2016 in review

An annual update to my blog doesn’t seem all that impressive, but life does often get in the way of writing about it. 2016, tumultuous as it has been on the world stage, has been good to me both personally and professionally, and I can only be very grateful for that.

Highlights have included:

Organising the Fenland Poet Laureate Awards for the last time, in a big event to celebrate our fifth year! After a nail-biting contest, Mary Livingstone Totman was crowned the Fenland Poet Laureate for 2016. However, though I have bowed out from the team, the FPL Awards are still very much running this year, and there’s still time to get your entry in for 2017 – details on the splendid new website.

Photo: Harry Rutter

Photo: Harry Rutter

R to L: Poppy Kleiser, me, Mary Livingstone Totman, Jonathan Totman, Leanne Moden Photo: Harry Rutter

R to L: Poppy Kleiser, me, Mary Livingstone Totman, Jonathan Totman, Leanne Moden
Photo: Harry Rutter

I have hugely enjoyed studying for my PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Essex, writing about the North Sea islands of Heligoland – although my day to day life seems to involved any activity except writing the actual thesis…

Over the summer I was given a hugely exciting commission, to write a play for Peterborough Green Festival, produced by Eastern Angles theatre company. It’s been one of my dreams to write for them, even though I’d not written a script since the nativity play I wrote for the church youth group in 1993… In the Wake of the Flood, a response to a potential future flooded landscape brought about by climate change, was performed in front of Peterborough Cathedral in August, and I was then asked to develop it for a performance of new writing, Engine Room, at the beginning of October. It was a fantastic experience all round.

On set with the cast of my play, Darren O'Sullivan ('Hereward') and Suzanne Tuck ('Etheldreda')

On set with the cast of my play, Darren O’Sullivan (‘Hereward’) and Suzanne Tuck (‘Etheldreda’)

In rehearsal.

In rehearsal.


In the autumn I helped to launch the University of Essex anthology of Creative Writing, Creel 2, as part of the editorial team. And what a fine anthology it is, too…

Cover image: James Dodds. Design: John Wallett

Cover image: James Dodds. Design: John Wallett

In November I got to read at Poetry in Aldeburgh, at the launch of the 3rd issue of The Fenland Reed, at the invitation of editors Jonathan and Mary Totman. This was such a super occasion, in such a fantastic venue – and so many poets in one place! A real weekend to remember.

With some famous names...

With some famous names…

I’ve been doing a lot of teaching and workshop leading this year, too, including two series of creative writing workshops at March library, and my first term of teaching English Literature to undergraduates. I am so far out of my comfort zone I am thinking of bringing my own supply of oxygen, but it has been enjoyable and rewarding and surprisingly full of comic moments.

I am so very fortunate to be doing what I love, surrounded by so many dedicated and supportive people. Here’s to creativity and the gifts that literature can give us in an uncertain world. Here’s to 2017.

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