Hello waters… it has been a long while! Lots has happened since the Autumn post. I am here to start 2023’s NaPoWriMo on AWF but realise that there are huge gaps of blogging and news to share. I will write on some of this in detail in May, after NaPo. Until then here are the highlights:
Blasts from the Past
At the end of 2022 I was busy working on a major project, a book endorsement and planning for 2023 WLFF Festival.
My ATOTC (A Tale of Two Cities -2017/18) project was reinstated in the summer of 2022. This was call & response poetry between poets in Worcester UK and Worcester USA as part of my Poet Laureate year. What started with the idea of an online international reading soon became a 2nd edition project with new pairings and new poems. The result was an International Reading AND a book!
The original project was anthologised digitally as it involved over 45 poets and ran to 120 pages, sadly it was too large a project to publish traditionally.
This time we worked with a smaller group of poets (20) and Black Pear Press published the resulting anthology — which I have to say is an absolute bargain, the cheapest poetry book I know of and that is NO reflection in quality either of the product or content within, it is packed with magnificent poetry. It is a not-for-profit publication and you will find it for £2.83 which converts to $3.58. See, told you!
With huge thanks to Black Pear Press and Polly Stretton for joining me on managing and editing ATOTC II.
Can’t wait for the full post? Find out more here including a link to buy a copy:
This weekend I am a Guest Reader for Brian Comber at his Book Launch. Last year I was delighted to get a sneak preview of this collection when I wrote an endorsement.
I am involved in a project with WLFF, Bevere Gallery & Yew Tree Artist Studios who are running an exhibition of Art & Poetry with a competition linked to it, an open call to poets and artists in Worcestershire.
Five Worcestershire Poets Laureate & five artists were commissioned to work on the theme ‘Enough to See… but not enough to see by’.
Anne-thology – Poems Re-Presenting Anne Shakespeare by Broken Sleep Books.
Last year I had great fun researching to write my submission for this anthology. We were limited to one poem, so I am delighted mine made it through. Packed with amazing poems, some great commissioned poets and it’s lovely to see lots of friends in there too… and of course, Will himself.
Later this month there’s an Anthology Launch in Stratford.
The idea behind this post came from my inbox, from an email from Writer’s Digest. I read an article from 2011 by BRIAN A. KLEMS on editing. Check out his version of the Lesser Known Editing Symbols and put some fun back into editing!
Many of us enjoy the editorial process, you don’t have to be a writer for very long before you realise editing needs a whole different headspace to the writer brain!
As I fell through the rabbit hole of articles on editing, I realised it has been a while since I posted a technical post to AWF, so mostly with thanks to Writer’s Digest, (I have added my own pearls of experience too), here we go!
MY QUICK GUIDE:
As we all know: GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to write a bad first draft. Don’t expect it not to be.
Let it rest, leave it to marinate, don’t be tempted to lift the lid for a peep. Drawers are good places for printed m/s to take a break. Leave it for at least a couple of weeks if you can, months even.
Return to read it (out loud) with fresh eyes.
By reading aloud you will discover any areas which don’t make sense or trip you up. Mark/Highlight these. Spell checked homophones. Tenses.
Spot any inconsistences with character/setting.
Choose your favourite colour/pen and explore, re-read, seek out golden nuggets. They may still need editorial development – but these parts work (for now*) and you don’t want to lose them yet.
*By draft 3 or 9 these golden parts may no longer fit – if they truly are amazing make note of them and file them to be embedded into future work.
This article was written by Madeline Sharples. She is the author of Leaving the Hall Light On (Lucky Press, May 2011).
Madeline Sharples delves into her editing process and encourages us to write an editing schedule. This is not something I have done, but then the longest m/s I edited was Novella length. I probably did a schedule if I glued together all the individual To Do Lists which were part of my process.
There are 7 Top Tips covered in this article.
Create a revision plan
Don’t edit as you write
Use a hardcopy
Have others review your work
The subjectivity of reviews
Create a schedule with Milestones and STICK TO IT
Keep going until you are satisfied.
My practise does include some of her 7 Top Tips: I tend to recarpet in m/s pages rather than using a wall. Mainly because there is less free wall space available to us at 5’4! My work is often peer reviewed, I am part of several editing groups and another opinion is always valuable (but remember, also subjective).
I do create schedules and action plans. Often they are bitesize, by week or monthly overview of action. I forgive myself when I don’t stick to them.
So enjoy the writing process and take a deep breath before you begin editing. Like your writing ability, editorial skills will develop with experience. Remember to repeat what works for you, find a system of editing that you can enjoy and keep a copy of that first draft so you can see how far the m/s has come!
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.
There are plenty of online events and activities designed around IWD. For the past few years I have marked it with a blog post signing you to lots of resources and goodies.
My IWD always arrives early when I receive my postcard from Coral Carter, from Australia. Always detailing inspiring words and incredible artwork by herself and other women. I am filled with gratitude, not only for receiving the gift – which stays and is displayed for a year, but also it reminds me of the powerful, creative women I know and the friendships I hold dear.
The full picture in all it’s glory and card are more beautiful than my cut and paste… just a taste…
This year I created my IWD postcard for all of you – so gift yourself some time, get your pens ready and word some magic.
One of the unenviable tasks of 2022 is to clear out my inbox! Rather like shoes and poems I’ve written, I am not sure of the exact number of emails, (I could do the maths, but the total would terrify me)! Many are circulars, reminders, tickets for past events or JUNK, which can all be swept quickly, some though are little gems, shining out to be re-read or shared.
This article appeared on LitHub back in 2020 (I told you there was a lot of clearing up to be done).
Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth Consider Information As Art
By Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth
Peter Mendelsund is the former art director at Alfred A. Knopf, the creative director of The Atlantic, and the author of a design monograph called Cover, as well as What We See When We Read, which has been translated into fourteen languages, and the novel Same Same. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Paris Review, and other magazines.
David J. Alworth is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He teaches and writes about modern and contemporary literature, media, art, and design. He is the author of Site Reading: Fiction, Art, Social Form and his essays have appeared in Public Books and the Los Angeles Review of Books, as well as in various scholarly journals.
Our featured participant for the day is woodyandjohnny, where the container-based prompt for Day 5 gave rise to a poem full of strange language and tonal shifts . . . which might not be surprising, given that it was based on a poem by the Serbian avant-garde poet Vasko Popa!
Finally, here’s our daily prompt. Our prompt yesterday asked you to take inspiration from another poem, and today’s continues in the same vein. This prompt, which comes from Holly Lyn Walrath, is pretty simple. As she explains it here:
Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.
I started at the participant’s site and read the poem. I found the intentional surrealism difficult, following the context was hard on first read. I was interested to see if they had pulled from the theme of the original content as stimuli. We are not going to understand everything we read, nor like everything, poetry is subjective. In Writing Development wide reading is encouraged, be in contact with both poetry you are drawn towards to and that which is challenging or beyond your personal taste and read poems over and over. Revisit them.
I was interested to see the original and am unsure I have found it here as the lettering doesn’t match, this may be because the poet has a different translation, I have the wrong poem or the poet has amended/erased some lines / played with the constraints, all of which are fine. I checked another site and found the same translation. So my guess is the poet chose to amend/cut lines or the Charles Simic translation is different. I have always enjoyed poetry in translation, the bends in the language it produces.
As I read and re-read the poem the shape of it revealed itself. I picked up on the possibility this was a bi-lingual poet and also thought there may be a nod to the original in as far as Vasko Popa was a Serbian Avant Garde poet. Hallucinated Ambush certainly has some surreal qualities. Barbara may be a fan of French surrealism. The poem has a narrative and definitely created a scene in my mind. There may be some call to Eve and the Snake. Some of the lines were beautiful:
asps curled in bracken shade
thoughts fragment half-cut jewels
dust binds dubious truthes
another ache a splinter borrowed
I did a bit of a tour of the website intrigued by my earlier realisation that I mistook the site name as part of the title (I hadn’t slept much, I even copied Day 5 NaPo not 6 this morning) and searched not for Race but for Woody & Johnny took Race by Vasko Popa, which worked for me as a title. Many bloggers do not reveal identity or use an alias, when I started blogging I was the same, I linked wordpress to the non-named account and kept identity concealed then after a while I realised people searched for me and this place wasn’t linked to those searches and at some point (probably in the promotion of poems, used my own name). Part of me is detective, (Mrs Marbles, is one of many of Mr. G’s nicknames for me – see what I mean about concealed identity…) anyway, it was easy to discover this site belonged to Barbara Turney Weiland (Home button profile & comments < in case you want to be detective too).
I discovered a second blog barbara turney wieland poetess, I am considering this my first NaPo rabbit hole (even let my coffee go cold)! I explored the second site and discovered Barbara is an artist who had, at the time of posting, been writing poetry for 5 years, I read her published work and thoroughly enjoyed these two poems published in Shadow Kraft – a Bilingual Literary Webzine.
UPDATE Day 20
I have to consider closing the Detective Agency or rebrand as a Tech Editing Co. instead. Johnny got in touch (the same day) to explain the process and it is wondrous what Woody and Johnny have achieved.
So just to clear it up I will leave this note here for you to read as I go and hang up the Trilby and shades (YES! Miss Marbles had retro style).
All we took for our prompt on Day 5 was the first letter of each line and noted the shape of the poem. The poem was written by Woody & Johnny before the translation by Simic was read.
Really appreciate your thoughts on our tandem writing though! Thank you. Johnny (of Woody & Johnny).
I watched today’s reading. I spent some time online at Emory University this year at events. They have had some amazing poets read… just listen to the introduction. I have also read some poems by Nikki Giovanni since Lockdown. I have discovered lots of incredible American Poets in this Pandemic year.
Acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni Feb. 22, 2020, at the Schwartz Center on the Emory University campus.
Giovanni is known for her activism poetry, especially concerning race, gender, self-pride, and love. Giovanni has been an English professor at Virginia Tech since 1989 and has been a university distinguished professor there since 1999. She has received an honorary doctorate from more than 27 colleges and universities. The event was hosted by the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library as part of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading Series, now in its 15th season. The reading was sponsored by the Hightower Fund, with support from Emory Library and Information Technology Services (LITS), and the Creative Writing Program at Emory.
This video is very much an address, if you want to hear more poetry, listen to this too. It is not a perfectly clear recording, but the vinyl crackle is authentic and won’t worry some of us from the pre-digital age.
The prompt is one I have tried before. Like yesterday’s prompt it give rise to poems which are different to your natural voice. Which is always fun. I was excited for the results of today’s write.
“The truth is, it’s a common practice in poetry to draw off of other’s work. Using other people’s work in this way is a time-honored tradition. It’s been debated recently but it’s obvious that as far back as Christopher Marlowe, writers have been referencing each other.“
Holly also mentions a Jericho Brown workshop (which I was lucky enough to attend) and the mirror prompt is definitely worth a try – if you fancy writing more than one poem today! There’s always the Golden Shovel a form devised by Terrance Hayes in response to a Gwendolyn Brooks poem. So you actually get two extra prompts from this page. Worth adding I discovered the poetry of Jericho Brown through NaPoWriMo a couple of years ago. Count how many new favourite poets you have at the end of these 30 days. Treasure.
I have come across Holly Lyn Walrath and her medium.com site before today, worth a read. In having a read-about today I fell into my 2nd Napo rabbit hole! I read many, many articles following links all around the internet. The funny thing was a website I found last year entered my mind and I found it this morning through one of these adventure links!
Eventually I went off to find my line and start my poem. I took a line from the first book I plucked off my shelf and settled down to free-write, the poem came out quickly.
I feel like no extract from Shush will give you a feel for the lamentation I have written today. I played with white space and changed some of the word order. Trying to format even a few lines to WP platform is a challenge. Definitely needs a screen shot! I let the poem free write itself out and as NaPo is not about editing just placed it/ pegged it to the page. But it is marked as *one to go back to in the summer. So one day you may see it in full.
I know this has been a challenging year and we are facing a Christmas unlike any other. My heart goes out to those who will spend it alone this year. Figures released by Press suggest the number of people spending Christmas alone (UK) due to the pandemic has doubled this year, to 1.7 million.
Let’s Keep each other safe and warm in communication.
I am taking a few days offline but will be back before the New Year! Stay Safe and have a Merry Christmas, make the best of it you can.
Tickets £7; £5 to current supporters of the Wordsworth Trust.
Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire and is an award-winning poet, playwright and novelist. In 2010 he was awarded the CBE for services to poetry and in 2019 he was appointed Poet Laureate. This year we have invited him to take over Dove Cottage for an exclusive performance of his own poetry, bringing to life the house that Wordsworth lived in 200 years ago.
I have not been online much since October when I had an unexpected operation. I have been off work and not able to sit for long periods at the desk. With over 26 tablets a day it has been hard to focus or concentrate.
I am currently working on my next pamphlet which was accepted by V. Press last summer. The latest edits came through in October just before I found myself in hospital so I have been unable to keep up with the schedule. I have also had to pull out of every artistic event/gig/festival since the Autumn too. My last performance was National Poetry Day.
It has been a difficult enforced hiatus and I feel very disconnected.
I had to disconnect myself from social media on the phone as I couldn’t deal emotionally with reading about a world I couldn’t manage to be a part of.
Now it is the New Year and I am growing in health and strength. I have a festival event to organise, poetry from workshops in 2018 to display, a manuscript to work on and I took the role of a Director of Worcester LitFest back in the Autumn, a role which hopefully by next month I can actually manage.
I missed the Lit Festival in Voiron but from my WPL project there have been poets not known before to the community who are very much involved in the Twinning now. I will have the opportunity to meet them this Spring before (hopefully) going to the festival this year. I won a poetry competition I entered in September and Sarah Leavesley wrote an article for Poetry News (Poetry Society) about Two Cities (ATOTC – A Tale of Two Cities). The USA side of the project also had a reading in September.
So thank you for visiting the Fountain and splashing in all the archived posts. My STATS for 2018 were healthy (the best year yet). Each year the blocks tower upwards with the exception of my Poet Laureate year when I ran a second site.
I promise to work on updating pages and adding new material this year. But my first port of call is that manuscript!
Our Archive is open for the final time this weekend. Find articles, workshops. reviews, Interviews and writing to keep you busy for the next few hours before the exciting launch of the final WPL issue of Contour Poetry Magazine.
From 2014 our Guest Writer William Gallagher talks to us about Making Time to Write.