You can hear my guest readings from ‘Words With Wings’ on radio show ‘The Poetry Place‘ today, being broadcast at 3pm BST (Sunday 27 March) on West Wilts Radio (UK).
I talk about the poems and my life here in the Australian bush, interspersed with readings accompanied by my own piano music from the ‘Words With Wings’ digital album.
The show also features John Gallas, originally from New Zealand but now living in Leicestershire. John has 23 collections, published mostly by Carcanet, with books including The Extasie, The Song Atlas, Fresh Air & the Story of Molecule, 52 Euros and The Little Sublime Comedy, and also titles from Indigo Dreams.
Thank you so much to everyone who came to Berkelouw Books last night. I sang acoustic songs accompanied by my husband Christian on double bass, and read poems from my books ‘Words With Wings’ and ‘Meditation Mind’. I also read a story from my first book ‘Start Over Again’. I enjoyed the night so much. A big thank you to Kylie, the bookshop manager, for making it all possible. The gig sold out 5 weeks in advance so we will be booking a date at Berkelouw to do another poetry and song event there at some point later this year.
It’s been raining, day after day, with storms bringing a deluge of water. We are now completely flooded in. The bitumen road out is a river. The dirt road is passable just but leads to the main road which is flooded in both directions. The forecast is more rain and storms every day. We’ve got pasta and rice and tinned tomatoes so we won’t starve.
On the other side of the world, normal life has stopped as the Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. I cannot begin to imagine how frightened the people there must be, wondering what will happen next. Wondering if anyone is coming to save them. I don’t usually read the news but Christian has been telling me what’s going on. And there’s nothing I can do. My preoccupations, my concerns, now seem so utterly trivial.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Ukrainian refugees and the people left behind. Maybe there really are only six degrees of separation between us all. Maybe if I try and live my life as gently as possible, be as kind as I can to the people I meet, it does make some tiny difference to this crazy world we live in.
At the start of last year, my old friend Franz Novotny asked if I could contribute some content to an online Buddhist radio station he was setting up. I decided to make a series of half-hour programmes to tell some of the stories behind the songs on my five studio albums.
Many months later, after managing to overcome all the technical hurdles and wade through all the red tape, Diamond Sky Radio was up and running and on Christmas Day, the first of my five programmes, called ‘Songs and Stories’, was broadcast.
You can hear me talking about how I started writing songs, my stagefright, being cured of fibromyalgia, why I became a Buddhist, what happened the first time I was sectioned, how I write songs, falling in love in the Australian bush, living in a recycled shack, becoming a cheesemaker, how I met Don McLean, the story behind the making of ‘Believer’, writing ‘Woke Up’ for Greenpeace, why I published ‘Start Over Again’, my lifelong passion for Bach and Bob Marley, the miscarriage that inspired ‘Banks of the Acheron’, overcoming writer’s block, and surviving life on the bipolar rollercoaster all these years.
And in between the talking, I play the tracks I’ve chosen from each album.
Here is a link to all the programmes so you can listen again if you missed them. I hope you enjoy them.
I am really looking forward to singing my songs and reading poems from my new book ‘Words With Wings’ at the wonderful Berkelouw bookshop in Eumundi on Friday 18 March.
When my last poetry book ‘Meditation Mind’ came out in 2018, my husband Christian and I toured bookshops and Buddhist centres in the UK, performing a mix of songs and poetry readings. It worked so well and we loved doing it so I’m delighted that Berkelouw Books in Eumundi have agreed to host an evening to celebrate the publication of ‘Words With Wings’.
This will be an intimate gig with places limited due to the space so please book soon if you would like to be there. There will be a short Q&A at the end. Tickets are $20/$15 concessions. All tickets will be refunded in the event of a cancellation due to Covid. Please click here if you would like more information about the event.
I can’t write songs at the moment. I sit at my keyboard, play a chord and nothing inspires me. But that’s ok, it’ll come back. I’ve had writer’s block enough times to know it is impermanent like everything else. So I’ve started writing poems again, one a day after my morning meditation practice.
This morning it is stormy here in the Australian bush, the wind blowing the rain sideways. We’ve had so much rain the grass grows tall and so green it hurts your eyes to look at it. In the evenings the wallabies come to graze. They don’t seem to mind us.
The start of January is always a difficult time for me after the high of Christmas (yes I am like a small child). It’s hard to get going again, to get focused. But I have a new album to finish that is five years in the making and now at last we can see the end in sight. I have a new book to publish and an album of instrumental cello music to record. And a tour of south-east Queensland to promote.
All these are my reasons for being, reasons to stave off the black dog snapping at my heels. We are all stressed, we are all anxious about what will happen next. I hope 2022 will see the end of the pandemic and I will be able to travel to see my family again for the first time in over 2 years. I miss them more than they know.
But my life is here, in the bush, with the trees and the wallabies and the mist that comes creeping down the Obi Obi valley at dawn. I know why I am here and what it is I must do. To sing songs to people, to compose music, to write poems, to play my part in this crazy world we live in. Hope is a potent elixir. So I sit at my keyboard, play a chord and wait for inspiration to come…
Yesterday I went to Caboolture Hospital and sang some of my songs for patients and staff in their mental health facilities. Also performing were the Mindfulness Poet Brendan O’Shea, Cardie Boydell who did an incredible rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’, Cecelia Scahill who organised the event and sang backing vocals and singer-songwriter Kaycee Morgan who is a peer support worker there and has the most beautiful voice.
I am passionate about the benefits of music for mental health and I used to do a lot of gigs in mental health hospitals in the UK. I hope I will be able to do more here in Australia.
In other news, I am delighted to be performing on New Year’s Eve at Bushtime, the wonderful summer camp organised by Woodfordia who run Woodford Folk Festival on the same site. I’ll be on the Troubadour stage with Christian at 4pm. The perfect way to see out the year. Tickets are on sale now.
I’m very happy to announce the release of ‘The Collection’, a double album of songs selected by me from my albums ‘Stranger Place’, ‘Keep Walking’, ‘Believer’, ‘Bird Inside A Cage’ and ‘A Bit Of Blue’.
‘The Collection’ is a kind of ‘Best Of’, if you like. All the songs I’ve ever recorded for my albums are dear to my heart so it was hard to choose but I hope I’ve included your favourites – please see the track list.
You can order ‘The Collection’ now through the shop on my website. Postal services between the UK and Australia are still very delayed so bear in mind it might take a few weeks to arrive.
My new poetry book ‘Words With Wings’ was featured on ABC Radio Sunshine Coast the other day. I’ve had some amazing feedback about the poems, particularly the digital album of me reading them accompanied by my own piano music. One person said it was like ‘a box of chocolates’. Can’t get much higher praise than that!
“The poems in this book are all pieces of my heart. I give them to you in the hope that the words will speak to you, that they will be words with wings to uplift, comfort and inspire. There is so much space and beauty inside all of us, there is so much potential.”
I’ve just published a new book of poetry called ‘Words With Wings’. Inspired by my life in the Australian bush and my daily meditation practice, these poems are my thoughts about the meaning of life and the world around us.
The book ‘Words With Wings’ includes a download link to a digital album of me reading all the poems accompanied by my own original piano music (you can hear an example in the video below). This digital album is also available separately from the book.
You can order your copy of the book, or just the album if you prefer, here.