Category Archives: Blogs

Mental Health Awareness Week – With You in Mind Anthology

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Back in 2015 I became aware of ‘The With You in Mind’ anthology that Sarah James compiled from her website, where she shared poems for Mental Health Awareness. That same year she produced The Magnetic Diaries, a poetry-play based on her collection of the same name, for the Write On Festival at The Courtyard Arts Centre, Hereford.

Since then the show has developed and toured. The ACE-funded tour included performances at Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Bristol Poetry Festival, Hereford’s Chapel Arts Centre, FEAST festival at Malvern Cube, mac birmingham and London’s The Vaults. It was also a Highly Recommended Show at Edinburgh Fringe 2016, where it had a two-week run at Aviary at ZOO Venues. © 2016 Sarah James

Alongside the touring show, Sarah facilitated Pain to Poetry workshops, one of which I was lucky enough to participate in at the MAC.

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This year Sarah added to the collection during Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14th May) with poems produced as a result of the Pain to Poetry workshops.

My initial idea was to re-blog the posts/poems as they came in throughout the week (but due to technical issues, we were offline).

The week started with Hide and Seek by Louise Stokes. If you would like to read the daily posts then follow this link and click the ‘next post’ button at the bottom of each page.

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=8080

Alternatively you can use this link to the updated ‘With You in Mind’ anthology and read the poems from 2015 and 2017.

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=5639

My own poems – Anchored and Hallmarks can be found here Nina Lewis

I am grateful for the opportunity to share work on this subject, especially as I know that without suffering depression I may not have found my way back to writing.

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RELATED LINKS:

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=5670

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=6732

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=8073

The Magnetic Diaries

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

NaPoWriMo – Day 27

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napofeature2017-2This morning I was awake early, so I checked out today’s prompts, wrote lists of tastes and imagined some music. I thought I would post this in a timely manner (sometime on the 27th) but Mr G. and I were out and I crashed out as soon as we got in, so even though I had it ready, I am posting a few hours late!

http://www.napowrimo.net/

Our featured participant today is A Thing For Words, where the archaeology poem for Day 26 imagines future scientists stumbling over the remains of a man without apologies.

Today’s interview is with the poet Sharon Olds, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her collection Stag’s Leap, the definitive sick burn on an ex-husband (Warning to husbands: if you divorce Sharon Olds, she will write a book about it that wins the Pulitzer Prize, and everyone will know). Of course, that’s not all she’s written, but I’ll have to say that book is bracing, to say the least. You can learn more about Olds’ work here, and you can find some of her poems here, here, and many more here.

And last but not least, here’s our (optional) prompt! Many poems explore the sight or sound or feel of things, and Proust famously wrote about the memories evoked by smell, but today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that explores your sense of taste! This could be a poem about food, or wine, or even the oddly metallic sensation of a snowflake on your tongue.

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I was interested in reading another take on Day 25 poetry and having recently purchased Stag’s Leap (following a conversation with poets about the book), I was happy to see today’s reading.

I wrote a list of tastes.

The poem itself was alright, based on short form structure. My initial editing response is I need to put more taste in it and less story. I enjoyed writing with the food in my mouth, tasting my words.

… saccharine fruit honeyed on my insides…


Carrie Etter suggested writing a poem in response to a song. This is something I do from time to time. It is a useful free-writing experience, often used in schools.

I have read comments from other poets who have already approached this prompt. I am currently thinking track choice, but also like the idea of a random piece.

I discovered a website http://top10songs.com/ where you can chronologically search Top 10s from different years. I knew where I was going for this one. I also want to revisit this idea and write differently. I listened to all sorts of soundbites, music I had completely forgotten. In teenage years music carried me through extremely hard patches and I know the transformative power of music, how you are transported back to that time.

The track was Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved.

Lyrics stick to the back of my tongue,

break my smile.


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/ gave us God’s Justice by Anne Carson to read.

A good poem, like a good painting, will affect you emotionally before you understand how it does so. – Jo Bell


The Poetry School 58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullAndrew Parkes gives us

Day 27: The Elements

Fire. Water. Earth. Fermium. Platinum.

Your poem today should contain one or more of the elements, classical or scientific. This excellent dynamic periodic table will be very useful. The title of your poem should be your chosen element(s). Try to steer clear of gold and ‘the element of surprise’ because they’ve both been done to death, and go for one of the more interesting ones. Research is your friend.

Your example poem is ‘The Manhattan Project’ by Spencer Reece on the element ‘Uranium’.

NaPoWriMo – Day 26 – On Target

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

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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.

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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 – Back On Track – Day 25

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Day 25

http://www.napowrimo.net/

This prompt enabled me to write a corker and I am delighted. I know that writing several poems a day for a month means that they won’t all make target, I can safely say they are all poems – but whether they are good poems or not (well I wouldn’t want to tell them – but even after editing next month some will be notebook bound forever), others like today’s may grow wings and fly.

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Our featured participant today is Tea Parties on Neptune, where the medieval marginalia poem for Day 24 involves some peculiar rabbits!

Our interview today is with Douglas Kearney, whose poetry often involves very visual, altered typography as well as onomatopoeia – poems meant to be seen and heard out loud. You can learn more about Kearney here, and read some of his work here and here.

And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always). In 1958, the philosopher/critic Gaston Bachelard wrote a book called The Poetics of Space, about the emotional relationship that people have with particular kinds of spaces – the insides of sea shells, drawers, nooks, and all the various parts of houses. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that explores a small, defined space – it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos. It could be the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand. Any space will do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to you.

I wrote about a print Mr G. bought me as a Valentine’s gift, my small specific place the poster tube that still houses it two months later. I am searching for the perfect frame!


Carrie Etter’s prompt was to write about a pet and show how the behaviour influences you, without naming the pet, leaving it to description to identify the subject. I have had pets – but we are currently pet-less, I wrote about a neighbouring creature instead.

Soaking up puddles of sun,

one stroke and your skin is raked.


Jo Bell encouraged us to read Why We Need Libraries by Ian McMillan. http://www.jobell.org.uk/ books-1204029_1280 

I moved around a lot and have always found my home in Libraries.


The Poetry School PS Napo offered

Day 25: It All Ends The Same Anyway

A fun task for today. I’d like you to write a poem in which every line ends with the same word. That’s it. It lends itself to comedy, but if you can make a tragic poem out of the prompt, I’d be dead impressed.

Paul Stephenson’s ‘The Apprentice’ is your example poem.

Paul’s pamphlet ‘The Days That Followed Paris’ was one of the Poetry School’s ‘Books of the Year’, published on our blog. You do read our blog, don’t you?

NaPoWriMo – The BIG Catch Up – Day 24

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Day 24 http://www.napowrimo.net/

Welcome back, everyone, for the twenty-fourth day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo!

Our featured participant for the day is The Mother of Adam, where you will find not one, not two, but eleven double elevenie poems for Day 23!

Today’s interview is another two-fer, with the poet Rachel McKibbens being interviewed by the poet Jennifer L. Knox. Both McKibbens and Knox have ties to the “slam” poetry movement, which focuses on performance. McKibbens is known for her work’s direct, fierce, emotional address, while Knox’s poems often exhibit a gonzo humor that can suddenly give way to deep pathos. You can read several of McKibbens’ poems here, and examples of Knox’s work here.

Last but not least, our (optional) daily prompt. Today, I challenge you to write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art. But I’d also like to challenge you to base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts. Here you’ll find some characteristic images of rabbits hunting wolves, people sitting on nests of eggs, dogs studiously reading books, and birds wearing snail shells. What can I say? It must have gotten quite boring copying out manuscripts all day, so the monks made their own fun. Hopefully, the detritus of their daydreams will inspire you as well!

I love Ekphrastic poetry and I fell in love with the Monk’s Marginalia. I saved several images to my phone as I want to delve deeper into this prompt at a later stage. I thoroughly enjoyed my writing experience on Day 24. I love the idea that Monks could imagine such images and like early Banksy, left them on copied manuscripts. Part of me thinks all the search engine images must be faked.

I choose the image which had the most impact. A creature morphed from at least 8 animals that I could see. My way in was just to write lines of narrative describing what I could see, this enabled me to get inside the mind of the beast and write my poem as he.

The marginalia dream of escape, trapped by words.

Nutmeg eye, laboured with anguish, magnifies sin.


Carrie Etter’s prompt suggested we look at a poem that does not work, choose a favourite line as a starting point and write a new poem.

Well I have plenty of Napo poems that haven’t quite worked, so didn’t have far to look.

I took ‘Word wise and letter loving…’ and penned a new poem around it.

Bake until our ideas glaze.


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/ posted Warning by Malika Booker.


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullThe Poetry School

  • Day 24: The Single-Use Poem

    Morning poets. Welcome to the home stretch! Just one more week to go…

    What is a single-use poem? Well, it’s one that breaks after the first time you read it. What falls into that category? Twist Endings. Riddles. Jokes. Sudden revelations. Anything that relies on surprise for its effect. I want you to write a poem that will make people say, ‘You have to read this. I won’t spoil it for you. Just trust me!’.

    For inspiration, have a look at Matthew Francis’ ‘The Ornamental Hermit’. I won’t spoil it for you. Just trust me!

    It’s hard to find a decent copy online, but Michael Donaghy’s ‘Riddle’ is also a good example.

NaPoWriMo – The BIG Catch Up – Day 23

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DAY 23

http://www.napowrimo.net/

Wow! It’s hard to believe we’ve been at this for 23 whole days already. I hope you each have nearly 2 dozen poems under your belt. And if not, that’s okay too! Whether you try to catch up, or just jump back into writing now, either way works for us!

Today’s featured participant is Marilyn Rauch Cavicchia, whose georgic poem for Day 22 explains to us how (not) to grow a cabbage!

For our interview today, we’re “kicking it old school,” with T.S. Eliot being interviewed by Donald Hall. Not entirely sure who these two are? (Maybe you went into a defensive faint when asked to read “The Waste Land” in high school?) Well, here’s a little information on Eliot and Hall. You can also check out a number of Eliot’s poems (including some blessedly short ones) here, and some of Hall’s poems here.

And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always). Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. There are some good examples in the link above.

A double elevenie would have two stanzas of five lines each, and twenty-two words in all. It might be fun to try to write your double elevenie based on two nouns that are opposites, like sun and moon, or mountain and sea.

I had to study The Waste Land at A-level and remember enjoying it immensely. Just as I enjoyed discovering how to write an elevenie and writing several. I wrote three and this is a form I will return to.

They are so short and each line needs the preceding one, so I do not feel I can share any of the lines without the rest of the poem. I wrote one on sky and then followed the Double Elevenie idea of combining Mountain/Sea as opposites.


Carrie Etter’s prompt was to write something unpleasant that happened to you as a child in third person, showing how the child feels. I, like many others wrote about a wasp sting.

She learnt hard lessons that summer:

not to leave sticky lollies to heat,

the sugary fascination of striped creatures

and how best to avoid airborne predators.


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/ posted Rhetorical Questions by Hugo Williams.


The Poetry School PS Napo set an incredibly challenging task. I believe it is the act of writing that helps create my writing. I do know a few incredibly talented/renowned poets who work in this head first way.

Day 23 It’s All In Your Head

Poetry is supposed to be i) read aloud and ii) memorable. Bearing that in mind, I’d like you to explore a compositional process that forces you to actually speak the words you’re crafting and make sure they stick in your head.

So, for today’s task, I’d like you to not put pen to paper. Compose in your head, or aloud – nowhere near a pen, pencil or computer. Smart phones are particularly toxic for this exercise – if you can go out without yours, do so. I suggest you go for a walk, take a long bath, sit in the library, garden or park – or just let your mind wander over the hoovering.

Don’t set pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, until the poem is perfect and whole in your head. It’ll be indescribably tempting to rush to a notepad as soon as you get a good line in your head – resist this urge!


 

 

NaPoWriMo – The BIG Catch Up – Day 22

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I think Day 22 was one of the most enjoyable writing I have experienced this year. As a vegetable lover and ex-allotment owner with a green-fingered (I would go as far as Green -God), Mr G. – how could I resist the material from today.

napo2017button1 http://www.napowrimo.net/

Our featured participant today is Arash’s Poetry, where the overheard poem for Day 21 is a wonderful rendering of speech in a busy cafe.

Our interview today is with Kyle Dargan. Originally from New Jersey, Dargan now lives in Washington, DC, where he directs the creative writing program at American University. He is the author of four books of poetry that explore the intersection of the personal and the political, with a twist of science fiction. You can learn more about Dargan and find some of his poems here, and find an additional poem here.

Last but not least, here is our prompt for the day (optional, as always). In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to challenge you to write a georgic. The original georgic poem was written by Virgil, and while it was ostensibly a practical and instructional guide regarding agricultural concerns, it also offers political commentary on the use of land in the wake of war. The georgic was revived by British poets in the eighteenth century, when the use of land was changing both due to the increased use of enlightenment farming techniques and due to political realignments such as the union of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Your Georgic could be a simple set of instructions on how to grow or care for something, but it could also incorporate larger themes as to how land should be used (or not used), or for what purposes.

Well, I had never heard of the form before, so with my research head still on my shoulders I delved into discovering the Georgic. After this some Agricultural research which was scribbled all over my notebook and finally a list of the most grown crops internationally. It was good to see some of our allotment fodder on our list – and there went my muse again, setting off fireworks. There is still a mountain of untapped ideas waiting for exploration over the summer.

I eventually calmed down enough to pen a poem, back in the notebook after several days at the keys. I wrote two short poems and a longer Georgic about growing tomatoes (the 8th most valuable crop in the world).

Accept that neighbours will pinch the odd one or two,

eat a healthy quota when hanging out the washing,

Sample a few whilst watering the garden.

And YES, I know tomato is a fruit, a berry in fact.


Carrie Etter’s prompt for Day 22 was also vegetable related…

Write an ode to your favourite vegetable. For inspiration, here’s Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to the Artichoke”: http://www.versedaily.org/2013/odetotheartichoke.shtml

the cabbage

devoted itself

to trying on skirts,

….

who fearlessly

picks out

an artichoke,

looking at it, examining it

against the light as if it were an egg.

From Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to the Artichoke”

Having just come up for air after my agricultural research, I had a million (well, 5 or 6) ideas from this prompt as well. I also had fun (yes, I said – FUN) revising the Ode. The Pindaric, Horatian and Meditation Odes.

In the end I swung vegetable odes for a Fruit ode and wrote about my favourite to plant and eat, strawberries.

….we reaped you fast, gobbled you up, greedily.


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/ encouraged us to read… if any poet can, it would be Kei Miller – go and read him if you haven’t!

When Considering the Long, Long Journey of 28,000 Rubber Ducks by Kei Miller

I remember this story being news. Jo’s discussion is filled with consideration. Treat yourself.


The Poetry School offered a prompt from Julia Bird. The Golden Shovel – featured in past Napowrimo and a firm favourite amongst the poets in Carrie Etter’s NaPo Prompt group. I have written several already this month. 58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfull

Day 22 The Golden Shovel

A modern form, which has really taken off since it was invented by Terrance Hayes. Take a line from a poem you admire, then use each word in that line as the end word in your own line, keeping them in order. If all goes well, you should be able to read the original poem down the right hand margin of your poem.

Remember Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem ‘We Real Cool’ from a few prompts ago? Well, read down the right margin of Terrance Hayes’ ‘The Golden Shovel’, after which the form was named.

(Hayes’ poem uses all of Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem and does so twice but you only need to use one line, and to do it once!)

https://poetryschool.com/courses/masterclass-patricia-smith-malika-booker/

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/55678

NaPoWriMo – The BIG Catch Up – Day 21

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As I have said – I managed to keep up to date with writing poetry for the NaPoWriMo challenge, but the blog posts have lacked due to generally being extremely busy over the past week.

I am back at work now and my schedule is all about attempting balance. I have events booked for the next 5 days though, so I am trying to catch up with blogposts this evening.

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I can tell you where I went… researchland – and I got stuck there for almost an entire day.

The reason… I started with Carrie Etter’s prompt today and not napowrimo.net. Carrie’s 21st prompt required finding a photo/image online of the place you live, fifty years ago. At first I thought that was ages ago, then I keyed into how old I am and that these images wouldn’t be that historical.

I started my mammoth search and from the hunger of image came video exploration and a whole new obsession about our town twinning and the expeditions of local swimming clubs, then to the German town we are twinned with – as it was then and is now – then back to a Local Historian Society, more images… some quick scribbles, fleeting muse and then the seed of a huge, enormous post-Napo idea.

A visit to the reference section of the library, more notes… scaffold poems… more ideas. Once home some forgotten memories of my own and a local search in pursuit of an image of a building, long since demolished.

Another seedling idea.

This took me to a site where people film in derelict places and another local story. Needless to say it was late when I started my poem, I chose an earlier image I had collected before all my ideas started to explode like firecrackers.

The idea of Carrie’s prompt was to write as if you were there now. The photograph was a family picnic, in the background a special building central to our town (which is a lot older than I imagined)… the town not the significant building.

I picked my narrative from the youngest child (I am a middle child). It was nice to wear the baby shoes!

As with Day 20, I wrote straight onto the laptop and messed with the form of the poem with ease.

Dad’s car, our windbreaker,

I licked my fingers

as an hors d’oeuvre to chicken legs


napo2017button2 http://www.napowrimo.net/

Our featured participant for the day is rhymeswithbug, where the sports poem for Day 20 imagines poetry as a game of golf!

Today’s interview is with Eileen Myles, a longtime New Yorker and erstwhile presidential candidate, whose poems exhibit a direct, punk sensibility. You can read more about Myles in this brief New York Times profile, and you can find a number of her poems here.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates overheard speech. It could be something you’ve heard on the radio, or a phrase you remember from your childhood, even something you overheard a co-worker say in the break room! Use the overheard speech as a springboard from which to launch your poem. Your poem could comment directly on the overheard phrase or simply use it as illustration or tone-setting material.

I have a carry about notebook filled with overheard speech, but decided to listen out for something fresh. This meant that my poem was written after the 21st day (but as I am following 2 prompts and producing more than 60 poems, I can forgive myself). It was worth the wait. Overheard siblings.

I wrote two Haikus.

… meanness, fault shifted.


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/ encouraged us to read And by Alison Brackenbury. I have met Alison several times, but this poem was a new read for me.


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullThe Poetry School offered writing in the style of someone else.

Day 21: In the Style of…

Morning poets! Today I’d like you to write in the style of another poet. Study their subject matter, the way they phrase things, the way they break lines, their vocabulary, their world view. Try not to do this from memory, but to actually read your chosen poet.

Do not say whose style you are writing in because I would like you to try to guess each other’s. Because they have such distinctive and easy to guess styles the following poets are banned: Emily Dickinson, ee cummings, Sharon Olds. Contemporary poets preferred please!

As an example, I have quickly written the following in the style of a contemporary American poet. Can you guess who?

Ringers

Leaving our beds

in the thick dark

and walking

to the light switch

on the wall

we have to just step

out and trust

there’ll be a floor

beneath us

as bell ringers

pull their ropes hard

before they’ve heard

the note before

the note before.


Feel free to solve this in the comments below.

Happy writing NaPo-ers!

NaPoWriMo Catch Up – Day 20

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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

19!

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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!

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