It’s a been a little while since I offered my thoughts on someone else’s writing on here, rather than sharing my own. However, I’m still really enjoying reading-especially now that summer’s arrived and there’s (slightly!) more sun around here in Wales. Sitting on my garden bench whilst lost in a good story is definitely one of life’s little pleasures.
Today, I’m going to be talking about a really lovely summer read-The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice by Katarina West. Katarina kindly sent me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Here’s the blurb:
“Meet Irene Nylander, a frumpy housewife from Finland… and a yo-yo dieter.
She feels trapped in an unhappy marriage, looking after her domineering mother-in-law
and living vicariously through romantic movies.
Meanwhile, in Florence, Mimi Kavanough’s star is rising. She has the body of a
Barbie princess, the iron will of an army sergeant – and Hollywood in her sights.
On her fiftieth birthday, Irene discovers her husband is having an affair.
Devastated, she prays for a way out: she wants to die.
In heaven, a mischievous angel called Aaron hears her prayers.
He decides to make Irene and Mimi swap bodies.
How will the two women cope with their unexpected, and very different,
second lives? And will Aaron’s meddling get him evicted from heaven? What will happen if he has to transform into a human being and live on Earth?”
As the blurb suggests, the story centres around two female characters with very different lives and personalities. Both Irene and Mimi are easily likeable, so I quickly found myself getting attached to their stories-as Irene’s revels in the decadence of the celebrity lifestyle whilst Mimi realises that life is very different without money and status. I particularly warmed to the determined Mimi as she struggled to accept her new existence as a Danish housewife and fought to get her old life back.
In many ways, this is a classic body-swap story; reminiscent of films such as Freaky Friday and The Change-Up. However, it’s made more interesting by the fact that the swap takes place due to the actions of a young angel, Aaron- who has a desire for change and justice that overrides his respect for angel rules and laws. Aaron’s story is interwoven throughout; and, whilst it’s compelling, it complicated the narrative somewhat for me. This might just be due to the fact that I’m not a huge fan of fantasy novels, but as Aaron inhabits an different realm from the other characters I felt that a lot of explaining had to be done to describe the Angel Kingdom in which he exists-which slowed down the pace of the book.
Having said this, I still really enjoyed the novel. It’s well-written and compelling, and the chapters are short enough so that you fit in a quick read during your lunch break. It’s also perfect for this time of year as it offers romance, escapism and plenty of plot-twists!
It’s worth noting that this book is the first edition in the Angel Aid series-which means that there’s plenty more still to come from the talented Katarina West. I’m already looking forward to the next one!
To buy The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice on Amazon, click here.
To find out more about Katarina West, please visit her website.
You tell me beauty is perfection.
It is the airbrushed, bright white,
no-cellulite bodies in the papers and magazines,
American dreams written in lipgloss and eyeliner
the thinner the better
the tighter the nicer
the young over old-
as it’s then that everything starts to unfold.
don’t smile too much or lines will form around your eyes.
Don’t eat that cake for it will go straight to your thighs
or you will slowly rot inside.
But beauty, for me,
is the warmth of your yellow-toothed smile,
as the wrinkles on your face tell a tale untold.
It is the scar on my elbow,
and the sporting injury in your knee
and the pock marks on our thighs.
In the round belly that is nice to hug
and the face that glows without make-up.
I find it in the eyes of those who love well-
and are not afraid to live.
Who age, and smile, and laugh and dance-
sharing their stories along the way.
I see it everyday-
when I stop looking for perfection.
Your thick, curving bones
fill a hall that befits your grandeur-
different to the water you called home for so long,
but still a space to swim in.
people notice you are beautiful-
your fragments a reminder of all that is good and natural,
a smile forming in the space between your jaws
that some would see as empty,
and others full.
You are a symbol now-
diving into eternity,
a reminder of what we need to look after
and the wonder that exists all around us-
if we only choose to look.
And they tell me that we share a name.
I splutter a little,
as I’ll never live up to your splendour and big boned grandeur.
But I can take on a little of your spirit,
and choose to swim in a cold, blue ocean.
‘But I don’t want to live quickly’,
‘Would rather wander and ponder and spend time considering the nature of it all.
But her life is a whirlwind right now.
A never-ending to-do list that her mind makes intense by shouting its demands,
tired out and tense at the end of the day.
She needs a holiday, just for a second.
So she breathes in, and out.
Takes some time in the sun-
looks around, and notices faces shining with fulfilment,
bags under eyes and feet dragging along
but essentially, they are strong-
not muddling through but standing proud-
filled with a sense of what they need to do.
Her heart asks.
‘Well, I am finding out through you.’
Your art speaks to me-
Travels inside my subconscious to create an unknowing smile.
From screen to retina,
From London to Wales
Through life and through death.
You are, still,
A 24 year old communicating to another,
Teaching me that despite the division of these fraught times
We must focus on the colour
And the wrinkles and the lines of the faces we meet,
As stories are made and told
Forgetting barriers and prejudice formed by accident-
A product of the media and the noise of the past.
You tell me to be angry for what we don’t see-
And to keep our eyes open to possibilities.
To recognise beauty, in all its forms
And to stand up for the cause to help others shine.
Your story is not over-
And neither is mine.
For our art still has hearts to reach
And our voices hold stories we still need to speak.
And I thank you for teaching me this-
From screen to retina,
From London to Wales,
Through life and through death.
I’ve written this poem in memory of Khadija Saye, a young artist who is presumed to have died in the Grenfell Tower fire on 14th June 2017, along with at least 78 others.
Over the past month, there has been a great deal of political and social turmoil in the UK. It’s difficult to know how to respond in these times, and I have certainly struggled to write about recent event without sounding cliched or defeatist. Consequently, I haven’t written about them until now, as the news and reality of this particular tragedy begins to sink in.
But I think we need art in times like these-people to speak up and express how they’re feeling in a manner that goes beyond media soundbites and Twitter rumours. For this reason, I’m glad that Khadija’s art is currently on display at Tate Britain, and is also being included in the prestigious Venice Biennale (which she had already been accepted to prior to her death). Her work is beautiful and powerful, and is an incredible legacy for a 24 year old.
I’m even more pleased that a memorial fund is being set up in Khadija’s name to support young artists whose background and circumstance may mean that do not otherwise receive support. If you’d like to give money towards this fund (even if you can only manage a couple of quid!), please donate here:
That’s it for today! I’ll be back soon.
It has taken a long time to get here-
to stare at each other for a glittering moment.
Has taken time zones and light years,
an amalgamation of cells,
skin forming over bones
and a lack of asteroids.
Tears falling on unsteady legs,
a perfect combination of gases
and a collaboration of elements.
Moments spent and decisions made,
a natural thermometer set at the right temperature
and a straight line from a to b.
Nights spent wondering,
some resilience and sacrifice
and a good pinch of luck.
It’s a moment written in you,
And present in me-
To stand on this spot,
And to see each other’s light-
Then turn away
and carry on into the night.
These roots run deep.
Traversing beneath familiar hills,
beaches so beautiful my eyes can’t believe them
and sheep that always look half asleep.
Beneath memories made on grassy patches
and concrete floors under old fashioned carpets-
Their ancient pattern outdating me.
The longer I stay,
The stronger they get-
Wrapping themselves around place names,
Clinging to customs and old ways,
Burying words and memories deep into my soil.
And I wonder how far these roots can stretch,
If they will cope with being taken to foreign lands,
Feeling city dust rest on my nose and hands,
Or if the pangs of hiraeth will be too much to bear-
For I like to be here, but I’d also like to be there.
So I hope to find that these boughs can expand,
And I can sit on a branch in a foreign land
And feel the support of the roots beneath me-
New experiences allowing me to bounce gently
But never to fall and break my bond
With this tree I call my home.
I look down at my bruised knees and count the damage-
14 on one leg, 11 on the other.
These marks are usually a sign of neglect,
or an accident,
or a moment of madness.
But these bruises are different.
They remind me of the rush of adrenaline as the audience comes in,
As they await unexpected delights,
of the lights on my face
and the words in mind-
of the bits that go wrong
and the new things we find.
Of crawling around backstage on the floor,
for props and puppets-
the cause of it all.
Of cries of delight, ‘wows’ and ‘woopees’-
I get all of this just from looking at those knees.
And whilst I look forward to the healing,
I am pleased that they exist-
Reminding me that you can’t create wonder without bruising a little.
I remember you on a Tuesday-
Stare at a screen,
think of some ideas
and forget you again.
I feel you nagging at my shoulder while I’m writing an invoice
and wrapping your arms around my legs whilst I’m trying to have a conversation.
You whisper to me late at night when I’m trying to sleep,
getting louder and louder until I listen to you.
You are infuriating, frustrating and unreliable-
Difficult to organise,
complex to manipulate,
awkward at the best of times.
But when I turn my back and ignore you,
the pain is greater than I can bear.
So in these small moments,
I embrace you
turn you into something new.
For you grow when you are nurtured-
And I flourish when you exist.
If, in a month from now
when by some miracle you have lost your parliamentary seat,
and the signs the size of my student debt have been thrown in the gutter
I would like you to go the job centre,
sit with your advisor,
and let them ask you what you have done to get yourself into this silly situation.
Whilst you’re waiting,
please talk to the man with the chronic health condition sitting next to you.
Listen to him telling you about how he’s had his benefits cut because the system has changed,
and the way he feels enraged by how he’s been treated.
Let him tell you about the week he spent eating toast with no butter
because he was too embarrassed to go to the food bank
and the time his heart sank so low
He almost did something about it.
For this is life without the padding of endless expenses that you do not need-
and although you may plead worthiness
we know your claws have scraped in the best bits for yourself-
storing them up on the highest shelf.
Look down at them now,
and see what you’ve created.
not a situation to be celebrated
but a country brought down to its knees-
Scraped and scratched by Crabbs like you.
by some miracle,
our coastal constituency will vote another way-
use waves of change to wash the Crabbs away
for I for one do not want you to stay
sitting pretty in my constituency seat-
for you do not represent me.
I wrote this poem as a response to the General Election that’s due to take place in the UK on the 8th June. Much has been made and said about the national party political leaders, so I wanted to take a slightly different stance and talk about my local situation instead. The current MP in my area is a Conservative called Stephen Crabb (hence all the crab-related puns!). Since becoming an MP in 2005 he has been involved in numerous scandals, including the expenses scandal, and has successfully voted to cut benefits for the sick and disabled. In 2016, for some mad reason, he was briefly appointed as Work and Pensions secretary. Despite his clear misgivings and failings, he’s still been voted in as our MP at every election that I’ve been able to vote in.
I really think it’s time to change that. I’m tired of the Tories, and the way they treat the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. So I’m voting for a change this June, and will continue to stand up against prejudice and inequality.
If you’re with me-make sure you vote! Your voice is valuable and precious and important. Please use it and make a difference.
There is magic to be found in dusty corners
and forgotten alleyways
and the hard bit to reach behind your sofa.
The quietest voices often have the kindest hearts.
Better to eat chocolate and have weight round your stomach
than never to eat chocolate at all.
Caring takes courage.
Loving takes more.
The best way to learn from your mistakes is not to repeat them.
I’d rather be geeky and fine with it
than cool but uncomfortable.
A cup of tea can heal-
or at least help.
Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely.
Cats are cleverer than they often let on.
So are politicians.
Sometimes, souls need Shakespeare-
and at other times they need the words on the back of a cereal packet.
If you fall off the tightrope,
The best thing to do is to get back on.
There is wonder to be found-
If you keep your eyes open.
I will never know much,
But will always try to learn more.
This week’s poem is inspired by (and steals the title from) a lovely piece by the brilliant Kate Tempest. I can’t find the original online, but if you can afford to pick up a copy of her poetry anthology ‘Hold Your Own’, then you’ll get her version and some other gorgeous wordgems. I’d really recommend it-if you liked this even a tiny bit, then you’ll love her.
Hope you’re all well and happy-wherever your are in the world! It’s sunny in Wales right now, and I’m feeling all the better for it. It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine can do for a gal.
Bye for now,
These paths have been trodden before-
in bright pink jelly shoes,
and too-big wellies
and muddy walking boots.
I walked them at 4
and walk them again at 24,
the memories appearing amongst rock pools and crab pots,
seaweed and waves.
We took a photo here.
Usually you’d shout
‘Put that camera away’-
But this time,
you put your arms around us,
As our heads tilt inwards to capture the moment.
The wind whips our hair wildly-
but it can’t blow away the warmth in our hearts.
For here is cosy, safe, home.
Now, I walk-
your spirit and smile captured in the wind.
You live in it now-
carrying memories, and stories, and moments.
I breathe the air in,
spot you for a moment,
It’s fun at first but
watching Netflix all day long
gets boring, quickly.
What happens between
April and May to clump up
I’m not a fan and
more will solve nothing,
But I can lie in
and pretend I’m not lazy,
due to the excuse
and bank holidays
provide pauses and pleasures
to our lives fast pace-
So I’ll stop moaning,
and find a way to enjoy
this funny little break
By eating ice cream
and reminiscing in-jokes
and being with you.
Dear Lost Ones,
Maybe one day,
our eyes will meet across a crowded room,
and we’ll share a knowing smile like they do in the movies.
Maybe I’ll remember something profound you said,
and pin it up in my head
amongst hopes and dreams and use it to figure things out.
Maybe you’ll come across a letter that I wrote,
And for a minute you’ll feel longing
And then you’ll throw it away.
Maybe we will walk and talk and sing and laugh again-
The past unfurling in the gaps of our time.
Maybe you’ll hear a line of poetry, and think of me-
Or maybe you’ll forget,
Life unfurling in your memory.
But the parts of you I knew and loved
Will always be a part of me.
An Old Friend
I guess we all have people in our lives who we drift apart from, or lose close connections to. It’s just the world works-the ebb and flow of change and transformation. I wrote this poem as a little ‘thank you’ to the people I’ve found and lost over the past twenty-something years. Even though these people may no longer be present in my life, they have helped shape the person that I am today-through learnt lessons and shared experiences and memories held dear. As I go forward, the things I’ve learnt about human relationships through these people (and of course, the ones I still have in my life) allow me to make wiser choices, brave decisions and kind actions. So thank you, lost friends, for the impact you’ve made- and I hope you are happy and healthy, wherever you are.
Thanks also to all my new readers-there’s been quite a few recently! It’s lovely to know that there’s people out there who are enjoying my poetry. Please feel free to comment and say hi if you’d like to 🙂
Bye for now,
There are two ways to experience this week’s poem.
Here’s the sound clip-
And here’s the text:
Also-the question at the end of the poem is not rhetorical! I’d love to know about all the amazing things you are. If you’ve been inspired, perhaps you could post a poem or list of your own in the comments.
I’ll miss the the thoughts and space it gives my funny little nog.
I also have another little thing to share with you today. I’ve been looking for a while for some more innovative ways to post my poetry on here, and this week I was able to workshop some ideas with some brilliant creative minds in an event that took place at my workplace. We didn’t have a great deal of time, but someone suggested that we made shadow puppets to animate the film and bring it to life. Brainwave! Whilst we were only able to film the first few lines in this session (see below), I still have the puppets-and I’m hoping I’ll be able to film the whole thing soon. Watch this space! A huge thank you to Di, Emma and Jules for the ideas, feedback and filming.
That’s it for today-I’ll be back soon.
Our little minds hardened.
Back in school
I love it when people find love in the funniest hidden corners-
Tucked away like a forgotten secret waiting to be found.
When eyes meet over frozen peas in supermarket aisles
Or in the secret smiles of a stranger on the street that you haven’t had time to meet.
Or when the fire alarms rings at 2am-
Bundled out in the cold,
You catch your love’s sleepy eyes for the first time
As you queue up in lines.
There’s something about hands held in car parks
Or greasy spoons
Or sportswear factories
That’s much more romantic than lovers staring doe-eyed on Valentine’s Day.
Halloween’s more romantic if you ask me-
As it proves all that is meant to be
And the darkest corners are lit up, illuminated.
See? All is not lost.
This week’s poem was a victim of the 21st century earlier on today. These days, I tend to write a lot of on my iPhone-despite owning about 20,0000 notebooks, it’s easier and more convenient. I wrote this poem on the bus to work last week, so naturally I typed it rather than writing by hand. However, just as I was about to share it with you, my hand slipped and I ended up deleting the whole thing. Try as I might, I could find no way of getting it back-so I had to write it out again. Using the remnants of the poem I could remember as jigsaw pieces, I put the poem above together. I’m actually quite pleased with the final result-it’s a slightly different shape to the original, but works all the same. It’s called ‘All is Not Lost’ as a quiet reminder to myself that even when life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade. Or in this case, a decent poem.
Until next week,
Dearest, Darlingest Piers Morgan,
Thank you for proving that you are a coward
Afraid of a woman’s ‘nasty’ power
As she stands up proudly against Trump, and his tower.
You talk and share your political views freely-
There is little more than hot air flowing through your veins,
Deluding your brain
To make sexist views and elitism seem like they’re okay.
That our marches upset you.
Crying in your corner,
Did you feel as oppressed as we do?
I doubt it-
Bragging yet again that you have a friend in higher places.
But if he falls somewhere along the line,
Will you stand loyally by his side
The way I do with my sisters?
I doubt it.
I doubt you.
A woman who likes to talk freely about things that scare you x
P.S Ewan’s with us. He says hi.
So yes-I’ve been writing about Trump again this week! I guess there’s a lot to say about him, and to him, right now. Also, the Piers Morgan/Ewan MacGregor situation’s been an interesting one today. Like Ewan, the women’s march really inspired me-I’m so glad that many Americans are standing up for what they believe in, in spite of being left with a president they do not want. Here’s a bit of support from the other side of the Atlantic-enjoy and I’ll be back soon!
‘It’s not easy being creative in this day and age’-
My mum taught me that.
And as in so many things,
I have to reluctantly admit that she was right
As sometimes, I don’t have it in me to write
And then when I can, I feel like a fraud.
And I realise I’ll have to work hard
For little to nothing
Spending weekdays spinning stars for most of my life.
But it’s worth it for the people-
Those whose lives are immersed in art
and those encountering for the first time-
Living on the breadline
But able to lose themselves in a story for a while.
For knowing glances,
And the gentle smiles of an audience member who understands-
And for joy expressed through clapping hands and confident ‘woop!’s.
For rehearsals, practices
Singing in groups and dancing around doing loop de loops,
For togetherness and community-
Feelings of inclusivity in the 21st century
Where money rules often and hearts are sometimes forgotten.
For struggles and victories,
and for making my mum smile.
Great art does that-
It really goes the mile.