In Residence with the Writer

Writer in Residence for the Literary and Philosophical Society

The Properties of Silk

Lit and Philippines

Monday 16th December, will be my final day in the Lit and Phil. And what better way to end the era if not spending the time serving others.

For the most part of the day,  I will be serving on the hatch, using the opportunity to thank and say goodbye to as many people as possible.

And then in the evening we have our big fund raising event  in aid of the Philippines disaster.   After Typhoon Haiyan left a trail of destruction across the Philippines, forcing over 4 million people from their homes and leaving many families with nothing , we, as artists and writers, have decided to take action by having a special evening of readings.

There is a stellar line up of people volunteered to read. All donation on the night go towards the cause. There are also additional goodies to sign up for on the night which include one -to – one feedback on writing in progress, a special writing workshop with Shelley day Sclater on Holy Island as well as a Christmas story created especially for you.

If you’re not reading you can still come along and show your support on the night. All starts from 7pm.



The End of the Workshops

It’s been a while since I’ve been here.

I apologise but things have been moving fast and I haven’t really been able to keep up with them. These last few months have seen a plethora of amazing events and activities that probably went under the majorities radar. But for those who bear witness, they have been outstanding and life-changing.

I’d like to share some poetry with you first from the last few workshops – one was a sense of place in conjunction with the Books on Tyne Festival at the end of November. The other workshop was a nano-fiction workshop to end the short – story writing series of workshops.

The Fabric of Time

Denim shirt, well worn:

bog-standard blue, faded,

with corded cream collar.

BHS Classic.

But this is no ordinary shirt.

It is school-days heart-ache,

Radio One Roadshows,

screaming at boybands:

it is my teenage.

It emerges, blinking,

at the annual wardrobe cleanse,

wondering if it will escape,

survive, for another year.

Mum calls, threatens burning;

I say it’ll go this time, for certain.

It doesn’t.

It returns, loved and treasured,

on my only silk, padded hanger.

Jennifer Wilson

As It Was

The clearing where 
you stand on tiptoes
you never stood

The trees you 
flick between mark a trail
we never followed

The infant wind tugs at
a purple dress
never worn

The smile you run back to me 
to give, like a gift
you never smiled

That secret
you’re still whispering
was never yours, never shared

So far we walked
and praised together, and yet
we never did
David O’Hanlon

Washing Away The Past

Doing the washing up

too vigorously.

Always staring out the window

“Be careful, you’ll break it”.

In this cold portacabin

overlooking the layers.

Scrubbing and rubbing

away the mud, away the soil

under fingernails, this broken pot

“That’s Samian ware, Roman”.




My Boyhood and Youth

For the day is fading,

I’ve left the mountains behind.

An hour left, maybe no more.

I’m looking at this landscape

differently now.

I’m searching for level ground.

Not too near the stream

(to flood my sleep)

or the trees of the wood/forest

(for the wind is picking up).

I need boulders

to shield the cooking flame.

Here, I set down the bags

and mark out my space.

Four canvas walls

and overhead the stars.

A pillow made of maps

to dream tomorrows journey.

Gary Stephenson

The Appletree Writers are coming to town

December 3rd sees the Appletree Writers coming to Newcastle. From 7pm, the group will be launching its first collections of poetry and prose at the Lit and Phil.

Appletree Writers is a new community of writers who hold engaging with the wider community at its core. Their first collections of writings are in aid of the RNLI and Women’s Aid. Come and enjoy a special evening of words with readings from our talented contributors, Sheree Mack, Fiona Ritchie Walker, Shelley Day Sclater and Hannah Lavery.

Lecture Series

The next few events I will have the pleasure to be involved with are a number of lectures by some wonderful people.

7 Nov – Lecture – Zeibeda Sattar
Ageing and Diasporas:
The (Im)mobilities of First-generation Pakistani Migrants in the UK

Zeibeda Sattar, University of Sunderland
Nazia Ali, University of Bedfordshire
Kevin Hannam, Leeds Metropolitan University

This paper seeks to expand the existing literature on ageing migrants and well-being from a mobilities perspective. The paper is based on two Pakistani migrant communities in the UK, namely, Newcastle upon Tyne and Luton. It interprets the (im)mobilities of the ageing first generation Pakistani diaspora. We use illustrative data from interpretive and reflective qualitative methods to understand and explore ‘social connectedness’, ‘networks’ and ‘micro-mobilities’. Within the theoretical context of the mobilities paradigm the social and obligatory practices of travel are investigated. The study demonstrates the local and global religious and cultural obligatory practices for this diaspora and we conceptualise quality of life and well-being in terms of this ‘social connectedness’. It argues that the ageing Pakistani diaspora seek companionship beyond the family circle through face-to-face meetings of a religious and cultural nature, which re-affirms both their sense of solidarity and their sense of belonging. Nevertheless, evidence confirms a ‘breakdown’ of social support and ‘social networks’ amongst the first generation Pakistani migrants. We argue that the lack of social connectedness accumulates impaired mobilities resulting in poor health and well-being with implications for health and social care policy in the long term.

13 Nov – Lecture – Virginia Woolf: A Conversation – Frederick Lewis 6pm

Began as a hobby in the Woolf’s dining room at Richmond, The Hogarth Press went on to produce some of the most beautiful and sought after books of the twentieth century. This is the story of how a cottage industry became a world renowned publisher whose influence continues to this day. It is a story inextricably woven around the life of Virginia Woolf, and the story of how Leonard astutely managed his wife’s literary reputation after her death.
Frederick Lewis has collected and studied the works of Virginia Woolf for over a quarter of a century. Having seen numerous copies of everything produced by The Hogarth Press he has a particular passion for this bibliographical field.


I may have been missing from within the walls of the library during most of October but that does not mean that I have been idle.

I have ran Loch Ness during a marathon. I’ve run a writers’ retreat in Italy and I have just returned from tutoring under 16s on an Arvon Residential at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire.

October has always been my favourite month, just like autumn has always been my favourite season. I know that having my birthday at this time has something to do with it.

But this year, 2013, has taken this time of year to another level, as I have collected such fond memories and life-changing experiences this year.
I do feel mighty blessed because of the activities and connections I have had the pleasure of living this month. Thank you.

I would like to share the group renga we made on our first day of the Arvon Retreat. This was created by the lovely, talented writers of Walker Technology College.


At the Foot of the Lane

To a steep incline
an oak giant clings
by thread roots.

From green to gold,
like a chameleon the leaves melt
from emerald to orange. Always.

The overwhelming smell of pine.
The dim light of the silver encrusted moon,

valiantly, the soldiering river rushes by.
The trees guard its course.

Winter is cold and you are like an icicle.
The sound is unreal, you can hear cracks
in the ice.
In the far distance, all I can see
are the glittering lights from
the snow that falls onto the frozen tree.

Above the moon
below the river the stream is going like a feather.

The misty, dull sky sheds its cold tears
like a weeping child.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, surely a small bud of colour unfolds.
A rainbow grows of green and gold.
A flower blossoms.

The sky stands above us,
candyfloss surrounding us.

The birds are singing in the bright blossom trees
gathering for a bird meeting.

Flowers shoot into life, the sun rises to warm meadows.
Bright flowers shimmer as a slow, silent wind passes.

The pink blossoms
are the candy floss the forest.
Bad to eat, good to look at.

As the waters rush through the mossy crags
the ruby leaves glisten as the sun shines through them.

The mossy trees are emerald green
and autumn leaves falling into the river.

The dark hawk hovers
over his unfortunate prey.

The bright shimmers hit the water
and it’s still hot under the light of the moon.

The valley is crisp, fragile.
Everything is trapped, immobile.
Huddled, the trees on the hill from a tableau.

A walking renga in Autumn
Lumb Bank, Heptonstall
Tuesday 29th October 2013



Sheree Mack (Master)
Mr Webster (Host)
Mrs Webster (Host)




The outside wall
rains full ruby leaves,
you can not stop the urge
to run and be soaked by their richness.

Injustise Reading – A UN sponsored evening

24th October is United Nations Day. We mark the day with a special evening of readings by Bill Greenwell, Marilyn Longstaff, Lisa Matthews and Dawn Felicia Knox. There will also be special readings of new writings created during the recent writing workshop titled: Injustice.

Here is a poem created during the workshop in September.

My Offerings:
I am damaged, broken, fractured.
In my rant the pieces flew,
cutting the delicate membrane that held us together.
What can I offer?
My silence.
My attention.
To thread softly through the
undergrowth of our lives.
Is this enough?
I cannot tell.
I don’t know.
Jayshree Bush


The Brain Box Exhibition

On Monday, I was tasked with taking down the sumner’s exhibition in relation to Al-Mutanabbi Street in preparation for our next exhibition, Brain Box curated by Jan Sopher.


During this process, a member of the Lit and Phil was interested in what I was doing. And me forever the promoter and spreading the worder mentioned the Brain Box project and it’s aim of allowing people suffering with Parkinson’s disease to express their thoughts, feelings and reactions to living with this illness through art.


This member said his brother had just been diagnosed with the disease the day before. They were still in shock about it as no one else in their family had the disease. They thought it was hereditary. As little as I know about the disease, I didn’t think it was passed on through the family genes. I thought is was more related to the individual.


There is no known cause for the disease. Some cases might be genetic some may not. But no causal relations have been proven.
But I like many will know someone with the disease as it is on the increase. And I like many will know very little about the disease and less so about how people suffering from this disease feel.


The Brain Box exhibition at the Lit and Phil until the end of October is a little window into this degenerative disorder which viciously attacks the central nervous system and slowly destroys lives. The Brain Box project offers a means of expression, of connection and of hope for the sufferers as well as for all who are touched by Parkinson’s disease.
There is a special launch event on Thursday 3rd October where there will be a chance to explore the art with poetry readings. This will be followed on Saturday 5th October with a special creative writing workshop with Sue Spencer and myself in response to Brain Box. All welcome.


Injustice – Poetry Workshop

IMG_0257Yesterday we had a special writing workshop at the Lit and Phil, which came about through a request from a member of the United Nation’s Northumbria branch. The aim was not so much to raise awareness about what the UN does but more so as to provide a space for the participants to take a moment and check in with themselves. To gauge where their thoughts and feelings lay in relation to injustice, unfair treatment they might have experienced or witnessed.

We completed a number of exercises within the 3 hours, so that the result was 3 new pieces of writing for me. I do feel pleased when I can facilitate a workshop but also come away from it with some of my own writing. But the best thing about this workshop was the work produced by others. There were some outstanding, thought-provoking, heart-rending pieces of writing shared around that table yesterday. It was such an honour to be part of it. It was one of those moment that you will continue to remember and go back to in the months and years to come. Thank you all who came, wrote and shared.

I give this piece I wrote near the end as an offering to those who continue to treat others unjustly.


To your fear
I offer my hand
like a beacon shining
through the darkness

To your hate,
I offer my love
like water pouring
onto barren ground

To your ignorance
I offer my smile
like a wind blowing
through the tree of knowledge

To your words
I offer my words
like a balm healing
you when it is your turn to suffer



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