Category Archives: awritersfountain


NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 8


Day Eight

Our featured participant for the day is Poems by Sidra.

Today’s resource is “Public Access Poetry,” an online feature from the Poetry Project, presenting digitized audio files of a poetry-themed public-access TV show that aired in New York City in 1977 and 1978. Listen to stalwarts and shining lights of the late-70s NYC “scene” such as Bernadette Mayer, Ron Padgett, Eileen Myles, and more!

This is another oldie-but-goodie. I remember being assigned to use it in a college poetry class, and loving the result. It really pushes you to use specific details, and to work on “conducting” the poem as it grows, instead of trying to force the poem to be one thing or another in particular. The prompt is called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. And here are the twenty little projects themselves — the challenge is to use them all in one poem:

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.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Process Notes:

I adored today’s featured poem, An Incomplete List of Places I Have Cried. I think the secret of a good list poem might be to not feel like a list and despite the repetition and the genre clearly being a list poem, it feels like you are reading more. I really liked the atmosphere this poem creates, very relatable.

Curiously, I’ve never cried in an art museum. I fear the portraits
would not be understanding. 

I then moved onto Public Access Poetry. What a fabulous concept for a TV show! I chose this one.

Followed by this one.

I only discovered the work of Eileen Myles about 4 years ago, have been fortunate enough to attend a workshop reading she did but have never read or heard earlier work. Glad I had the chance to.

Then I moved onto today’s prompt. Which I knew would take an age (and I wasn’t wrong). Nearly as long as my list poem yesterday. I love and hate listed prompts like this one – by the end of the poem I felt I had written rubbish and it is true I am unlikely to do anything with the writing in this form — but embedded in there (to find in May) will be nuggets of something else worthwhile – 20 little poetry projects to explore maybe!

It’s not about Germsville, nothing here/ is contagious. You can’t catch this luck.

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 4


Day Four

Our featured participant today is The Scribbletorium

Today’s poetry resource is this collection of poetry video recordings from the Dodge Poetry Program.


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Process Notes:

I started as always with the featured poem, this one very much impressed me. Knowing how hard finding the opposite of everything is and containing an element of sense is a true challenge. Contradicting lines are hard to avoid.

Wake has some great lines:

a dirty eternity for the body to work and hurt,

It gives you a loss so familiar, so shallow,
it cannot be forgotten in full sleep,

The sleeping body with its certainty,

... intact images of the day’s losses

This is a fine mirror poem, as such it chimes in parallel to the original quite closely – which is where I find my wariness in the task itself: when the starting point is someone else’s copyrighted work, of course this is only an issue if you plan to submit/publish your work and a simple solution may be to add an epigraph.

I was very excited to see Dodge Poetry Festival as the resource – another Lockdown discovery – attended most sessions with my anglo-american writing partner at the time, great memories. Although in 2008 I was 6 years rested from my adolescent writing Poet Phase 1 – I had been published in anthologies and magazines for a decade and started A Writers Fountain (as a MSN (who remembers them??) community website – it ran successfully for several years and was ranked #1 on the MSN groups tables. I was 8 years into my teaching career and had little time for anything else. By this point I was stuck in a place I didn’t want to be – but I had travelled to America and Australia and met Mr G. (so it wasn’t all bad)…. I would not find my way back to poetry (or any kind of writing) for another 6 years.

What a resource this is! So many videos. I started at the beginning with Chris Abani Reading in the 2008 Dodge Poetry Festival Saturday Night Sampler – 9/27/08

Patterns ~ and the dying of the heart is unshared

Changing Times ~ but I’m learning to taste my life without judgementI think

I enjoyed Chris so much I watched the next video of his (and the next on the list). Love his mix of humour with deep/ serious subject and the level of brutual honesty in his work.

“Geography Lesson” “The New Religion” and “Histories, #1”

The New Religion ~ This body is a nation I have not known

Or to feel the rub of tired lungs against skin-

covered bone, like a hand against the rough of bark.

Like that. “The body is a savage,” I said.

For years I said that: the body is a savage.

but sometimes, in an unguarded

moment of sun, I remember the cowdung-scent

of my childhood skin thick with dirt and sweat

and the screaming grass.

From Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon Press, 2006)

Then I watched Ekiwah Adler Belendez reading at the 2006 Dodge Poetry Festival

“Topography,” “Haiku,” and “Coyote’s Trace”

TopographyHe teaches us how to trace the invisible lines of our memory, can the voice be traced?

the continents of my future

a place where there is no room for the sky

Coyote’s Trace ~ do not speak to me/ speak to what makes me hungry/ follow the traces of what I love.

He was so beautiful to the audience – saying their reaction made the reading ‘all the life breathing in each face … makes this a dance not a monologue’.

I looked up Ekiwah Alder Belendez mainly interested in whether he was still writing – and he is. He was also the youngest poet to appear at Dodge Festival (2010 stats) he was 19 when he did this reading. When I was 19, I was reading in the pubs of Leicester. His first poetry collection, Soy (I Am), was released when he was twelve! I wrote my first poem when I was 12.

My final watch (I could sit here all day), was:

Taha Muhammad Ali (with Peter Cole) reading at the 2006 Dodge Poetry Festival

Reading in Arabic and English, “Revenge”

The whole poem needs to be heard in full.

I’ve written Triolets before – I do find them hard they always sound gong like.

As predicted I think it is a bit of a naff poem. Wonderful subject though!

Photo by Luis Quintero on

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 2


Day Two

on APRIL 2, 2023

Today’s featured participant is What Rhymes with Stanza?, where the book-cover poem for Day 1 takes us through all of recorded history and into the future, through the lens of the moon.

Our poetry resource for the day is Jacket2. This online magazine features a wealth of podcasts, reviews, interviews, essays, and other uncategorizable writings about contemporary poetry.



© NaPoWriMo

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Process Notes

I started (as always) with reading yesterday’s featured poem – To the Moon. Before moving on to the poetry resource Jacket 2.

Jacket 2 is another resource I could spend weeks exploring! I scrolled the page and lingered on and looked into the following:

Poetry and Art working together is an area I love working in. My poems have been displayed in an art installation (2014) and I have numerous projects where artists work from poems and vice versa – including many DAN (Droitwich Arts Network) Hanbury Hall events, Rick Sanders PoARTry projects, Ekphrastic Poetry Projects in general/ many workshops including many with Ledbury Poetry Festival and Sara-Jane Arbury and the current ‘Enough to See’ project with Yew Tree Studios.

I read the review –


On ‘Cy Twombly: Making Past Present’


I then spotted:

Star Shavings was a beautiful read.

Then I listened to a Poetry Talk Podcast.

There are so many episodes that I won’t ever have time to listen to all the archives but I plan to cherry pick a few podcasts over the next few weeks as I am on a break from work. I’m already fearing the 2nd 2 weeks of NaPo when I am balancing work-life into this equation again.

I chose this one mainly because I had read the Q&A notion of the prompt – so The Short Answer – seemed apt.

I always find it interesting which poems are left out of live readings. In my own humble collections I have poems I rarely read out loud. The Poem Talk episode was an engaging listen. Although deep dives into poems remind me too much of academia often (flashback).

All photos © 2023 Jacket2

An amazing resource – another one pinned to the website document.

I really liked the sound of today’s prompt – again, often engaging with surrealists – which started in my late teens – and I love the results of this type of exercise. However, I am aware today that I am pushed for time and have to get on with writing.

I read up on Paul Celan.

I started with copying the list and deleting all the words which didn’t chime with me – this left 8 words.

I think this activity works best when you don’t know the next part of the task – I stopped my initial thought several times knowing the answers had to fit a poem. Of course there’s always the option of leaving some out.

So finally I have my 8 answers and I am off to create a NaPo poem.

I looked at my answers and picked the one which most caught me as a starting point (my 3rd answer). I liked parts of the initial write (the ending of the poem fell together well). I know I will work on this one next month. Added to the editing pile. It has some glow about it.

It definitely has a surrealistic quality.

A Quick Catch Up… and A Lot of News

Photo by Ali Karimiboroujeni on

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.

More details here.

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’.

Find out more in this article:

An anthology and a launch.

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.

Find out more and order a copy here.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

And in other news – I have taken several bookings for 2023, several projects from last year are due publication and Mr. G and I got engaged! All good things are worth waiting for. I promise you.

Photo by Jasmine Carter on

Enjoy NaPoWriMo and I will update other news in May including more details on all of the above.

NaPoWriMo are celebrating 20 years!

A Tale of Two Cities II – The Reading


Earlier this week I shared the sizzle… here’s the recording of our Transatlantic reading. Enjoy!

ATOTC II ~ 30/10/22

With gratitude to all participating poets and to Rodger Martin and Polly Stretton for managing this second edition of the project with me.

A Tale of Two Cities II – The Reading


Some poetry events are just magical! Mix the alchemy of Transatlantic poets writing call and response poems and you are sure to have a cracking reading. The power of hearing these poems performed by each poet was fabulous. Added to the words, the reunion of people, not just across the pond but within our own communities.

I have huge gratitude to every poet in this project. Polly Stretton is a marvel and without her, the gleam wouldn’t have been as bright as it was. I appreciate every ounce of work she has delivered since the summer.

We are currently editing the film for YouTube and then over the next few months will compile a print anthology with Black Pear Press.

Watch this space!

Here’s a flavour of what’s to come…

Photo by Pixabay on

A Tale of Two Cities II


It gives me great pleasure to announce a project that has been underway since the summer.

We did it again! Poets from Worcester UK and Worcester USA paired up to write call-and-response poems.

In the original project there was a UK launch and a USA reading, but thanks to the wonders of technology we will all be united on Sunday 30th October, the start time will be 18:00 GMT (UK) and 14:00 EDT (USA) the link for the online event will appear here and on the BPP Facebook Event Page on the day. And yes, that’s definitely 18:00 start time UK, our clocks fall back this weekend!

Black Pear Press are delighted to be part of this project and will host the online event.

Background ~ Every tale starts somewhere.

The Original ATOTC

Back in 2017, when I was Worcestershire Poet Laureate I embarked on a huge transatlantic project linking poets in Worcester UK with those in Worcester MA USA.

It was a massive undertaking on both sides of the pond and a wonderful, fulfilling project involving 47 poets. You can read all about it here:

Project Go Ahead

A Tale of Two Cities Begins

Poets Revealed

A Tale Nearly Ready to Tell

A Tale of Two Cities Anthology

And feast on the wonderful poetry which was written about our cities here.

Then there were launches and festival events for a while.

July 2018 Droitwich Arts Festival – Launch of ATOTC UK

Artsfest UK Launch A Tale of Two Cities

Then it was the turn for our partners in the USA.

A Tale of Two Cities Massachusetts

AT read promo

September 2018

I worked on promotion for the American A Tale of Two Cities reading, happening at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts on Friday 28th. Very excited to hear how it all goes and hopefully by next year there will be some bigger plans in progress for this project.


I followed up the USA performance of A Tale of Two Cities – there was certainly a lot of pre-event news coverage and it seems to have gone really well.

US Reading ATOTC


The plans I had bore some fruition in 2019 when I produced a show with some of the UK poets, lots of film work and the helpful narration of an American relative, for the Evesham Festival of Words.

It had been booked for the festival in 2018, before the Perth Poetry Festival in Australia and before my stint in hospital and my Annus horribilis. It was not quite the year I thought it would be and neither was 2020.

As our lives moved online I caught up with WCPA crew at some events and thought about joining forces to celebrate the collection again.

Roll on a few years, many poets are still in contact with their partners and one of the UK poets, Polly Stretton, had a conversation about doing just that.

Photo by Sharefaith on

July 2022

After a few email exchanges with Rodger Martin and Bob Gill, an idea was floated to go beyond meeting online to read our original work… after some discussion we all agreed to repeat the Call & Response project. And ATOTC II was born.

Since then poets from the original team have been paired up to produce a new selection of poems, this time the theme was open and as before, there has been lots of fun! And this time after the reading, my future ideas for A Tale of Two Cities will bear fruit.

Photo by vectors icon on

A huge thanks to Polly Stretton for all her management skills, for compiling the programme and organising the tech and assisting with the promotion. It has been a blast. Thanks also to Black Pear Press.

And thank you to all the poets in Worcester UK and from WCPA Worcester Massachusetts, for your wonderful partnerships and poems. I cannot wait to celebrate with you all!

Photo by Vie Studio on

Come and join us

ATOTC II Event Page will include Zoom information on the day.


A Big Week for Some of my Poems


Back in the midst of Lockdown (2020) I was involved with several projects in Sheffield. One of which was Lab 4 Living Experiencing Ageing workshops with Joan Healey and Sheffield Libraries.

The outcome of which has been an exhibition in Sheffield Library, an anthology of selected poems from the project and more recently (Friday 21st October) The Poetics of Ageing as part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words.

‘… one of the UK’s largest literary festivals. Every October we bring the biggest names in local, regional, and international literary talent, media and the arts to South Yorkshire.‘ – University of Sheffield.

It was an enjoyable project to be involved in, I love it when research turns to poets and it was my involvement in this project which led me to become a part of DNA: Our Stories for the Resonate Festival at Warwick University back in January.

Prior to the original 2020 project, I’d written about Dementia and experienced first hand the effects of this and Alzheimer’s disease. Lab 4 Living also enabled me the space to write more elder poems, which was always important to me but has been made doubly so since the loss of my Great Aunty and Grandma earlier this year.

I shared some of my poems from the anthology at a recent event for Droitwich Arts Network and the impact and conversations with audience over the conception of them and the Lab 4 Living project were rewarding and insightful.

An exploration of the wondrous process of growing older through poetry and prose.  The evening includes poetry from local writing groups about the felt experiences of ageing, readings of work by people living with dementia and provocative extracts from fiction.  We hope to create a space where we can share, play, gain new insights and perhaps re-imagine what it is to be older.  This event comes from a project  ‘Re-imagining ageing’ run by Joan Healey and Claire Craig as part of Lab 4 Living’s 100 Year Life research.

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” Frank Lloyd Wright 

Curated by Sheffield Hallam University

I also received a commission to write for a special event. More news on that soon.

Mindful Poetry Moments Book Launch


I have been overjoyed to play a part in The Well/ Mindful Poetry events over the past few years, (since Lockdown 2020/21). For the 2nd year running I am delighted to have poetry included in the anthology.

The Book Launch happens today at The Mercantile Library, which is incredibly beautiful and in Cincinnati… however, if you are not you can still watch the event on Crowdcast, to register: book tickets for the Live Launch or reserve your spot virtually check here.

I am really looking forward to spending some of my Birthday celebrating with these poets and can’t wait to hear everyone’s words.

Hope you can join us!

Book cover artwork courtesy of @alexandraramirezarts⁠ ⁠ Mindful Poetry Moments was incubated with @onbeing and virtual gatherings are supported by @cincyhive @wordplaycincy and @themercantilelib⁠ ⁠ #TheWellWorld #TheWell #MindfulPoetryMoments #MindfulPoetry #Poetry #PoetryCollection #OnBeing #PoetryUnbound #Poems #Poets #Poet

Featured Poem ~ In the Breast Unit


I was lucky enough to complete the manuscript (my first collection) last year. I then sat on it for a while before returning for final edits in Spring 2022. It is now finding a home with a publisher. So it brings me great joy to announce Cafe Writers chose to feature my poem In the Breast Unit as the poem of the month.

It can be hard to find places where writing poems about our bodies is an acceptable read. I am grateful to the team for picking this poem.

Proud to be sharing the space with so many wonderful Poem of the Month Picks.

Poem of the Month – In the Breast Unit

I was delighted to see/hear incredible headline sets from Kim Moore and Jenny Pagdin and enjoy the always amazing open mic. When I received the email notifying me of this news, I danced!