All posts by Leslie Tate


‘And the task of writing is to hang on tight, like Menelaus, till the god gives up, stops trying to throw his rider, and becomes his true self.’

Mask dating from the 4th/3rd century BC, Stoà of Attalos Museum, Athens.

In my imaginary autobiography I’m sneaking between fences along an overgrown passageway between 50s suburban back gardens. I’m shaky inside as I step around orange fungi and fat-bodied spiders while poking sticks into webs. Part of me is watchful, an undercover agent observing neighbours through gaps in the fence, and part of me is hot and sweaty, sniffing out a trail.

In another scene I’m by the house with an old wooden chair that I’ve been told to break up. It’s my chance to let it have it, full force. The chair’s in my power, so I twist and wrench it, exercising my will. There’s a beast inside me, a smasher and basher who does what he likes and enjoys what he can do. Continue reading LESLIE TATE – MY IMAGINARY AUTOBIOGRAPHY

POETRY IN TIMES OF CRISIS (part 2) by Leslie Tate

Charles Baudelaire, by Gustave Courbet.

Poetry is a cage with an animal inside… it has a wild longing for clarityDerek Mahon.

Is it possible to write poetically about war and violence? To me, the word ‘poetically’ means there is something beautiful, ordered or fitting about the words, and that we experience the horror but see beyond, or more. Typically, in times of crisis the poet writes elegies, but often with controlled passion such as Yeats’s Easter 1916. In this kind of work a form of distancing over time has allowed the poet to find the exact words to nail the experience. It rises above the immediate moment while retaining the fine detail of personal connection: Continue reading POETRY IN TIMES OF CRISIS (part 2) by Leslie Tate


Marilyn Kallet
In this guest blog American poet, professor and translator, Marilyn Kallet, writes about the ways poetry can connect us to our feelings and each other in times of crisis.

‘On June 17, as I started this essay, I could hear Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina Poet Laureate on Public Broadcasting Service, reading poems that commemorated the one-year anniversary of the shooting massacre at Charleston Emanuel AME Church. Marcus Amaker was her superb co-reader. Wentworth commented that people yearn for language in times of crisis, and that poets can offer apt words. Continue reading MARILYN KALLET WRITES – POETRY IN TIMES OF CRISIS


Joe 1I interviewed virtuoso guitarist Joe Rhinewine about his driven, adventurous music. I wanted to find out where he got his musical ideas from and how much of his life experience as owner/psychologist at Portland Mindfulness has gone into his new CD ‘Songs from Nowhere’. 

Leslie: How would you characterise your music?

Joe: Eclectic indie-prog? Labels are tricky. They’re more for marketing than anything else. I’m guessing that people who like what I like might like what I make. So if you like Brian Eno and King Crimson and Velvet Underground etc, perhaps you’ll like my stuff?

Leslie: What was the life-process that went into your present musical style? What were the high/low/turning points on the way? Continue reading JOE RHINEWINE – ZEN AND THE ART OF GUITAR


Rosemary Hill

I interviewed Rosemary Hill, innovative theatre director and founder of two drama companies. Rosemary began as a drama and English teacher and head of department in a large secondary school,  She moved into radio and television working as a producer and director with a particular interest in education and development. In each of these creative fields Rosemary has stayed true to her own artistic agenda. I wanted to find out how she has done that, and what she has learned on the way.

Leslie: You worked as a TV director, producing documentaries covering difficult personal situations in ‘hot spots’ around the world.  What sticks in your memory from that period? Continue reading ROSEMARY HILL – THE PLAY’S THE THING


Karen Maitland at Le Havre Festival

Continuing my interview with well-known novelist Karen Maitland, I asked her about writing collectively and how her studies and personal interests have contributed to her books. Karen is an authority on ’hidden’ medieval history, has several historical thrillers published by Penguin and Headline, and will be on the panel in two discussions at the Historical Novel Society Conference, 2nd – 4th September. Continue reading KAREN MAITLAND CONJURES UP THE PAST (PART 2)



I first met historical-thriller author Karen Maitland as one of the speakers at a Something Rhymed discussion about gender inequality in the literary world. Karen talked about how she writes thrillers that aim to give a more authentic, women-friendly picture of the Middle Ages than the conventional focus on battles, ships and weapons. Afterwards, I asked Karen, who is published by Penguin and Headline, to share her experiences as a major writer and interpreter of the medieval mind-set.

Leslie: You write scholarly medieval thriller fiction with elements of fantasy. What is the story behind you adopting/developing this genre? Continue reading KAREN MAITLAND – CONJURING UP THE PAST WITH GHOSTS, SAINTS, MIRACLES & CURSES (part 1)


Aya Hastwell with some of her portraits of ‘Invisible People’ .

I first met artist Aya Hastwell at her exhibition ‘Invisible People’. I asked Aya about her growth as an artist and how she works on portraits of people who have been marginalised.

Leslie: Can you tell us, please, about the portraits you recently exhibited of elderly people, carers and people with mental health issues?

Aya: In 2013 I decided to do a series of portraits of the Service Users at Guideposts. A major reason why I started volunteering at Guideposts, by the way, was that my son is bipolar. I became a staff member a few months ago,

I suggested the portraits idea to the art group members I was working with and asked them to contribute to the project by designing and painting a background for their own portrait. The background had to reflect their personality, be it related to their mental health issue or to their memories or families, etc. Continue reading THE ARTIST AS CARER