Hard to believe it’s a whopping 37 years since I wrote my first “proper” poem. I was 15 and on holiday in Northern Ireland. “The Troubles” were ongoing so the notion of a holiday sounds odd but I ingested everything I saw and heard in Belfast, Portstewart and Portrush. I still recall how I felt running along vast sandy beaches and clambering on Giant’s Causeway.

I’ve been thinking about my teenage poems and the support I received for them. An early reader was Eliza, my one-time teacher and long-time friend. I dedicated my recent book Loose Threads and Sacred Spaces to her. She supported me by attending last weekend’s Morpeth Book Festival and I got the audience to applaud our enduring friendship.

Another supporter of my teenage poems was Geoff Smith, a fellow Evening Chronicle Poetry Competition winner. He published my first poetry pamphlet, Bed and Breakfast with Lydia Lunch in 1986. We met again last week for the first time in over 30 years. We had a lot of catching up to do and I look forwrd to seeing him again soon.

I value the support of fellow poets and want to thank two of them in this blog. First, Tom Kelly who inscribed my copy of his latest book of short stories, No Love Rations, to “Elaine, forever ‘The Princess of Felling.‘” Tom has said lovely things about The Princess of Felling and Loose Threads. I lost myself (in a good way!) in the Jarrow of No Love Rations. Reading it on the bus I had refrain from saying out loud: “Wow!” and “Boy that’s some writing!” I recommend you buy a copy now .

I’d also like to thank Rob Hawley who, like Tom, has said some wonderful things about The Princess and Loose Threads. I love his Bay of Ghosts poetry pamphlet, published in 2018. I’m afraid I won’t lend you my inscribed copy. You’ll have to click here to buy your own copy.

Rob works with his out of print bookseller wife Catherine and they’ll be standing at next Sunday’s Tynemouth Book Fair. Do support them by attending the fair or by visiting their online shop