Daily Archives: April 11, 2018

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 11




Today’s featured participant is April’s Thirty, where the simultaneity poem for Day Ten is full of small details that contribute to its power.

Our interviewee for the day is Kwoya Fagin Maples. Her first full-length book of poetry, MEND, is forthcoming from the University Press of Kentucky. Maples is also the author of the chapbook Something of Yours, published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press, and her work is published in journals including Blackbird Literary Journal, Obsidian, Berkeley Poetry Review, and the African-American Review. You can read more about MEND, along with some excerpts, here, and you can read our interview with Maples here.

Our (optional, as always) prompt for the day is taken from one of the prompts that Kwoya Fagin Maples suggests in here interview: a poem that addresses the future, answering the questions “What does y(our) future provide? What is your future state of mind? If you are a citizen of the “union” that is your body, what is your future “state of the union” address?”

Happy writing!

I was interested by what I read of Kwoya Fagin Maples. Her interview is particularly enlightened of the work she is currently writing.


5ab39dd423e2c-bpfullThe Poetry School Day 11

Day 11: Counting

In the three example poems today, take note how the poets use the device of numbered sections, of counting, to tell their stories. This is what I want you to do: to use either numbered sections, or counting as a device in some other way, to tell your story.

I presume you’ll all have read this poem by Tara Bergin, but it’s a great example: ‘The True Story of Eleanor Marx in Ten Parts’.

Next up, have a read of ‘New World Hymn’ by Momtaza Mehri.

Finally, for a slightly different approach, here’s Abigail Parry’s ‘The Knife Game’, which can be found at this link on the 14th page, so you’ll have to do a bit of scrolling.

The poems on this prompt make a great read. The link to Abigail Parry’s poem will give you a PDF of many poems. I have saved mine to read at a later stage in the year.

I loved listening to Tara’s reading, I met Tara Bergin at Ledbury Poetry Festival last year. After absorbing all of these prompts I feel inspired to use The Poetry School for my NaPo write today. I have never actually used counting in a poem in this way, love a bit of new territory!


In the end I wrote another poem for the sequence on Dementia. ‘White Matter Changes’. 

I took solace in language not disappearing

The use of numbers sequencing stanzas in a poem about counting, creates an extra layer of confusion/noise which I feel mimics the symptoms and reality of caring for someone suffering the condition. It certainly makes the poem something more than it would be without the device.

It is also the poem with the least amount of editing so far in Napo 2018 and I think I have the numbering to thank for that.



Not so Idle Women



On Saturday night I finally managed to catch the Idle Women Tour, this is a project Heather Wastie has worked on since 2016, I missed the 2017 performances and have been meaning to catch a show ever since!


The show gained financial support from Arts Council England, which enabled the employment of a Tour Manager, Zoe Hunn and Director, Milla Jackson.

Last Autumn Idle Women featured on BBC Country File, which aired November 12th as part of Remembrance programming.


The Spring Tour started last week with a performance at The Chestnut Inn,  Worcester on Tuesday 3rd April.

idle women chestnut inn© 2018 – Alarum Theatre

I knew the basic content of the show and have been aware of Heather’s work and some of the poetry. I purposefully didn’t look into the Double Bill and had no idea what to expect from Kate Saffin (other than half the show).

Photographs taken in the first week of the 2017 Tour © 2017 – Alarum Theatre

Kate Saffin took care of the first part of the evening with her theatrical piece about the Idle Women, great story and wonderful portrayal of multiple characters (as a former actress I know how challenging this can be). The story she told was moving and educational. Kate uses simple dramatic devices masterfully in her one woman show.

Kate is a Boater, writer, storyteller and actor, Kate Saffin has lived on a narrowboat and told stories of the waterways as solo plays since 1999. She trained as a writer for stage and broadcast media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (MFA). © 2017 – Alarum Theatre

I regret not speaking to Kate after the show, (I was so excited to see Heather), Kate’s performance was moving. ‘Isobel’s War’ was full of character and story, told in a way with simple props and devices that transported us back in time.

 © 2018 – Alarum Theatre

Heather Wastie gave us the second half of the show. ‘Idle Women’, a performance filled with facts and passion. It was great to watch her perform again. She gave us both songs and poetry and new material to the show.

Heather was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16 and is well known for her interpretations of oral history. In 2013 she was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, turning people’s memories into poems, monologues and songs which she now performs. This work was published in November 2015 by Black Pear Press under the title Weaving Yarns. In 2017 she was commissioned by Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust to compose a children’s song cycle, ‘Loom in the Loft’, to celebrate the restoration of the Weavers’ Cottages in Kidderminster.

In 2017 she was commissioned to write and perform poems for the popular Nationwide Building Society ad campaign, Voices Nationwide. She has also worked as poet and actor for National Trust property Croome Court in Worcestershire. © 2017 – Alarum Theatre

Heather was also a Guest Poet for INKSPILL (AWF’s Online Writing Retreat) in October 2014.

It was a very factual show both in terms of the waterways and the wartime volunteers.


© 2017 – Alarum Theatre

I loved discovering how the term ‘Idle Women’ came to be and to hear talk of the Tardebigge Canal (where we took our own poetry adventure on board a narrowboat back in the summer of 2016 – and there were many locks). I have my tiller girl badge to prove it.

This show is a must for Water Dwellers but is just as fun for Land Lovers. I think it appeals to both communities, anyone interested in history, waterways or just looking for a good night out! It is great to have many tour venues on the canal itself. This makes the interval exceptionally special – when you step out and see part of the world the show is all about.


It was quality storytelling and an entertaining, fun evening.

idle 1© 2017 – Alarum Theatre

If you are local enough, I urge you to catch Idle Women. Here is the Tour Schedule https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/2018-tour/2018-tour-dates/ you will not be disappointed!

The Summer Tour will see them travel further North on the Leeds & Liverpool Waterways.


Related Resources: IW_National-Service