Review of 2019
This year has been full of revolving doors, escalators, immigration queues and giant flying machines on aprons. I have visited different countries, cities, cathedrals, cafes, museums, mausoleums, islands, people, parks, paintings, riches, royalty and seen much poverty scattered liberally around streets.
I’ve watched, read and heard about many protests – in Paris, Hong Kong, Beirut, Gambia, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, India, Venezuela, Brazil, Sudan, London, Dublin. These are the ones that immediately come to mind. I’ve seen amazing ‘planet earth’ film and photography on TV, on-line, and in exhibitions – beautiful photos that depict our amazing world that is now under threat.
I’ve read about thirty books with characters from Lagos, Korea, London, Dublin, New York, Ohio, Idaho, Jerusalem, Belfast, the Dominican Republic, Paris, Ghana, Sligo, Norwich, Cavan, Maine, Chicago, India, Italy, Amsterdam, Yorkshire, China, Canada, Holland, Istanbul, Greece, Jordan and Mexico. Stand out books were The Lost Children by Valeria Luiscelli, Education by Tara Westover, Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, Welcome to Lagos by Chibundo Onzu, An Orchestra of Minorities by Chicozie Obiama and a book of short stories, The Lemon Tree by Julian Barnes.
I have watched hundreds of hours of TV, Netflix and Prime (I loved Pride, with Dominic West, Fleabag, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, Games of Thrones, The Crown, Peaky Blinders, Line of Duty, The Hand Maid’s Tale).
I have walked approximately 2,000 kms and swum 100,000 metres (conservative estimates) through woods, along lakeshores, by beaches, in strange, wonderful cities.
I have written about 30 new poems, spent hours (approx. 700) happily editing poetry and short stories in bed and submitted approximately 50 poems/short stories to competitions/literary journals. I have been published in three journals, shortlisted in two competitions, not heard back from most and read at three events this year. I have been to five literary festivals. I have written about 14 blogs (you can check that at kateennals.com) and listened to about 200 hours of book and political podcasts. I have run four literary evenings in Cavan, two writing weekends and one eight-week poetry workshop on form, which was fun, and I mentored three poets.
I also worked with the Freedom to Write campaign – highlighting four imprisoned writers: Nedim Turfent, Turkey, Chimengul Awut from China, Galal El-Hairy, Egypt and Dawitt Issak, Eritrea.
I have daubed thirty paintings and tried my hand with water colours, oils, acrylics, pastels. I have discovered my perspective is completely askew which probably explains some of my poems.
I have celebrated 60 years this year. God knows how many cakes I’ve baked and scoffed in compensation for having to watch Brexit unfold. I have experienced glimmers of hope at the Labour Party Conference and during the recent UK election when I listened to John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn talk of green industrial revolutions, nationalisation, co-operatives, jobs, and home building but Boris Johnson and Tory voters broke my heart on Friday 13th December .
The learning from the year? Life goes on, day by day, and I want to enjoy it in a million different ways until it stops when all the agonising, wondrous beauty will disappear forever: all the lovely photographs on Instagram, all the protests, all the books, all the natural disasters, all the rubbish in the oceans, all the miles and metres walked and swum, all the stories, all the love, the poems, the wine, cakes and then there will be no more failure nor any more Tory Party. But, until then, I am yours and looking forward to 2020.