So guys, if you’ve been following this blog with any kind of regularity, you’ll know that I am a HUGE believer in the power of positive thinking — and KARMA! I genuinely reckon that if you focus on the positives and make time to say thanks for the breaks the Universe hands you, you’ll not only be happier, you’ll automatically get more of those good breaks. Call me insane if you want, but this is the thinking behind my Things I Love Thursday posts… and here’s some “thanks, Universe”-thinking on the grand scale. This is basically my Things I Love 2008 list, so without further ado, here goes! IN 2008, I…
— Wrote a huge, spiralling dissertation on the early works of poet and personal guru Allen Ginsberg… which got a first!
— Became a tutor of English, Creative Writing and Drama, and had the priviledge of guiding nine smart, sweet and talented young people from bad grades to brilliance in the space of one academic term… I was so, so proud of them all.
— Won three writing prizes: The Grierson Verse Prize, The Sloan Prize for Writing in Lowland Scots Vernacular, and the Lewis Edwards Award for Poetry… totalling £1,900.
— Performed at my first ever poetry reading… in front of a room full of terrifying academics at the University of Edinburgh!
— Went on to do a huge tour of the Edinburgh poetry readings, appearing at Poetry at the Great Grog, Golden Hour (twice!), MeadowsFest, the Scottish Arts Club, Voxbox and the West Port Book Festival.
— Turned 22 and celebrated at my sister’s house in Newcastle (Italian food, pub, vintage stores, late night chattering), then went on holiday with The Boy to a tiny remote cottage on the plateau above Scarborough, cold, windy, wild and amazing.
— Kept my literary magazine running, celebrated the first six months with a huge and fabulous poetry reading
— Sat my final exams
— Started learning the art of poi!
— Spent a sweet long weekend in the Lake District with The Boy, exploring bookstores, drinking great beer, buying records and crazying about on open top buses.
— Attended a huge end-of-degree bash at which all my tutors got riotously drunk and several risked some serious impropriety! Hilarious!
— Graduated with Honours from my MA in English Literature… dress-buying, first haircut in seven years (!!), robe fittings, huge ceremony in the devastatingly grand McEwen Hall, photoshoot, afternoon tea at the Balmoral Hotel, sunset champagne on the beach = the. best. day. ever.
— Went to see the amazing Mr Eric Clapton at a one-off gig in the grounds of Harewood House… a beautiful balmy summer evening, The Boy and his lovely Dad at my side, a beer in my hand, and 200,000 other crazy fans all singing along… perfect.
— Spent a month living in Victoria, Canada with my Boy. I met the beautiful and talented Miriam Parker, swam in the Pacific Ocean, slept under the stars in a field full of elk, ate the most amazing food, drank loads of great beer, got tattooed for the first time (and started a lifelong love affair, I reckon!), read a huge stack of books, wrote some great poems, loved every minute.
— Went on an awesome road-trip / caravanning extravanagza with my poet besties… campfires, castles, hiking, lake-paddling, beer-drinking, marshmallow-toasting, song-writing, poem-writing, mixtape-making, open-top-bus-riding, up-late-staying loveliness.
— Won the William Sharpe Hunter Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing… worth £4600!
— Was Poet in Residence at the 4th Annual London Poetry Festival; read at and compered the event for a run of three nights.
– Made my first ever trip to London (really!); spent a long weekend there with my sister, being crazy on the Tube, bouncing on hotel beds, eating sandwiches and being mobbed by pigeons, exploring Leicester Square and falling in love with Camden Town.
— Enrolled (thanks to the scholarship!) on the University of Edinburgh’s MSc in Creative Writing.
— Set up my own blog (you’re reading it) with loads of support, brilliant submissions, great reviews and incredible reader-contributions. I love you guys so so much! Thank you!!
— Teamed up with gorgeous artist Lizzy Stewart for the “Two Heads” creative writing/illustration project… more info soon!
— Was interviewed by Jim! Hardest interview questions EVER, but worth it!
— Worked as a Poetry Terrorist for the opening week of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Scottish Poetry Gardens.
— Spent Halloween stalking the Newcastle suburbs dressed at Medusa, alongside Black Frost, Sweeney Todd and a very vampish Helena Bonham-Carter!
— Celebrated the first birthday of Read This in huge style with an amazing poetry-and-music bash and a special, beautiful anniversary issue!
— Watched on in joy and with huge pride (up until 6am, and so worth it!) to see Barack Obama elected as President of the United States.
— Watched on in further joy as the truly legendary Lewis Hamilton became the first black Formula 1 Champion, the youngest ever Formula 1 champion, and basically the luckiest ever Formula 1 champion… nail biting! (yep… closet motorsport geek!)
— Became Poetry Co-ordinator for forthcoming poetry-and-film festival “this collection.”
— Was employed as a Fiction Reader for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize… a stack of free books to read, and paid to do it? Hells yeah!
— Was offered a book deal by the lovely Kevin Cadwallender of Red Squirrel Press… and accepted! My first collection will be available soon! Eeee!
Publications in 2008: Pomegranate Issue 3 // The Journal // The Herald Newspaper // Poet’s Letter Magazine // The Delinquent Issue 5 // Dash Literary Journal Issue 1 // Snakeskin, May ‘08 // The 4th Annual London Poetry Festival website The Edinburgh Review 123 // Scottish Poetry Library Reading Room // Poetry News Summer ‘08 // Gloom Cupboard Issue 43 // Bottom of the World Issue One // Textualities // Bolts of Silk // BBC Radio Scotland: Days of our Lives // Poetry Scotland Issue 57 // Spark Bright Issue 1 // The Positivity Blog a handful of stones // The Scottish Poetry Library’s 20 Best Poems of 2008 Anthology
I seriously recommend that you make a huge long list of all the cool stuff you’ve done in the past year. It can be something as trivial as writing a poem you were really proud of or something as massive as winning the lottery. Everyone’s list is different but we all have things to celebrate and be thankful for… so try it! It’s seriously cathartic!
(and, of course, link back if you can. I am Little Miss Nosy!)