I had been working on poems inspired by my family connections to the Copeland Islands, with a view to a second collection, when I came across details of the Poetry Business pamphlet competition. In September, I submitted 23 poems and promptly forgot all about it.
I continued to work on new poems and was kept busy with preparations for the publication and launch of my first collection, ‘The Woman on the Other Side’. When I received a phone call in April to say ‘Copeland’s Daughter’ had been selected by Billy Collins as one of four winners in the PB pamphlet competition I was shocked but absolutely thrilled.
The poems would be published as a pamphlet and I would get to read at the launch and prize-giving at the Jerwood Centre at Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage. I didn’t waste any time agreeing to a trip to the Lake District in June.
My husband and I decided to make it a short break and spent three nights in beautiful surroundings. We arrived and left in pouring rain but thankfully got dry and even some sunny weather in between.
We arrived early to have a tour of Dove Cottage. Our American guide gave us lots of interesting information about Wordsworth’s time living in the cottage. It was great to see his writing chair (and find out that he hated working at a desk) and his couch!
For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood…
It was great to meet Peter and Ann Sansom and I was thrilled when Peter handed over a copy of ‘Copeland’s Daughter’. It is a beautifully produced little pamphlet. Inside the Jerwood Visitor Centre, opened in 2005 by Seamus Heaney, I was delighted to meet Wordsworth Trust’s Michael McGregor and the other winning poets, John Foggins and Mary King.
Peter Sansom gave a generous introduction before I read a selection of poems from the pamphlet. Mary King read beautifully from ‘Homing’. John Foggins and John Eppel have opted to publish full length collections and their books will be out in the autumn. I loved Jo Foggin’s poems and look forward to getting my hands on the new book. John Eppel lives in Zimbabwe so his friend and fellow poet Rowland Molony read on his behalf. Michael then presented us with our prizes before we had a chance to chat with some members of the audience.
It was a memorable day with lovely people in beautiful surroundings. I look forward to getting to know the work of these poets over the next few weeks and will be staying in touch with them. Thanks again to Peter and Ann and all at the Poetry Business, to the Wordsworth Trust and, of course, to the competition judge, Billy Collins.
Photos by Johnny Conn