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Saturday 28 October 2023

This Ring

lives, and always will live, on my finger.

Most of the time I don’t notice it as I go about

my business, but it is, and always will be, there.

It’s there for me to look at when times get tough,

its smoothness and roundness a reminder that,

underneath it all, lies an unblemished love,

without end. This ring, mostly unnoticed yet always there –

maybe I’ll take the time to look at it more often;

maybe I’ll give myself ten minutes every day to gaze

at nothing but this ring. Let all else slide away

from my vision until nothing remains but the polished

silver circle of this ring. For what else matters but love?

Let all else melt from view. Let all else fade.

Let all things crumble to nothing but dust.

For what is life but love? And what is love but this ring?

Joshua Seigal

Thursday 26 October 2023

Lovely poems from Oakfield Community Primary School

Year 6 at Oakfield Community Primary School recently wrote poems based on my piece 'Just a Book, which you can read on my website here. Their pieces were entitled 'Just a War', and used the same rhythm and rhyme scheme my poem uses. I was especially pleased when their teacher got in touch to share some of the work they had written. All the young poets should be incredibly proud of themselves!!

Saturday 21 October 2023

Fleetville Infant School send me a 'Get Well' poem x

Towards the end of 2019 I had a breakdown. For a couple of months I was unable to work. Since then my mental health journey has been a lot more positive, marked by occasional, inevitable pitfalls, but also graced with many successes. I have had books published, got to grips with virtual workshops which has almost eliminated overnight stays from my work schedule, continued to develop a wonderful relationship with my wife, and basically gone from strength to strength.

Since the beginning of the Ukraine war my mental health has suffered, fluctuating to some extent with the vagaries of that conflict. The new war in the Middle East, coupled with developments in my private life, has led to further mental health issues. I know I am not alone. Very, very far from it. I also know that, both relatively and objectively, I am very lucky. Nonetheless, I've been waking up feeling sad and scared. Concentration has been difficult, and I do feel lonely. Lonely because my anxiety lives within me, and no one else. I have to carry it around, just as everyone has to carry round their own stuff. Such is the nature of the human condition. 

Why am I writing this? Well, coupled with my anxiety has been a busy work schedule. I have beene extremely fortunate to have done some work with amazing schools and institutions over the last half term. Yesterday I was due to pay a visit to Fleetville Infant School, where I have been Patron of Reading since 2014. I have developed a long and fruitful relationhip with this school, and am always overjoyed at the excitement among the wee ones when I enter the building. For the first time since 2019, however, I felt I couldn't go in. My mental health meant I was afraid I wouldn't do the visit justice. I was honest with the school, and in turn they were good to me: some of their pupils wrote me a 'get well' poem!! I had tears in my eyes as I read it:

They also sent me a video of the poem being performed:

There is, after all, such goodness in the world. I send everyone peace, light and love, and thank you so much to the amazing, inspiring children and staff at Fleetville Infant School. 

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Apologising to the Cat

I got in from work

and apologised to the cat.

I tickled her head,

behind her ears,

and told her I was sorry.

She wanted to play and I said I’m sorry –

I don’t have it in me today.

Some days are like that.

Some days are belly rubs

and silly songs, but others

are like this, sitting down heavily

with a head full of tears,

an overspilling inbox,

and an apology to the cat.

Joshua Seigal

Sunday 15 October 2023

a student gives me a thank you letter

I was recently sorting out my book shelf when I came across a handwritten note, lodged in between two books. It was a thank you note from a student at a school I visited recently. As I recall, the pupil wrote the note at lunchtime and gave it to me in the afternoon. Reading the note again, I remember that Louisa-May was upset at having failed a test. In the note, she says thank you "for saying that I am smarter than the test I failed." I believe there is such truth in this. Whenever we 'fail' a test, it needs to be kept in mind that perhaps we are too smart for the test, rather than the test being too smart for us!!

Monday 9 October 2023

Interview and book review in Teach Primary magazine

I was honoured to be featured in the October edition of the fantastic Teach Primary magazine! You can see my interview with them below, along with a lovely review of my new book, Who Let the Words Out?

Sunday 8 October 2023

Mummy, look at me

the kid says

as he walks along a little wall.

The wall is about a foot high.

The mum breaks off her conversation

and looks round momentarily.

Well done darling, she replies.

Throughout the boy’s life

he will face much higher walls;

precipitous cliffs, perhaps,

and yet this is what it all comes down to –

Mummy, look at me

Well done darling

as, from a distant tree,

a crow takes flight.

Joshua Seigal