About
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framing our world

with a pen – through a lens – as a guide

Outside the Dylan Thomas Boathouse
Outside the Dylan Thomas Boathouse

poetry

I have been writing and publishing poetry for the last 10 years. I have three collections – The Call of the Unwritten, Arriving in Magic and A Night Sea Journey. Discovering a calling to write poetry later in life has propelled me into spending more time in the Rivelin Valley where I live, on the outskirts of the City of Sheffield. A place with roots going back into the industrial revolution, where millstone grit was used with water wheels to grind the first products made from  iron and steel. The valley has now returned to its rural life with small farms and stables. Herons fly up and down the valley and fish now fill the river. Near to the village of Stannington, I am constantly reminded that the city reads like a collection of villages welded together by our industrial past revolving around a city centre vibrant with artistic and civic buildings that speak of past prosperity and other parts that speak of our present inequalities.

 

This spaciousness in my life was further opened up by my anxiety breakdown in 2014 and it has, once I learned to accept it, invited me to a more thoughtful and considered way of life. I try to record the peaks and troughs of my life’s journey in these volumes, and in my present writing; what they evoke in me and the life I have found. Recently I have discovered another creative outlet in podcasting where I present myself as the anxious poet. In each episode I work with my own and other’s poetry and have conversations with others on a similar path. I have discovered a real hunger for writing in others and have facilitated writing workshops and I now run two writing groups at my home. So far these groups have produced a volume of poems entitled The Rivelin Writers Vol One.

 

The Coronavirus has further deepened my connection with the valley and the city as I have had far more time to walk paths previously untrodden. I have also kept my connection with the harder side of the city by delivering food parcels for St Cuthbert’s Foodbank in Fir Vale.Though it is a tragic and deeply anxious time I know I am deeply fortunate to live where I do. I hope I can continue to record all these peaks and troughs with a poet’s faith.

photography

Another call I discovered during my breakdown and continue to explore is that of framing life though a lens. Always turning to a camera to record family and professional life this has grown into a complementary adjunct to my writing. In 2019 I had my first  exhibition at the Arthouse in Sheffield entitled “Sheffield As I See It”. A combination of poems and photographs about my home city of Sheffield, I tried to bring together gritty street photography with landscape pieces gleaned from walks around the city. I work often in Black and White and a selection of my photography is for sale on this site.

 

Photography is great for anxiety, well for mine anyway. It is completely absorbing, both the taking of pictures and the process of editing them when I return with an SD card full of images. I have been lucky enough to participate in a number of courses under the title Capturing Sheffield laid on by a local photographer called Laura Page. The art of framing the world, looking for good light, finding images that tell stories is a thrilling process for me and feeds my writing as I have a visual memory of my various traipsings.

guiding

I have been both a spiritual director, retreat leader and and sometimes an organisational guide. As a spiritual director I see a number of pilgrims for monthly sessions helping them explore their lives through the medium of spirituality and Jungian Psychology. I have often worked with clergy and those in ministry. I have a theology degree and trained in Spiritual Direction with the Anglican Diocese of Sheffield. Over the years I have led retreats for various groups both religious and secular helping them find time and space for another kind of rest and to enquire into their inner and outer worlds.

 

My guiding work stems from my Masters in Organisation Development and my experience in working with voluntary and private sector organisations. I  also a trained Community Organiser in the Alinsky School. I try to bring a poetic sensibility to bear in this work using creativity to offer a different and fruitful perspective. All this work is about finding more authentic and congruent ways of engaging with our world.

‘So in that same darkness I pull myself apart

and in this morning attempt to give form to things unspeakable

to record the speckles of birdsong with a poet’s faith

that this Monday morning has a secret salvation

if only I could write it.’

From A Secret Salvation in the Call of the Unwritten