essay in Paperboats magazine about the foxes which have inspired the next poetry collection (but it’s a long time ahead). Lately, though, the poems have come back to me, and I’m thinking about the moon, alkaline soil, bees and foxes, which will build on work in The Well of the Moon, about the self and the other, learning and communication, music and ghosts – a lot of ghosts of one sort or another.
I’ve edited six books of poetry for Red Squirrel Press, two pamphlets and four full collections. The on-line discussion website Ceasing Never started, but this busy year stalled it again, what with babies, (2) book launches, new jobs or houses, wrestling with medical diagnoses and bereavements. I told you 2023 was a lot! but I hope to be able to post a bit more often. I have done a lot of reading though, and I can recommend Nicola Chester’s Gallows Down and Kapka Kassabova’s Elixir. In new poetry, Jim Carruth’s long-awaited Far Field, Marjorie Lotfi’s Not the Person to Ask and Judith Taylor’s Across Your Careful Garden were highlights, but I also immersed myself in Irish poetry – Seamus Heaney of course, but also Eavan Boland and Doireann Ni Griofa, Anne Connolly and Jane Clarke. I started learning Irish but I couldn’t keep it up – and no wonder!
There will be one more post this year (I hope), but I’m away to clean my house, help the grandchildren put up the tree, cook, wrap presents and play. I hope you all have the space and time to do the same. Have a very peaceful holiday everyone!