Thursday, 29 September 2016

Hanging Up My Blogging Trousers - John Dougherty

I've been writing for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure for years. More than eight years, in fact; my first post was the sixth to appear on the site, back in July 2008, and - aside from a bit of a break a year or two back during a time of crisis (and, erm, the very occasional month when I've forgotten to post, which has happened to many of us!) - I've blogged for the site ever since. For most of that time, I've also been part of the editorial team.

And it's been fun. But I've come to a point where I feel I ought to hang up my blogging trousers, for a while at least. So to say goodbye for now, I've rather self-indulgently trawled through my back catalogue of ABBA posts and picked out some of my favourites. I hope you'll enjoy revisiting some of them with me.


Five Go To Therapy Together (August 2008) - in which I argue that the Kirrin cousins belong to literature's most dysfunctional family. This was my second post for the blog, and I was rather chuffed to overhear someone discussing it at a Society of Authors conference a couple of months later

Sense and Sensibilities (June 2010) - musings about some of the things publishers will and won't accept these days

What's Wrong With Ed Vaizey? (May 2012) - you knew this one was going to be on the list, didn't you? A song I wrote about the now former and not-at-all-missed Minister for Ignoring the Ongoing Crisis in the Library Service

We Warned You This Would Happen (November 2013) - I got a bit cross in this one. It's about political interference in education

A Confession of my Own (December 2013) - this was my response to one of the most important posts we've ever had on the site, Liz Kessler's Let's Get This Out There from the previous month

The Reasons for Signing (March 2014) - why I think book signings are an essential part of school visits

Why Do We Believe These Things? (April 2014) - over two years later, this one keeps popping up on my Twitter feed, usually because the excellent Let Books Be Books campaign has pointed someone to it. It's about the so-called 'accepted truths' that seem to be handed down through the publishing industry like oral history

The Great OUP Pig Scandal (January 2015) - remember when people got cross about publishers "banning pigs"? This was my take on it

Copyright - It's a Piece of Cake (April 2015) - I'm pretty proud of this one, in which I attempt to explain copyright as simply as possible


And finally, it seems appropriate that I leave you with the song I wrote for what was, as far as we know, the world's first online children's literature festival, held on this site over three days in July 2011 to celebrate our third anniversary.

Bye. *waves*




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John's recent books include his first poetry collection, Dinosaurs & Dinner-Ladies, illustrated by Tom Morgan-Jones (Otter-Barry Books), and Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Great Big Story Nickers, which is the latest in his Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face series, illustrated by David Tazzyman and published by OUP.

His first picture-book, There's a Pig Up My Nose, illustrated by Laura Hughes, will be published by Egmont early next year. 

First Draft, the author band featuring John, Jo Cotterill and Paul and Helen Stickland, will next be performing at the Bradford Roots Festival in January 2017.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Adolescence Amnesia - Clémentine Beauvais

Recently, my parents decided it was high time they emptied their flat of all my stuff. Fair enough: I moved out 10 years ago, and am now living in a house with three floors while they’re squeezed like sardines in a Parisian apartment the size of a metro ticket. A few weeks ago, they packed a car full of everything that I’d left behind, and drove to Zeebrugge, then took the ferry to Hull, and finally got to York, where we offloaded the whole of my childhood and adolescence into my living-room.

Aside from the suitcases of books, there were also bags of correspondence, early writings, and other random things. My adolescence isn’t that far ago, but I couldn’t believe how little I remembered of all that stuff, especially the masses of letters that I’d apparently exchanged with friends and cousins. I discovered with astonishment the dozens of pages written to me over the years by A., still one of my closest friends, about her holidays, her early romantic experiences, her dreams (pages and pages and PAGES of dreams), most of it extraordinarily detailed and intimate. It’s not as if we didn’t have the Internet at the time - yet apparently, we still feverishly wrote letters between the ages of 12 and 17.

Other letters emerged, from people I can now barely remember - yet clearly we must have been close, because they were full of specific remarks and questions and memories of things we’d experienced together, and constellations of hearts and smiley faces.

Many of these letters also mention things I simply don’t understand anymore, private jokes, allusions, a whole world of intimacy now entirely forgotten. Even with A. - I asked her recently, ‘do you have any idea who you meant when you wrote to me “I bumped into our favourite Blonde yesterday”?’ She couldn’t. But Blonde was, it seems, a character of some importance for our relationship circa 2000, because A. mentioned her several times.

My cousin wrote me a letter entirely composed of what must have been at the time our favourite private jokes. It must have been hilarious at the time. Now, it reads like a list of cryptic crossword definitions. She finishes by saying ‘I hope you understand this letter because it means it’s you who’s reading it!!!!’

Damn, seems like it isn’t me reading it anymore.

It’s good to remember as writers of young adult literature how little we actually remember of our own adolescence - even though we may have quite strong memories of something like a general feel, the atmosphere, of it. Maybe some people think of themselves as super-rememberers of their teenage days, but I doubt their confidence would hold, confronted with tangible evidence of everything that got lost along the way.

Or perhaps the real super-rememberers can only ever write the kind of literature that, today, would be anachronistic, fossilised, irrelevant to contemporary teenagers. Lost in the details, it would miss the transgenerational dimension of what it means to be a teenager. Maybe what allows us to write for children and young adults is just that: a loss of what our own adolescence exactly was, but a preserved sense of it was like.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Ebb and Flow of Writing - Lynn Huggins-Cooper


I don't know about you, but I find my writing goes in cycles. Not regular, rhythmic patterns, but surges and ebbs. Sometimes I think it is linked to seasonal changes. It is September, and like many people who have been in the educational world for many years, it feels like time for new beginnings. I have a novel that needs a second draft, but I am feeling new ideas nudging at the corners of my thoughts.

The problem is knowing what to write first. It's easy to start - but it's the finishing that's the thing. Writers all have half-finished, part-formed books. They lurk there in drawers and on book cases, waiting to be completed. I take them out from time and tinker with them, and sometimes they 'grow legs' and walk.

In the past I have found that when my writing is at a low ebb, other creative activities help to get me fired up again. That's the great thing about having a 'double life,' working as a textiles artist as well as a writer; the two lives complement each other.

My two lives are starting to mesh together. I am now starting to illustrate my own work with my felting and stitching. It's been a revelation! It means I want to work all of the time, though...but one side of my work fires up the other and I just don't want to stop. Luckily, autumn is my favourite season, so the call of the woods gets too much for me, and I *do* get outside every day. Then there's the apple-and-spice autumnal cookery to do...

I still teach a lot - writing and felting rather than the PGCE students I used to teach - and one of my students remarked rather wistfully the other day as she was leaving class that my life was rather idyllic. You know what? She was right. 




(You can see more of my textiles work at Faerierealms and hear about writing at Book Nurture well - should you feel the desire!)


Monday, 26 September 2016

Ty Newydd Writers' Centre - Eloise Williams


I FINALLY made it to  Ty Newydd Writers' Centre!

This isn’t a joke about the lack of trains from the South-West of Wales to the North of Wales and the circuitous route I had to take to get there at all. Honestly…
It is more about my becoming a writer at the tender age of (age has been deleted for vanity reasons) and embarking upon a completely new career. 



Ha! What an idiot!

Or was I?

Well yes, I was. But it turned out alright in the end. Well, so far anyway…

First I had to write deep poetry – some of which is so far beyond abysmal that I believe if I go to Hell it will be an ongoing reading of my own odious odes.

Then I wrote some short stories – these weren’t too bad, there’s one about a cardigan that’s passable.

A few pantos. Oh no you didn’t… oh yes I…. they were even worse than this. So I said to the horse ‘Why the long face?’ etc.

Then I tried my hand at some Adult Fiction. Not the erotic stuff. Just the everyday novel stuff. But no, no it wasn’t for me.

Eventually, on a long walk on a cliff path, literally on the edge, I had an epiphany of sorts. I should write for children! YES. That was not only where my heart really belonged it was also one of the only options left!
 

Since pulling myself back from the brink (I wasn’t suicidal, I’m just trying to write dramatically) I have gone on to have my book for 7-9s, ‘Elen’s Island’ published by Firefly Press in 2015 and next April I have a Middle Grade called ‘Gaslight’ coming out. It’s set in Victorian Cardiff and is a dark and scary mystery, also published by Firefly Press and supported by a Writers’ Bursary from Literature Wales. I also have a MG ghost story called ‘Seaglass’ which has been shortlisted for the Wells Festival of Literature Children’s Story Competition this year.

So that’s me…. until Ty Newydd.
 

You can look at the photo of the house to see how stunning it is. What that doesn’t tell you is that you can see the mountains from the garden. The sea is a glittering necklace beyond.  There is birdsong in the air, history in the walls, quirkiness all around and comfort, laughter (lots of) and other writers.  
 

I sat in an attic room with the skylight ajar watching the gentle rain falling softly outside the window. Apparently there was a heatwave on the other side of the country but as far as I was concerned they could keep it. This was just perfect.
 

Our tutors for the week were the immensely talented Lucy Christopher – I’ve just finished reading ‘The Killing Woods’, completely gripping and like Barry Cunningham, I didn’t guess either! – and the equally immensely talented Marcus Sedgwick.
‘The Book of Dead Days’ is my current reading material and I already have a favourite line, ‘He felt old and tired and fat, because he was’. Ha!
 

Both tutors were thoroughly delightful. So approachable and friendly and phew! To all of it. I didn’t feel like a spanner or a plank as I still so often do. I just felt comfy. For people who know me this is an unusual state of being for me as I tend to be an accomplished worrier.

There is something about the place that seeps into your bones. It welcomes you with its labyrinthine stairs and turrets. It cwtches you in.
 

It taught me a lot of things. That it is okay to switch off from ‘real life’ to dedicate time to my writing. That I am not all that weird for wanting to do just that. That I still have a huge amount to learn (thank God!). That North Wales could very definitely take on South-West Wales for beauty, inspiration and charm (have booked a holiday there already). That I need to learn Welsh (have finally taken myself onto a fast-track course – wish me luck). That we are all story-tellers and that stories are one of the most important components of my life. That Tony, the chef, should have his own television series. That I need to go on another course at Ty Newydd! My only regret is that I didn’t go sooner.

The whole career change has been a huge learning experience for me. And I mean HUGE. But it is with the support of Ty Newydd and Literature Wales, the lovely tutors and staff, the time and space and energy there that has really made me realise what an important path I’ve chosen. It’s a place where Literature is respected in all its forms. It’s a very special place. Very special.

Highly recommended. So, so highly recommended. Did I say I highly recommend it?

And there’s one more thing (she says like Columbo) …
 
 

GO THERE! GO! REALLY! GO!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Dear Auntie by Tamsyn Murray

Dear Auntie Beeb,

I'm just dropping you a line to see how you are. You've been in the news a lot lately - the whole Great British Bake Off debacle has left a nasty taste in the mouths of the viewing public, so I thought it was time to send you some love.

I don't know many writers who don't appreciate you. To most of us, you are a much-loved relative; a national treasure that we adore. You don't always get things right (let's not talk about Mrs Brown's Boys) but there is such a lot you do better than anyone else. And one of the best things about you is that your independence
 - you innovate and aren't dictated to by others. This leaves you free to concentrate on nurturing the best writing talent.

I know that not everyone approves of you, and you are having to compromise here and there to keep going. I know that some people are trying to make it harder for you to shine, to do the things you do best. So this is just a note to say that I appreciate you. I hope you're part of my life for many years to come, inspiring me and setting the standard for many imitators. Please don't stop being you.

Love

Tamsyn

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Sending your baby to the house of tomorrow - Liz Kessler

I’ve ummed and ahhhed more than usual over what to write about this month. I’ve thought of and then rejected at least half a dozen ideas.

I was on the verge of asking if anyone wanted to do a guest post on my date – and then the advance copy of my new book turned up, and I realised that the joy of holding your new book in your hands for the first time never goes away.


You made this thing. It has so much of you poured into it. And yet, now that it exists in its own right, now that it is out there in the world – your role is done and you have to stand back and let it find its own way.

The letting go can be hard.

See, the thing is – I absolutely love this book. I love the characters, falling in love despite the biggest divide there is.

I loved writing it – each new scene unfolding virtually in front of my eyes as I walked along the wild coast path watching waves crashing on rocks, and listening to a playlist that brought me to tears more often than not.

I loved the process – the collaborating with the amazing poet, Ella Frears, who was so in tune with me that the poems she wrote felt as if they came from the pens of my actual characters. The songs she shared with me felt as if they came directly from the story I was weaving.


I loved all of it. And now that the book is going out there, it is taking a bit of my heart with it.

I am not a parent, so I don’t know if this analogy is as true as it feels, but producing a book does seem, to me, to be a bit like having a child. To be fair, probably not as painful as actual childbirth (although excruciatingly painful at times, in its own way!) Perhaps the process is more like the struggles, joys and extremes of bringing up a child from baby to adulthood.

I spent about eighteen months living with characters who had all sorts thrown at them. Bullying, panic attacks, life-threatening illnesses, drug overdoses, grief. Characters who somehow managed to choose love over all of these, again and again.

So yeah. It was an intense journey. And now, the book is out of my hands and – hopefully – into other people’s. It is finished, and I have to let go.

Luckily for me, I have an amazing editor, Helen Thomas, who helped break the intensity of the moment by sending me a text of the plotline - told in emojis! I love this as much as all the other things.



I have friends who are saying goodbye to their children as they go to university this month. I have witnessed their mixture of pride, fear, grief, loss, excitement and hope.

This is how it is with a book. I want the best for it. I want it to be liked – loved – thought well of.

If I had a child going to university right now, I don’t think I’d be rooting for them to come home with a first class degree and the highest praise for every piece of work they produced. Yes, of course, those things would be nice. But more than that, I believe the things that would make my heart swell would be to hear that they had made friends, they’d fallen in love, they were happy.

And so with the book – I don’t care about awards and shortlistings. Yes, they are nice (I haven’t had many in over a decade as a published author!) But I’d much rather my book found its way into the hands of young people who loved it, whose lives were enriched for having found it, who felt warm for reading it and wanted to share it with their friends.

I will do all I can to try to make this happen. In a few days, I’m off on a book tour where I will be meeting lots of young people all around the UK and sharing my book with them. Next week, I’m holding a book launch where I will celebrate its release. I'll accept every invitation I get to go and talk about it with young people.

I’ll give my baby the best upbringing I can, and send it off with a case full of clothes and books and a heart full of hope. Will people like it? I don't know. Will they criticise it, give it a rough time? They might. Once I've let it go, I have no control over what happens out there. And that’s how it should be. That’s part of the process. The letting go.

As Kahlil Gibran says, in The Prophet:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

I hope that Haunt Me has a great time, out there in the house of tomorrow.

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Friday, 23 September 2016

The Magical Power of Poetry by Steve Gladwin




There is only one subject I could write about this month so forgive me if I do so. At the end of July my partner suffered a serious breakdown, from which she seemed to be recovering well, only for a serious relapse to occur a month later and for myself and members of my family to have to take one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to face. Now she is recovering and regaining herself a little at a time, although we both know it will be a slow process. She is lucky enough to find herself in the only women’s recovery unit in Wales, rather than in some distant mixed ward where, as a non-driver, I wouldn’t even be able to see her.


I could just as easily write this blog on the theme of art imitating life, because this year has been yet another instance of it. It is a year where I completed my latest book about a professional Victorian mad-girl, where I have developed a near obsession with the work of Robert Schumann, (who ended his days in Endenich Assylum), where both Rosie and I spent much of this year contributing to a forthcoming book on change and loss called The Raven’s Call, and where I am currently in Week 3 of the futurelearn course I'd already signed up for on Mental Health in Literature (this week ‘Bereavement’) long before any of this happened, I now find myself facing a totally unexpected challenge and series of changes whose sequence and results are as yet unknown. I am again living a solo life interspersed with visits to see Rosie when she is well enough, and almost daily ‘check in’ calls to her or one of the staff. I am thrown back on to myself and my own resources without the moral support of the person I have had by my side for the last seven years.




The odd thing – as I have written in The Raven’s Call – is that when these things happen there can occur a phenomena which I can only call, ''The other side of the fence. It’s when at the same time you experience both the thing itself - the feeling you’re having say -, while somehow also being able to observe it from a distance and congratulate yourself on how you’re doing. Didn’t I do well there? Didn’t I choose just the right words? Look at me getting on the bus like nothing’s happened?

And then there are the times that you feel yourself so gloriously in the actual moment – no matter how bad or harrowing it might be – that you could almost shout for joy. Such a thing happened two weeks ago.

I had arranged to see Rosie as usual in the afternoon about 2.30, but when I arrived she was very anxious and agitated and seemed uncertain about joining me or sitting down. At one point she disappeared altogether and I wasn’t sure that she’d even return. But she came back and brought with her a new drawing she’d done to show me. Something – perhaps the act of picking up something she’d created – had calmed her enough, and now it was time for me to read some poetry from the book I’d bought. It was there that the real miracle happened.

Rosie loves poetry as much as she loves art and is very skilled at both. She is a brilliant academic who as a mature student, narrowly missed a first at Aberystwyth University. Last year she won the inaugural Disability Arts Wales poetry competition where the judge, poet Menna Elfyn, said that her winning entry, ‘I Once Had A Heart’,’had haunted me for days’.

The book I brought in - appropriately enough - was ‘From The Heart’, a  selection of poems chosen by Ted Hughes. As we settled back down on the sofa in the visitors room, I set about picking a few which I thought she would enjoy. These included over the next hour, poems by Yeats, Frost, Elliot and Betjeman. But we both agreed that our particular favourite was The Way Through The Woods by Rudyard Kipling. We were both haunted by its message and especially its ending –

‘You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes.
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods …
But there is no road through the woods.




It wasn’t this poem alone which soothed her anxiety and – bit by bit – brought that bright but over-burdened brain into clarity, but it was that poem which seemed to encapsulate the specialness of that afternoon, where just being with someone and connecting them back to all the things they held dear, was enough – quite enough.

That same week I had poetry very much on my mind because the first week of the excellent futurelearn course on Mental Health and Literature with Professors Jonathan Bate and Paula Byrne was on the theme of Depression and Stress and particularly how poetry can combat both. I had already found – that just doing simple things on the course like reading out loud poems such as Wordsworth’s ‘On Westminster Bridge’, Yeats ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’, Edward Thomas ‘Addlestrop’ and Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach, ( a wonderful poem I hadn’t come across before) - brought me very quickly to those moments of calm and clarity which at the moment are much needed.

You see the truth is that it has taken me an awfully long time to 'get' poetry. I have certainly written it intermittently - and especially in the last two years when I have been almost prolific – Since childhood I have appreciated many poems here and there. I have fallen completely in love with poems like Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods’, Rossetti’s ‘Silent Noon’, and Rosenberg’s ‘Returning We Hear The Larks’. I used to love Hardy and Blake more and would like to do so again. I can still find endless fascination in ‘The Waste Land’

No something has happened with poetry lately and especially on this course, for it is as if I do finally ‘get’ what I never did before – that ability and quality a poem has of stopping a moment or idea dead, so that you can rummage around in it to your heart’s content. Last week, part of the course was on the examples of 'heartbreak', (that week's theme) in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and the very different ways that Elinor and Marianne deal with it. I’ve never taken greatly to your average internet article, ( my fellow bloggers aside) but reading even short extracts from the book wasn’t something I could easily engage with. I think I was missing the space of the poetry and in comparison the lines of packed prose seemed just to crowd in on me and I just wanted the air and freedom of the poem .

I don’t know whether this was because of what happened last Friday or just maybe because I have a profoundly ill partner in hospital and perhaps my patience and indeed concentration isn’t always at its best. What I do know is that poetry is helping both of us in different ways and that it is a connection which we have shared and will continue to share - long after this crisis is resolved - for many years to come.

One of the great joys of the new year, was that we both read the ‘Daughters of Time’ collection by The History Girls,  both getting equal enjoyment and value from it in different ways. For Rosie however it became a true source of inspiration because she decided there and then to write a series of poem about the women in the book whose stories had most got to her.  She wrote poems about Amy Johnson and Emily Davison and others and then raced to the back of the book to find new inspiration from the other women suggested there and wrote poems about a couple of them. We were both however inspired to write about Mary Anning after reading Joan Lennon's wonderful 'Best After Storms', and it was almost a race to get ours down, (I won in the end) first. It was fascinating for us how we could both have such a different take on one subject.. We went on after that to write the animal poems for The Raven’s Call with Rosie taking on Hare, Wren and Swallow and me Raven, Wolf and Butterfly. In those moments of composing and reading and sharing we felt a true connection in a way which we perhaps couldn’t get anywhere else. I'm sure that that deep creative connection applies to many more people than us and provides equal comfort. 





Last week I also gained two very different instances of the healing power of poetry from the futurelearn course. The first was course tutor Paula Byrne’s moving interview with a teacher Jack Lankester. He relates how - following a severe depression after the break-up of a relationship at university - in the end a sympathetic tutor suggested he read a a sonnet sequence by Sir Philip Sidney

.“I believed in my naivety that no one had ever been as heartbroken as I was. No one understood… When I started reading him, the penny dropped in that instant, I felt wildly less alone. And the fact that he had been writing these poems 500 years ago, really did make me realise that being heartbroken or sad or lost is in many ways inevitable. And it’s a part of the human condition.”

 Of course this wasn’t immediately a miracle cure but he did find enough in a single poem alone to give him something to cling on to, where despite the old fashioned language and style the sentiment and feeling came through to illuminate his particular darkness.


Astrophil and Stella 31: With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies

Related Poem Content Details


With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies! 
How silently, and with how wan a face! 
What, may it be that even in heav'nly place 
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries! 
Sure, if that long-with love-acquainted eyes 
Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case, 
I read it in thy looks; thy languish'd grace 
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries. 
Then, ev'n of fellowship, O Moon, tell me, 
Is constant love deem'd there but want of wit? 
Are beauties there as proud as here they be? 
Do they above love to be lov'd, and yet 
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess? 
Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?

(Thanks to the Poetry Foundation website)
The second and yes – literally heart-breaking instance - is in the poem Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy by poet and psychiatrist Richard Berlin, where he is dealing with an elderly man who has suffered a suspected heart attack following the sudden death of his wife. In exploring both his own and the old man’s feelings, he marries the technical medical jargon with the image of the over-burdened left ventricle - which now with its narrow neck and rounded bottom, resembles a Japanese octopus pot or Takotsubo . In the end, in commiserating the old man on his loss, the poem ends with him expresssing the wish that he had eight octopus arms to hug him with. You can find this wonderful and moving poem on brickroadpoetrypress.com. 



Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy - The condition and the inspiration.



NB As close as you can come to a broken heart, Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is actually a weakening of the left ventricle which looks like a heart attack but is actually caused by intense stress.




This blog was essentially about three hearts, so let's end with a poem about three more.


I once had a heart       

I once had a heart
all red muscle and hard work. Battle-
scarred and bullet ridden. Never the
victor, always the victim. Wouldn't
win a beauty competition. Yet full of
spirit. But that's what matters most
isn't it?

And so intricate. Would have shamed the 
universe's complex plans. Ad infinitum

tiny arteries that whispered a claret
red, rich susurrus in spiral after spiral.
The life-giver.
How aptly named you were. And worked 
as a heart should. But for one thing.
That endless Thud, Thud. THUD. Too
many memories trapped in the blood.
echoing. Echoing. ECHOING.

For sanity's sake I traded it in.
The new one - a beautiful thing. Hand-
carved. Some said it had a hollow tick.
A heart void of any characteristic
important to life. But in time, I grew
to love it as my own. Then -

in a heartbeat, Woodworm.
Countless tunnels, raised up like embroidered
veins.

So the choice was made. One last fling
in the arms of fate. What seemed a faultless 
trade.

A heart to die for. A 'work of art'.
And what's better - no flesh, no wood,
or boiled-up blood.

But it had a single flaw. A long-held
tear shattered its core. Fractured red
into yellow and green, bled blue into
indigo, edge by edge into nothing. Like
all the atoms that have ever been.



For a whole galaxy of wonderful poems check out The Poetry Foundation website.

You can find Richard Berlin's Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy on brickroadpoetrypress.com 

If you're interested in catching up with the futurelearn course on Mental Health in Literature, tutors Professor Jonathan Bate and Professor Paula Byrne, or any more of their courses, check out the futurelearn website. You can also find many of the fascinating intrerviews with psychiatrists, actors and academics on youtube.