All posts by Leslie Tate


Harriet Levin Millan

Prize-winning poet, Harriet Levin Millan writes about what she has learned from listening to the stories of refugees, and how she has turned that experience into literature.

How Fast Can You Run, Harriet’s debut novel, based on the experiences of Michael Majok Kuch from South Sudan, has been selected as a Charter for Compassion Global Read and as a Forward Indies Best Book of the Year finalist in three categories. Harriet is also the author of two books of poetry, with a third to appear in 2018. Among her prizes are the Barnard New Women Poets Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and directs the Certificate Program in Writing and Publishing at Drexel University. Continue reading THE WORDS WE USE, SPEAKING ABOUT REFUGEES


Dawn Finch’s favourite standing stone: the Craw Stone near Rhynie. It shows a salmon leaping a porpoise.

I interviewed Dawn Finch, librarian, activist, novelist and historical researcher about her amazing range of cultural interests. Dawn is the past president of the leading UK professional body for librarians CILIP and writes novels for young adults as well as books about ancient history.

Leslie: Your profile says you have a ‘lifetime fascination with antiquarian books, history and the Gothic’. Can you describe your relationship to books as a child and how that has led to your writing today? Continue reading DAWN FINCH – ADDING A PEBBLE TO THE MOUNTAIN


Poppy and Daisy by Alicja O’Sullivan

I asked Alicja O’Sullivan, whose photographs have been exhibited in several major cities and in Italian Vogue, about what inspires her.  Alicja writes:

‘Photography has been my passion since I remember, although I started professionally quite late. I am from Poland, which was at that time a quite rigorously restricted country…. When I was about 12-13 years old I wanted to join our school photography club, but was laughed at by my teacher and was told to forget it as photography is not for girls. Continue reading THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY


Mark Statman

In this guest blog, international poet and translator Mark Statman describes his move from the USA to Mexico and his feelings about President Trump’s election. As former associate professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College,  Mark Statman’s translations include Federico García Lorca‘s Poet in New YorkJosé María Hinojosa’s poetry and a forthcoming collection, Never Made in America: Selected Poems from Martín Barea Mattos, out in April. Mark’s own original poetry collections include A Map of the Winds and That Train Again.

Mark writes: Continue reading A NOTE FROM MEXICO SOUTH BY MARK STATMAN


Jo Young

Jo Young is a modern war poet, shortlisted for the Flambard Poetry Prize, currently researching the subject for a PhD. I asked her about her writing and her views on war as a woman and an army reservist.

Leslie: Can you describe in a nutshell the types of writing you’re involved in and enjoy, please? Continue reading WAR POETRY – A WOMAN’S VOICE


Fairground II The Last Ride by Christine Rollitt – ‘I have attached pieces of fabric to the surface of the acrylic painted base. These are made using bright colours which represent fairground rides which figured in my childhood as I grew up on the coast.’

Christine Rollitt is a gifted and versatile stitched textile artist, who has worked with several textile artist groups as well as design and retail companies. She has exhibited in Bahrain. London, Newcastle upon Tyne, Harrogate, Dublin, St Albans, Hemel Hempstead, Redbourne and Berkhamsted. I interviewed Christine about her fine art training and how it has led to her current work which includes, in her own words, her ‘hand-dyed fabrics that focus on painterly qualities’.

Leslie: What attracted you to mixed-media/textile art? Why this medium?

Christine:  I have always had a love of textiles.  Some of my earliest memories are of items of clothing as a three year old child.  My interest was further enhanced by being sent a box of fabric scraps by my aunt when I was about nine years old.  My ancestors worked in the lace industry in Nottingham. Stitch is another mark-making tool, just like a brush loaded with paint. Continue reading AN ARTIST’S JOURNEY


Giles Turnbull

I asked Giles Turnbull to guest blog about his blindness and his writing. Giles is a poet who studied chemistry at Swansea University and lives in Abergavenny. His poems and articles have appeared in Corncrake, Fair Acre Press, Poetry Wales and Rockland and his debut pamphlet, Dressing Up, will be published by Cinnamon Press in 2017.

Giles writes:

The last colour I remember seeing was outside the doctor’s office where I lived at the time, Decatur, GA, and it was the yellow of some daffodils (or jonquils as they’d probably have been in America). I don’t see colours any more, though the tiny bit of usable sight I have allows me to notice strong contrasts and movement, so if you wave your hand in front of me or open a door in my line of sight, then I may notice the movement and be able to deduce that it is a door or a hand based on where I am at the time. Continue reading THE POETRY OF BLINDNESS


THREE WORDS, IN BRIEF: Serena, a mermaid, gives up her magic to be with Steve. When he betrays her she is cursed to return to the sea as foam unless she can find another love within a year and a day who will tell her he loves her. Unable to tell anyone of her predicament, she returns to the seaside town where she came ashore to wait out her time, there meeting Seth, his close friends Ethan, Gaia, Tallie and Rob and his Great Aunt Rose. Gradually she begins to find a new life amongst them and she and Seth realise that they have feelings for each other. But Seth has been in and out of a toxic relationship with Jessica for several years and this, along with his difficult childhood, has made it very difficult for him to trust anyone. Love is just a word to him. He is used to people leaving. Although the kindest person imaginable, his behaviour alters when he and Serena become romantically involved; his doubts make him run. As time ticks by Serena realises that she too may have to leave Seth and with a very unsatisfactory explanation, breaking his heart again and compounding his mistrust.

I invited Izzy Robertson, healer and author of four novels published by Magic Oxygen, to write about love and how she explores that theme in her new novel Three Words.

Izzy writes: 

‘Three Words is an exploration of relationships and love, with its many forms and facets. Love can be the purest and most powerful force for good on this earth. But there are many things that can masquerade as love, and some of them just aren’t. Obsession, possession, manipulation, guilt, false expectation; these all feed into the emotions we have around love and how it should be and can completely destroy trust and relationships.

The book is very loosely based around the fairy tale The Little Mermaid, but pleases don’t be put off. It’s not Disney, I assure you! The original fairy tales as I’m sure you know were very much darker and far from sugar sweet. That’s where my interest lies.

But this story is not just about romantic love. Continue reading LOVE TALKS