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
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.
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-being, connectedness, and effectiveness of all citizens through arts integration, mindfulness, music, movement, and healing-centered practices.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am very much still working and writing but also whirling and spinning through each day!
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.
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!
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 By – Adrie 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.
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.
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.
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:
Missing You, Expensively
This poem really touched me.
Grace Q. Song
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!