Carol Ann Duffy – tonight!

Off to see Carol Ann Duffy tonight-am very excited! In tribute, here’s one of my favourite of her poems. (Warning-one swear!)


A suspicion, a doubt, a jealousy
grew in my mind,
which turned the hairs on my head to filthy snakes
as though my thoughts
hissed and spat on my scalp.

My bride’s breath soured, stank
in the grey bags of my lungs.
I’m foul mouthed now, foul tongued,
yellow fanged.
There are bullet tears in my eyes.
Are you terrified?

Be terrified.
It’s you I love,
perfect man, Greek God, my own;
but I know you’ll go, betray me, stray
from home.
So better by far for me if you were stone.

I glanced at a buzzing bee,
a dull grey pebble fell
to the ground.
I glanced at a singing bird,
a handful of dusty gravel
spattered down.

I looked at a ginger cat,
a housebrick
shattered a bowl of milk.
I looked at a snuffling pig,
a boulder rolled
in a heap of shit.

I stared in the mirror.
Love gone bad
showed me a Gorgon.
I stared at a dragon.
Fire spewed
from the mouth of a mountain.

And here you come
with a shield for a heart
and a sword for a tongue
and your girls, your girls.
Wasn’t I beautiful?
Wasn’t I fragrant and young?

Look at me now. from Prep in York – Private English and Drama Tuition


York Literature Festival 2016

2016_programme2016 is shaping up to be a brilliant Literary year already!  The York Literature Festival is bigger and better than ever, the RSC are doing Dr Faustus (an A2 text, but also just brilliant so go and see it even if you’re not studying it!) and the final book of Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic trilogy is finally being released…

The York Literature Festival is huge and runs from 10th – 23rd March.  I’ve already booked my ticket to see Carol Ann Duffy (I’m so excited!) and I’m eyeing up a few more rather impressive looking events too. There’s a poetry writing competition, Literary walks, talks, readings, theatre and so much more.  It looks like it’ll be a superb couple of weeks so do make the most of the fact that we’re lucky enough to have it on our doorstep!

The website is here and  the programme is here.


Tutoring trips in York, books books books and excitement at PREP HQ!

OK, so PREP HQ is my little house in Heworth, but nonetheless, excitement abounds!

English trips for tutees (and their families)

You may have seen my previous post about the trips I’ll be running this year. Kicking us off on Sunday 10th October will be a visit to York’s newly reopened, beautiful Art Gallery, where we’ll get inspired and creative and write some wonderful verse to complement the paintings and sculptures we see!  All tutees are welcome – please remember that there is a small charge for entering the Gallery, and that Year 7-11 tutees will need to be accompanied by a parent.  Do get in touch if you’d like to join us!

Books, books, books

I’m a little ridiculously excited by my ‘Book of the Week’ campaign.  I’ve got to say that I had a really hard time whittling down my enormous list of ‘books everyone really must read’ to 52, but I got there in the end!  Week 1’s is Year of Wonders and it’s an absolute corker – historical fiction that goes way beyond the usual kings/bodices/beheadings that are popular at the moment.  It tells the true story of ‘the plague village’, Eyam, and is utterly compelling.

In other exciting book-y news, I’ve been asking tutees this week to tell me about their favourite books, and I’ll soon have a board of recommendations up for them all to peruse.  Parents are welcome to make contributions too of course!


Meeting a York poet

Wandering through town the other day I was surprised and delighted to see a man sitting behind an old fashioned typewriter and a sign declaring, ‘POEMS on (almost) anyone or anything’.  Of course I couldn’t resist going and talking to him!IMG_3243

He told me that he writes the poems requested and then people can pay as much as they like for them.  I (rather rudely) asked him if he makes money as a poet and he said he does, which I thought was pretty impressive because I think I remember reading once that even the most popular modern poets only sell a couple of thousand copies of each of their books.  At any rate, I asked him to write a poem on why poetry is important and about half an hour later I received this rather lovely little verse.  (I paid him £5.  Do you think that’s fair?)

Poetry is important, by Stefan Kielbasiewicz

Poetry is not important
because of ShakespeareIMG_3324
Eliot, or Frost, and not
everyone’s cup of tea
but important things
like engineering, medicine,
or programming aren’t either.
It’s not my place
to say whether it is important
or not, since that statement
like poetry itself, cannot
be true or false.
If it’s important, it’s because
it involves people from all over
the world, and lets them say
what they mean and feel
in a different way,
and nothing could be more important
than having that possibility.

So there we go.  This is for all my students who’ve ever asked, ‘but what’s the point of poetry?’  I hope you like it as much as I do!

Do go and find him – he was on Parliament Street last week though I don’t know if he’s always there.  And buy a poem!




He’s on Facebook at this link, or you can search streetpoetryyork (with no spaces, just like that) to find him.