Category Archives: awritersfountain

Writing

Review April 2017

Standard

As always NaPoWriMo takes over April and makes it challenging to keep other blog posts up to date. I have made an effort to keep the blog NaPo intentionally this month with a few posts breaking the thread. I have had some amazing experiences this month which deserve a dedicated blogging. I plan to pepper them in throughout May.

 

WEEK 1:

I was asked to co-ordinate an event for a Festival I am already involved with – this task took the best part of a fortnight. But I am happy that it is all now booked and in place for this summer. I spent further weeks this month planning and organising the events for an Arts Festival in July.

I went to an editing workshop. Taking with me a poem from 2014 that has never fully worked. I can safely say it has the treatment now and just in time because it formed part of the set I performed at The Poetry Ballroom.

Poetry Ballroom

I experienced the Poetry Ballroom. Suz Winspear (this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate) organised this event in partnership with DanceFest. It was an amazing night. I will be blogging a full write up in May, I was honoured to be an invited performer at the event and had great fun writing some dance poems especially for it. The evening was a sound success and the dancers appreciated the theme of our poetry – not realising that we would focus on dance. As an ex-dancer, it was a pleasure.

I was asked to endorse a book (my 2nd one). The first book I endorsed is due to launch in May, more on that next month too. I am currently reading this manuscript and am delighted that the publishers thought of me.

I was asked to read at a Book Launch next month. I have spent some time this month penning new poems for this occasion. To be honest the poems were also part of NaPoWriMo, but why not make your projects work hard for you. Lots of prompts leant themselves to current project pies I have my thumbs in, so given half a chance…napo2017button1

I went to a reading at The Hive with Sarah Leavesley & Melissa Lee-Houghton. I was really excited by this. Ruth Stacey had arranged it for her students at university and just gave a bit of a quiet shout out. thehiveworcsorg

Being part of an audience of students, listening to their woes made me glad this wasn’t my life anymore. It is all to easy to glamorize the undergraduate/post grad life… but really… as much pressure as the real world.

hive5

I loved hearing Sarah read from Magnetic Diaries again after all this time and it was a real treat to hear Melissa Lee-Houghton, as she sadly couldn’t make Verve festival in the end. It was a great evening and I am glad I managed the post work rush to get there. Had to drive a hire car too – as my window decided to malfunction and I spent over an hour finding a garage willing to help me so late on in the day. The window was stuck in the down position. My lesson: using air con is cheaper in the long run!

I spent time writing the brief for a 2nd poetry festival event, involving the other two poets. It is amazing how many days it can take 3 poets to come up with less than 3 lines!

typewriter-1227357_1280

Back in February (my month of applications), I applied for Room 204 Writer Development Programme run by WWM. They had over 130 applicants this year for 15 places. I am delighted to announce the embargo has lifted and I can share this news. We had our first cohort meeting – what a great year to be in, so much talent. We had a photo shoot (one I wanted a haircut and weight-loss for) – neither happened in the days beforehand, but Paul Stringer is a talented photographer. It was a fun morning, we were all so excited to be part of the 2017/18 cohort and already good things have happened as a result. There is a whole year of mentoring and career development ahead, over £1000 worth. Priceless if you ask me.

room 204

I am extremely excited to be part of Room 204, I discovered it back in 2013 and have been biding my time and developing my writing to the point I thought I was able to qualify for a place on the scheme. I am grateful my application was successful. That my writing stood up to the scrutiny and competition. Here’s the rest of this year’s cohort

https://www.writingwestmidlands.org/room-204-participants-201718/

I also reconnected with a good friend of mine afterwards and we plan to exchange books and do lunch next time I am back in the area. I used to spend more time in Birmingham than I do at the moment. I am spending less time on the road this year and more time at the desk, the natural pattern of a writer. It was good catching up.

WEEK 2

Went to an incredibly exciting meeting at the Custard Factory for this year’s Room 204 programme, which we were embargoed about. The news was finally released on the 11/12th. Rm-204-logo-final-solo-600x328

Started typing NaPo poems, I decided to write longhand this year, which gave me that workshop feeling as much of my writing is straight to screen nowadays. It meant I successfully completed the challenge with 97 poems by the end of the month, however I have typed about 10 to edit so far.

Made a promotional Easter video for Fragile Houses. I was reading advice on marketing and promotion and find it hard to detail what my pamphlet with give you beyond shared experience, memory and space to work through mirrored realities. Which all seems a high promise or at the worst an abstract manifesto. Then I thought about chocolate, the calories (personally delighted this year to have so many eggs and treats). easter Had another 3 eggs after this photo was taken!

I spent half a day making the video. Poetry – less calories than chocolate. Maybe I should have offered a free egg with every book sold.

I booked onto a Room 204 event for later in the month.

Started writing a book review and went to see Kate Bush tribute Cloudbusting with Mr G. katebush

I missed License to Rhyme again as the next day I was going to Swindon. Rick Saunders aka Willis the Poet was headlining and he was happy to take me on the road trip. It was a cracking night at Oooh Beehive – a night that Clive Oseman and Nick Lovell started a while ago. Swindon is quite a way on a school night and it was the early hours by the time I was home, but it was the Easter holidays and I am glad I managed it. Lovely to see Sam Loveless and Edward, who I met at the Poetry Festival last year.

I went to HOWL and watched amazing headline sets from Charley Barnes, Tom McCann and Rhythmical Mike. It was a great night and I was happy I made an open mic spot. It was fabulous to see everyone again. HOWL

I went to SpeakEasy where Gareth Owens was headlining. That was a good night too – rare these days that I manage 3 nights on the hoof like this. I spent the day beforehand making media for an upcoming festival shoe and dealing with programme copy.

It was nice to escape for a few hours and immerse myself in poetry.

The Beltane Anthology for 2017 was published by Three Drops from a Cauldron, which has my Rag Tree poem in it. I know you should never judge a book by the cover – but with this stunning design, who wouldn’t want to see their poetry inside!

beltane.jpg

Featuring poetry and flash fiction by Jane Burn, Rhiannon Hooson, Alison Stone, Denise Blake, Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt, Eleanor Penny, Tom Moody, Bee Smith, Rebecca Buchanan, Rebecca Gethin, Nina Lewis, Wendy Mannis Scher, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Sarah Hart, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Kitty Coles, Donald Illich, Dennis Trujillo, Lesley Burt, Cynthia June Long, Vivien Jones, Moyra Donaldson, Maggie Mackay, Bethany Rivers, Lewis Buxton, Carmina Masoliver, Nico Solheim-Davidson, R.M. Francis, Linda Goulden, Ilse Pedler, and Joanna Swan.

Edited by Kate Garrett, with the Three Drops from a Cauldron editorial team: Becca Goodin, Loma Jones, Amy Kinsman, Holly Magill, Penny Sharman, Grant Tarbard, and Claire Walker.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/kate-garrett/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/paperback/product-23143262.html

It is now also available in digital copy.

https://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2017/04/14/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/

Week 3

I had a free writing webinar with The Writers Academy & Penguin Random House, it was an interesting few hours, although I wrote copious notes not realising they were sending follow up information via email.

I had my first Room 204 1 to 1 session, we get 3 over the course of the year. It was useful and I have already started working on decisions.Rm-204-logo-WITH-WORDS

I spent an entire day co-ordinating and planning for festival events.

Holly Daffurn has started a new venture – at Bottles Wine Bar, ‘Uncorked’ an evening of Spoken Word, there were over 50 tickets sold and the night was divided into 3 parts with 5 headliners and open mic. Ambitious scheduling, beautiful venue and a stellar line up made for a perfect evening. uncorked

I performed on the open mic. Brilliant Headliners: Jasmine Gardosi, Casey Bailey, Holly Daffurn, Leon Priestnall & Joe Cooke

The Spring edition of Birmingham Literature Festival happened and despite a fantastic programme (all well received), I was unable to make it across to the city for any events. I even missed Cynthia Miller’s Primers Launch.

BLF Spring

I had my WWM group which meant I couldn’t attend some of the events/workshops on Saturday. The group went really well, we made our own magazines. I have since planned the final two session, so feel ahead of the game.

Week 4

I booked tickets to go and see Carol Ann Duffy in May, continued to organise festival events. The Stourbridge Literature Festival started. I went to see Emma Purshouse headline at Spoken Trend, saw Carla Rickets headline too. It was a great night, I even went home with 3 daffodils, now that is a good night.

I took a Napowrimo poem to Stanza and it was approved. I have written 97 in total this month as I have followed 2 main prompts, the main site napwrimo.net and joined Carrie Etter’s group where she provided us with 30 optional prompts. Beyond the poems, I have researched and stumbled into new project territory which is most exciting. Carrie’s group was amazing for comradery and support. Jo Bell spent the entire month posting poems for us to read as it is as important as writing and a sure way to learn/ learn about poetry. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the poems and discussions on her blog and will miss this daily ritual and ponder more than I will miss the onslaught of daily poetry writing.

imgID54935282.jpg.gallery I went to the first talk organised by Room 204 and now have a notebook full of information and ideas.

And the month finished with a flurry of PR for VOICES FROM THE MIDDLE at Stourbridge Literature Festival.

The first of 3 events I have been organising. A combined reading with: vpress sb I will blog about the festival/event over the coming days. Within 24 hours I will be promoting Cheltenham Poetry Festival and over the next 5 days working towards 30-40-60 the collaborative performance booked into this year’s Worcester Literature Festival.

I will not have time to be sad about the end of NaPoWriMo, but I hope to have time to type edit some of the work produced during April.

This was a GREAT month!

 

 

NaPoWriMo – Day 29 – The Penultimate Day

Standard

napofeature4

Well we have nearly made it! 1 more day to go…

Day Twenty-Nine

On April 29, 2017

Hello, everyone! It’s the penultimate day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo!

Our featured participant for the day is orangepeel, where the Skeltonic verse for Day 28 celebrates (sort of) the experience of being sprayed by a skunk!

Today’s interview is with another poet/publisher, Sarah Gorham, the editor-in-chief of Sarabande Books. This interview explores her dual role as writer of her own work and the promoter of others’ poetry. You can learn more about Gorham here and read some of her poetry here and here.

And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, I’d like to challenge you to take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

Happy writing!

I really enjoyed this prompt as it gave me time to indulge in my poetry bookcase before choosing my starter poem – Mansion Polish by Maurice Riordan (who I was lucky to meet back in 2013, after 4 weeks in my poetry skin).

I followed the prompt and my concrete noun was horseshoe. After free writing I settled to the making of a poem. Not happy with my first two attempts, I cracked it on the 3rd. They are all relatively short poems. I have currently written 94 NaPo poems! I took one to Stanza last night and it was approved, so there is some hope for a small % of them.

the brass one her mother hung over the fireplace

is now a dead tissue memory, wrapped carefully

in brown paper.


Carrie Etter’s prompt was to write about an object belonging to a parent, the focus was on what it means to you. I was happy with the overall result although it still needs a little work.

I could read stories, but not between the lines.

… I outgrew my own, this hand

was never for giving.


Jo Bell posted This by Maitreyabandhu

This neat poem describes a single moment of paying attention.

…. Give yourself permission to read critically, and if a poem you enjoy seems to have a hairline crack in it, take Maitreyabandhu’s mindful approach – notice it, but don’t let it spoil your enjoyment of the poem as a whole. The poems we learn from, like the people that we learn from, can be imperfect. – Jo Bell

I shall miss Jo’s daily reads and discussions much more than writing daily poems.

Thanks for the great effort, Jo. jo bell

http://www.jobell.org.uk/


The Poetry School  58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullseem to have gone AWOL – they are in, but seem to have hidden the prompt. Thanks to Jackie Biggs, I found it on an attachment.

Day 29: The Self-Cento

Good morning on this penultimate NaPoWriMo day! Today, we’re asking you to reuse, recycle and rehash with a cento.

A cento is a poem made up entirely of lines from other poets’ poems. Our version differs in only one way. We’d like a 28 line cento, but it should use lines from your own poems written during NaPoWriMo. Not managed 28 poems so far? No matter. Write a shorter poem, or use multiple lines from the same poem, or use lines from your pre-existing poems. The important thing is it’s your own voice you’re remixing and restyling. You’re allowed to make minor tweaks to the lines to make them fit, so don’t worry about changing tenses, adjusting grammar, or rephrasing slightly, but don’t add words.

There are lots of excellent centos out there, but we’re going to go for a classic: John Ashbery’s ‘The Dong with the Luminous Nose’: http://www.english.txstate.edu/cohen_p/poetry/Ashbery.html

NaPoWriMo – Day 28 – Real Time

Standard

napofeature3

What wonder I feel when I have time to participate in real time. Today is a writing day and I have just immersed myself in the prompt in the way it should be done. I cannot believe we have just 3 days of the challenge left! I am happy that they are days where I have time chiselled out to make a proper job of it. I am utterly amazed at some of the poetry I have read on participant’s sites.

http://www.napowrimo.net/

Today’s featured participant is little learner, whose poem for Day 27 is all about an acquired taste!

Our interview for the day is with Kazim Ali, co-founder of Nightboat Books and author of three books of poetry. The interview we’re featuring was done when his first book, The Far Mosque was published, and provides a good look at what it is like to have a book finally out in the world. You can read more about Ali here, and read some of his work here.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem using Skeltonic verse. Don’t worry, there are no skeletons involved. Rather, Skeltonic verse gets its name from John Skelton, a fifteenth-century English poet who pioneered the use of short stanzas with irregular meter, but two strong stresses per line (otherwise know as “dipodic” or “two-footed” verse). The lines rhyme, but there’s not a rhyme scheme per se. The poet simply rhymes against one word until he or she gets bored and moves on to another. Here is a good explainer of the form, from which I have borrowed this excellent example:

Dipodic What?

Dipodic Verse
will be Terse.
Stress used just twice
to keep it nice,
short or long
a lilting song
or sounding gong
that won’t go wrong
if you adhere
to the rule here,
Now is that clear
My dear?

napo2017button2

I urge you to look at the explainer site as it is a straightforward definition, not that this form is particularly hard to master.

My initial reaction was ‘oh no, rhyme’ – and endless repetition of one word didn’t conjure hope. Actually it almost wrote itself, without a rhyming scheme to adhere to it is freeing creating the end rhyme. Less constrictive.

I managed a poem and one that I think I will be performing. I am not sure there are many editors who publish this style (from the 15th Century), then again I am not that confident my NaPo poems will be submitted anywhere. The term ‘NaPo rejection’ is already frequenting social media. I have the perfect place in mind for this poem and will be performing it soon.

I had the form but not the motive – so I borrowed from Carrie Etter’s prompt for today – writing about something/action you dislike and much as this sounds daft I really HATE waking up, getting up, getting dressed and the internal monologue this daily ritual allows.

Skeltonic verse is supposed to be funny and full of energy (created by the tumbling rhyme and speed it can be read), I think on this front – I may have succeeded!


Carrie Etter encouraged us write an anti-ode, thank goodness I did all that form revision! Use vivid, concrete details to make your dislike palpable without saying it.

Having already used my subject for the NaPo poem, I had to go back to the drawing board – but fortunately being a little Eeyore there are lots of something you don’t like or an action you don’t like to do in my world!

napo2017button1

I have a real issue struggling with envy, I thought I would write a comical anti-ode about that. I wrote in two different forms, the message was the same.


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/ Pulse by James McGonigal

The discussion that follows this 8 line poem is full of pondering thoughts and sound advice, telling not showing and an intensive look at the language of the poem.

A title can prime a reader so they know what to expect, or give them a jigsaw piece which only fits in when they’ve completed the rest of the reading…

The title launches you into the poem but when you arrive at the last line, it often sends you back to the title, which now has some extra meaning. I can’t say it often enough – the title is a part of the poem, and must be active within it. It isn’t just an aid to filing.

Glyn Maxwell says in On Poetry, ‘Poets – your brain’s in your body’

and there’s no better motto for us. Always, always come back to the five senses.  They are always the best way to make the reader share the writer’s lived experience. Even the metaphysical needs the physical. – Jo Bell.


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullThe Poetry School

Day 28. Haiku Day

Morning poets. Today I’d like you write a haiku. Don’t bother with counting syllables – it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is the juxtaposition of two ideas or images, separated by a ‘cutting word’ (“kireji”). You may also wish to include a seasonal reference (“kigo”), to write in three short lines, and to focus on nature, but none of these are as important as the contrast between two ideas. In the below examples, I have marked the two contrasting sections in bold and italics, while the seasonal reference is underlined. The Haiku Foundation has an excellent guide on writing Haiku in English, which dispels many myths. However you go about this, try to avoid any unnecessary words or repetition. Instead of “It was a hot summer’s day” try “A summer day” or better just “Summer:”.

After an Affair

Just friends:
he watches my gauze dress
blowing on the line.

Rain Dance

Millions
of tiny Royals
dance beneath the surface,
their glass crowns erupting from the 
puddle


 

NaPoWriMo – Day 26 – On Target

Standard

Look at this miracle, Day 26 ON Day 26 – cue flying pig!

napofeature4

http://www.napowrimo.net/

Today’s featured participant is fresh poetry, where the “poetics of space” prompt for Day 25 takes back in time to a very particular classroom, while also launching us out onto the sea.

Our interview for the day is another two-fer – the poet Melissa Range interviewed by the poet Stephen Burt about her book, Scriptorium, sonnets, and incorporating colloquialisms and slang into poetry. You can learn more about interview-er and interview-ee here and here. And you can read three of Range’s poems here, and at this link, you’ll find a lyrical essay by Burt.

And now for our (optional) prompt! Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us? Today, I’d like to challenge you to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist? The object or site of study could be anything from a “World’s Best Grandpa” coffee mug to a Pizza Hut, from a Pokemon poster to a cellphone.

napo2017button1I had great fun with this prompt and went with my initial object that was on my desk as I read the prompt. It got a bit sticky when thinking about futurisms and how much of our language would have been used and when I have more time I would like to invent a half language and translate.

Writing this poem sparked a few new ideas and I have made some science based notes on the sun and the moon too. More to play with later… looks like I may need to take next year off.

The Sea of Showers looks brown,

this leads some of the Scientists to predict

our archaeological response wrong.


Carrie Etter offers – in a place where you have lived before (or where you live now), list some specific names of the flora and fauna of that environment:

the names of one or two birds;

other animals;

one or two kinds of trees, plants and wildflowers.

Next she asked us to imagine ourselves as a character in this environment, one with a specific worry. Give a strong impression of place through intermingling the concerns with details of the environment.

Poetry that uses senses and a sense of place.

napo2017button2

I have lived in so many places, but for the ease/speed of writing several poems in a day, I chose my current abode. My Great Aunty has always wowed me with her ability to name every tree, plant and bird, this gift/talent/knowledge is not something I possess, so I knew there would be some research before I could launch into poetry.

The list was fairly easy to compile – but at the start of the poem, I very much felt it like a writing exercise, a slightly forced one at that. I relaxed into it and halfway through the tone became more natural and the words started to flow. I have a poem I can work with now and a future idea for more.

you can never be sure when rain will come.


Jo Bell offered tonight by Charles Bukowski

http://www.jobell.org.uk/

A great discussion on Bukowski, King, expressing the truth and down to earth wit.


The Poetry School 58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfull

Day 26: Acrostics

We’d like to see your acrostic poems, ones where the first (or last – or first and last) letters of each line spell out a word.

A lot of people think acrostics are childish, but they needn’t be. Kathleen Ossip’s sequence of acrostic elegies elevates the form to art.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/56631

NaPoWriMo Catch Up – Day 20

Standard

Right now I should be at Cynthia Miller’s Primers Launch in Waterstones, (part of the Birmingham Literature Festival Spring Edition). I have a million things that need doing and a lack of time to squeeze them all into.

For the past few days I have managed to write my poems on time or in epic late-night catch ups. I am currently on Day 23, letting ideas settle in my mind. I have fallen behind with blog posts as I am currently organising 3 festivals and have been busy with research, work and real life.

Day 20 – Step Back in Time…

napofeature4

http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-4/

I really enjoyed the prompt today, had lots of fun and research points, became a half decent poem, edited into a decent poem and performed at Uncorked that same evening.

I cannot believe we are 2/3 through NaPoWriMo and I am feeling proud that this year I have managed it. Thanks to Carrie Etter’s group.

I get the feeling that most of my Napo writing is airy draft, I know I can go back to these poems and extract the gold dust and rebuild. So please do not be hard on yourself if you feel that most of your daily writes have been a bit naff.

I spent some time wandering around participants sites the other day and reading some incredibly strong poems (with a glint of envy), it is amazing what rolls out of people’s heads during this April challenge.

Naponet

Our featured participant today is this and other poems, where the creation myth for Day 19 is “tenuous,” but strikingly believable!

Our interview today is a two-fer: the poet Rickey Laurentiis being interviewed by the poet Carl Phillips. You can find examples of Laurentiis’ work here and Phillips’ work here.

Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game. Your poem could invoke chess or baseball, hopscotch or canasta, Monopoly or jai alai. The choice is yours!

I chose Poker, as it is a game I do not play and I discovered lots of associated vocabulary that leant itself to poetry. It was a fun write although not so jolly for the character in my poem. It went down well with the audience at Uncorked, so it has been filed in the OKAY pile for now.

For the first time I used the computer rather than my notebook. This is how I usually write and I wonder if this has anything to do with creating a better poem. My brain understanding what I am trying to achieve as my hands dance across the keyboard.

For me, the difference of swimming safely in a pool or being out in the open sea, those blank pages scare me sometimes. Although I love the freedom of writing in notebooks, as I love the sea, but there is always danger lurking and scribbles have to be crossed out rather than deleted from existence!

She placed even money

on diamonds, lost it all.


Carrie Etter’s prompt involved using titles. Titles are not copyrighted but some poets felt that they couldn’t use work in this way. I liked the idea and wrote from a title as a springboard and then edited the title out.

Sandra Lim has some splendid titles in her first collection, Loveliest Grotesque.

I used ‘Curious This’.

Crossing roads between moving cars…

…like the aura of a Prophet…

I also revisited my poetry from Day 19 and wrote a poem I like ‘Crabsticks and Gin’.

White hair dyed Paprika,

Cherry Red applied over

shallow pink lips

that talked for England.


Jo Bell (whose Canoe writing workshop I am also missing today at BLF Spring Edition), posted Variation on a Theme by Rilke by Denise Levertov. I am really appreciating these daily reads and discussions.

The best thing – the very best thing – about reading poetry widely and deeply is that when you need it, it finds you… Yesterday, hearing news of the impending UK election I felt a mighty need for something to give me a sense of purpose and positivity in the coming weeks. – Jo Bell


The Poetry School offered us

Day 20: The One-Sentence Poem

Which for anyone taking part is light relief – well it would be, but a one sentence poem is harder than you imagine.

58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfull

Morning poets. Today, I’d like you to write a one-sentence poem. Draft it in prose, so you’re not worrying about line-breaks. They can come later. You’ll also find that you become more expansive and loquacious by drafting this way. If you reach a natural break, connectives (also known as conjunctions) are your friends: use ‘but’, ‘and’, ‘which’ and so on to carry on your sentence. Brackets and dashes are useful, but I’d like you to avoid colons and semi-colons as they stop you in your tracks when you’re supposed to be flowing.

Your example today is Steve Scafidi’s magnificent ‘To Whoever Set My Truck On Fire‘, but your poem doesn’t necessarily have to be this long!

 

Day 19 – Early Morning Creation & Gratitude

Standard

napofeature2017-2

Welcome to Day 19, so close now. So many poems to type up. Writing longhand in my notebook has made this NaPo experience feel different and has kept me on track and enthusiastic, more so than previous years.

I have to say that Carrie Etter has had a huge part to play in motivating me to complete the challenge – both in terms of the group she created on social media and her list of prompts, which I have still not allowed myself to read in the entirety, despite copying to a document 19 days ago. Thank you, Carrie!

Having instant access to other poets completing NaPo has created the same buzz I experienced from Camp/ Community boards in NaNoWriMo. Sharing days it works and days it doesn’t, keeps you going and this year with following a double set of prompts I will have produced over 60 poems.

thank-you-typewriter

It is little wonder I feel a bit tired. Not all of them are fully formed and some are a bit rubbish, they didn’t work out.

An exercise like NaPo gives you chaff and grain. The excitement of the following months is revisiting and finding the lines/ideas/images you can harvest or re-use. It is all good poetry compost, keep turning!

I also want to say thanks to Jo Bell, for giving us all a daily poem to read. I have discovered some poets that I will read more of and revisited favourite poems/poets along the way. I have been privy to (although, not really as the posts are on a very public blog), it feels like I have been privy to some exciting thoughts and opinions as well as having my eyes opened a bit on occasion. Seeing a poem through a different point of view. But mainly I have found time to read during NaPo, which in itself has enticed me back to my own poetry shelves (which I think was Jo’s intention).

thank-you-1606941_1280

Whilst we’re at it – thanks to Maureen Thorson for the conception of NaPoWriMo. Read all about it here

Maureen Thorson, a poet living in Washington, DC. Inspired by NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month), she started writing a poem a day for the month of April back in 2003, posting the poems on her blog. When other people started writing poems for April, and posting them on their own blogs, Maureen linked to them. After a few years, so many people were doing NaPoWriMo that Maureen decided to launch an independent website for the project.

thanks-1804597_1920

\\Gushing Gratitude Over// Let’s move on… Day 19

19!

napo2017button2 http://www.napowrimo.net/

Our featured participant for the day is dogtrax, where the neologism poem for Day 18 created many new compound words!

Today’s interview is with Tommy Pico, whose first book, a long poem that unfurls like an extended meditation-slash-text message, was published to critical acclaim last year. You can check out some of Pico’s work here.

And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always!). Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a creation myth. It doesn’t have to be an existing creation myth, or even recount how all of creation came to be. It could be, for example, your own take on the creation of ball-point pens, or the discovery of knitting. Your myth can be as big or small as you would like, as serious or silly as you make it.

I love a creation myth and cannot wait to get stuck into this.


Carrie Etter’s prompt involves remembering someone who has passed away, remembering one of their interests or hobbies, talk to them about it in a poem and end with a question.

Carrie’s prompt made me write about a relative I lost two decades ago, someone I rarely write about. It started with a 30 minute freewrite – I wasn’t timing myself, I just found I couldn’t stop.

Something was uncorked. I then went about my day and this afternoon without reading the notes back I wrote a poem. it is rather long (2 A4 Pages), but it is a start. I think I will find it is about 3 or 4 poems in one. So next time I pick it back up I may try to sift it into two poetry piles and rebuild from there. Definitely one to leave alone for a while. I feel quite strange.

Did you ever tell him you loved him?


Jo Bell left us an Untitled poem by Muriel Rukeyser to read.

With an interesting read afterwards of Jo’s thoughts about this poem. For me it is stunning when work written over fifty years ago is so relevant and shows the human cycles we move in. I am currently reading a book of poetry that was published over 20 years ago and it is fascinating when our world with all its complexities is still struggling to master the same basics.

Rukeyser’s poem has more political mirroring than my simple meandering thoughts here – but I’d like to direct you over to Jo’s blog to see it for real. http://www.jobell.org.uk/


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullJames Trevelyan suggests we write the worst poem possible today, like the idea of an Anti-Slam. Day 19 – often by now poems have gone one of two ways: dedicated to daily writing they are growing stronger or (like mine) are dribbling out like weak tea! So having permission to write a bad one on purpose might tick your criteria today!

Day 19: The Pits

With a hat-tip to Charles Bernstein’s ‘Experiments’, today’s task is to write the worst poem you can imagine: awful scansion, hopeless imagery, tone-deaf statements, bluster, pretension, wrenched rhymes, sentimentality – that’s what we’re after.

http://www.writing.upenn.edu/bernstein/experiments.html

For inspiration, have a look at The Anti-Slam: https://www.facebook.com/theantislam/

And, of course, ‘The Tay Bridge Disaster’: http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/gems/the-tay-bridge-disaster

Have fun writing! I am off to create my creation poem now… although it will possibly cover The Poetry School’s prompt as well!

Napo gal 2

 

NaPoWriMo Day 18 – The Late Service!

Standard

I read the prompts this morning before I left for a meeting in the city. I got home shortly before Mr. G finished work. I spent the evening researching and organising festival events and then sat down about an hour ago to work on my poems.

Here are today’s prompts and lines.

napofeature1

http://www.napowrimo.net/

Today’s featured participant is Voyage Cities, where the nocturne poem for Day 17 is inspired by the work of Kenneth Patchen.

Our interviewee for the day is Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner, former Poet Laureate of the United States, and the author of ten books of poetry, a novel, a play, a collection of short stories, and a book of essays. Whew! That’s a lot of writing. You can find a number of her poems here. If you’re not sure which one to choose, here’s my personal favorite.

And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates neologisms. What’s that? Well, it’s a made-up word! Your neologisms could be portmanteaus (basically, a word made from combining two existing words, like “motel” coming from “motor” and “hotel”) or they could be words invented entirely for their sound. Probably the most famous example of a poem incorporating neologisms is Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, but neologisms don’t have to be funny or used in the service of humor. You can use them to try to get at something that you don’t have an exact word for, or to create a sense of sound and rhythm, or simply to make the poem feel strange and unworldly.

I love the Jabberwocky, despite having to study it in school and subsequently using it for teaching. Sometimes when academia is involved creative enjoyment diminishes, not the case here. My poem was not intended as a nonsense poem, but the result is definitely just that.

I started with a list of portmanteaus, then proceeded to use almost all of them in my poem.

when eyezips restored the balance,

allowed lightwalls to crumple beneath

cupboardskirts…

I also love Rita Dove and was fortunate enough to see her in action back in 2015. Birmingham Literature Festival


Carrie Etter left a choice of 5 words from a list of 6. I wrote a short 6 line poem.

… tie your hopes to branches of the Willow,

hear them catch

beneath the weight of leaves.


Jo Bell gave us Yes by William Stafford http://www.jobell.org.uk/ along with a what is poetry discussion.

Some poems derive their power from the act of isolating a thought or a moment, and focusing attention on it – almost like a meditative text. Isolating that idea and expressing it concisely and with clarity, is perhaps the most important skill.’ – Jo Bell.


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullThe Poetry School offered

Day 18: You’ve Got To Start Somewhere!

  • Getting started is the hardest part of writing, so let’s get it out of the way. Either:Go to the Random Sentence Generator and click the button to generate a completely random new sentence. You might have to have a few goes before you get one that makes sense.Or choose a sentence that appeals to you from a nearby book. Don’t think too hard about it. It can be poetry or prose.There – you have the first sentence of your new poem. Now lineate it in a way that adds meaning, and you have your basic line length. Finally, write the whole thing, then (optionally!) delete your first sentence.Off you go!napo2017button2 Nearly on the 10 Day Countdown, keep going! 

NaPoWriMo Day 17 – Over the Hill

Standard

Today is a Bank Holiday and in true Bank Holiday style Mr G and I have run the gauntlet between leisure time and working. I popped online earlier to take a look at today’s prompts and am posting them here before going to do my NaPo write.

napofeature4

http://www.napowrimo.net/

Today’s featured participant is Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings, where the correspondence poem for Day 16 is a bittersweet meditation on a letter never written.

Our featured interview for the day is with Hoa Nguyen, whose work is marked by a sense of immediate address and a pop-culture sensibility. You can learn more about Nguyen here, and you can find examples of her poetry here and here and here.

And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, I challenge you to write a nocturne. In music, a nocturne is a composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound. Your nocturne should aim to translate this sensibility into poetic form! Need more inspiration? Why not listen to one of history’s most famous nocturnes, Chopin’s Op. 9 No. 2?

I wrote my poem whilst listening to this video. It is a piece I know well.

A moment of stillness, in the dark.

The silent prayer, ‘Do not wake child’,

settles like a crown on the mother’s head.


napo2017button2 Carrie Etter’s prompt was about a news item. I am currently researching an article and choosing 5 phrases to sum up different points involved.

These will be used in the poem and the work will be written between them.

We have had two female Prime Ministers,

but out on the green, nine men reign.

I wrote about a piece of Cultural news reported by The Guardian. Gillian Wearing (Sculptor) is going to be creating a statue of Millicent Fawcett, a suffragist. Wearing created the ‘Ordinary Family’ bronze statue, which was unveiled in Centenary Square, Birmingham in 2014.

Centenary Square is appearing as my NaPo poem place fairly often.

My shocking discovery during researching this poem was that only 2.7% of British statues are named after women, mostly Royals. Considering most Towns/Cities have statues this is a shocking statistic.


Jo Bell suggests we read http://www.jobell.org.uk/ to become better writers. You won’t find many who disagree with this statement, you will find some who do not follow the advice.

Today we have Darling, Would You Please Pick Up Those Books? By Kathryn Maris.

Followed by a great discussion about subject, form and poetry. Opening our eyes to things we could easily miss.


Over at The Poetry School PS Napo Ali Lewis offers

Day 17: Aphorism and Fragment.

The aphorism is a difficult form: you have to be smart, terse, self-knowing, and incredibly confident. On the other hand, how many of us have lines, half-lines and phrases we’ve always wanted to use? Well, now’s the time to dust them off, as aphorisms and fragments work best in groups. In fact, Don Paterson has a whole book of them, The Book of the Shadows, from which the below are excerpts.

My work is the deferral of work, which exhausts me; the actual work I barely notice.

Good ideas prompted, bad ideas willed.


napo2017button1

NaPoWriMo Day 16 Downhill From Here

Standard

I never imagined that I would manage NaPoWriMo on Easter Sunday. I was awake early, hours before I needed to be, so I did my writing early on.

Happy Easter everyone! nano rabbit The NaNo Rabbit seemed appropriate! I guess it may even be a hare, for today it is the Easter Bunny!


http://www.napowrimo.net/ Our featured participant today is Paul Scribbles, where the halfway poem for Day 15 explores the complex idea of the middle in deceptively simple language.

Today’s featured interview is with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, the author of three books of poetry, a chapbook of letter-poems with Ross Gay, and the current writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi’s MFA program. You can find more information on Nezhukumatathil Nezhukumatathil here, and some of her poems here and here.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today I challenge you to take your inspiration, like our featured interviewee did in the chapbook she co-authored with Ross Gay, from the act of letter-writing. Your poem can be in the form of a letter to a person, place, or thing, or in the form of a back-and-forth correspondence.

I wrote a letter to the World, in the form of a Golden Shovel.

broken early on with boundaries,

by borders,

we have time to recover, perhaps.


Carrie Etter prompted us to write a poem with 2 or 3 stresses in a line. I managed to write a very short poem about innocent children in war, Syria for example.

no future here is happy…

I also took this opportunity to revise form and meter.


Jo Bell shares http://www.jobell.org.uk/ The sun has burst the sky By Jenny Joseph.

Jo writes about the feeling captured in Joseph’s poem; “Stop telling the literal truth, and show us how your experience of love /bereavement / shellfish truly feels.” – Jo Bell.

Read the whole discussion and then have a think about your approach to writing, but most of all go and READ.


easter


The Poetry School Andrew Parkes shared a sonnet prompt today. The word sonnet sends shivers to my brain, I have written some in the past. It is a form that needs careful crafting, some poets really enjoy writing in this form. I am yet to learn to love it!

Day 16: Sonnet Day          

What are the basic bones of a sonnet? 14 lines and a bit of a jink two thirds of the way through? Well today’s the day to flex your formal muscles and show what the sonnet is to you. Whether you go Petrarchan, Shakespearean, Stretched or Submerged, today we want to see the perfect poetic containers of your sonnets.

If you want a little guidance, there’s some info on the sonnet here.

A cheeky classic from Shakespeare here.

And something more modern from Molly Peacock here.


Whatever you do today, have fun! And… don’t eat too much chocolate!

NaPoWriMo Day 15 – Halfway There!

Standard

type nap

We made it halfway! Congratulations, treat yourself to a reward… pen your next poem! Keep going.

Over at http://www.napowrimo.net/day-fifteen-3/

Our featured participant today is Strangelander2015, where you will find not one, but three clerihews for Day 14.

Today’s interview is with Kaveh Akbar, who is not only a wonderful poet in his own right, but the editor of a journal devoted to interviewing poets! You can find examples of his work here, and here, and here.

Last, but not least, here’s our prompt for the day (optional, as always!). Because we’re halfway through NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something. The poem could be about being on a journey and stopping for a break, or the gap between something half-done and all-done. Let your mind wander into the middle distance, betwixt the beginning of things and the end. Hopefully, you will find some poetry there!

napo2017button1

I found this prompt inspiring, despite not having any immediate muse settle in my head. I started writing about my late nan’s jewellery and that moved onto a family orientated poem. It needs revisiting.

Then I wrote a short form poem about the artist Marina Abramović, having written ‘Unfolding’ last Autumn, I planned to write a small sequence, which I still have not managed to work on. This poem might suit it – although it deals with the same imagery as ‘Unfolding’. So maybe not.

Finally I wrote a series of 4 Haikus about Mr G and I and life itself.


Carrie Etter’s prompt was to write a poem in response to some news, written from a different perspective. She asked for a nuanced response, a complex of multiple emotions.

I attempted to steer clear of the predictable.

I started with a news search and found a few plausible stories, I wasn’t feeling the result, as they gave me lines rather than poems. Then I happened upon an inspiring image that took me onto an image search, a good fall back stimuli, I found some interesting images of women during both World Wars.

The story I finally used was from 1941, an old woman knitting socks for the Red Army. I still needed a way in, so I chose to write an irregular ode (these follow ABAB, CDCD, EF, GG, HH pattern), my poems do not normally rhyme, so this helped get the voice of the narrator, the elderly lady who I turned into a spinster.

I think the poem needs work but it is a start.

‘Though my hands are aged and body old bone,

I knit socks for the boys and hope them home.’


Jo Bell posted Ford by Robbie Burton. http://www.jobell.org.uk/

From Robbie’s new pamphlet Someone Else’s Street, Happenstance Press 2017

An interesting discussion as always.


The Poetry School PS Napo

Day 15: Technology Day

When was the last time you checked your mobile phone? And when was the last time you read about someone checking a mobile phone in a poem? Technology has completely changed the way we live, but reading most contemporary poetry, you’d never know.

Have your poem interrupted by a tweet every other line; write about virtual reality; or lament that computers are finally besting humans at the board game Go! And remember – technology doesn’t just mean the internet, think physical tech as well!

… think about the way technology weaves into our lives – perhaps even celebrate it!

Here’s one of my poems, Phone, with improvised music from my friends in The Hermes Experiment. 

ENJOY!