red botinki

Thursday, 3 April 2014


like the silhouette of the Road Runner?

Sunday, 9 March 2014


Some years back the Review section of the Saturday Guardian ran a weekly  feature on writers' rooms which was really fascinating :some were tidy, some spilled over at the edges with papers and books, desks of all shapes and sizes were shown, post-it notes cluttered the walls in some rooms, postcards in others. Many of them featured a comfortable chair to which the writer could retire to read over what they'd done (or nod off if they chose!)

This is part of my room; the most important thing on the desk at the moment is the stack of fliers for Paul Henry's forthcoming reading with my group The Poem Shed (the 10th of April in the Friends' Meeting House, Chester, 7pm)

The desk belonged to my father: when he owned it he had a tiny selection of envelopes in one of the pigeon-holes, bills awaiting attention in the other. The drawers were almost empty except for a wooden fishing float, a leather purse with those huge old pennies in it, his first driving licence which went back to before the forties when there was no test (imagine that!!) and a photograph of one of his granddaughters. Not much else. The top of the desk would be completely empty.  My father liked order.  I struggle for it.

I have written many poems about my father, and my favourite is about after his funeral, not because he had died, no, but it is the poem that shows most clearly his eccentricities, especially the desire for order ( he had been in the army for many years).

Triple Rainbow

You had a driven need to simplify your life,
got down to one of everything: one chair, one bed,
one fork, knife, spoon.

When I came to visit you
I had to fill the car with everything you lacked;
a folding chair and bed, a mug, a plate, and cutlery.

I'm driving from your funeral now;
torrential rain has plunged from clouds of black.

The sky is blue again and in it,
a triple rainbow.

I hear you say
I only needed one.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Poetry Blog Tour

The very gifted poet Matt Merritt has kindly invited me to join in as part of the 'round the blogs poetry tour'. My blog isn't exclusively about my poetry, more about odd things that appeal, or things I've noticed in the natural world, but is occasionally about my work.
There are 4 questions to elaborate on, and the first of these is a happy one:

What are you working on right now?

 I am very engaged in working on  a pamphlet  right now, which Helena Nelson of Happenstance Press has agreed to publish. Its title is "Philomela" and it deals with rape, basing itself loosely on the myth of Tereus and Philomela, but set in  today. In the myth Tereus, as you probably know, lusted after his wife's sister, Philomela, abducted her to a cabin in the woods, raped her, then cut out her tongue so she couldn't tell the story. But Philomela stitched the story into a tapestry: in revenge she and her sister Procne killed Itys, son of Tereus and Procne and served him up to Tereus as a meal. Pretty brutal stuff. They were all punished by being turned into birds: Tereus into either a hawk or a hoopoe - versions differ a bit - Procne into a swallow and Philomela into a nightingale, Itys into a goldfinch.
With all the recent publicity about rape and abuse I was interested in the silence that often surrounds such matters; in the myth this is symbolised by the tongue being cut out. I take that as a metaphor for the frequent unwillingness of victims to tell their story, also the way they have been silenced by their families, the police and the courts.
My work doesn't retell the myth but imagines the horror the victim goes through, and uses bird poems to echo the story in some way. It's a very harrowing subject to write about and I can only do so much at a time.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

I've no answer at all to this: it's for others to judge.

Why do I write what I write?

There has been, without my choosing it or wanting it, a lot of demanding difficulty in my life. My first collection "The Plucking Shed" told something of my late husband's shocking passage through recurrent and  progressive MS. My second collection "Rise"deals to some extent with my own efforts to survive late onset ovarian cancer. Both collections are also about many other things too, they're not exclusively focussed on illness! But I have found that in writing honestly about both matters others have been helped by the poems, and that has gladdened me. One poem in particular, "Message to the Well-meaning", has appeared on several online cancer forums. It seems  to inspire courage and strength in sufferers, which is wonderful. I'm very happy that something I wrote could do that .
For myself these poems have felt like 'clearing the decks': my great love in life is the natural world and I write a great deal about it.
Finally I have written since I was a child and have always loved words and loved poetry. A case of 'I've started' but I'll never finish!

How does your writing process work?

In many ways. Sometimes to challenges set by other poets - I quite enjoy this. My local Poetry Society stanza leader, Robbie Burton, sets regular challenges on Cross Border Poets' website. Sometimes I can respond, sometimes not. It's fun to try! But however my poems come to me I always have to write them out in longhand first and then scribble out a lot of it before I'll type into the pc. Revision is very important.
My one problem is that I think and write fast, too fast, and then can't read what I've written, especially if I haven't got good paper. I mourn the loss of Onion Skin - does anyone remember it? Thin, elegant paper, often finely hammered, and writing on it was a real joy -the pen flew across it, it was the most receptive and welcoming paper in the world. The last time I was able to buy some was in Madrid in the 1990's. I still have 2 sheets of it left on one of the (many!) pads I stocked up with - have to save those for a really special poem...

The poet I've invited to continue this tour is Mandy Pannett

Thursday, 30 January 2014


In brief:

I am one of the judges for the County Finals for Cheshire of the schools' Poetry by Heart competition,  Feb 4th at Ellesmere Port library.  And am really looking forward to it!

Stretched to the Limit!

Tuesday, March 11th, Mandy Sutter and I are sharing a reading at Chester Library, 7pm. £3.  Mandy will be reading from her novel "Stretching it" and I shall be reading new poetry. We had a very successful reading together last year at Neston Library, Wirral.

The Poem Shed present Paul Henry.

Paul Henry is a fine, very gifted poet from Wales with a large number of publications to his name. He is also Poet-in- residence for Herefordshire and will be the Poet-in-residence at Ledbury Poetry Festival this year.

Thursday, April 10th 7pm at the Quaker Meeting House, Union St, Frodsham St, Chester, £5.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


The little dog I wrote about in my post on November 16th  has died. She died on the 7th of January. She was the most companionable dog I've ever owned and had such a gentle nature;  I can't get through the days for missing her.

Sunday, 5 January 2014


It's not very often that you learn the full background to a poem, but I have a poem that has a long and quite happy story to go with it! It began when fellow poet Sheila Hamilton and I set ourselves a challenge to write a poem about glass.

Mine began with staring into the window of a Chester shop called Pyramid which specialises in Scandinavian glass. In the window was a glass bird made by the Finnish artist Toikka who makes a series of wonderful birds in glass: there was his Anniversary dove, a beautiful bird in white with blue and green splashes, and so elegant I couldn't take my eyes off it! A poem arose from all that staring which later won me a third prize in The English Fellows' Association Prize for Poetry, along with a decent cheque. I went with a friend to the awards night, held at the British Academy, London - canapes and wine and lots of prize-giving- for children's books as well as for poetry. I met Fellows from Sussex University where my late husband had had a fellowship long ago, poet Jane Draycott and fellow prize-winner Francis Thompson, among many others.. a very pleasant evening.

 If that wasn't enough, I plucked up the courage to tell the owner of Pyramid about the poem's success and source of inspiration. She was thrilled, copied it, and sent it to Toikka. It was featured in the Itala glass factory's newsletter and on their bulletin board, and Oiva Toikka sent me a signed copy of his marvellously illustrated book "Moments of Ingenuity", a collection of essays which traces his artistic career.
And finally I spent some of my cheque on the bird itself!

Which you might think is the end of the story, but not quite - it won 'Poem of the Year 'honour on the Second Light website and you can hear it being read there by Anne Stewart.

It is an appropriate poem for this time of year when we begin to get frosts and ice, and maybe snow sooner or later, so here it is:

Glass Bird in a Shop Window

Surely the maker of this bird is
one whose winter months are lived
among deep silences of snow,

who understands the blue and purple
bruise of folds among the drifts,
who knows

the strange transparency of ice,
the way light toes on it
a fragile dance?

I have been standing here so long
my feet have slipped into
fur-lined boots,

snow is settling on my shoulders
under dank green pine
and snow-locked birch.

Ice splits: a bird flies up.
freckles the freezing air
with blue.

A shudder of snow
ushers its escape.

Gill McEvoy

A very Happy New Year to everyone!

Friday, 20 December 2013


I hate it when unwanted callers bang at my door-knocker - when I'm working on the pc I don't hear the doorbell which is why I had the door-knocker installed. Last weekend I had particular bother from people wanting to: cut the trees in my garden (I don't have any); trim the shrubs( I have loads of these); clean my driveway ( it has lots of wild strawberries growing through the paving blocks and I love them!). I am polite but firm in declining the offers.  But at 7pm when a doubtful lad claiming to be on "work experience" and standing on my step with a facial  expression like an abject wet dog I lost it, and told him in no uncertain terms to beat it. (He'd raised absolute hell with the door-knocker - making me think it  was time to 'bring out the dead', that the plague had returned, but no, the only plague was him.

So next evening when someone else clouted the knocker with an over-firm hand I got ready:  "N0 thank you," I said, "whatever it is I do not want it!" And promptly shut the door in the rather startled man's face.

Oh dear! It was the meter reader for gas and electricity. Obviously he was afraid to try the door again and have a repeat showdown  so he left me a polite card to say he'd called and I "was out", and that I could read my own meter and e-mail in the figures. Which I forgot to do.

Very doubtful that he might come across this blog but if he were to I'd like to apologise and wish him and everyone else, including the tree fellers, the shrub cutters, driveway washers, even the dubious young man