Category Archives: Blogs

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 6

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Day Six Click here to read the full post.

Our featured participant for the day is woodyandjohnny, where the container-based prompt for Day 5 gave rise to a poem full of strange language and tonal shifts . . . which might not be surprising, given that it was based on a poem by the Serbian avant-garde poet Vasko Popa!

Today’s featured reading is pre-recorded. It features the poet Nikki Giovanni reading at Emory University back in February of 2020.

Finally, here’s our daily prompt. Our prompt yesterday asked you to take inspiration from another poem, and today’s continues in the same vein. This prompt, which comes from Holly Lyn Walrath, is pretty simple. As she explains it here:

Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.

Happy writing!

©napowrimo.net

PROCESS NOTES including a rabbit hole or two!

I started at the participant’s site and read the poem. I found the intentional surrealism difficult, following the context was hard on first read. I was interested to see if they had pulled from the theme of the original content as stimuli. We are not going to understand everything we read, nor like everything, poetry is subjective. In Writing Development wide reading is encouraged, be in contact with both poetry you are drawn towards to and that which is challenging or beyond your personal taste and read poems over and over. Revisit them.

I was interested to see the original and am unsure I have found it here as the lettering doesn’t match, this may be because the poet has a different translation, I have the wrong poem or the poet has amended/erased some lines / played with the constraints, all of which are fine. I checked another site and found the same translation. So my guess is the poet chose to amend/cut lines or the Charles Simic translation is different. I have always enjoyed poetry in translation, the bends in the language it produces.

As I read and re-read the poem the shape of it revealed itself. I picked up on the possibility this was a bi-lingual poet and also thought there may be a nod to the original in as far as Vasko Popa was a Serbian Avant Garde poet. Hallucinated Ambush certainly has some surreal qualities. Barbara may be a fan of French surrealism. The poem has a narrative and definitely created a scene in my mind. There may be some call to Eve and the Snake. Some of the lines were beautiful:

fish-eyed

asps curled in bracken shade

thoughts fragment half-cut jewels

dust binds dubious truthes

another ache a splinter borrowed

I did a bit of a tour of the website intrigued by my earlier realisation that I mistook the site name as part of the title (I hadn’t slept much, I even copied Day 5 NaPo not 6 this morning) and searched not for Race but for Woody & Johnny took Race by Vasko Popa, which worked for me as a title. Many bloggers do not reveal identity or use an alias, when I started blogging I was the same, I linked wordpress to the non-named account and kept identity concealed then after a while I realised people searched for me and this place wasn’t linked to those searches and at some point (probably in the promotion of poems, used my own name). Part of me is detective, (Mrs Marbles, is one of many of Mr. G’s nicknames for me – see what I mean about concealed identity…) anyway, it was easy to discover this site belonged to Barbara Turney Weiland (Home button profile & comments < in case you want to be detective too).

I discovered a second blog barbara turney wieland poetess, I am considering this my first NaPo rabbit hole (even let my coffee go cold)! I explored the second site and discovered Barbara is an artist who had, at the time of posting, been writing poetry for 5 years, I read her published work and thoroughly enjoyed these two poems published in Shadow Kraft – a Bilingual Literary Webzine.

I watched today’s reading. I spent some time online at Emory University this year at events. They have had some amazing poets read… just listen to the introduction. I have also read some poems by Nikki Giovanni since Lockdown. I have discovered lots of incredible American Poets in this Pandemic year. 

Acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni Feb. 22, 2020, at the Schwartz Center on the Emory University campus.

Giovanni is known for her activism poetry, especially concerning race, gender, self-pride, and love. Giovanni has been an English professor at Virginia Tech since 1989 and has been a university distinguished professor there since 1999. She has received an honorary doctorate from more than 27 colleges and universities. The event was hosted by the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library as part of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading Series, now in its 15th season. The reading was sponsored by the Hightower Fund, with support from Emory Library and Information Technology Services (LITS), and the Creative Writing Program at Emory.

© Emory University

This video is very much an address, if you want to hear more poetry, listen to this too. It is not a perfectly clear recording, but the vinyl crackle is authentic and won’t worry some of us from the pre-digital age.

The prompt is one I have tried before. Like yesterday’s prompt it give rise to poems which are different to your natural voice. Which is always fun. I was excited for the results of today’s write.

In the full instructions Holly Lyn Walrath considers the issue of plagiarism;

The truth is, it’s a common practice in poetry to draw off of other’s work. Using other people’s work in this way is a time-honored tradition. It’s been debated recently but it’s obvious that as far back as Christopher Marlowe, writers have been referencing each other.

Holly also mentions a Jericho Brown workshop (which I was lucky enough to attend) and the mirror prompt is definitely worth a try – if you fancy writing more than one poem today! There’s always the Golden Shovel a form devised by Terrance Hayes in response to a Gwendolyn Brooks poem. So you actually get two extra prompts from this page. Worth adding I discovered the poetry of Jericho Brown through NaPoWriMo a couple of years ago. Count how many new favourite poets you have at the end of these 30 days. Treasure.

I have come across Holly Lyn Walrath and her medium.com site before today, worth a read. In having a read-about today I fell into my 2nd Napo rabbit hole! I read many, many articles following links all around the internet. The funny thing was a website I found last year entered my mind and I found it this morning through one of these adventure links!

Eventually I went off to find my line and start my poem. I took a line from the first book I plucked off my shelf and settled down to free-write, the poem came out quickly.

I feel like no extract from Shush will give you a feel for the lamentation I have written today. I played with white space and changed some of the word order. Trying to format even a few lines to WP platform is a challenge. Definitely needs a screen shot! I let the poem free write itself out and as NaPo is not about editing just placed it/ pegged it to the page. But it is marked as *one to go back to in the summer. So one day you may see it in full.

I writhed in the agony

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>

of not

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……………………………………..knowing

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 3

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Day Three Click here to read the full post.
on APRIL 3, 2021

Our featured participant for the day is clayandbranches, where the “road not taken” prompt for Day 2 gave rise to a poem with a moon, a moose, and other arresting images.

Today’s featured reading is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 4, at 3 p.m. eastern daylight time, involving the poets Sandra Beasley and Teri Ellen Cross Davis reading from their new books, Made to Explode and A More Perfect Union.
And now for our prompt. Today, I’d like to challenge you to make a “Personal Universal Deck,” and then to write a poem using it. The idea of the “Personal Universal Deck” originated with the poet and playwright Michael McClure, who gave the project of creating such decks to his students in a 1976 lecture at Naropa University. Basically, you will need 50 index cards or small pieces of paper, and on them, you will write 100 words (one on the front and one on the back of each card/paper) using the rules found here.
… Making the deck should be fun and revealing, as you generate words that sound “good” to you…
Once you have your deck put together, shuffle it a few times. Now select a card or two, and use them as the basis for a new poem.

Happy writing!

©napowrimo.net

I started today reading the featured poem. There were lots of spectacular lines but these lingered for me;

Childhood stayed behind like a barn
chock-full of things I wanted

to forget. 

and much later in the poem towards the final stanza

How do you love
someone hooked through her mouth by regret?

Striking images and good use of repeated motif.

I booked on for the LIVE reading, at last night’s Close Reading on a Virtual Stage event it was lovely to see someone I met on Zelda Chappel’s poetry course. Tomorrow’s event is 8-9 pm BST, so this means sacrificing another event I had thought I might attend, but was too late for the link call out and am trying to spend some of this Easter weekend offline and with Mr G!

I was up in the middle of the night and so slipped into NaPo to peek at the prompt. This deck of cards idea peaked my interest. The great thing is you can keep the set and repeat the prompt over and over. Having already doubled up poems on Day 1 and 2 though, after I have made my deck I only plan to do it once today/this month. Good future proofed resources though.

Just need to find some pretty enough paper to create my deck… or so I thought. I discovered in reading through the prompt and links again that there is audio of the original lecture which I left on in the background (amusing and reminded me of my university days), which was after chalkboards were used, but that was a lovely nostalgic sound too.

Visiting Poets Academy: Michael McClure

I found it hard initially to gather words but once you get into the swing of it and over the rules and finding 16 examples they flow out – 100 may not be enough. Some people create 200-300 words and then cut back.

And why no pretty paper? Thanks to Ben Parzybok, who created a digital programme/version of these cards. So I filled in the screens. This takes time, it is why it is a weekend prompt.

13 mins and 4 cards were complete. You have to check the rules – this is why listening to the lecture at the same time was useful. I found a rogue ly (adverb) that was not allowed. It is hard because you can’t think of the words as verbs/nouns and are supposed to be from past, present and future and represent your good and bad sides. In fact try not to think of the words at all – just let them come.

The last 2 boxes – 16 touch words and 10 words of movement took another 7 minutes. A word of warning if you list heroes in the last section only use 1 word still.

Once I hit organise deck – there was still more work to do, rearranging words to sound good or beautifully in random combination. Some thought on sonics. This took a long time with 100 words /50 pairs and an indecisive nature! But I had Michael in the background talking about word combinations and changing them, so although it breaks the exercise (rules were there to be broken, in poetry at least), then you could substitute in and get rid of unwanted words.

Ben’s digital deck once you have ordered the cards will cast 3 or 1 card and you can divine a transition card too. I played with the app which was fun and took pictures of the screen cards to write around later. You can print the deck (6 pages) too, so I may go and find some pretty paper/card after all.

Having spent over an hour on the lecture and prompt prep. It definitely reminds me of the Oulipo movement (which I only discovered last year) and it twists my head to a place of back-to-back lectures. An enjoyable challenge nonetheless.

Ben says; I think of my deck as a being that talks to me in signs and symbols, in a language that is crafted of analogy. It tries its best to communicate with me with its meagre knowledge of 100 words, and its deep understanding of my own psychology. Most of the time it succeeds.

Michael says; You’re reaching through dimensions.

This s t r e t c h is real, be prepared!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It was interesting to hear Michael McClure talk about this word alchemy experiment and how this part can take an hour when working with artists and teachers but working with poets it has taken half that time. I found the lecture really interesting and worth the 1hr 22 mins.

Rule 5: 80 of these words will be divided evenly among sight, sound, taste, touch, smell (16 each), 85% of of our sensory experience is visual–that’s why the words are divided as above.

… Best way when working on these words: be alone, quiet, in the semi-dark; can be done intuitively, programmatically; or, in a combination.

Eventually, I stopped playing and got ready to write. Still listening to the lecture, Michael said they are transformational possibilities/ alchemic experiment/ word sculpture. This is how Michael sees the outcome. With that in mind I revisited my deck and created cards from a random cast (blind selection) of 3 cards.

This is the outcome.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 2

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One of the many things I love about NaPoWriMo is discovering other blogs & websites from the list of participating sites (which is extensive). Yesterday I trawled a few and read the NaPo poems and had a click about, here are a couple I enjoyed:

https://sojourningsmith.blog/

https://islandsofmysoul.com/category/poetry/

On occasion inspiration to revisit a prompt comes after reading the featured poem. I started today with an incredibly lazy lie in – having woken only just before 9 AM (hours after my work routine, a blessing) with head on pillow I read the NaPo Day 2 post and the title of the featured poem and decided that my process made me miss out on the whimsy of this late 70s recording. So I lay there comfortably enjoying the tones of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. I saw images I had missed whilst writing and repeated my listen, this time I screen shot my favourite bits to use again, as an ekphrastic prompt.

Once I had finished this double day writing I treated myself to reading today’s featured poem: “avocado jello”

Later I took 24 shots of the animation and chose the final picture shown here.

I could quite happily spend the next 30 days just writing from this.

The poem was still surreal (as expected from such source material & prompt). I wrote about burdens and overcoming them. Here are the end lines:

For beneath a camel

the world is a golden place.

I really enjoyed revisiting this prompt and creating something surreal. I also love this animation, have now watched it in full more times than one hand can be counted on!

Day Two Click here to read the full post.

… Today, our featured participant is A Softer Shade of Red, who stepped out of her comfort zone to pen a poem titled “avocado jello,” which sounds like a phrase that Sun Ra, the inspiration for Day One’s prompt, could definitely get behind.

Our featured reading … is pre-recorded…. it is a series of videos from the 47th Annual Poetry Project New Year’s Marathon. Given that the marathon involves 24 straight hours of poetry readings, there’s lots here to explore!

And now, for today’s prompt. In the world of well-known poems, maybe there’s no gem quite so hoary as Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about your own road not taken – about a choice of yours that has “made all the difference,” and what might have happened had you made a different choice.

Happy writing!

©napowrimo.net

PROCESS NOTES:

I had a good look around the website and emailed myself links to pages I have stored to read in the future. The poetry resources unearthed by NaPo are always gems, sometimes ones we have already found. I love the mixture of LIVE event offerings and pre-recorded made possible by a global poetry community which has shifted online. The Poetry Marathon resource has lots of interesting/useful PDFs, videos and Guided Writing exercises. I have quite the list stored up and also have had 3 dips into the archives of the website, trawling and reading for about an hour… giving me the same sense of rejuvenation one gets from a spa retreat!

I think we all know Frost’s poem. In the past year it has been used in several workshops and I am aware that there is a strong argument which centres around how it has been misinterpreted. I wanted to take the prompt on face value but had the knowledge of criticism/ articles swirling in my head.

I spent my entire life (until a few years ago when Mr. G helped me undo the spell/curse) wondering what if I had chosen B rather than A, sending myself slightly loopy and regretting a lot. I have learnt to let go and accept the decisions and consequences of them.

With this in mind, I automatically focussed on changes I had no power over. After this initial poem, I wrote a poem about the road I didn’t take in 2019 to have my open wound cauterized – having experienced this process before. I bled for a further 6 months after this decision instead, but eventually healed.

A BIG Catch Up

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It has been a long while since I was on top of blog updates. I have a lot of news to share. I am finally (as much of any of us are able to this year) back in the flow.

I read some of the 2019/20 posts I managed last night and was reminded of my Annus horribilis, but the truth is we all have them and for those lucky enough to escape them, this year we had a pandemic that shook the whole world.

When I mention in those posts I was off the meds, I was referring to morphine, I am still on daily tablets for both the neuropathy (which is unlikely to improve beyond what it is) and the chronic illnesses. But that’s the difference. They are this way now forever, this is me. From a life of daily medical appointments, physio and 27 tablets to one of 5 daily tablets and quarterly consultations. The pain is less intense and is liveable. Life is precious, 2020 taught everyone that. So like a bad relationship, I have to put it all behind me and move on.

Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur on Pexels.com

I am starting a string of posts to fill the gaps of 2020. This pandemic has been the worst thing most of us have ever experienced and I still feel guilty writing about the year in a positive way when so many have lost loved ones.

It gave us time to slow down and although I should have been more productive (I have a house to sort out) and could have made up some of the lost income by selling online (I have a lot of never worn/pre-loved clothes, books that I have read but are in perfect condition and size 5 shoes to offload, if anyone is interested) – and that’s on top of bags sorted for charity (but then not dropped off as they were all inundated with donations/ lockdown – shut them/ and now I am not sure they are taking donations yet). I could have worked systematically through my to do list…. could/should… tough thoughts when you think about what we face, just staying okay and not dipping into depression and anxiety is hard enough for us. So forgive yourself right now if (like me), you didn’t bake sourdough, exercise daily, read every book on your shelf, redecorate every room. You hung in there. Gold stars all round!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

At the beginning of it all I was very concerned (still am) but learning to live with it and feel less anxious. Not less cautious though, no Christmas bubble going on here! I disappeared into a year which has become my learning year. Which has been incredible, thanks to the generosity of many creatives who gave their time and expertise to provide so many of us with valuable options.

I have not been in a position to buy anything, I am far luckier than many I have some work again, I have a home etc. but I have also not lived this thinly since I was a student. I arrived in 2020 with the debt of not working for a year and then lockdown. But people have been very generous and I am very grateful and I will pay it forward when I can.

I have always been a fan of the pretty notebook, who isn’t? This year I unpacked them all and started using them. I have filled many books (approx. 14) with notes/writing/ideas. I finally started submitting again and managed to complete several projects / commissions and applications (the latter were unsuccessful). And I started to work again after 7 months of lockdown (I stayed self-isolated pretty much), that has been an adjustment!

And today (one year since the launch of my 2nd pamphlet Patience), my new website went live! I started it back in April 2019 – but wasn’t properly back at the desk until late summer so it became a lost project.

https://ninalewispoet.wordpress.com

As a run up to Christmas I am going to attempt a whistle stop highlight tour of 2020 and then plan a monthly dip in the Fountain again as we get on with 2021.

Thanks to everyone who still visits and enjoys the rambling reads!

Coronavirus

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I feel incredibly guilty planning to relaunch the blog at this time as I will be writing in a way that made seem egocentric. I hope you will understand that this is, in part, a distraction technique for myself to cope and manage at this time of self-isolation. As the UK prepares for the peak of COVID-19 and we all attempt to adjust our lives to staying in and social distancing our anxieties increase.

I was working until a week ago and have been self-isolating since then, my exercise has been indoors and I have used our garden for air and sunshine. I am fortunate enough not to know anyone at this stage who has suffered complications, although people I know have probably got the virus (we don’t know because we are not testing). I know that we will go from losing jobs (my income is currently £0, despite the government putting many packages in place), I am hopeful this will change and if it doesn’t I am grateful that the universe supplied me with some full time work in the months of this outbreak in the East. So there is a small safety net. I know that we will go from this manic stress of losing our lives as we knew them, the economic worries and the fallout of another recession to come to losing loved ones.

I know that we are all in fear, things are uncertain (or certain in some cases) and we are no longer in control. We are in control of how we manage this crisis for ourselves though. Right now you should give yourself permission to feel as you do and know that it will change many times a day. It is okay to feel this way.

I am trying to offer people help in any small way I can. Having suffered clinical depression (2012) I have techniques and experience of many Mental Health aids for wellbeing, I trained as a Life Coach and have just had 12 months of ill health which meant that I was pretty much self isolated. I was certainly cut off. I started a daily positivity page on Facebook which offers a daily dip/tip for keeping your Mental Health in balance during this period of isolation.

Please feel free to use, like and share this page.

acrylic paint tubes near painting

Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

I am witnessing many creative people helping each other and a country of artists who have now moved online, we are all learning how to use Zoom! I am seeing community (that Big Community our government used to speak about) re-emerging, I am seeing selflessness and love.

I hope you are all finding a way through this time.

INKSPILL 2018 ARCHIVE Open

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INKSPILL GUESTS 1

Our Archive is open for the final time this weekend. Find articles, workshops. reviews, Interviews and writing to keep you busy for the next few hours before the exciting launch of the final WPL issue of Contour Poetry Magazine.

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From 2014 our Guest Writer William Gallagher talks to us about Making Time to Write.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-making-time-to-write-guest-writer-williamgallagher/

 

 

Sticking with 2014 here is an exercise to help you write an article in 30 minutes.

INKSPILL WRITING 1

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-speed-write-how-to-produce-an-article-in-less-than-30-minutes/

 

 

The next article comes from 2013 and was not part of INKSPILL but is gold dust for anyone attempting NaNoWriMo this Autumn.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/nanowrimo-survival-tips/

 

 

From INKSPILL 2013 another article from me about getting organised to write.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/inkspill-getting-organised/

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From INKSPILL 2015 our Guest Poet Interview with Daniel Sluman.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/inkspill-guest-poet-interview-with-daniel-sluman/

 

A write up of Daniel’s Book Launch in February 2016.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/daniel-slumans-book-launch-the-terrible/

 

This evening we are launching ISSUE 4 of Contour –

contour 4 celebration - Made with PosterMyWall

Read Issue 1 of Contour Poetry Magazine

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/inkspill-2017-closing-with-something-new/

 

 

From INKSPILL 2017 The Editors

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/inkspill-the-editors/

Finding your voice and what editors look for.

 

INKSPILL 2018 Guest Writer Kate Garrett Bonnie’s Crew

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INKSPILL GUESTS Kate G

This year Kate Garrett embarked on a new project Bonnie’s Crew. Kate tells us more about this in our final interview.

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1) Can you tell us a little background on Bonnie’s Crew?

Bonnie’s Crew was originally just going to be a little A6 print anthology, put together from work sent in by my friends in the poetry community, and sold via JustGiving to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. Leeds Congenital Hearts – which is funded by the CHSF – saved my daughter Bonnie’s life when she was born, but they did it without surgery (so far – she does have a condition that often requires surgery later in life). Other babies, children, teens, and adults need the unit’s help in much more complex ways. Our time on Ward L51 opened my eyes to congenital heart disease and made me want to do something to help.

 

2) At what point did you realise poetry was your way of giving back?

Almost immediately – it’s where my own heart lies (aside from my family unit of course, but even then my husband and closest friends are poets too!), and poetry is where my people are, where the community is for me.

 

3) Please tell us about the Bonnie’s Crew anthology and webzine.

The Bonnie’s Crew anthology is fiftyish pages of poems, mostly by poets in the UK, printed in A6 size with beautiful original cover art by Marija Smits. The poems range from those written just for Bonnie to suitable reprints, and everything in between.

The webzine has become far wider-reaching – poets from all over the world submit to Bonnie’s Crew! For both mediums, I wanted poems touching on hearts and hope, above all else, but also hospital experiences, grief, loss, love (romantic or otherwise) – as these are all very universal things, we all have a body, we all have emotions, and when we experience health issues, or loss, or family problems, or anything that moves us deeply, it’s good to have a place to express those things and find solace in other stories.

Sometimes our poems are inspired by news articles that aren’t even about human beings, but are relevant to our moral dilemmas (I’m thinking of Jude Cowan Montague’s brilliant ‘the sadness of the experiment’ https://bonnieandcrew.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/poem-the-sadness-of-the-experiment-by-jude-cowan-montague), and sometimes the poets themselves have been in hospital for heart conditions. It varies, but the writing is always beautiful.

We currently publish two poets a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but from February 2019 we will be publishing in a web journal format every other month. BC #1 will be released on 9th February – and there’s still space for more work. To read what we’ve published so far, and to submit your own work, visit http://bonnieandcrew.wordpress.com

4) How many poems have been published on the zine?

I’m not exactly sure! Over 150, or around that… at the time of answering these questions there have been 105 posts published or scheduled, and quite a few of those include multiple poems. We’ve been publishing since the first week of February 2018.

 

5) How did it feel to hit your fundraising target?

Amazing, unbelievable. And I was so moved by the fact that through poetry we were able to raise over £1,000 in 6 months. We’re still going, and still have anthologies left to send out, so if people are interested, our JustGiving page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bonnieandcrew and if people would like an anthology after donating (£5 minimum for a book, but even a £1 donation helps!), please email me at bonnies.crew.poems@gmail.com. I’d love to raise £2,000 by the time Bonnie turns one in January, or at least by the time the print anthology turns one in May.

6) When did you decide to include visual art?

When I decided to change to a bi-monthly web journal format. Our webzine has been characterised by me pairing public domain images with the poems we publish, and people always remark on the lovely combinations. I’d like to carry on the visual aspect when we change to releasing work in issues, but I wanted the art to come from submissions instead of public domain resources.

7) What have you enjoyed most about this project?

What haven’t I enjoyed! It’s honestly the most rewarding bit of editing and publishing I’ve ever done. If I had to stop editing/publishing everything else tomorrow, I would not be able to put Bonnie’s Crew down. It’s made such a difference to people, not just the heart unit, but regular people who come across the poems and feel soothed by reading them.

 

8)What is the future for this project?

Well, as I say, I’d love to raise more money (which means selling the remaining anthologies), hold an event in Leeds with readings, and see where the new web journal format takes us. I’m accepting creative nonfiction articles and essays now as well, alongside the poetry and visual art. Bonnie’s Crew’s tagline has always been ‘poems helping hearts of all sizes’ and it’s grown to helping hearts in both literal and figurative ways. It would be lovely to keep that momentum going and reach even more people.

bONNIES CREW

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INKSPILL 2018 ARCHIVES Open

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This is the 6th year AWF has hosted INKSPILL. Spend some time delving into our Archives.

From 2014 

Guest Writer Heather Wastie on Editing a Poem.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/inkspill-guest-writer-heather-wastie-editing-a-poem/

Heather Wastie headshot

From 2015 

Our Guest Writer interview with this year’s Featured Writer – Alison May. Find out about her latest novel tomorrow.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-guest-writer-interview-with-alison-may/

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From 2016 

Our Guest Writer Workshop with Roy McFarlane – Writing their presence

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/inkspill-guest-writer-workshop-roy-mcfarlane-writing-their-presence/

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Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

February Review 2018

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Week 1: 

I started the month with my editing hat on. Submissions closed for Contour (digital WPL magazine), the 2nd Issue – ‘Love’, scheduled for release 4 months after the 1st Issue ‘Place’. My plan was to have 3 to 4 magazines during my tenure. I will successfully manage that, there is a Special Edition coming in April for the ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’ Project and then in June on the day I hang up my Laureate crown and watch the new Laureateship launch, I will release the final issue.

It has been a steep and brilliant learning curve and a real pleasure. It has been a great opportunity to discover talented poets on a National and International level too.

Whatever else I think, I can rest soundly knowing that I promoted poetry and offered abundant opportunities for writing during my year. I have 3 months (I like to say a quarter of a year because it sounds longer) left, but already the competition is open to find the next Laureate and the feelings of being bereft are already settling. I shall find ways of dealing with this. Such as embarking on International Poetry Adventures and writing my first collection. But I am sure it will feel a little strange.

I also spent an incredible amount of time on the ATOTC project, which again has been a huge bite to chew, but I have loved every minute. It has certainly taught me a thing or two. The Response poems are coming in and it is wonderful to read the interpretations of the Call poems. I am slightly worried that the whole project may total over 200 pages… certainly enough reading material to keep you busy on a rainy day!

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ATOTC is my main WPL project and it has certainly been the biggest. I am incredibly excited by the next stages of the project and the plans I have for it beyond that. It is going to be magnificent!

I edited some poems which had been waiting patiently in the wings and finally started working on my own response poem for ATOTC. I wanted to get it cast to paper before the weekend as I have a chance to edit it.

Things are intentionally quiet on the performance front with most of my attention set for Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival in Birmingham, mid-February. Other than this I am busy with desk tasks and workshop preparation.

This week I prepared for a meeting for a Gifted and Talented Workshop I am doing, I am excited as it involves multiple local schools.

I also prepared for my final session/workshop at Rugby Library as the Reader in Residence.

I attended an editing group at the weekend where my ATOTC was fine tuned and is now a strong pastiche of Linda Warren’s poem. Look out for the Special Edition Contour in April to read our Call & Response poems.

I took a booking for National Poetry Day. (4th Oct.) after which I will be heading off to Swindon Poetry Festival.

 

Week 2

A very busy start to the week editing Issue 2 of Contour Magazine, working out the running order and formatting. It took an inane amount of time (roughly 3 days), lots of difficulties on the technical side of desktop publishing – but the results were worth it.

 

I had a meeting regarding school workshops booked for March, which was fabulous. I am very excited about this workshop.

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The following day I drove to Rugby Library for my final Reader in Residence workshop. It was a small group but a wonderful morning and those in attendance enjoyed it.

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I am writing a Guest Blog Review for the library and will link it back to AWF. My Residency finishes in March and I hoping for one last trip to the library for something special, more on that soon.

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I planned my Suffragette Workshop for Saturday at The Hive, started work organising the poetry events for the summer ArtsFest in Droitwich, sent emails to successful contributors of Contour and took a booking for Brum Stanza.

I also started prep for Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival (15-18th Feb.). This year I am the Official Festival Blogger, last year I blogged about most of the events and attended pretty much the entire festival (which is no mean feat – with a packed 2 day weekend programme, workshops and events on the preceding evenings), worth the exhaustion though and I also wrote a full review for Sabotage Reviews. This year, I have arranged to write the review for them again and have booked my workshops (one of which I won by coming 2nd in the Haiku Slam at Grizzly Pear) and have my new Kindle Bluetooth Keyboard Case (Christmas present) all ready. Look out for lots of updates, I shall be sharing from the Verve official site.

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Thursday I went to SpeakEasy which was Headlined by the wonderful Jenna Clake and I enjoyed her set from Fortune Cookie, which won the 2016 Melita Hume Prize for Poetry . It was a vibrant evening of poetry and even though I was shattered, I had a great night. I shared a couple of city poems and it was good to catch up with Jenna before Verve.

JENNA SE Watch out for an Interview with Jenna Clake in the Contour Issue 4 (June).

You can buy a copy of this award winning debut collection published by Eyewear here.

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Friday it snowed (which is as exciting as anything writing related), I was working in a school on the hills and was slightly concerned about getting home, but it had melted by then!

I also had Stanza where I took my Contour Love Poem for some editing treatment, it was a lovely evening, filled with poetry and critique. It was good to reconnect, I missed our December meeting due to being too tired after work and January from ill health. It was good to be back. Also a new exciting opportunity was discussed.

Saturday was a busy writing day, I had my WWM group in the morning, who used the Royal Society of Photography Science exhibition to inspire Science Fiction writing.

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This was followed by my Suffragette Workshop in The Hive, Worcester. The workshop was attended by 11 people and I was happy to see a mix of friends, strangers & people who have followed my WPL projects online. It was an informal, whistle stop creative session of just an hour (which worked particularly well for those who left partners in the Hive’s cafe). It was fun and I have already started to receive work for the anthology.

The exhibition runs until 23rd February and can be found on Level 2.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/open-submission-suffragette-poetry-exhibition-workshop-the-hive/

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Mr G. and I went to see Cloudbusting (Kate Bush Tribute band) again, the 4th time I think, this time they had a full stage with Media show, which we had not seen before! The next day I was busy editing Contour Magazine – YES! For the WHOLE day!

 

Week 3

My first full writing day in over 2 weeks and I planned a whole list of writing tasks (none of which were actual writing)… however, I spent another whole day on the magazine. It was finally live by the evening.

With a reach of over 600 readers already (in less than 24 hours). Issue 2 has a fine collection of love poetry, a load of Interviews with Pete The Temp, Jeff Cottrill, Amy Rainbow and Sharon Carr and a list of Top Poems voted by the public and is well worth a read.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/contour-issue-2-love/

Please share the link.

Contour Issue 2

I also booked my flights to Australia – where I am an International Guest Poet at the Festival in Perth (August), this made it very real! I also shared this news, which I have been sitting on since November.

I shared the next stage of the Suffragettes Poetry Project with workshop attendees and attended a Worcester LitFest Committee Meeting. There have been many changes to the team since I took up the Poet Laureate post, it was an agenda packed evening. It also helped me finalise plans for World Poetry Day (21st March) my official Laureate remit event. It should be great.

I have since worked on publicity and marketing but as ever with organisation, need to wait for one confirmation before I can go live!

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I have been busy working through Response Poems (ATOTC), dreading the proofing stage with over 40 poets… but we have a good stock of coffee and I plan to use Half Term to get the majority ready.

I received my copy of mind anth a wonderful book, brainchild of Isabelle Kenyon. I have yet to read it in full. I have dipped in. A great collection of poems and funds raised with be donated to MIND – Mental Health Charity. I will be writing a full blog post soon to promote this project.

I had my BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio Interview with Tammy Gooding and this month it was a slightly extended recording due to us discussing love poetry and the work of Pablo Neruda! It was fun and I shared the love poem recently published in Contour.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/p05vtpj5

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All performers confirmed World Poetry Day & marketing & promotion was set to GO!

WPD FLYER 2018

The deadline for ATOTC response poetry was 15th February & knowing what a huge undertaking it is the proof copies are already leaving my inbox… about 10% proofed & approved in 2 days.

I finished my 3rd book endorsement and am very excited to read a bound copy of this collection soon.

And then there was Verve!

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Verve Poetry Festival (with links to my official blogs)

I spent 5 glorious hours in Waterstones, 15th Feb. then 6 hours writing & editing the official blog reviews.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/verve-ready/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/verve-day-1/

After very few hours sleep I was back at the Festival on Friday night

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/verve-day-2-friday-16th/

And then spent my entire weekend there.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/verve-day-3-saturday-17th-am/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/verve-day-3-saturday-17th-pm/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/verve-day-4-sunday-18th/

Since this wonderful festival full of verve… I have been busy writing the official blog reviews which are being drip fed onto the official blog.

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Read more of them here

Week 4 

Started with jet lag, which is the only way to describe the post festival haze of Verve. Wise to this, having attended the full programme last year too – I made sure the diary was empty and the bed was full! I slept, I ate my first meal for 5 days and I hit the desk.

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Writing Verve Reviews, sending proofs for ATOTC, working on bids, sent promo for an event I am part of at the end of end of April, Bohemian Voices organised by Steve Soden and slept some more!

Fortunately it was half term this week so I didn’t have to juggle work into the equation. I mainly worked on proof copy for ATOTC Special Edition Contour magazine and had meetings.

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Starting with Room 204, one of the main attractions is the 1 to 1 mentoring with Jonathan Davidson. It was a productive and useful meeting and I have come away with a page of tasks to incorporate into my work and gold-dust that I needed to acknowledge.

I met with Carolyn Baldwin at the Jinney Ring to finalise the exhibition of our sculpture trail poems from the workshop in September. The poems will be on display in the restaurant for the whole of April. Wonderful news AND even better news for me I have secured future Sculpture Trail workshops. So there will be a new one in September! Carolyn also sent me home with a generous portion of cake! Always a bonus – perfect meeting requirements I would suggest.

A New Design (5)

On Thursday I met with Stephen Evans, one of the DAN artists involved in the Hanbury Hall event. My poem has been displayed alongside his artwork in exhibitions in January and now this month too, so far it has been part of Maltstones Exhibition, an exhibition in the Library and now in Parks Cafe.

Stephen showed me a family album from WW2 at the reading event for Hanbury Hall Poets back in November. I used it as primary source inspiration and managed to write 4 poems or so but it is a precious object and I feel much happier now he has it back.

Thursday Night I went to support Claire Walker who was headlining at The Caffe Grande Slam in Dudley. Ian Glass and I found ourselves unwittingly signed up for the slam. I don’t Slam.

It was a fun night and a great little cafe to be in on a cold night. Ian smashed the slam and won! He goes back in April to perform a 10 minute set.

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He also won the Xylophone of Mirth, but as he had driven us all to Dudley he wasn’t able to play it all the way home!

Jean Atkin was facilitating a workshop at the Bishop Castle Artsfest that I had hoped to attend, but our boiler is broken and I had to be home for the engineer. I spent most of the day at the desk writing for Verve, the boiler is still broken.

On Saturday I had a workshop with Angela France, it was a great session and I managed at least one poem and have a page of potential other poems.

On Sunday, whilst writing a poem for a Festival Anthology (more on this soon), I unearthed another line of writing I want to pursue, I have 3 pages of notes to return to at a quieter time (perhaps 2019). The exciting element is they balance something I am already working on.

The Extra Days

On Monday (after turning up for work and discovering I was a day early) I went home and wrote copy for a Worcester News Article promoting the Poet Laureate competition. Jess Charles jumped on it and it was live by the afternoon.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/3769/

wpl worcs news

I also worked on my first ever Grants application and booked a workshop in May.

Tuesday work was cancelled, it started to snow (we have no working boiler) and I spent 14 hours completing my application. 14 hours. A steep learning curve – on evaluation I will give myself a month to complete the forms next time!

I took on a temporary teaching position for a fortnight (just in time for World Book Day) and drove in the snow! I went to see the Royal Ballet Live Screening of The Winter’s Tale (one of my favourite Shakespeare plays), a present from Mr. G’s mum for Christmas. It was amazing!

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And a special way to end the month.

 

 

 

Verve Day 4 Sunday 18th

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Ginny Saunders

Ginny Saunders © 2018

Due to Sunday Service on the trains I wasn’t able to make it for Brum Stanza – the first event of the day. I was in time for my first workshop with the ever-amazing heroine of mine Pascale Petit. A most enjoyable and productive workshop.

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Sadly it clashed with Sabrina’s Masterclass which I would have liked to have done also. Sabrina had rave reviews too.

After the workshop I managed to catch Nymphs & Thugs – which was loud, raucous and fun, at times hard hitting. Salena Godden, Matt Abbott, Maria Ferguson and Jamie Thrasivoulou; four vital performers all rattling with the sense of urgency that makes the UK spoken word scene so exciting at present. Nymphs & Thugs is an independent spoken word record label formed in 2015 as an imprint on Heist Or Hit. They aim to champion the UK’s most vital spoken word poets.

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The first round was superb – it got a little hard for me to concentrate on everyone’s 2nd sets (surviving on just 4 hours sleep again and with post workshop brain), I ducked out just before the end of the final set to get caffeinated and give myself a breather before my next workshop with Liz Berry.

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Hannah Swings © 2018

Cabin fever had set in and I found myself outside of Waterstones for a quick stretch of the legs and fresh air. I really wanted a cosy chair and quiet corner for 10 mins R & R but during Verve that is not likely. Instead I trudged back up the stairs and went to enjoy the Lunar podcast with Roy McFarlane before heading upstairs for a workshop with Liz Berry.

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I went straight from Berry delightfully playful workshop on Tenderness, to the tail end of the Stand Up Poetry Reunion catching almost all of Luke Wright’s set but sadly none of Ross Sutherland’s.

Then I had a very quick break to freshen up before The festival Poetry Finale with Liz Berry, Nick Makoha (seen at Ledbury) and Nuar Alisdar chaired by Jonathan Davidson. It was exceptional.

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NickMakoha

 

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Then Local Legends which was a great concept and one I hope they do again. Sadly I missed Luke Kennard and Bohdan Piasecki in their Headline slots, Sunday transport and the fact that I had hit the wall. I still wouldn’t be home much before Midnight and needed to drive safely from the station.

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It was a tough call, but I have seen them before and will see them again. Not one to leave a party early usually… but when that party has been going for 35 hours… even the sweet shop couldn’t save me!

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