A Year

January…

was filled with the wonder of a new place. Moving from London to a town by the sea. Settling into our new old flat with its long windows and small fireplace. Evening walks along an empty pier where the gravelly beach was all ours.

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February…

was cold. We got a cat. A rescue kitty named Peri. He went ballistic one afternoon and turned on us, spitting and hissing. We gave cat back. Visiting friends. And a fun fun fun  evening in London watching…

http://youtu.be/5xTZnZbUQIQ

March…

seems to have gone by in a haze. But this was when Seahorse started falling into place, the pieces glimmering clearer, the characters taking shape. Perhaps that’s why this month melts into a blur of days. But oh, Luigi’s book was published.

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April…

Still snowing. The winter never seemed to end. I discovered Kate Tempest.

And at the end of the month, we headed to Italy. To lovely Turin, and gritty Genova. To Isola Bella.

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May…

Despite spring, it felt a month of struggle. My book gasping for life. Failing. Feeling frail. What was I doing in a country where no one knew me? Where I couldn’t find a job. Freelance projects. A spectre hung over everything. And so off we went to visit my sister, Richard, and my sister’s baby bump in Wales.

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June…

was also a time of travel. I’m beginning to think we travel a lot. This time to Somerset, to the home of an elderly couple we’d met in Sicily last year. It was a bit of a schizophrenic visit. They bashed ‘immigrants’ all the time we were there. Dude, you’re talking to immigrants. We have super powers and will take over your tiny island and loot and plunder you for over a hundred years…oh wait.

But we did go to St Ives. I’m convinced it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.

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July…

slips away like summer. But what a summer. Glorious, glorious days of glittering sunshine and long, dappled afternoons. Brighton was filled with Victorian holidayers. The pier weeping with joy. My first reading in the country at the Purity Conference at Sussex University. A castle. An old pub. Friends flitting in and out of the house. Cold cold beer. A quick road trip to lovely Dorset. I discovered Cavafy.

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August…

still so warm, we can’t believe our luck, really. Rohan visits from Montreal. Walking in London in the heat. A spectacular night at the Globe.
“Oh brave new world.” Boats on Land has been nominated for the Sahitya Academy Young Writer Award 2013. Cool. What’s more on my mind, though? Amsterdam. We stay on a houseboat on a canal just outside the crowded city centre. It’s wondrous and perfect. We walk everyday and fall in love with this amazing place. We buy joints and space cake over the counter. We must move here.

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And look who visits…all the way from New Zealand…my lovely cousin and her family.

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(And Boats on Land wins the Sahitya Academy Award.)

September…

I am ploughing my way through Seahorse. It’s a final first draft. I send it to my agent. Something about it sits uncomfortably in my stomach. Is it a book I’d be happy to publish? Somewhere, a small voice inside my head, says No. Luigi is away for over three months on PhD fieldwork. I move around the house like a disconsolate ghost. Writing, talking to myself, going for long walks. Elsie visits. We talk about art and poetry and stones with holes. Then my sister has a baby. There is spring everywhere. I visit Totnes. We visit Wales to see new life.

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October…

I’m away in Italy. To somewhere warmer. First, Ferrara, a medieval city in Bologna, for the Internazionale Festival. I’m on two panels, one of which is quite forgettable, while the other, just the opposite. A small crowded cafe, poetry, questions, love. Whoever says people don’t read poetry is wrong. I travel to Cuneo, and then for weeks to Rome, my favourite city in the world. To the Marco Aurelio Residency. Kaushik’s place, a writer’s flat. I walk endlessly. Rome unfolds itself anew each time I’m there. I meet Gio. I think about time. And memory. One morning, I text Kaushik, who is at work – ‘Today is a day of major literary decisions.’ I rewrite Seahorse. Something clicks. Falls into place. Writing is an ancient contraption that no one can explain. At the end of the month, I head back to Turin for a translation workshop that’s life changing. I’m a guest author and the translators are working on my text, my poetry. They quote me back to me. They are wonderful people who juggle words, teasing, prodding, sculpting. I have new found respect for their craft. To top it all, we stayed at a gorgeous villa nestled in the hills. And not far from Biela, a tiny town with an amazing cultural centre. As though in perfect keeping with the literary themes we were discussing, the Pistoletto exhibition we saw – full of endless mirrors – was also a reflection on time, the past, memory.

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November…

Remember, Remember, the fifth of November.

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And I’m off to India. For the wondrous Sangam House Residency at Nrityagram, forty kilometres outside Bangalore. I don’t quite know what to expect. I find wildness, and open spaces. A lovingly decorated room. An orchard of payapa trees outside my window. A cluster of writers, playwrights, artists who make space for me, each in their own way. It’s a time of intense creativity, of long walks, much drinking, lots of laughter. The night life of trees. And stars.

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December…

The long goodbye. A madly rushed trip to Bombay. Where Rohan and I meet up by chance. He’s in India on holiday. We go to the Taj at Land’s End. A poetic place for many drinks. Old chatter. I drag him to the Crossword Book award ceremony. Boats on Land wins. A late night of celebrations before catching the first flight to Goa. Where I encounter new and old friends. A road trip. Headed north. Goa. Goa. I understand so well why my ancestors travelled here in the 1600s and never left.

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I travel back from one shoreline to the other. Suddenly, it’s Christmas. Mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate. The sea is different here. Next month, I’m the Charles Wallace Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Kent. My second book will soon be sent out into the world. New travel plans. Old friends, old places. Visits and revisits. I wait. Blessed.

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6 Replies to “A Year”

  1. Eventful…just how a year in the life of should be…you missed mentioning the Cuneo chocolates though 😉

    Happy new year…

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