Monthly Archives: March 2020

NaPoWriMo 2020 It’s Coming!

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It is nearly time for NaPoWriMo, an annual flurry of poetry writing. Find out more here.

They have a few starter activities just for fun. The silly test mentioned in this post gives you a chance to choose Bot or Not. I had a 70% success rate. A great party game for the self isolating at this time.

If, like me you enjoy this writing month you will just be pleased to see the site back up and running and the new banners and buttons for 2020.

The Two Days to Go post invites us to go and look at Patrick Stewart’s twitter account where he is reading Shakespeare’s sonnets, I have happily already discovered this already (and retweeted) but it serves to remind me that one of the things I LOVE about NaPo is discovering resources and new to me poets and poems. Also the participants sites can be a great find too.

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Here on AWF I am always a participating site but never (or rarely ever) post a NaPo poem as this affects the copyright and means I may not be able to publish them. You will write a lot of rubbish over the next few weeks – give yourself that permission, nothing is wasted. It’s all worth it for those few poems that do work, that do go on to grow up and get published, for the ones you include in your next collection, for the ones that speak to your heart.

The day before NaPo starts there is always an Early Bird post to get you warmed up and started. So this is not a drill – take a deep breath and get ready to dive in with us!


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Hello, all! Tomorrow is April 1, and the first day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020! But since April 1 arrives a bit earlier in some parts of the globe than the east coast of the United States, we have an early-bird resource and prompt for you.

Today’s resource is The Slowdown, a daily poetry podcast hosted by former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. Podcasts are a nice way to add some poetry to your life. They also give you a chance to hear the rhythm of poetry out loud. Sometimes it can be very surprising, if you’ve been reading a poet on the page for many years, to hear their voice out loud, and realize it’s much different than the voice you’ve been giving that same poet in your head.

And now, in the spirit of an early-bird prompt, I’d like to invite you to write a poem about your favorite bird. As this collection of snippets from longer poems suggests, birds have been inspiring poets for a very long time indeed!

If you don’t have a favorite bird, or are having trouble picking one, perhaps I might interest you in myfavorite bird, the American Woodcock? These softball-sized guys are exactly the color of the leaves on the floor of a Maine forest, and they turn up each spring to make buzzy peent noises, fly up over meadows in elaborate courtship displays, and to do little rocking dances that YouTube jokesters delight in setting to music.

 

They are also quite odd looking, as every part of their body appears to be totally out of proportion with the rest. For a poetic bonus, they also have many regional nicknames. In Maine, they’re often called “timberdoodles,” but other regionalisms for them include “night partridge,” “mudbat,” “prairie turtle,” Labrador twister,” “bogsucker,” “wafflebird,” “billdad,” and “hokumpoke.”

Tomorrow we’ll be back with another resource, prompt, and our first featured participant.

In the meantime, happy writing!


I started to listen to the Slowdown Podcast and appreciated the slowness of it juxtaposing the violent onslaught of next door’s far-too-loud-radio, I know of Tracy K. Smith, I discovered her before she was a US Laureate and I know some of her work, I know she plays with pace and rhythm and sometimes line breaks used to enable this breath. Looking at the Poetry Foundation page I decided to treat myself to some of her work too and revisited Declaration from Wade in the Water.  Copyright © 2018

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During the podcast, Tracy recites Interesting Times by Mark Jarman. Bedlam right now during the Coronavirus, for sure. The words resonate with double meaning right now. An echo of the//for the global crisis.

Choking on these lines;

Everything’s happening on the cusp of tragedy,

We’ve been at this historical site before, but not in any history we remember.

To know the stars will one day fly apart so far they can’t be seen
Is almost a relief. For the future flies in one direction—toward us.

 

Mark Jarman – “Interesting Times” from Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2011

I then settled down to read the poetry snippets https://poets.org/text/thirteen-ways-looking-poems-about-birds before considering my own writing for today.

This is where the madness began (NaPo madness is normal – it starts with the research/ search engines then pages later leads you someplace else and (hopefully) back again)!

I read the snippets and then watched the videos of Maureen’s chosen bird and it hit me, WA – and the magnificent birds of Perth – as it fits my current project. That’s another NaPo GOLD-DUST tip: if you can bend the prompts to fit creative projects you are trying to fulfil – this isn’t always possible but when it is – it is GOLDEN – as often we are forced to write beyond ourselves.

I then watched a series of videos before I decided on the one. It has been made from photographs rather than footage but the pictures have magically captured the music of the birds. I am yet to pen a poem as I am getting a set ready for this evening. But I will… (the NaPo promise to yourself).

I watched the video and made a list of over 10 Australian birds, then chose one by looking for images of the species. I then searched for facts and went back to my research document to highlighted key fact on appearance and movement. I harvested a few images to study & wrote a short 5 line poem about the Royal Spoonbill.

Enjoy!

 

Flashback – An Exhibition in London

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Last year’s missing bits in Flashback posts.

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By the summer I had secured a project I could work on (even in the state I was in) and I started to think about new writing. It had been a while, my Stanza meeting efforts were old poems saved in files on the laptop. I wanted to write again, the urge came a long while before the possibility – and like any writer I know one of the best ways to guarantee work is to find a deadline and write to it.

So I started looking for opportunities and found a call out for the Asking For It project curated by Chloë Clarke and Gabby Ellison. 

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We are the ‘Asking for it’ exhibition. Our aim is to create a place for people to share and feel and come together over adversity. Through expression of art – in a variety of mediums such as film, photography, poetry, art and sound – the exhibition will take the viewer on a journey from the beginning to recovery and survival.

The exhibition not only looks at the experiences of the survivor but the societal judgements and miseducation around the topic of sexual abuse/violence. We believe that art is a powerful tool to express and empower artists and viewers, while educating those who have not experienced this.

I made a poetry film and submitted some poems. My poetry was accepted.

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Unfortunately I was not able to read at the gallery opening as my physical health made it impossible to travel to London.

Private Gallery Exhibition Opening and Performances 23rd October.

 

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It was a brave and successful exhibition. Here are some more photos from the opening night.

A good project to be part of.

Fragility// Being Human

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Last year was tough, as you know (because I keep harping on about it), even when I thought my post op wounds had healed (March) every other month that followed there were complications with them and I ended up seeing two consultants, having further scans and tests. This eventually healed and  I was signed off towards the end of Autumn. It has been fine since, I started back to work and within 4 weeks there was another abscess (3rd one) and I asked for my bloods to be checked. They discovered an underlying health condition.

My healed skin is something I already take for granted – the sealed, just body again now, but sometimes I check the scar and marvel. Or sometimes check it and almost cry, fortunately (for me) it isn’t visible to the world, which makes dealing with it an easier process. No part of my 40+ weekly tablet regime has to do with this area of my body which is now sorted. Done. Complete.

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Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

My foot is still numb but I take medication to help with the sensations/ neuropathy and have gained both more use, flexibility and feeling each month. The consultant expressed it could be the summer before we can judge how significant the healing is and what feeling or lack of it will remain. I can walk without a stick, I just have to remain mindful of every movement (when I didn’t a few weeks back, I caused tissue damage to the numb foot) and had to use my stick again.

As anyone with long term injuries/ chronic health conditions will tell you, they are draining. They change the person you are and you are forced to adapt. I relied heavily on the support of others and on the whole everyone was amazing. There will always be those who can’t quite understand what all the fuss is about and it has been the hardest lesson for me coming out of it to let this go. There is an immense amount of energy required to get your life back on track and if some people have decided to publicly spurn you, you just need to back away and let them get on with it. It took a while for me to realise this, my natural instincts were to bridge build, I tried. It made me feel worse that relationships had been irreparably unsettled. We have all had someone walk out of our lives without fully understanding why, the impact and fallout is a challenge but takes less emotive energy than trying to find out what is going on. These losses are extremely saddening.

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Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

I guess on the back of this current world crisis people are about to experience what it is like to put our changed lives back together again afterwards and I hope this brings with it the compassion and support we are finding in our own communities right now.

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My life started back at almost ground nothing after the operation, heavily medicated and pretty much completely useless, I lived downstairs for months, pain was constant (despite Morphine), movement was limited and I couldn’t manage simple tasks like sitting up, let alone hoovering/washing up/ cooking etc.

During this time I injured my back, my body/muscles all being weakened by 6 weeks of ill health. Imagining I was capable of doing more than I could, I had made it upstairs for a shower. I found it so frustrating when I couldn’t manage something. Dressing took the best part of 40 mins and a 1 hour lie down after. Washing hair meant that was the only thing I’d achieve that day.

Mentally I was adjusting to having an idled/medicated/impaired mind that could (fortunately) focus on escapism/ like reading but was not able to work on editing my manuscript which appeared in my inbox whilst I was in hospital.

My whole relationship at home with Mr G (who had to 100% support me to do anything/everything) changed. The dynamics shifted to carer and me to useless. I had limited joint movements and needed help all the time. The list of things I couldn’t do was long. The slightest touch hurt like a huge weight and I became insular both physically & mentally.

My mum drove me to every appointment and there were many tests and consultations in hospital and at various centres around the county, I needed to see nurses three or four times a week. I am hugely grateful that she was able to do this for me, again – without her I would not have managed to cope. She was also the voice of reason and my emotional support throughout the whole ordeal. Thank goodness for unconditional love!

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Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

It has been a long, slow struggle to get back on my feet and without the help and love of family and friends and the support of our National Health Service (particularly the wonderful team at Worcestershire Breast Unit) I wouldn’t be where I am, I feel hugely grateful every day.

Our futures are now uncertain and there will be a plethora of difficulties to face, but you will not be alone. It is important, now more than ever to reach out and show some gratitude and love.

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RELATED LINKS:

Coronavirus Self Isolation Advice NHS

https://www.worcsbreastunithaven.com/

https://themighty.com/2017/11/supporting-friends-with-chronic-illnesses/

 

Coronavirus

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I feel incredibly guilty planning to relaunch the blog at this time as I will be writing in a way that made seem egocentric. I hope you will understand that this is, in part, a distraction technique for myself to cope and manage at this time of self-isolation. As the UK prepares for the peak of COVID-19 and we all attempt to adjust our lives to staying in and social distancing our anxieties increase.

I was working until a week ago and have been self-isolating since then, my exercise has been indoors and I have used our garden for air and sunshine. I am fortunate enough not to know anyone at this stage who has suffered complications, although people I know have probably got the virus (we don’t know because we are not testing). I know that we will go from losing jobs (my income is currently £0, despite the government putting many packages in place), I am hopeful this will change and if it doesn’t I am grateful that the universe supplied me with some full time work in the months of this outbreak in the East. So there is a small safety net. I know that we will go from this manic stress of losing our lives as we knew them, the economic worries and the fallout of another recession to come to losing loved ones.

I know that we are all in fear, things are uncertain (or certain in some cases) and we are no longer in control. We are in control of how we manage this crisis for ourselves though. Right now you should give yourself permission to feel as you do and know that it will change many times a day. It is okay to feel this way.

I am trying to offer people help in any small way I can. Having suffered clinical depression (2012) I have techniques and experience of many Mental Health aids for wellbeing, I trained as a Life Coach and have just had 12 months of ill health which meant that I was pretty much self isolated. I was certainly cut off. I started a daily positivity page on Facebook which offers a daily dip/tip for keeping your Mental Health in balance during this period of isolation.

Please feel free to use, like and share this page.

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

I am witnessing many creative people helping each other and a country of artists who have now moved online, we are all learning how to use Zoom! I am seeing community (that Big Community our government used to speak about) re-emerging, I am seeing selflessness and love.

I hope you are all finding a way through this time.

2020 //Blog Under Construction

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Those of you who follow AWF will know that I lost 12 months of work and writing to ill health. I planned to post more at the end of 2019 but desperately had to get paid work to make up for the year I wasn’t able to work. I managed to juggle a few opportunities and a commission or two. Somehow I managed to work on editing the second pamphlet (the aptly titled) ‘Patience’ with Sarah Leavesley at V. Press and that was published in the Autumn and launched before the end of the year.

 

Before the end of the year I was hit with another wave of rotten and have been dealing with readjusting my life and health accordingly. We had lots of things happening to loved ones too. Despite this final twist, by the beginning of 2020 I was feeling much stronger and able to use my body again in the normal way we all take for granted. I had started to return to Poetry events and although writing wasn’t coming easily I managed some workshops and some ideas started to nest.

Then we were hit with dealing with losing loved ones and the untimely tragedy of losing a friend.

By February we discovered the world was under attack and COVID’19 took over.

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I have spent the last 4 weeks in various states that I won’t go into here, right now but needless to say writing was the furthest thing from my mind. However, if one thing this week has taught me it is that creatives will create and support, comfort and help each other. There is lots to say and lots to do – including distraction and projects. So as part of my self isolation I am FINALLY going to reboot the blog.

 

Areas are under construction.

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Stay safe x