Wednesday, 18 November 2020

The Skylark's Call and Cancer Focus

I am a cancer survivor and I’d like to support the work of Cancer Focus through the launch of my new book, The Skylark’s Call. During my years of cancer treatment I got a lot of help from this charity, especially from their counselling service and from the Sing for Life Choir. Now I want to give something in return. For every copy of my book that is sold, £1 will be donated to Cancer Focus. The Skylark’s Call is priced at £10 and can be bought online from and from And if you buy the book through my website, I’d be delighted to sign it for you. The Skylark’s Call is also stocked by No Alibis bookshop in Belfast. In these difficult times, it’s important that we continue to give support to those suffering from cancer.

As you know, I first got cancer in 2011. It came back in 2015 and again in 2016. I wasn’t expected to live for very long. I didn’t think I would write poetry again and I certainly never imagined that I would complete a second collection. I learned to live for each day. I’m delighted, of course, that all these and plenty more good things have come to pass. Life has so many and varied ways of surprising us.

The theme of the The Skylark’s Call is the vitality and impermanence of everyday life. All of the poems in the book were written during my years of treatment for, and recovery from, advanced cancer. The poems don’t seek to address my cancer experience directly, but reflect on the memories and meanings that surround a cluster of places, people and artefacts. Together the poems explore the fragile and often invisible boundary between life and death. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, this is a territory we are all now having to deal with.

Cancer Focus is a very worthy cause. In 2019 they celebrated 50 years of working to reduce the impact of cancer on people’s lives in Northern Ireland. They provide care and support services for cancer patients and their families; offer a range of cancer prevention programmes to help people lessen their risk of getting cancer; fund scientific research into the causes and treatment of the disease and campaign for better health policy to protect our community and its future.


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