It has been quite a year – well all years are in their own way – but 2019 has brought a few new things into my life. Most significantly, the birth of my first grandchild, Daisy, to my daughter, Jannah. As predicted by friends who are grandparents, I wasn’t prepared for the impact this little one would have on my life. I was lucky enough to watch her being born and she immediately took up a huge space in my heart. It is a delight to watch her grow and see her personality begin to blossom. Of course, as I predicted for myself, I do now feel as if I have someone else to worry about and it brings the state of our world, politically and environmentally into very sharp relief.
In June, Doire Press published my latest collection, Carnivorous. Lisa and John from the Press have been incredibly supportive publishers, it has been a great pleasure working with them and I’m really happy with the book. I know you shouldn’t have favourite books, any more than you should have favourite children, but I’m proud of this collection and feel it is a complete thing and true to my voice.
In November I had the fantastic news that I was one of four artists to receive a Major Individual Artist Award from ACNI. This has been important to me in a variety of ways. It means I can cut down on freelance work and concentrate on writing and it also has been a real affirmation that the work of almost thirty years has some substance to it. So perhaps it is worthwhile continuing for a little while longer.
I continue to be grateful for the friends who have supported me along the way, both in writing and in life.
Every year brings its griefs too. The loss of two members of the long standing Shalom poetry group, Denis O’Sullivan and Tom Honey was a sad blow. I have known both men for a long time, meeting when I first facilitated the group way back in the 1990s and both consistently worked away at their poetry over all the years between, Both were strong, honest poets with great grace and skill and both were in love with words. Both were straight, true people and I miss them.
The loss of poet Ciaran Carson is also a grief. I didn’t know Ciaran well on a personal level, but like a lot of other writers, was greatly in awe of his work and his fierce intelligence. His death has caused me to re-examine my thinking on a number of subjects; memory, influence, confidence, changing times. I have been reflecting a lot on the past.
But it is also the time of year to look forward. 2020 seems an almost impossible number, but here it comes. All l I can do is open myself to it with whatever it will bring, put pen to paper and continue on.