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Filtering by Tag: Elaine Walker

Poem-a-day-for-four-days - 4

Elaine Walker

Tumulus An unobtrusive mound, just off a road too small to

number, surrounded by rowan trees – ah, druids – symbolism – ritual – but they

weren't there twenty years ago so a deep ancestral meaning

seems unlikely.

From time to time earnest types with round

spectacles and backpacks drive up to stand by the gate - nodding - then

duck back inside their cars out of the hanging cloak of damp

mist, pausing only to wind down water-speckled windows and ask if there's a

pub nearby.

I look at the tumulus and see a bump in a field – maybe

beneath its neat hummock, instead of bones and slabs of

slate, there are old engines and worn out tractors like there are in the cleft of

the valley below, where the rushing water has washed away the earth used

to cover their passing.

But walking home under a blood moon, I watch the

dark shape on the skyline and remember how the old lady at

Dolau claimed to see, on nights like this, long-haired

warriors dancing, casting shadows around its

echoing silhouette.

 

A poem-a-day-for-four-days - number 3

Elaine Walker

My third poem was written on the day my beloved Appaloosa X Welsh Section D mare joined my herd. Her registered name is August Serenity but this poem is about the way she came by the name I call her.

Autumn Horse 

Against the fading brightness of a bank of mountain ash,

with the burned brown ends of last year’s reeds beyond, she

surveys her surroundings. Behind her, a crown of red berries, a wreath

of golden leaves, a swathe of crisped and faded purple heather. Her black

and white spotted rump is round as a full moon floating across the tired-moss

field. Her finely shaped head is alert, the arched-bow neckline echoes the curve

of the moor against the muted sky. She plants her neat hooves evenly with each

step. She is interested as she explores her new field, keeping a distance

from the unruly geldings crowding along the fence to call her. She does not

trouble with them. A whole day, she wanders ground that’s strange beneath her,

smells air that’s damp and rich with loam and tastes grass that’s a new texture

in her mouth. She is thoughtful, cautious but not overwhelmed. She will breathe

the peat-soaked air from the moors until the rhythms of her blood are attuned

to this place and she blends like her patterned coat into the russet background of

the rippling valley. By evening I have named her ‘Rowan’ and

the colours of autumn have gathered around her.

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Author talk for Booka plus poem-a-day-for-four days (2)

Elaine Walker

Today I will be joining my friends, writers Alison Layland and Martine Bailey,Writers in Conversation poster_1 at The Willow Gallery in Oswestry to give a talk on the way we work as an informal group to develop our writing. The event will be hosted by Booka as part of Independent Bookshop Week. We will each talk about our own work and then have a group discussion on the way we use the resource of working together to help refine and develop our writing projects.

I will be explaining the way my poem, Davey Sings, which is the second of my four poems (below), became a song, which is part of my set as Jude Lane, my singer/songwriter alter ego.

There is a recording of the song Davey Sings on my Soundcloud EP 'Snowbound' which I recorded with the help of my sound engineer son, Chris Walker, last Christmas.

Davey Sings

Davey sings of love and family, strumming the guitar his dad

gave him. Under the harsh spotlight masquerading as

atmosphere, the cracked veneer hums. He closes his eyes and

lifts his chin to let the unravelling knots in his chest

slither free between his vocal chords. His fingers ring the

harmonics of moments on the resonating strings and he forgets

the restless crowd, good-humoured but rowdy,

waiting for the rock band to come on.

 

Davey sings for himself and his cautious steps forwards, bold

yet scared, fending off the past with a plectrum and the scrappy

card he’s supposed to hand in at the clinc, but he’s written a song

on the back so he’ll just say he’s lost it and maybe

he doesn’t need to go there again anyway.

A poem a day for four days

Elaine Walker

I was nominated by a friend on Facebook to post four poems - as I'm so tardy at adding material to this site, I thought I'd post them here too. The first was inspired by the landscape around my home. I read this poem aloud this week for the first time in a while, when I took part in The Watchman's Walk as part of Denbigh Midsummer Festival.

Moors Weather

The moors stretch flat into the distance, until your struggling feet learn that flat is a relative term, that small undulations, deep holes and hollows, sudden crags and thigh high bogs make A to B the tiring route. There are no straight tracks on Mynydd Hiraethog.

‘Hiraeth’ – longing, yearning, an ache in the heart - they are like that, these flat, not-flat peat moors, worming their way under your reluctant skin while you think of softer places to live.

Places where the wind stops thrashing occasionally, where winter is over before June and summer extends beyond July. Places where trees are many and stand straight, not leaning alone, weather-crippled like Wordsworth’s leech-gatherer.

Then moors weather closes in to offer a damp embrace. The hills leap closer with mist hovering at their shoulders and each sprig of heather stands out clear below. Every lush and lethal bog shines bright green, and moisture soft as breath soaks you bone-deep in moments.

Moors weather, when blizzards rage for two days straight, making you seal your family, home and animals safe inside as best you can to wait, and wait, and wait for the silence. The utter silence.

Then you venture out into a strange world of snow gate-high, swept into waves and billows, filling the lane and the yard, burying cars and human things. Reclaiming the land as wild, destroying fences, phone-lines. Isolating you in white too bright for seeing.

Except when fox-cubs catch your eye playing in the drifts, or rabbit tracks or badger prints remind you of the secret lives, unseen alongside yours.

So you stay a little longer, brave a few more winters – long winters, short summers, no blissful spring or fruitful autumn.

Just moors weather, under your skin, niggling at your heart, defining home.

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Christmas offer on 'The Horses'

Elaine Walker

As the festive season is upon us again, I have a special offer on The Horses with the idea of a Christmas gift for friends who love horses, or reading - or both! During December, every copy of The Horses comes with a mane/hair decoration and a gift-tag bookmark.

Each one is different - a few examples are below.

The price is £13 inc. UK postage

The novel is suitable for older teenagers and adult readers.

Reviewers say -

‘…a compelling hybrid of realistic family drama and ecological fable set on a remote Scottish croft….An uplifting and open-hearted novel’

‘….a book for aficionados of magic realism and lovers of horses .... a story of environmental disaster and recovery exhibiting a true storyteller’s sensibility. Reading this novel is like eating a really enjoyable meal.’

Books can be ordered through this website using the contact form or my facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/ElaineWalkerTheHorses [contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form] 

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My Writing Process Meme

Elaine Walker

I've been invited to take part in a blog tour passing from writer to writer, to gather an insight into individual ways of working, connected by the tag #mywritingprocess. First of all, thanks to my friend, Martine Bailey, for inviting me.

Martine's debut novel, An Appetite for Violets (Hodder & Stoughton, 2014) will be launched on May 22nd. It is an evocative tale of food, felony and finery with strong characters and an expertly realised historic setting.

You can find out more about Martine here –

http://www.martinebailey.com/

https://twitter.com/MartineBailey

 

I have invited the following writers to carry on the #mywritingprocess meme:

Rob Mimpriss: http://www.robmimpriss.com/essays/creative-process-meme.php

Rob is writer of short stories, with two collections Reasoning: Twenty Stories and For His Warriors: Thirty Stories. He has a recent story in New Writing: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/NUwAz2VWQrUp4ATnykvI/full

Gill James: http://www.seek.salford.ac.uk/profiles/GJAMES.jsp

Gill writes fiction for children and young adults and flash fiction and short stories for adults. She's a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Salford and her latest publication is The House on Schellberg Street, http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=130

She keeps several blogs, two of which are aimed at writers and those learning or teaching creative writing at university.

http://gilljames.blogspot.co.uk/

http://creative-writingteacher.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Allene Nicholshttp://allenen.wordpress.com/my-writing-process/.

Allene is a poet and playwright currently working on a book of ekphrastic poems about feminist art. She’s also working on her dissertation, which is about the representation of the witch in feminist poetry and popular culture.

Gill and Allene were two of the contributors to my collection of exercises and ideas, Teaching Creative Writing: Practical Approaches (Professional and Higher Partnership, 2012).

Making contact with other writers is always interesting as most of the time writing is a solo activity - so here's my contribution to the meme.

My writing process - Elaine Walker

1. What am I working on?

I am working on songs at the moment. Singing and playing the acoustic guitar gives me an immediacy I enjoy.

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I can perform something I'm working on, then revise it, polish it and work it  up to a final version through playing it live.

That's very different to writing for publication. Song writing requires me to be concise, a great discipline while voice, situation and mood need to be created in just a few words.

I'm lead singer with a band and run an open mic night and small music events too, so live music is a big influence on my writing all the time.

I've also just finished working with Rob Mimpriss - one of the writers I've tagged above - as part of a project using the records of the North Wales Hospital, a place with a long and complex history, perhaps better known as 'Denbigh Mental'. My story, 'A bridge to Puffin Island' will be online soon on the project website. I've also written a song with the same title and have two more underway based on the records.

The final stages of an essay on my old friend, William Cavendish, first Duke of Newcastle and his horses, for a new collection from Brill need completing, but I've finished the actual writing.

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The editor is doing the hard work of compiling the completed essays now so  all I have left to do is send the images when he's ready for them.

This will be the second collection of essays on the Duke from Brill that I've been part of. The first was The Horse as Cultural Icon (2011) - it seems that whenever I think  my work on him is complete, something new comes up.

In the last year, I've written short fiction, an academic essay for a collection, a full-length non-fiction book, songs, copy for the Royal Mail, a couple of talks and conference papers, as well as teaching materials so I'm often working on several things at once.

2. How does my work differ from others?

I'd like to think it differs from others because it comes through my own way of looking at the world.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I'm intrigued by odd connections and 'what ifs?' and this is probably why magical realism is my genre of choice for fiction. I like to be able to follow those connections and push at the boundaries of the everyday world without stepping across into other-world fantasy.

I write poetry and song lyrics when something small captures my attention - moments that are best explored in isolation, rather than part of a much larger piece of work.

Non-fiction on the horse in cultural history has become my academic speciality through just the sort of surprising connections that interest me.

I have ridden and kept horses since I had a riding lesson for my 5th birthday but they became part of my writing by happy accident. While I was doing an MPhil on the poetry of Margaret Cavendish, I came across references to her horseman husband, William, first Duke of Newcastle.

His two horsemanship manuals of 1658 and 1667 had received little academic attention at that time and became the subject of my PhD and later my book, To Amaze the People with Pleasure and Delight (2010). Through that, all sorts of unexpected commissions, talks and additional books came about, so an investment in odd connections seems to work for me.

 Both William and Margaret Cavendish were famously flamboyant so they form yet another connection between horses and my love of the fantastical.

4. How does my writing process work?

I tend to have ideas cooking, often for years, which means I have a lot of snippets and incomplete pieces. But, if they are worth bothering with, they will niggle at me and one day I'll return to them. When an idea takes off, I work very quickly, but it can take a while to reach that point!

I work well with a deadline in mind and my most recent book (The Horse, Parragon, 2014) took less than six months from the email asking if I'd like to do it, to proof-reading the final layout. This was a rapid process, given the two-year turnaround that is fairly standard, but it suited me well.

Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, it's usually an idea or a phrase, a photo or a picture, that sets me thinking.

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Once that process is underway, it's important to get out of my own way and just let it happen.

Elaine Walker - my-writing-process-meme - April 2014

 

 

 

The Working Horse for the Royal Mail

Elaine Walker

This time last year I was working on a presentation pack for a new book of stamps for the Royal Mail on The Working Horse. The stamps were released last week - this is something I am very pleased to have be involved with as the final results are both attractive and useful in highlighting the contemporary importance of the horse beyond the leisure industry.

http://shop.royalmail.com/working-horses/working-horses-presentation-pack/invt/20140204