Author Archives: Nina Lewis

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 7

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You can read the full post here.

Featured participant today is Sufia Khatoon, whose poem for Day Six’s Boschian prompt is rife with the desires of birds. Unfortunately the link only takes you to Day 6.

Our poetry resource consists of three Twitter accounts that provide all sort of interesting poetry-related “news:” The Poetry FoundationThe Poetry Society (U.K.), and the Poetry Society of America.

Prompt – write a poem based on a news article… this is a good opportunity to find some “weird” and poetical news stories for inspiration. A few potential candidates:

Earth Has Acquired a Brand New Moon That’s About the Size of a Car,”

Ohio Man Seeks World Record with Beer-Only Lent Diet

Pablo Escobar’s ‘Cocaine Hippos’ May Be Restoring Colombia’s Ecosystem

Researchers Discover Faraway Planet Where the Rain is Made of Iron

 

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We have managed an entire week! By now you have/ almost have 7 poems, well okay…. more than 3? That’s a good week!

I like the fact that this year the resources are multi-sourced but lots of the poetry based ones are on my radar already and it is special when you find new treasure.

I wanted to start at the participants site but the link only takes you back a day on NaPoWriMo. This is why I didn’t make it active. I still felt it was right to name the chosen site. I already follow all three suggested Poetry Sources on Twitter – but I used it as an excuse to quickly post and retweet some of their stories.

Then I moved onto the *for some reason this year – dreaded- prompt…

I used to use News Stories a lot as a YW and I have recently heard interviews where entire stories were conceived from one tiny, seemingly insignificant article. I am avoiding papers and trying not to overload on news and also this task in the current climate may be harder than normal – as there is no so much ‘other’ news being reported. The big one came yesterday, but I don’t feel I want to write about that. I checked the NaPo links hoping they would lead me to my story.

I particularly liked the first article – if Earth acquired a brand new moon the size of a car it would probably be a Metro right now or a clapped out Fiesta!

I decide after reading the articles to go and search for my own.

 

Will update process later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening for Pleasure

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This is on in less than 30 mins on Radio 4.

The New Lyrical Ballads

Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge first published in 1798, changed the course of British poetry. Growing up in the Lake District, Wordsworth set out to use the everyday language he heard around him in his poems in order to make them accessible to a wider audience. Both poets drew inspiration from seeing a return to the original state of nature, in which people led a purer and more innocent existence The word Lyrical linked their poems to ancient rustic bards, while Ballad refers to an oral storytelling tradition. Both poets used rural life and country people as the subject of their poetry which was a marked shift from what had come before.

To mark the 250 anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth, four leading poets Zaffar Kunial, Kim Moore, Helen Mort and Jacob Polley read new lyrical ballads inspired by the ideas in the original collection. Each of the contemporary poets have strong links to Cumbria and the Lake District and their poems give us a glimpse into life in the county now.

Produced by Lorna Newman and Susan Roberts
A BBC North production.

Copyright © 2020 BBC

 

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Go on! Give your ears some food!

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 6

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After spending time in the sunny garden, attempting to catch up on NaPo Poems this morning I have logged into the site to digest the new prompt. 

To see the prompt in full click here.

Featured participant is Algae and Silt, where the 20-little-projects prompt for Day Five resulted in a multilingual tour-de-force.*

Our poetry resource today is an online poetry journal, The Ekphrastic Review. As its name suggests, this magazine publishes only work inspired by works of visual art.

Today’s prompt is ekphrastic in nature – but rather particular! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem from the point of view of one person/animal/thing from Hieronymous Bosch’s famous triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. I hope that you find the experience deliriously amusing. Perhaps you might write from the viewpoint of Bosch himself? Very little is known about him, so there’s plenty of room for invention, embroidery, and imagination.

 

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*I was frustrated to discover the participating site link only took me back to Day 5 Napo.

I am amazed at all the fabulous NaPo poetry I am seeing online every day. I sometimes wish every poem would end up this polished. It isn’t always the way, it is about catching glints rather than whole diamonds, so try not to (metaphorically) beat yourselves up! Even our ‘rubbish poems’ can offer a line or two, a phrase, a word even.

I love The Ekphrastic Review and writing Ekphrastic poetry – in fact I am working on a project currently which involves this. I also found out about a Photo project yesterday through the BBC which is connected to the global coronavirus crisis – I was of the army of creatives who to begin with thought I would avoid writing about CO’19… but then as we live through weeks of self isolation/social distancing it becomes life – and that’s what we all write about. So I am trying to find a different way in. Two COVID poems have just slipped out.

I always enjoy a dip in TER and today was no different so I spent some time on the site – you should too.

I decided to use the option to wander through the painting myself before taking the audio/visual tour – which digitally interested me as I was part of BMAG (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) collaboration / Hackathon a few years ago where we worked with artists and made Art pieces interactive.

I was immediately drawn to the Bosch Bird. I got totally lost in the garden for hours. I could write every day for a year around it! In fact, I might! Love NaPo for generating new ideas// projects. That’s two today – good job we’re in lock down!

I will be back later to update posts and talk through today’s writing process, which at the moment consists of a lot of observation, reading and thought.

There is so much darkness and life in this work – I kept seeing something new.

I sat with the image for a while and picked which birds to focus on from the interactive artwork (not tour) then I searched for a picture of that part of the work to keep focus on.

Then I stared playing with the extra story text (elemental found poetry) and jotting down my thoughts – back at the screen this time. Then I pushed and pulled the threads and twined the layers together to create a poem.

 

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 5

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Read the full post here

Our featured participant today is Side Trips, Day 4’s dream-based prompt comes with a side of Prufrock.

Today’s poetry resource is Entropy’s “Where to Submit” page. 

Our prompt for today is one that we have used in past years, but which I love to come back to, because it so often takes me to new and unusual places, and results in fantastic poems. It’s called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use/do all of the following in the same poem. Of course,  if you can’t fit all twenty projects into your poem, or a few of them get your poem going, that is just fine too!

  1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
  2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
  3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
  4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
  5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
  6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
  7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
  8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
  9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
  10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
  11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
  12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
  13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
  14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
  15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
  16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
  17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
  18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
  19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
  20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

Happy writing!

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I read the poem from the participant site – it captured the flux of dreams.

I know the poetry resource fairly well and have not submitted for a while (a long while) so I was tempted to check the updates, but today I was offline a lot – and have a few projects on the go so looking for submissions is not at the top of my list at the moment.

I dislike this prompt – yes we had an argument, followed by a fight. I was okay on a few of the prompts but writing to 20 felt like pulling teeth (with deepest apologies to Jim Simmerman). I know we weren’t asked to use all 20, that the prompts are optional (I like a challenge) but this felt like questions from an exam paper fired out in random order and that unhelpful, self-created analogy made my creative mind stop working!

It took hours and by the end of it I did have what you can at best call a surreal poetry attempt. I went back to the drawing board and snipped lines out. Some of the relics look like, with a bit of a spit and polish they could shine.

There were elements I enjoyed – finding dialect vocabulary, revising my grammatical knowledge and writing in an unspoken-by-me language. What was created could become a children’s book but I am not convinced my list of random acts and thoughts builds a poem.

I had a good strong endline/concept in places and to prove the ‘it’s not you (Jim), it’s me’ – I have read some really good examples of Day 5 poetry across the internet.

It was an experience!

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 4

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To read the whole post visit here

Today’s featured participant is 7eyedwonder, where, from Day 3’s rhymes-and-near-rhymes prompt, a mighty ode to bread has risen (like dough…it’s risen…get it?).

Our poetry resource today is a series of very silly twitter accounts. One thing that poetry is often said to do is make us see the familiar in a new way, and expose us to the magic of everyday life. These twitter accounts do something similar @MagicRealismBot @dreamdeliveryer @GardensBritish @A_single_bear?

Our prompt for the day takes its cue from our gently odd resources, and asks you to write a poem based on an image from a dream. We don’t always remember our dreams, but images or ideas from them often stick with us for a very long time. I definitely have some nightmares I haven’t been able to forget, but I’ve also witnessed very lovely things in dreams (like snow falling on a flood-lit field bordered by fir trees, as seen through a plate glass window in a very warm and inviting kitchen). Need an example of a poem rooted in dream-based imagery? Try this one by Michael Collier.

Happy writing!

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Nora’s poem on the participant’s site is wonderful – brilliant – inspiring and of this time.

A Pint A Pound, The Whole World ‘Round – I look forward to reading more on her blog.

I think of all the people who are going to follow a few more twitter accounts today – love the magical story that I landed on at the Magic Realism Bot twitter. A murderer falls in love with a silver maple tree.

The Dream Delivery Service gives me – You crack a battery open & a yellow bird flies out.

British Gardens You are in a British garden. Your teeth are melting. There are bumblebees in the haze. The flood is a festival.

A Bear gave me Sometimes it is difficult to decide what to do because there are so many things to do (swim, nap, climb, sleep, run, rest, etc.), and I often end up doing the same thing anyway: thinking about what I want to do… …while napping. I am a bear.

I carried on going through the twitter accounts.

 

 

This poem took a few days to bake, I haven’t been sleeping – let alone dreaming! But I have one reoccurring waking thought – so I cheated and used that! Following an experimental start I then played with treating my scribbles (still in the notebook) in different ways – extracting some vocabulary and paring it down. The result is an incredibly dark, foreboding poem.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 3

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Read the full post here.

Featured participant today is Put Out to Pasture, where the place-based prompt for Day 2 breathes life into the memory of a library.

Today’s poetry resource an online rhyming dictionary. This one provides both “pure” rhymes and near rhymes, a way to find “similar sounding” words, and also a thesaurus.

Today’s prompt asks you to make use of our resource for the day. First, make a list of ten words. You can generate this list however you’d like – pull a book  off the shelf and find ten words you like, name ten things you can see from where you’re sitting, etc. Now, for each word, use Rhymezone to identify two to four similar-sounding or rhyming words. For example, if my word is “salt,” my similar words might be “belt,” “silt,” “sailed,” and “sell-out.”

Once you’ve assembled your complete list, work on writing a poem using your new “word bank.” You don’t have to use every word, of course, but try to play as much with sound as possible, repeating  sounds and echoing back to others using your rhyming and similar words.

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I visited the participants site first. I remembered Maxie Jane was featured last year too. Her background is an interesting one and I liked how this poem ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Library’ put me back into memories of my own life from a similar time. I left a message on her blog.

Then I made my list of 10 words – I used items in the room and also a 2nd list from book pages.

I didn’t get as far as writing the poem as I took part in some poetry online and then the sun was shining – flighty – I know! So I got outside for fresh air and sunshine in the garden, marvelled at a butterfly, made some phone calls, enjoyed a coffee and once I made it back inside sent some emails and then organised a few poetry bundles, none for submission, all for cleaning! Few house chores and one bit of Face Time and then it was teatime and I was back online for a Zoom Stanza – so I still have my lists and a poorly neglected Mr. G so I am going to spend time with him and finish my poem and update this post later – and that’s how you get behind in the very first week of NaPoWriMo.

 

Oh, look! A shiny thing!

 

 

3 Days Later

I have been struggling with this one – I rarely use rhyme and always find that no matter how well crafted it doesn’t quite hit the spot. I don’t mind when a NaPo prompt lets me down – a challenge is a good puzzle. But the days/poems were banking up a little.

So I tried to shovel myself out – I identified the first problem was probably me going ‘eurgh, a list of what I can see…’ – whereas the last time I was confronted with doing that in a workshop it was messy and pleasurable.

I went back to my list – gave it a good, hard Paddington Bear stare and said to myself – ‘You DO NOT have to include everything’ – I also knew I could easily substitute some of the rhyming words but I wanted the constraint of the first list.

After 2 more days of pacing – I cracked it by applying form. I also started drafting in a notebook – I often work straight onto the screen nowadays. But physically pushing those letters onto the page helped me cast the spell against the prompt and although there was no big bang or sudden glitter, I do think I may have won!

 

I just had to see something new!

 

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 2

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You can read the full post here Day Two

Happy Thursday, all. I hope that your first day of Na/GloPoWriMo went swimmingly, and that you are ready for another dip in the refreshing pool of poetry!

Featured participant is Poem Dive, where Day 1’s life-as-metaphor prompt generated a visually arresting reverie rooted in painting and internet research.

Our poetry resource for today is this PDF of a short, rather whimsical chapbook by the Pulitzer Prize-winnning poet James Schuyler, whose poems are known for constantly mixing together spoken language, observations about the weather, high and low diction, and for their attention to the profundities (and absurdities) of everyday life.

Our prompt for the day takes a leaf from Schuyler’s book – write a poem about a specific place —  a particular house or store or school or office. Try to incorporate concrete details, like street names, distances (“three and a half blocks from the post office”), the types of trees or flowers, the color of the shirts on the people you remember there. Little details like this can really help the reader imagine not only the place, but its mood – and can take your poem to weird and wild places.

Happy writing!

 

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A great many poets share their NaPo poems across social media so I spent some time reading other people’s metaphor poems yesterday, depending on how much time I have I sometimes go and check out the participant sites on napowrimo.net I also like reading the poems that are chosen each day. So this is where I started this morning.

I downloaded the PDF version of ‘Damage’ – I thought the combination of activities was an interesting take on the metaphor prompt. I wished the typesetting had been intentional – a happy accident at least. I liked the different narrative voices and the universal knowledge of these activities. Some power lines here. A much more substantial poem than the effort I was able to produce on Day 1.

I also enjoy discovering new voices through the resources and reading work that I may not otherwise discover. I had fun exploring the chapbook and loved that it is about a place local to me that I know well.

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I was interested not only in the writing but the format of the chapbook, how it was made.

I then looked at James Schuyler

As far as the prompt – this is the sort of writing I do often. So I wanted to choose a place I had not written about before. Again, bearing in mind my current projects I knew what I wanted to use to write.

I started my writing with a search for maps, to remind me of the names of streets I have not walked down for 2 years. I searched for a company website and harvested some images shared online from the place. I wrote and edited and wrote again. Three treatments later (I know part of the theory of NaPo is to silence the inner editor and not work on the poems until May or later) but I want my rough poems to be vaguely polished this year because they are forming part of a body of an already project and will be more useful this way. I wrote about a Deli and for the 2nd time in as many days there was a topical reference to the world crisis.

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 1

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Welcome, everyone, to the official first day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020! First featured participant, Honey Stew, where the early-bird poem is a paean to sanderlings and the ” many fast little birds who peep by the sea.”

As in past years, we’ll be featuring a different poetry-related resource daily. This year, including online poetry chapbooks, poetry-related Twitter accounts, and more.

Silly tricks are sometimes the best, at least for getting one’s creativity going. It’s an online metaphor generator!

There are any number of poems out there that compare or equate the speaker’s life with a specific object. This poem of Emily Dickinson’s). Today, however, I’d like to challenge you to write a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life – one that typically isn’t done all that often, or only in specific circumstances. For example, bowling, or shopping for socks, or shoveling snow, or teaching a child to tie its shoes.

Happy writing!

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I spent sometime reading the participant’s poem – some lovely lines. I then looked at the Sanderlings, a prettier bird than the Royal Spoonbill.

As I knew it would be, the online generator is addictive. I copied a few into my NaPo word doc. I used part of one phrase to almost form the first line of a Haiku (you will become a fan of short form trying to write this many poems in a month). I wrote the rest of the haiku – it is the 2nd time I have written about coronavirus. An unexpected extra poem!

I am an Emily Dickinson fan, so I looked forward to discovering which poem was today’s example.

I read it and also listened to the Power and Art podcast– discussion of Susan Howe’s version hosted by Al Filreis and featuring poets Marcella Durand, Jessica Lowenthal, and Jennifer Scappettone.

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I am still thinking about the self portrait prompt. I will be back later to post about the process.

I sort of managed it. Not quite a self portrait – more a fragment from our current time. I used the metaphor of shovelling snow. It started with the end line and I worked backwards for 2 stanzas, then started looking up shovelling snow and some scary statistics that I had never considered before!

I edited the middle section into couplets and started and finished with a 3 line stanza. It is a metaphor for a moment, the one we are all sharing right now.

I have a digital Stanza meeting on Friday and now I think I have a poem.

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.