Category Archives: awritersfountain

Writing

A Quick Flashback to April and May

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APRIL

As anyone who follows the blog will know, April is mainly a space for NaPoWriMo, half of which falls during Easter break, the other 15 days are snatched between work and life. This April we also had lots of family needs and it was necessary to step back from work as much as possible to support and survive.

I realise it is now almost the end of June and I have not posted, so here is a little flashback beyond NaPoWriMo.

I had two wonderful events in April, Peter Sutton’s Book Launch, where I was a Guest Reader and Country Voices in Ironbridge, where I performed alongside Nick Pearson & Cherry Doyle. It was a brilliant afternoon of poetry.

Both of these gigs saw my return to LIVE events (after an attempt last September). There is something very strange about the act of leaving your home to perform nowadays, it all feels so new and different. Both events were well attended, so it shows not everyone was as nervous as me.

I have read Cherry’s and Nick’s work but never met them, that was a pleasure. I saw Nick perform again this month at Welshpool Festival. I have also worked with and been aware of Sara-Jane Arbury for years but had never met face to face, that was lovely after knowing her online for a few years.

In Elmslie House the gallery also had a few pieces on display which were created by another of Sara- Jane’s Ledbury Poetry workshop participants. We had fun finding them. Peter’s book launch was an incredible event, a packed audience and so much rich poetry. Black Pear Press know how to throw a party/launch!

I also took part in the Mindful Poetry gathering run by The Well in partnership with the On Being Project. I have attended since 2020 lockdown year, it is a wonderful group of creative Americans and is always a lovely hour of soulfulness attended by people from all around the world. I have really missed these events and was looking forward to them coming back for National Poetry Month.

The Well is nourished by the non-profit organization A Mindful Moment. Our mission is to improve the mental and emotional well-beingconnectedness, and effectiveness of all citizens through arts integrationmindfulnessmusicmovement, and healing-centered practices.

The Well © 2022

I went to lots of events and watched some stunning sets. I was lucky enough to see Jason Allen-Paisant, who I came across just two years ago during Lockdown. His poetry is amazing and my bookshelves now house him.

Jason Allen-Paisant reads ‘Walking With the Word Tree’

MAY

May was full of medical appointments, work and family. We celebrated some of our American relatives arriving in our part of the UK after time in London and before a trip across to Dublin. I was also busy developing the program for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, along with the rest of the team. I missed several events due to complete exhaustion. Later in the month there were some family needs which very much took over everything.

Photo by Travis Rupert on Pexels.com

I did manage some much needed time at the ocean (my first time away from home in 4 years), it was a long trip to Wales for a short amount of time there but worth every hour of the journey.

I received a beautiful copy of a pamphlet a group of Stanza members worked on in 2018 as part of a Forest of Dean project. It is beautiful and a privilege to read all our words from that day. Thank you to Andrew Hoaen for my copy of SILVA – it brings that incredible day with the trees back to me!

I went to the Nine Arches Press Book Launch of Julia Webb and Tom Sastry, a wonderful event and two stunning collections! They were joined by Daniel Sluman, who’s latest collection ‘Single Window’ is also on my shelf!

Another great Book Launch with Bloodaxe poets Jo Clement, Sarah Wimbush & Clare Shaw.

I admire the work of all these poets. It is also lovely knowing (most of) them!

I also had the gift of a Verve Poetry Launch which included Sarah James and her latest collection Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic. I have heard Kathy Pimlott read before, I have read some of Kayleigh Campbell’s work and it was fascinating hearing Georgina Wilding.

Kayleigh Campbell, Sarah James, Kathy Pimlott & Georgina Wilding.

I finally finished work on a project I have been sitting on for the best part of two years. And by the end of the May WLFF Festival was ready and we were all busy with promotion.

I had some poems accepted for publication, which was fabulous as I have been unable to submit much since March and there have been lots of rejections stacking up the inbox! I have had all three of my poems accepted for a project which will entail an anthology both hardcopy and digital. I had some of my manuscript poems accepted by an anthology too and have managed to get some work into the Mindful Poetry Anthology (USA) for the second year running.

Now we are in June and I have been working full time and trying to balance the rest of life on plates with small circumferences. I have to get back to the desk at some point, but I am not quite there yet.

Having said that – I am off to Reading in a fortnight to headline Poet’s Cafe. So I am very much still working and writing but also whirling and spinning through each day!

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NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 25

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Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

#Day25

© Joshua Hoehne

© Benjamin Davies

NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 24

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Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

#Day 24

© Brigitta Schneiter

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 22

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Read the full post here.

Today, our featured participant is Jessie Lynn McMains.

Our featured online magazine for the day is Five South. Among their recently published poems, I’ll point you to Alina Stefanescu’s “The Home is Six Hens Which Never Lay Eggs” and Erin Carlyle’s “Moon Landing.”

Prompt: I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that uses repetition. You can repeat a sound, a word, a phrase, or an image, or any combination of things.

I started as always with the featured site. Firstly, WOW at Jessie’s site, I never did tumblr and I think I missed out!  

Untitled (American Windows) by Jessie Lynn McMains is an amazing, powerful poem. The depth of detail and her voice in this poem grabbed me, I was hooked from the opening line. This poem holds its impact. It is a force. How ‘falling’ is described… left me winded!

Here are some lines which stunned me and stopped me:

smoke-
wreathed over coffee by the window-glass, blurred beneath
the bare-bulb glare in the Howard Johnson’s basement,

I’d remember him, how if I could make our own
windows, our America, they’d have the broken bottle-glass,
drought-dry grass, blur of headlights, sun-warmed suburban
aqueducts, 

a bouquet of construction-paper
stars, 

What a beautiful reading experience to start today!

I then read the poems from  Five South. Starting with The Home Is Six Hens Which Never Lay Eggs by Alina Stefanescu, I have to say I loved the title. The unravelling narrative is encaptivating and I read it several times reading different stories in.

the trusted friendship of crimson azaleas.

I listened to Moon Landing by Erin Carlyle, it’s an intriguing poem.

It had a key

made of little raised markings—broken

beer bottles, but no way to land

on the moon.


And for once, I have the perfect starting point for today’s prompt to use repetition. I love Jericho Brown‘s poetry and his invention of the Duplex form (which works really effectively as long as you feed the right subject and incredible lines)… it does however, take some time to get this right and I have some scribbled notes of a poem which was tasked to be a Duplex, I am going back to that page today to see if I can weave some magic in.

Duplex —a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues—

Whilst I go and work on my poem, I will leave you with Jericho.

PROCESS NOTES

I absolutely love writing a Duplex, but it takes a while to get my engine ready. Today I found absolute alchemy. Some medical notes I had been holding onto (living with incurable, chronic diseases) and the form of repeated lines. It wrote itself for 6 couplets so I only had to find 1 line. I am pleased with the result and think it will join my body of work.

It is a poem about thought adjustment and it was an incredible experience writing it!

Compress difficulty into love,

NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 22

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Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

#Day 22

© Jeremy Lapak

© Artem Gavrysh

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 21

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Read the full post here.

Happy end of the third week of Na/GloPoWriMo 2022, everybody!

Featured participants Poet Voice and Orangepeel.

Featured online magazine The Night Heron Barks. I’ll point you to Michael Montlack’s “At 23” and Adrie Rose’s “The Flower is Haunted By.”

Today’s prompt is one I got from the poet Betsy Sholl… write a poem in which you first recall someone you used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job you used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that you saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, close the poem with an unanswerable question.

I loved the first featured poem, Kielbasa Speaks to the Vegetarian of Polish Descent by Jacquelyn Markham, which was packed with food but actually for me was all about those Grandma’s. Wonderful.

Brussels Sprouts Make Their Case by Bruce Niedt, combines prompts from NaPo & Write Better Poetry. A brilliant humorous sprout poem.

I listened to At 23 by Michael Montlack, a beautiful, reflective poem.

At 23 love was inevitable as the sun
on a windowsill. Days disposable.
Nights thinly disguised afterlives.

Then I listened to The Flower is Haunted ByAdrie Rose. Powerful poem.

Wooden trays filled

with slabs of moss, little caskets
        limned with plush greening,

I also read The Knife, Sharpened by Adrie Rose. A story I know well.

The Night Heron Barks is a beautiful journal which I will be going back to delve into and read.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

PROCESS NOTES

I started at the end of the prompt with an unanswerable question and then it seemed natural to follow in reverse. There is one piece of stunning art which has never left my mind, I have jobs I remember that I no longer have, so that was just a matter of choice. Friend was harder, mainly as social media has put us all back in contact, but I got there.

I wrote the whole prompt out as a free write and then decided which words/phrases to pull into the final poem (or the first draft of one, at least). The whole result felt a little disparate initially and the poem felt too long. After some form it felt more connected. I realised I should have added the question at the end to tie it together better. I spent some time considering this change.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Extracts from each of the prompted sections:

how different our lives were,
how unalike our mothers. It was that night
I started to understand.

creatures of habit – same day,
same time, same order.

I let the image light my head
with its glory,


NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 19

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Read the full post here.

Our featured participant today is Ute Kelly, who brings us a lyrical and mysterious response to Day 18’s “five answers” prompt.

Today’s featured online journal is The Cortland Review, I’ll point you to Justin Janisse’s “Missing You, Expensively” and Grace Q. Song’s “Birthday.”

Today’s challenge is to write a poem that starts with a command. It could be as uncomplicated as “Look,” as plaintive as “Come back,” or as silly as “Don’t you even think about putting that hot sauce in your hair.”

I found the link takes you back to Day 18. I found the poem by Ute Kelly here.

I read/listened to the suggested poems from The Cortland Review:

Justin Jannise

Missing You, Expensively

This poem really touched me.

Grace Q. Song

Birthday

There is something very compelling about hearing a poet read their own work. This one nearly had me in tears. Both of today’s poems have spoken to me deeply.

Our separate lives bookmarked 

my grandmother, her hair
blown and bed-white, 

We want her to thaw,
but who can return again and again
without consequences. 

and we begin to sing, our voices like ravens,
trying to find each other in the dark.

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

I started with collecting imperative verbs whilst thinking of commands and life’s instructions. I thought about small children learning (possibly because I saw Billy Connelly Does… Fatherhood last night), computer coding and instruction manuals. My brain fired off in multiple directions and stuck like silly string on several ideas. So I decided to carry them for a bit longer before sitting down to write, knowing that the initial few ideas aren’t always the best subjects.


I went to visit family this morning and inherited a manual, perhaps that’s a sign for this prompt!

I also like the idea of misusing instructions. Or substituting the wrong verb. Both methods I have played with before. It’s exciting going to the page and not really having any idea what will come out (which is basically my NaPoWriMo experience in a nutshell! I also liked – “Don’t you even think about putting that hot sauce in your hair.” from today’s prompt.

I opened the almanac at a random page and LOST IN THE WILDS appeared first in my line of sight!

Obviously published before mobile technology, but signal doesn’t always work in rural areas and these are the sorts of skills which died out with the last generation. The archaic nature is the appeal and this advice would definitely aid survival (especially if you have packed a mirror/knife/whistle and a flare/smoke signal and are wearing a watch. Which until the arrival of Fitbits (other brands are available), people weren’t wearing watches, instead relied on their phones to let them know and stopped wearing watches. After years of this – working where the phone is not allowed to be switched on, your internal cavewoman clock ticks in!

Photo by Hrishikesh Deshkar on Pexels.com

Wow, a history and poetry prompt! Thinking about this also made me remember a news story earlier this month about snowboarder Tim Blakey, who survived after falling 15ft into a crevasse. And then I glanced at the time on my laptop and realised this rabbit hole has taken an hour! Time to go and write the poem!

PROCESS NOTES:

I ended up having an hour of great fun with this prompt, producing a Found Poem which starts with a command. And today – you get an entire poem!

Reflective

Whistle to this usual day,
give mirror smoke,
keep moving.

Blast impulse wild –
find a way to stay put
in a pause.


And here are some progress shots!

What really shocked me was this book is from 1994! I was convinced I was looking at something from the 80s… I don’t remember the mid 90s being this outdated! Off to feel old! Happy Writing!

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 13

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Full post here.


Our featured participant is two participants yet again! First up, clayandbranches, where you’ll find a poem in honor of “The World’s Smallest Joy.” And second, My Ordinary Moments, where you’ll find two quatrains on jewelry.

Today’s featured online journal is Occulum, which boasts twelve issues so far and a rather hypnotic webpage! In Occulum’s latest issue, I’ll point you to these two poems by Estelle Anderson.

PROMPT: Today, in honor of the potential luckiness of the number 13, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that, like the example poem here, joyfully states that “Everything is Going to Be Amazing.”

Featured participants: The World’s Smallest Joy

you’re alive, 
kept upright by a book’s spinal column.

Breadcrumbs” & “Afghan Earrings”

“shiny breadcrumbs.”

Two Poems by Estelle Anderson

Sacred Festival Drama 1 & necessary joy check

I knew the prompt sounded familiar the example poem EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE AMAZING by
Lauren Zuniga, is from the Jo Bell’s 52 Project which I took part in, 2015.

a balance

over the bridge

between yesterday

and today,

I have spent the whole day carrying the prompt in my head, whilst I worked away from the desk and also whilst I was at the desk doing other things (today was busy, a mentoring session, a reading and a workshop) – all after I spent half a day sorting.

I know I will come back to some of these prompts in a few months time, this is marked for a revisit. At the moment it is ‘everything is going to be amazing’ but still has too many shadows.

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 11

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Read full prompt here.

Two featured participants: first, we have Whimsygizmo’s Blog and second, Snigdha Choudhuri.

Today’s online journal is Tinderbox Poetry Journal its archives are available online. In their latest issue, I’ll point you to Grace Q. Song’s “HOW THE STORY GOES,” and Ayokunle Falomo’s “ETYMOLOGICON.”

Prompt: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about a very large thing. It could be a mountain or a blue whale or a skyscraper or a planet or the various contenders for the honor of being the Biggest Ball of Twine – versify in praise of the huge.

© Napowrimo.net

Today my head is not in the game as funeral arrangements begin. I spent my time writing a reflection for the funeral and my head and heart are very much there. I may not post for NaPo tomorrow, as we have the funeral. I will double post on Wednesday, if I can.

I started with With Ardent Affection for an Indifferent Moon  one of the featured poems, a love poem to the moon.

They say 
we’re out of ways 
to woo you. 

But I, 
heart tied to sky,

Are you the smudge-sketched 
thumbprint tintype of some long 
-forgotten goddess, 

An open jar of firefly hope, 

Some beautiful reflections and questions of the heart.

Unfortunately the 2nd link doesn’t take you to the participants site – I did a quick search last time this happened and managed to find the website, no success this time.


I will come back to the magazine when I have time. Today I just read the recommended poems. I listened to HOW THE STORY GOES Grace Q. Song, a beautiful poem with lingering memories.

Like the dark, watery spell my finger traces

in search of the Little Dipper. Or the reason

we scream at each other like wild horses.

That love so helpless must be a child

in a field of lilies. That you can hear a blue whale’s heartbeat

10,560 feet away,

Then I listened to ETYMOLOGICON (Winner of the Majda Gama Editors’ Prize) by Ayokunle Falomo. Delighted I could listen to these in the poet’s voice – as I don’t have the strength to read poems today. I am not sure I will be able to write one either.

Depending on

how you say it, three letters—A R A— 

can mean thunder or wonder or body

or family.

A poem exploring language, mistranslation and meaning (and so much more than these themes). Thought provoking.


I had a quick look at the biggest ball of twine – who wouldn’t! Before going off to use a vast object in a poem of my own. After a couple of days of sharing the poems in their entirety I think we may be back to extracts.

Photo by David Guerrero on Pexels.com

At first I collected the idea of BIG objects, starting with this Ferris wheel. Some I’d seen before like the giant rubber duck art (especially as Mr G. has always wanted one)! There’s quite a collection here, although many are art/sculptural and not objects which usually command praise for being huge.

They did remind me of the giant teddy in Qatar Airport that I saw in 2018, Urs Fischer’s famous Lamp Bear. I started to think of other massive things I’ve seen, the Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, both of these already feature in several poems I have written since visiting in 2005.

During my search I also found this site – which will blow your mind! mindblowingfacts.com/megalophobia I was particularly taken by the giant driftwood and the reminder (from the sun) of how small we are – not to mention that small circle of ALL the stars we see in our night sky compared to the entire galaxy!

Photo by Valeria Ushakova on Pexels.com

For a long time today (not surprisingly) I was blocked. In the end after hours filled with other things I sat to write the only thing I could. I wrote in one prose block/ separating thoughts with backslashes/. I wrote about how I couldn’t write about any of the big things whilst my head and heart are dealing with such a big thing.

Some extracts from today’s as yet untitled poem:

When challenged to write about something big today/ all I can think about/ is how big it was to lose you/ how colossal grief can be/ how huge the emptiness brought by your body missing in our time/

I can’t think about what I would write in praise of the Ferris wheel or Grand Canyon/ when all I want to do / all I need to do /is praise your life

how soft your hugs/ how huge your prayers / how dominant your light and love

how can I think of teddy lamps in Qatar or Redwoods in the States/ when all I want to be filled with is thoughts of you and your life/

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