" /> Travels Archives - Naomi Foyle
Cover of Adamantine: a young woman holding an hourglass

  Adamantine [adjective] 1. Made of adamant, or having the qualities of adamant; incapable of being broken, dissolved or penetrated.2. Like the diamond in hardness or lustre3. My third poetry collection! Welcome to the first round of celebrations of the publication of Adamantine (Red Hen/Pighog Press, Pasadena), which was published July 11th in the US/Canada and is forthcoming December 11th in the UK. Containing tributes to an international range of artists and activists, and a lyric sequence responding to my breast cancer treatment, the book honours women’s tenacity and lustre. While the book is not an eco-poetry collection, whether by serendipity or occult foresight, the image of the hourglass is a motif in the poems and cover image; and in its internationalist scope Adamantine is offered in the spirit of global solidarity that Extinction Rebellion has helped ignite this year – a grassroots uprising which may yet save us and our precious…

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A wildflower

Driven by a giddy need to make up for lost time, my first full year post-cancer treatment was full tilt with travel, art galleries, books, family and friends. I also finally learned how to use my iPhone camera – you touch the screen to focus, doh!  Fizzing with this epiphany, I even signed up for a iPhone photography course, way back in February, but what with my madcap work pace haven’t had time to start it yet.  I also remain confused by Instagram – it seems you can’t use the app on a computer, only your phone, and I like curating albums, which Facebook, for all its multitude of sins, is pretty good at. Still, I did migrate from the insanely perplexing iPhotos (I spent an hour at a festival with an award-winning filmaker trying to clear storage space without deleting all my photos, and she gave up too), to…

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  September sings, but the chords of summer echo on, not least of my visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories in late July for readings from A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry, the bilingual anthology I edited last year for Smokestack Books. Travelling with Rachel Searle, the Director of BlakeFest (Bognor Regis) – for whom I am consulting on the Building Jerusalem event in this year’s festival – Palestinian-American poet Farid S. Bitar, and performance artist/historian Catherine Charrett, I chaired two poetry events in East Jerusalem and Ramallah; visited with Jewish peace activists in Haifa; and, in the Occupied Galilee, met with poet and political prisoner Dareen Tatour on the eve of her sentencing. Rachel and I returned home sobered by the manifold injustices we had witnessed, but also inspired to ‘see the world in a blade of grass’, and motivated to continue creating poetic bridges between Palestine and…

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As promised, here are my photo diaries from my recent week in the West Bank. I made it in to Israel-Palestine safely from Cyprus, though what possessed me to put a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet in my hand luggage, I do not know! Although it is not illegal to visit the West Bank, you have to do so via Israel, and will be refused entry if you announce your intention to travel on into the occupied territories. I had half-baked notions of posing as a Christian pilgrim, but on finding The Prophet the Israeli security guard in the departure lounge decided I was ‘studying Arabic’ and brought in a higher-up to question me. ‘It is love poetry!’ I cried – ‘My mother had this book!’. When I said I was visiting an Israeli friend, he wanted to see her photo. I didn’t have one, and they let me…

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As FB friends know, I’m just back from an incredible two weeks in the Middle East; first in Lebanon, as a member of charity Interpal’s Bear Witness women’s convoy, visiting refugee camps; then the West Bank, where I was exploring the Palestinian eco-resistance to the Israeli occupation. I chose to write about my trip on Facebook partly because I didn’t have time to travel, share on social media *and* blog, but also for security reasons: Israel and Lebanon are not the best of mates, and I was worried about storing my photos of the camps and Beirut on my camera and laptop, which Israeli airport guards have been known to rifle through. Posting my pix each night to Facebook was the answer, and it was only natural to turn my albums into photo diaries, a habit I continued in the West Bank, again because I wanted to delete any evidence…

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    Dec 31st and not only do I realise I haven’t blogged since July, but I find myself unable to post the traditional list of the year’s top ten books, films, or significant events. Far from this being the year of living listlessly, I am afraid the only tallies I can provide right now are a sad roll call of friends who have died in the last four months, and a long unscrolling moan of all the marking, household chores and writing projects that the year will now leave undone. Since September I’ve been teaching full time (though unfortunately not for full time wages), and the Christmas season, lovely and indulgent as it’s been, has seen me careening madly from tissue paper hats to stacks of undergraduate poems, essays and novel chapters. Work, especially satisfying work, does help stave off grief, and as well as staying up late to…

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Home from ten days in Greece, a defiant indulgence in the face of my own turbulent finances, and my fourth trip to the country, the first I ever visited in continental Europe. A three month stay during the first Gulf War resulted in a sequence of prose poems; two trips in the noughties with my then-partner produced a stormy DIY arthouse video and a three generation family holiday. For me the blue waters of Greece are emotional reservoir and creative wellspring. With their secluded beaches and balmy climate, blazing bourgenvilla and silvery olive groves, kids zooming about like fireflies as their parents welcome artists, writers, history and sun seekers, if you’ve got a little spare cash the islands offer intense beauty, and the timeless illusion of freedom. But what I’ve also always loved about the country is its sense of political urgency, born perhaps of its place in the crosscurrents…

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Ahoj! Here I am back from Prague, where esoteric author Cyril Simsa had arranged for me to bring The Gaia Chronicles to the Renaissance bower of the Anglo-American University, and troubadours John McKeown and Lucien Zell had invited me to read poetry at Pracovna, an ultra-chic café and ‘co-working space’ built from repurposed factory palettes and hub caps. There’s no pic of me and Cyril sadly (our conversations were far too occult for digital snaps) but I look pretty happy with the poets in Zizkov, and really it’s true, I had a radiant time. It was my first visit to Prague, but as I wrote before I left, thanks to a childhood friendship I believe my imagination owes a debt to Czech SF and I was keen to research the history of the genre in the city. My first purchase was a slim book of tales of the Golem, that…

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I head to Prague tomorrow, on a trip I’m starting to think of as a pilgrimage – a chance to pay homage to the silvery Czech spores that seeded my science fiction fate . . . I’m recalling here my best friend in Canada in grade eight, a Czechoslovakian girl called Nora, with whom I collaborated on a ‘space opera’ epic that expressed our pubescent emotions and burgeoning awareness of the politics of power, but also, I now suspect, her Czech literary heritage. I knew Nora in the late seventies, and I assume her parents had fled Soviet rule, though I can’t recall if I was ever told the story of their emigration. Nora would have been an infant during the Prague Spring of 1968, and it’s entirely possible her parents took part in the creative and non-violent resistance that characterised that brief period of hope. Did her mother go…

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A poem that emerged from a memory cloud as I dashed through St Pancras Station – the first draft was typed into my phone on the Underground and read an hour later at my National Poetry Day gig. As I was Tweeting about the pianos a fortnight ago, it seems fitting to publish it online. (And if anyone can explain how to get rid of the double-spacing in WordPress, please feel free to comment!)    The St Pancras Pianos for Paul   Who knew there were two blue uprights at the station? While you caressed the ivories beneath the Eurostar escalier, I was opposite Cath Kidston listening to a bald bruiser with tats and a gay dungeon beard: boogie-woogie jazz sonatas, impromptu ragtime rhapsodies, pouring from his fingers on and on for half hour.   I didn’t SMS because you’d be on the Tube, I didn’t want to nag, and…

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