Weekend Q&A: Poet, editor and educator Natasha Cuddington

Jane Hardy

Natasha Cuddington (48) is a poet and educator who co-edited the new anthology Words Out with Ruth Carr for Open Arts, an organisation which inspires and supports the creativity and artistic development of disabled people.

How do you unwind at the weekend?

It's a difficult question as every day is the same for me. I live adjacent to the Falls Park and have a dog Isaac so each morning I go for a walk in the early hours. After getting the children fed – my three sons, Tadc (21), Padraig (16) and Cathal (11) – I have a concentrated period of thinking and writing. For me, all reading tends to be comfort reading. Recently I've been dipping into a new Carcanet translation, In the Same Light, 200 Tang Poems for our Century by Meng Jiao, translated by Wong May.

I like Trading in Poetry which opens:

A hungry dog worries a bone./ I myself am consumed by an old hunger./It gnaws & I salivate./New poetry, old poetry/I cherish both.

I work at the top of the house, a semi-detached with windows overlooking the Black Mountain, and read in a chair near a desk.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

I grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada, came to Belfast to go to Queen's in 1999, met my husband and never left. When young I spent time on my mother's farm and home - I remember the snowy or green prairie with no danger but insects. Every Friday or Saturday there were generous dinner parties at my father's home in the city with a variety of intellectuals, stridently left-wing. My parents always engaged us in the debate. When my father Fred comes over, he does the same thing with my sons.

Is there a must-listen weekend radio programme or podcast?

Radio 4's The Background Noise. I've been listening to albums too: Timber Timbre, a Canadian band, St Vincent's Masseducation and Donny Hathaway.

Is there a must-watch TV programme or Netflix?

I don't watch a lot of television but enjoyed a documentary on Warhol recently.

Is Sunday still special?

I don't need a weekend or holiday to save my life but Sunday means I spend more time on the rituals of the garden. We have roses, cherry blossom, tulips, wild garlic, other bits and pieces. There's a lot of pink.

Have you a favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

I get a weekly delivery from Helen's Bay Organic vegetable shop. Recently I made a cassoulet. On Upper Arthur Street, there's a delightful doughnut shop if I need a bribe, Oh Donuts. It doesn't feel like Belfast.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

I'm happy. Working on Words Out showed you need to resist expectations. I want it to be a lens to filter the contributors' lives and manage things, and difficulties.

::Words Out, a new book of poetry, prose and pictures by participants from the arts and disability charity Open Arts, is launched on June 16 at the Crescent Arts Centre at 1pm. For tickets, go to

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