Australia just got real! The Biographies for International/National & Local poets appearing in the Festival line up for 2018.
Australia just got real! The Biographies for International/National & Local poets appearing in the Festival line up for 2018.
We hope you enjoyed the archives on offer in the NEW library yesterday. Here are some more links for you to enjoy from previous INKSPILL retreats.
with Alison May
with David Calcutt Poet, Writer & Playwright.
with Nina Lewis
with Gaia Harper
Deanne Gist and her Two Minute Tips
In 2016 I was lucky enough to book Roy McFarlane as a Guest Writer and he produced an in depth workshop series exclusively for us.
You will find links to other parts of his INKSPILL workshops at the bottom of the post, I strongly advise you trawl through all the exercises. It is more Masterclass than Workshop!
Roy McFarlane Workshops on Writing Loss
We asked Stephen Daniels for a workshop activity. Get your pens ready!
‘Wordslast’ is a poem from Stephen’s debut collection.
It started life as a workshop poem, written in one of Hilda Sheehan’s workshops. Stephen shared the poem during his interview earlier and now shares the exercise.
We read a poem called ‘deer suddenly’ by Carola Luther (the start of the poem can be found here here) – in the poem the poet pushes together words to add pace, to surprise and for originality.
I was then asked to try the same – push words together, maybe even pull them apart and see what happens to your writing.
My poem ‘Wordslast’ does something similar but I used the reversal of these pushed together words to drive the narrative. I think this technique is a good way of surprising yourself with writing, and the experimentation can help us find a way into subjects that can be tough for us to access otherwise.
We asked Stephen a series of quick-fire questions and he was game enough to share his results.
Here are the questions – maybe you would like to comment with your own answers below.
And now here are the questions and Stephen’s answers. (We didn’t want to sway yours!)
Confident writer or anxious?
A confident writer – an anxious self-editor, and my own biggest critic!
Slow or fast?
Fast, Fast, Fast… I tend not to do anything slowly… life is too short!
Planner or plunger?
Plunger… I find that planning tends to over complicate things.
1) How long have you been writing?
Not long really. I started writing Poetry in March 2015. I was encouraged to write by my creative writing tutor (and now very good friend) Hilda Sheehan.
2) What tips would you give to someone starting out?
Read – write – read – write – repeat! It is so important to read when you are starting out – I learned more from reading than I ever did writing and it exposes you to different styles. This is what helped me find the writing style that worked for me.
Secondly, don’t worry about being bad. I think it is important to just write at the beginning – being good should be secondary, that will come with time, but I think most writers struggle with feelings of inadequacy. My advice is to write through it – I think we all have to write the personal, cheesy poetry to break-through to the good stuff!
Stephen Daniels had his debut pamphlet published by V. Press in 2017
3) Where did ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’ start?
I had written a lot of poetry and had been lucky enough to have much of it published. So I started thinking about what I could do next. I looked at the body of work I had created and realised I had a strong theme running through some of the work and started to pull it together.
I had around 50 poems which were semi-autobiographical, telling tales of my life, my family and my anxieties. I went through them all with some poet friends and whittled down the poems to around 30 and the line ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’ stood out on one of my poems and I felt like it summed up what I was trying to say.
The poems can be quite devastating, and I liked the idea of optimism running through them – even though some times it can be really, really hard to spot!
4) Why V. Press? (I know you did lots of research – admirably so)
I have read a lot (A LOT) of poetry over the last two and a half years, and I found V. Press by accident, I read a poet called Claire Walker and loved the poem – so I bought her book – which was published by V. Press – I read it in one sitting and fell in love with it.
My first poetry love! The content was amazing, but I also loved the way the books were produced and I felt a strong affinity with the style of poetry. So I started buying more V. Press books.
I have nearly all of them, and love them all. So when I found out V. Press had an open submission window, I sent them my manuscript. They were the only place I had considered, and thankfully the editor Sarah Leavesley enjoyed my poetry enough to offer to publish it!
5) I know we shouldn’t have them, but a favourite poem from your book?
I shall skilfully avoid this question and my own ego – by bowing to the people! One of the biggest surprises of having a book published is the poems that resonate with other people.
The poem that has resonated most with people was not what I expected but it has been a very pleasant surprise and that is ‘Wordslast’ a poem that came out of a Hilda Sheehan workshop… I will share the workshop task below so that you can try it!
Now she shouted shutwindow
Shutwindow now she shouted
So I said windowshut
Windowshut I said so
Opendoor now please come in I said
I said Please come in now opendoor
Dooropen now she screamed at me
Now at me she screamed dooropen
Lockedgate She demanded now
She demanded lockedgate now
I replied gatelocked now
Now gatelocked I replied
Now she questioned clearroad
Clearroad now she questioned
Roadclear now I answered incorrectly
Incorrectly I answered roadclear now
Wideeyes she pleaded with me
With me she pleaded wideeyes
Eyeswide I struggled to tell her
I struggled to tell her eyeswide
Handhold she asked me to
She asked me to handhold
Holdhand I said closing my eyes
Closing my eyes I said holdhand
(Previously published in ‘And Other Poems’)
Also published and discussed here https://louisacampbellblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/signpost-twelve-wordslast-by-stephen-daniels/
6) Describe your typical writing day.
I crave a typical writing day!! Unfortunately, like editing, I tend to write in the space in between things. I tend to give myself time in the evenings to write, but if I am struggling to put anything meaningful on paper I always have book nearby as an alternative.
7) Where do you write?
Anywhere, I find my best poetry tends to happen when I am watching people – on a train, in a pub, in a park etc. but sometimes an idea just grabs you and you have to write it there and then. I find that if I don’t capture it at that point, it rarely comes back again!
I always liked Ruth Stone’s story of how she would capture poems… I’m not sure my experience is as intense, but I definitely relate to the experience!
Taken from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Stone) :
As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming . . . ’cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.
The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would “continue on across the landscape looking for another poet.”
And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.
8) Who are you reading right now?
Books I am enjoying right now include Sinead Morrissey’s collection ‘On Balance’, Pascale Petit’s ‘Mama Amzonica’ and ‘The Nagasaki Elder’ by Antony Owen – a stunning collection of poems published by V. Press earlier this year.
Our second Guest Writer and Editor is Stephen Daniels.
Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry and the Secretary for Poetry Swindon. His poetry has been published in various magazines and websites, including: The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework, Ink Sweat & Tears, And Other Poems, The Lake, Clear Poetry, Picaroon Poetry, The Fat Damsel, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Eunoia Review, Algebra of Owls, The Open Mouse, I am not a silent poet and Nutshells and Nuggets, Good Dadhood, The Poetry Shed, Obsessed With Pipework, The Curly Mind and Down in the Dirt.
Stephen’s poetry appeared in several anthologies including Richard Jefferies Writers – ’78 Anthology, Domestic Cherry, Ink Sweat & Tears ’12 Days of Christmas’ 2016 and my poem ‘Light’ was runner-up in the Candlestick Press micropoem competition 2015.
His debut pamphlet ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them‘ was published by V. Press this year.
Guest Writer William Gallagher tells us
With Guest Writer Heather Wastie
With Guest Writer Charlie Jordan
includes video – Nina Lewis
I had the great pleasure of FINALLY seeing Inua Ellams perform in Birmingham this Spring, he also did a blinding set at the Swindon Poetry Festival this Autumn.
This is a poetry film, featured as part of 2015 INKSPILL writing retreat.
Nigerian-born Inua Ellams, a London-based writer, created the story “Dolphins” as part of “The Refugee Tales”, works about the journeys of refugees and migrants seeking safety in Britain. Ellams worked with children who have made treacherous journeys across desert and sea, and wrote the stories based on their experiences. © Film for Action
Guest Poet Interview with Daniel Sluman on his 2nd collection
Come back to the Library tomorrow where we will have more links for you from INKSPILL 2015 & 2016.
Now you have met Antony and heard about his latest collection The Nagasaki Elder, we hear more from him on poetry in this second part of the interview.
Antony Owen reading at the Restless Bones Book Launch 2014 © Rang-Zeb
1. What are your plans for 2018?
To rest, to spend more time with loved ones who I have avoided over the years. Five poetry collections in 8 years on gruelling subjects take a toll. So, to rest then and find some joy again.
2. What advice would you give to poets writing about conflict?
Write about it but be aware of the impact it will have on you. I hope all writers pen even one poem because poetry has to say something or it says nothing. What will our future generations say if artists are silent? In many cases propaganda and art were bedfellows in WW1 and WW2 but we remember the revolutionaries and poets like Sitwell, Owen, Douglas, Scannell, and not the doom merchants.
We must right that wrong and make art fight against the nefarious tabloids and avarice of media moguls out to brainwash us with apathy and front page headlines of wardrobe malfunctions of Z-list celebrities whilst 70 million refugees are ignored.
One of my friends who died last year wrote about the Jewish holocaust and she was one of the most under-rated and courageous poets I know. I thought of her a lot when I wrote The Nagasaki Elder. We are responsible to move the mirror from the vanity of selfies towards the issues like displacement and show the forgotten people and those hushed atrocities.
3. Why is poetry important?
It defines us in the most eloquent way. Poems are epitaphs for the times we inhabit. Nations like Britain are in a period of violent re-definement. For example, The focus on British Values is now being taught in our schools but what about human values? This is where poetry and art comes in as an equilibrium to reflect what is happening and suggest the malfunctions of society including government imposed changes.
School teachers and students deserve more respect and consultation in what poems should be taught. When I speak to school students they are more interested in modern poetry dealing with current issues. They crave to be heard and poetry and art are part of the clay that sculptures who we become as adults and how we respect art. Poetry is only important if it connects with people and sees them as important.
4. What prompted you to start writing poetry?
I was poor at formula subjects like Maths where you were right or wrong. Maths made me write poetry in the lessons and I found the sum of people, of language.
5. Where do you write?
Anywhere. I love writing to the music of Gabriel Yared, Hans Zimmer, Angelo Badamenti. Movie composers help create a cinematography in my mind which transcends to the page.
6. What books are you reading right now?
Everyone Is Now Unhappy by Fergus McGonigal, An anthology of unknown WW1 war poets, Genbaku poets (A-bomb poets) David Wevill and Edith Sitwell.
7. Do you have any creative rituals/ patterns?
No. Don’t snap the wand to see what it’s made of or you overthink things which kills the alchemy. I do like quiet though because my mind is always active filtering and processing the world and all its black magic.
I talk with Antony about his latest collection The Nagasaki Elder, his work as an Ambassador for CND Peace Education in the U.K, The Coventry Hiroshima Society and his hopes for this incredible book.
1. How did the idea for writing The Nagasaki Elder come about?
It was less of an idea and more of a promise to a Hibakusha that I would do all I could to raise awareness through poetry about the ghoulish consequences of nuclear weapons.
The seed was planted in 1984 when I watched Threads by a hugely overlooked writer called Barry Hines.
Threads was a BBC docu-drama that caused much controversy about its graphic portrayal of a one-megaton bomb being dropped over Sheffield. This was a working-class city like the one I was from and the people who became victims were my kin, toolmakers, mechanics. Cleaners, wives, mothers and fathers all decimated from the multiple faceted horrors of a nuclear weapon. The bomb depicted in Threads was around 70 times more powerful than the one that detonated over Hiroshima.
By today’s standard of nuclear weapons the one megaton bomb shown in Threads can be made 50-100 times more powerful. It is truly frightening and we cannot bury our heads in the sand. The idea for writing it is to show people what these weapons do and we will not get a 2nd chance to prevent them from ruining the human race and innocent blameless species that have been around long before us.
2. How long has this collection taken to write?
About 2 years. I work full time (not relying on poetry for an income) so all my free time was spent pretty much in researching, writing, re-writing etc. An old friend told me once that poetry is endless revision trailing through miles and miles of slush to find the purest, whitest snow.
One of the poems called The Fisherman’s Daughter in The Nagasaki Elder is about writing war poetry and the danger of doing so, if you go too far into the darkness you forget what light feels like. This happened to me and I think it is inevitable when writing about something so devastatingly sad.
3. Can you tell us about being an ambassador for CND Peace Education in the UK?
It is a role I take very seriously. The payment is not fiscal but active participation. CND Peace Education exist on minimum funding but maximum collaborative passions. All the people who work there make me very proud and make a pivotal difference to peace education and allowing tomorrows generation to make a difference today.
School students deserve to express themselves, there is no right or wrong answer in peace education, just the route we choose from being informed in a balanced way.
We plan to spend over 150 Billion pounds on weapons of mass destruction yet invest a pittance into peace education resources and peaceful weapons of mass instruction. It is wrong, places like CND Peace Education and the PEN Network deserve more sustainable funding so they can plan for legacies instead of day to day survival. It makes me very frustrated so I am pleased to help CND and will do so to the last.
More information on CND Peace Education can be found here.
4. How did the Coventry Hiroshima Society help support your peace work. Can you tell us about The Coventry Hiroshima Society?
They nurtured my social conscience with encouragement to pursue a path of peace and express it through poetry. It has helped further tighten the peace links between Coventry and Hiroshima.
The founder, Hideko Okamoto, has done more for peace than anyone else I know. The Coventry Hiroshima Society was a labour of love for Hideko after her time at Warwick University she was impressed with Coventry’s international links and advocation of peace and reconciliation. It moved her, particularly how Coventry which was badly bombed in WW2 remembers the anniversary of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Coventry Hiroshima Society is a beacon of reciprocal remembrance that burns bright through all this human darkness in the world at the moment.
That it touches people, inspires them to research more about nuclear weapons and do something rather than nothing. I want the collection to break down walls and build bridges because we need them more than ever.
Check out the INKSPILL Bookshop for more information and links to Antony’s Poetry Collections including The Nagasaki Elder.
BIOGRAPHY: ANTONY OWEN
Antony Owen was born in Coventry and was raised by working class parents. His poetry subjects are diverse with a general focus on forgotten people and the consequences of international and domestic conflicts.
He is the author of five poetry collections by Pighog / Heaventree / Hesterglock / and most recently V Press .
His work has appeared in several literary journals worldwide including Magma, International Times plus translated works in both Dutch and Japanese war poetry anthologies by Poetry International Europe and Coal Sack Press (Japan).
In 2015 Owen self-funded a trip to Hiroshima to interview A-bomb survivors and meet various schools who have been taught some of his poems. His work has been exhibited at various peace centres including the International Convention Centre, Hiroshima.
In recognition of his work, CND Peace Education UK selected Owen as a patron in 2015 alongside award winning writer AL Kennedy.
Other past recognitions include being selected to meet Irish President Michael D. Higgins in 2014 on the first state visit to the UK by an Irish President. This was to acknowledge Owen’s voluntary work on co-organising the Coventry / Cork twin city poetry exchange.
His latest collection The Nagasaki Elder was launched with V. Press this year. It is the result of years of work. It is a powerful collection (understatement) and is much needed in this world. Launched in September and currently on the 2nd print run.
You can buy a copy from the INKSPILL Bookshop.
Bridges Over the Wall – Antony reading at the Peace Poetry Vigil – Coventry Cathedral.
Antony arranged a voluntary peace poetry vigil for victims of conflict at the Chapel of Unity (Coventry Cathedral) on Sat February 4th.
This poignant remembrance project titled ‘Bridges over the wall” will consist of bridging poetry and spoken word for those without a voice from places of conflict across the world. The event will also bridge conflicts past and present eulogising those affected from the bombings of places like Coventry, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki to recent conflicts in Syria and Yemen. During the course of the vigil hundreds of dedicated poems will be read by Owen and selected poets throughout Warwickshire and beyond. Owen also plans to engage a local school and refugees to take part. For each poem read a candle will be lit in the Chapel of Unity creating a universal candle for world peace made up from places of conflict and peace poems.
Owen said “I wanted to show the social conscience of poetry and how important the role of art is in these difficult times. It is vital in these hard times that we build bridges to bring each other together and not walls to keep us apart. War poetry historically has always shed a light from the darkness of war and evoked some sense of the senseless”
Owen also acknowledged how Coventry was the first city in the world to twin with another (Stalingrad in 1944) and wanted to keep that spirit of reciprocal remembrance alive, Owen said
“In 1944 it was 900 of our women from Coventry who demonstrated human empathy to civilians caught up in the battle of Stalingrad, they embroidered their names on a tablecloth and sent messages of sympathy to the women of Stalingrad for the huge losses they suffered in World War II and their message was this: “From our city of Coventry, scarred and ravaged by the arch enemy of civilisation, our hearts go out to you, who now face slaughter and suffering even more fearful”.
Coventry now has 27 twin cities and Owen plans to contact as many of them as possible to share news of this event. The Chapel of Unity is a consistent beacon of remembrance and for decades has been a centre point of remembrance including the annual remembrance event for Hiroshima & Nagasaki where civilians of those cities also remember victims of the Coventry blitz. The vigil will be further enhanced by a separate event in the main Cathedral taking place in the afternoon which will bring Coventry Cathedral boy choristers together with those of Derby Cathedral, Leicester Cathedral and Southwell Minster for a combined service to take place separately from the vigil. They will be rehearsing in the Nave during the afternoon from about 2 pm and so providing a gentle backdrop to the Peace Vigil as it continues in the Chapel of Unity. Antony Owen hopes as many people will come to support this peace vigil by asking for a poem to be read for a place they want to be remembered. Optional donations to the Chapel of Unity and/or Cathedral can be made directly in the allocated boxes for any poems read and/or the other event in the main Cathedral. Please note that whilst entry to the Chapel of Unity is free of charge there is a separate fee to visit the Cathedral.
Antony Owen is an acclaimed and prolific author with four poetry collections. Some of his poems have been translated in Mandarin, Dutch, and Japanese in notable anthologies by Poetry international (Europe) and Coal Sack Press (Japan). Following a self-funded trip to Hiroshima in 2015 to interview A-bomb survivors amongst other work Owen was awarded the winner of Coventry’s 2016 Peace & reconciliation award at the Coventry Community Cohesion Awards. In recognition of his work, CND Peace Education UK selected Owen as their first male UK patron in 2015 alongside award winning writer AL Kennedy.
©2017 – Coventry City of Peace