Listening to the Fern Owl

I went to an online Arts Catalyst workshop last week called Listening to the Fern Owl: Poetry as Field Recording. It was hosted by Nastassja Simensky and Mina Gorji who created a warm, welcoming and inquisitive space on a chilly evening. We were encouraged to consider the art of listening, through writing. We listened to a number of sound recordings, including the Fern Owl and wrote about what we heard. We also wrote about what we could hear around us that evening. With participants from all over the world it was a very evocative exercise to share. It has given me a new insight into the sensory elements of my writing.

Read my Fern Owl poem on Rough Hewn – my creative writing Substack.

After the workshop I looked up Mina Gorji’s work and promptly bought two of her collections and some of her recommendations from the wonderful World of Books. I was absolutely thrilled to come across Charango which shares my interest in carapaces.

“protective carapace
prized for resonance.”

Charango, Mina Gorji. Read the full poem here
Four books on a desk: Art of Escape by Mina Gorji, scale by Mina Gorji, The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile by Alice Oswald and The Thunder Mutters edited by Alice Oswald.
Recent book buying as a result of taking part in Listening to the Fern Owl

Recommending The Ariadne Archive

I subscribe to far too many newsletters, more than I can reasonably read. I do try to break up computer time by taking a moment to read ones that catch my eye and I’m so glad I read the latest post from Freya Rohn of The Ariadne Archive this morning.

“The yellow ochre amber leaves have left with the wind in the space of a couple of days. The tundra on the mountains turns more crimson with each hour it seems, lichens exposed in the higher altitudes lining the contrast. The chickadees, boreal chickadees, nuthatches, Steller’s jays, magpies, woodpeckers, and a squirrel are busier than usual, collecting the nuts I’ve laid out for them. The chickadees, looking like small feathered blooms on the ends of the now bare branches as they wait their turn to dive.“

Freya Rohn /To be on the way is the most important thing The Ariadne Archive

Freya describes deciding to split the feelings they’re experiencing into two newsletters this week and I admired that. This post celebrates gratitude and beauty whilst acknowledging there are rage fuelled feelings present too. I can be very total in observing my feelings – it is all bad, unpleasant and difficult or it isn’t. This post reminded me of what I’m trying to practice of recognising feelings pass and also to have the strength to read about difficult things and the importance of bearing witness to them. Thank you Freya.

Read To be on the way is the most important thing

Revisiting the Line with Jane Clarke

“that is the attention the poet is required to bring”

Jane Clarke – Revisiting the Line for The Poetry Business

I just finished a poetry workshop with Jane Clarke for The Poetry Business. Read more about my experience and revisiting Winter Spell as a result on Rough Hewn – my creative writing Substack.

Silent Writing Hour with Substack

I took part in my first silent writing hour courtesy of Substack yesterday. I loved it, there’s been so much fatigue for online remote anything but this felt appropriate, different and effective. I met amazing writers from all over the world and put pen to paper properly for the first time in weeks. My main Substack is Rough Hewn. I’m yet to integrate it here but I’ll figure this workflow out eventually.


I love the idea of having a hardened exterior. I definitely don’t permanently but it is a good feeling to be finding your shell again. This word also relates to new work on which a longer piece will follow. I did the sketch below after loading but before unloading my kiln and I was so pleased to see the same shapes emerging.

of, relating to, having, or forming a crust or shell

Emotion of the day series, with thanks to Be Manzini


I felt very honoured to be featured by Aesthetica recently in a piece about sculpture evolving. Lacuna was longlisted for Aesthetica’s Art Prize in 2015. I remember being asked to write something for the Art Prize Future Now Anthology. It was one if the first times I took a deep breath and wrote what I thought and felt:

“I am preoccupied by the alchemical, the haptic and the woeful disregard for the conjury of ceramics, the illegitimate art form. My work represents states of being, relies on recognition – of the everyday, of human stance and domestic scale – often taking etymological origins.

Lacuna – an unfilled space, a gap, an extended silence or depression – is a once-thrown piece that rests and melts with hidden pools, smooth folds and broken loops.”

Lacuna, Future Now Anthology 2015

Emotion of the day series, with thanks to Be Manzini


I think this is as close as I can get to the softly energetic pleased with myself feeling I have today. A nice time writing, a return to Jayne’s pilates, mixed with really enjoyable reading (Helen Dunmore… more soon…) and finally buying a shed. I feel unfurled. This continues to be my go to dictionary for this series. I particularly loved these synonyms and related words:

Synonyms for springing

Words Related to springing

Emotion of the day series, with thanks to Be Manzini


One of those nice serendipitous things where Brain Pickings, a newsletter I enjoy, took me to The Poetry Business who had been recommended to me just yesterday, via enjoying Christy Ducker’s A Scientist’s Advice on Healing. I am happily now a member and looking forward to reading Messenger in full.

“Try to accept

this fat red hurt

is your starting point,

in the way a pen must be put to paper

     in one particular spot,“

A Scientist’s Advice on Healing, Christy Ducker

The nourishing day continues with a delightful discussion on Book Shambles with Kevin Barry on reading, writing and the exciting news he has a new story collection out.

Emotion of the day number 23, with thanks to Be Manzini

A Room of One’s Own, Accumulating Weight

I recently finished A Room of One’s Own for the first time. There’s so much more to say than this initial post but in the midst of several funding applications I am reminded of two of so many phrases that hurtled towards me.

“That collar that I have spoken of… bowed my head to the ground.“

A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf (p.5, Vintage Classics)

This physical manifestation of worry or preoccupation is a concept I’ve ruminated on for some time. The Daily Journeys We Wear is an overarching concept for my present art practice. The notion being our lived experience can be manifested in wearable sculpture, portraits that enclose, cage, guard or amplify us.

I am developing a new series:

Worn: A Battleground.
Exploring what we carry with us.
Accumulated weight. An armour of sorts.

Worn Weft Weary. A trio.

Vestiges of an emotional battleground, artefacts.

I like the sense of a trio emerging here. They’ll be several stances forming a group I think. The W words are textural and a ripe starting place as specific words often are for me.

“A nugget of pure truth to wrap between the pages of your notebook and keep on the mantelpiece forever.”

A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf (p.4, Vintage Classics)

I loved this phrase from the moment I read it. That preciousness and the idea of a gift of words. A weightiness too though that can be burden like the previous collar. It is writing I want to write and the pressure I feel to find such writing when deadlines loom.