Over the last two years, Mike Sims and I have been working at Paekakariki Press in Walthamstow to create ‘A Joy Forever – a walk out with John Keats’. Matt McKenzie, the owner and founder of the press, patiently taught us to cast lead titles, to hand-set pages, to generate galleys and to bind books. The result is a limited edition publication, the page version of our Joy Forever live events. It’s a a playful, social exploration of Keats’ life and writing comprising a little hero worship, some Keatsian enthusiasms and diversions (games, recipes, pilgrimages), favourite Keats poems and letters, new poems by us and beautiful illustrations by Linda Hughes. Available now from Paekakariki Press.
‘is, thinks Pearl celebrates the alternative view, the sideways approach, the focus on something other than the obvious. It honours plurality, difference, diversity, people who buck the trend, refuseniks. It’s a plea for gentle sort of subversiveness.’ (Hilary Menos, The Friday Poem)
‘Julia Bird’s powers of observation are razor-sharp; these pieces read like perfect icons where every detail is imbued with leaf gold.’ (Cathi Rae, Everyone’s Reviewing)
‘Bird mixes her clever wit with more serious contemplations’ (Kate Noakes, London Grip)
Pearl is a gold dap-wearing, model village-vandalising imagainary museum curator. She wanders round town in 17 poems.
The Zoom launch featured the history of chandeliers and a guest appearance from my brother’s dog in a French Pearl cocktail-making tutorial. You can rewatch it all here.
‘is, thinks Pearl’ – now available from The Emma Press. If you’d like your own Pearl person charm – modelled above – let the publishers know in the checkout and they’ll add one to your parcel.
Pearl spends a day at the lido: that’s the blue of the water, the yellow of her swimming costume and the pink of her inflatable flamingo on Emma’s cover illustration for my new pamphlet.
‘Step into Pearl’s world and take a tour around her faded seaside town, past the graffiti walls, bus stops and the old mattress factory. Except – with Pearl as our guide – the colours suddenly pop and every tiny detail becomes rich with interest. From the lido to the hair salon, to the Christmas shop in June, the ordinary becomes magical and every bit of wildness, weirdness and tattiness is whisked into the foreground.
“Pearl” is an alter ego of the poet: she’s a character who observes the minutiae around her and whose thoughts are a pleasure to follow. This pamphlet follows Pearl as she rollicks around, making her way through a townscape similar but not identical to the too-small-to-be-cities of poet Julia Bird’s 70s & 80s childhood.’
What’s this, sneaking across the screen like a mile-a-minute vine? News of a real-life gig in a physical place! I’ll be in Kew Gardens for the evening, writing instant plant portrait poems as part of Kew’s Secret World of Plants After Hours sessions. Lots of slots with artists, botantical types and writers across the summer – mine’s on 3 July. Thanks to Helen Bowell for the booking.
The brilliant people at the Poetry in Aldeburgh Festival have made podcasts from readings from last November’s gathering. Mike Sims and I blew a lockdown bubble and read from Paper Trail in my flat, joining a Zoom reading with Richard Skinner and Olivia Dawson, and Henny Beaumont who illustrated a couple of our poems. Listen along here.
Letterpress published, illustrations by Linda Hughes. Poems, pilgrimages, games & recipes.
I’m going to be publishing again with The Emma Press, the best girl gang that ever there was. is, thinks Pearl is a new poetry pamphlet, due out in Autumn 2021.
Maybe you remember Pearl from her appearance in Paper Trail. At that point she was a brisk and slightly salty waitress working in a seafood restaurant. She also showed up in the Winchester Poetry Competiton, counting helium animals for a high street balloon seller. Always in town with the beadiest of eyes on all she sees, she now has her own book, and I’m very pleased.