Category Archives: INKSPILL 2016

INKSPILL – Hugging the Monster

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We all have one – that loud obnoxious inner critic that gets in our way, stops us believing. We are about to hug that monster, so flex your arms ready!

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We are going to write a letter to our inner critic.

Dear Monster… I am sure you all have a name for this beast.

Do NOT stop, tell them exactly what you think of them messing with your confidence and if you brave enough give them some advance warning of what terrible fate they will suffer next time they enter your head.

 

You may think this is a really silly exercise, but believe me – next time the inner critic pops up you will be ready to whack that nuisance away. You may not even hear them. We live in hope.

 

Anyway – have fun with this little exercise and be sure to sign off as your writer self.

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INKSPILL: Gaia Harper and the Foyle Young Poets Prize

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You met our Guest Writer, Gaia Harper, you read she won the Foyle Young Poet prize in 2015. Here’s where you find out about the competition and hear a BBC Radio interview Gaia excitedly managed when she was in London for the prize giving last year.


Every year, 15 young people across the country are selected as top winners of the Foyle Young Poets competition. In 2015 judged by esteemed poets Liz Berry and Michael Symmons Roberts. There were thousands of entries from all over the world.

The winning entries were anthologised in Wolves of Normality

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Image copyright 2015 The Poetry Society

You can read them here

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is the biggest award for writers aged 11-17. It welcomes poems on any theme and entry is completely FREE.

Since it began the Award has kick-started the career of some of today’s most exciting new voices. Past winners include Sarah Howe, Helen Mort and Caroline Bird.

© 2016 The Poetry Society

The Guardian also publish the winning poems, read them all here https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/oct/08/foyle-young-poets-winners-2015-poetry-day


 

RADIO INTERVIEW with Gaia Harper

Gaia-Rose Harper is interviewed by BBC Radio Shropshire on National Poetry Day about her prize-winning poem ‘Columbia Calling’. Gaia-Rose’s poem was chosen from over 12000 entries from 69 countries as one of the 15 winners of the 2015 Foyle Young Poets Award.

In the photo, Gaia-Rose gets her picture taken with poet Liz Berry, one of the judges of the competition.

 

This year they received over 10,000 entries. The judges were Malika Booker and W.N. Herbert. Find out more about the 2016 results here

INKSPILL Guest Writer Interview with Gaia Harper

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Gaia Harper talks to Nina Lewis about her love of language, why poetry is important and winning Foyle Young Poets prize in our exclusive INKSPILL interview.


 

Can you describe a time when you realised creating (writing) was something you absolutely had to do?

As soon as I had read Howl by Allen Ginsberg, I knew I had to write. That was the defining moment for me; it still continues to be one of the most powerful influences behind everything I write.

Who are some of your favourite poets?

Ever since I first got into poetry I’ve adored the Beats, so I’d have to say Allen Ginsberg. Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus is one of my favourite collections, and anything by Whitman catches my eye. As for modern poets, I’ve recently got into Sarah Howe and Claudia Rankine.

Why is poetry important?

To quote Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, “We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.” Poetry is in everything you or I do, in the folding of a napkin, the simple act of smiling. We would be stupid to ignore it.

What comes first in a poem, are you prompted by the idea or form?

Most of my poetry is purely spontaneous; I am rarely one of those people who can sit down and choose to write on a certain topic. The smallest things can trigger a poem for me. Often song lyrics or quotes from films prompt ideas; writing purely on a song or film is something I’ve recently got into. I have a love-hate relationship with form, as most of what I write is in free verse, however I love playing with form from time to time; I’m a big fan of a loose sonnet.

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What books are you currently reading?

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. I love books that make you think, but sometimes you need a good horror to get your teeth into. Poetry wise, I’m currently flicking through Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.

What was it like entering the Foyle competition?

To be honest, I was dubious about entering at first considering the vast number of entries, so it took me a long time to get around to submitting. When I eventually sent them off, the anticipation was awful, but obviously the results were worth the wait.

How did you find Arvon with Liz Berry & Michael Symmons?

It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Liz and Michael are such lovely people as well as poets, and they are so supportive. It was strangely wonderful to be able to have a lesson with them, and then have Liz helping you cook dinner.

Are you a member of the Young Poets Network?

I’ve been a member of the Young Poets Network for a couple of years now. Everything they post comes straight to my email, so it’s great to get unexpected prompts and competitions I could enter.

Do you have any advice for aspiring young poets?

To any young poets out there, I would say ignore everything anyone has ever told you about what poetry has to be. School is never going to teach you a thing about poetry, even if it tries. Rant and shout about every little thing you want to, and write it all down. Don’t let anyone put parameters around your writing; whether it be a rhyme scheme or a way of feeling. What teenagers write is often dismissed as angsty; fight back. Write whatever the hell you want.


 

INKSPILL: Guest Writer Introducing Gaia-Rose Harper

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Introducing Gaia-Rose Harper our youngest guest writer. We are delighted she agreed to an interview and are grateful for her time, given to us for free. If you ever have a chance to see Gaia read, I urge that you do so. As you will hear from the video clips and audio, she is a wonderful reader.

I was fortunate enough to be in Ludlow for ‘Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room’ when Gaia made her debut performance and despite her nerves, she captivated the audience. I was mesmerised. Her work is deeply layered, well researched and polished with quality. Like Gaia, I was a young poet once, first published at 15 but my early works are not a patch on Gaia’s. It isn’t just the themes which run beyond her teenage years. The depth, wisdom, brilliance and obvious love of language contained in her work, raises it to that place many writers hope to reach.

Gaia Harper is a Young Poet from Shropshire who won the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award in 2015 (aged 14) for her poem ‘Columbia Calling’.

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Gaia is a 15 year old poet and winner of the Foyle Young Poets’ of the Year Award 2015. Her work has been published in Write On! magazine, and she has performed in a number of places, including the Wenlock Poetry Festival 2016. Gaia is an avid artist, lover of classical languages, and aspiring filmmaker.

 

INKSPILL: Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘Letters, Phone calls and Texting’

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Following on from the earlier workshop ‘Objects to hang our words on’, Roy takes us deeper into exercises and writing in the next session ‘Letters, Phone Calls and Texting’.

This workshop focuses on poetry from Pascale Petit and Roy McFarlane. You are invited to extend on your earlier writing. So take a deep breath and dive in.


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Letters, phone calls and texting

Arrival of the Electric Eel from Fauverie by Pascale Petit

Each time I open it I feel like a Matses girl

handed a parcel at the end of her seclusion,

my face pierced by jaguar whiskers

to make me brave.

I know what’s inside – that I must

unwrap the envelope of leaves

until all that’s left

squirming in my hands

is an electric eel.

The positive head, the negative tail,

the rows of batteries under the skin,

the smell, almost blind eyes,

The day turns murky again,

I’m wading through the bottom of my life

when my father’s letter arrives. And keeps on arriving.

The charged fibres of paper

against my shaking fingers,

the thin electroplates of ink.

The messenger drags me up to the surface

to gulp air then flicks its anal fin.

Never before has a letter been so heavy,

growing to two metres in my room,

the address, the phone number, then the numbness

I know you must be surprised, it says,

but I will die soon and want to make contact.

Pascale captures the dread of opening a correspondence, there’s that association with an indigenous girl from the Amazon, a brave Matses girl, the knowledge of knowing and then we have the electric eel. The letter is alive; charged fibres of paper, thin electroplates of ink. Now feel the weight of the letter watch it grow two metres and then the last two lines leave us in turmoil.

The next one is Leaves are falling from my collection Beginning with your last breath. Autumn plays a big part here, the way I guess things slow down when you hear bad news, like leaves falling but for me a storm is coming and you pray that the weather forecasters have got it wrong.

I didn’t notice the leaves falling

the day they told me it would be

weeks more than months.

The rest of their words

fell softly on deaf ground.

I remembered in the morning

they had forecast an oncoming storm,

the tail end of a hurricane

from the Caribbean seas.

What do they know?

They never get things right,

it will never ever reach here.


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Exercise

Take yourself back to the moment you received news about a terminal illness, the passing away of a loved one, somebody moving on or a message via letter, email, friends, or searching through your beloved belongings and you find a message addressed to you. Hold that moment, imagine the feeling, numb, shock, surprised, scared, angry, start writing those feelings, just the feelings, get a thesaurus and explore the feelings, look at its root meaning, the etymology of the word you’re playing with. (15 mins writing) Now think of an animal, weather, or nature inhabit their essence, their very being, imagine every nuance you can think of, don’t link the two together yet, just keep writing (15 mins) Now you should have two A4 writing of notes, (I’m joking, a few lines are just as good). Now put the two together, hopefully you’ve been bursting to correlate the two things to make your poem.

 

 

RELATED LINKS:

Beginning with your last Breath by Roy McFarlane – buy a copy here

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/beginning%20with%20your%20last%20breath.html

Fauverie by Pascale Petit – buy a copy here

https://www.serenbooks.com/productdisplay/fauverie

http://www.pascalepetit.co.uk/

INKSPILL: Workshop with Roy McFarlane ‘Objects to hang our words on’

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Objects to hang our words on – Roy McFarlane

There are no fast rules, the only rule is to write, write it your way the best way that you can. I only ask that you write the truth, bare as much of you as you can on the page – beinroy-3g true to yourself. There’s going to be tears, but I hope and pray that there’ll be smiles and laughter.

… be imaginative and throw the net out and let’s see what we catch.

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In this workshop Roy uses the poetry of;

Gregory Leadbetter

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© 2016 Nine Arches

Hannah Lowe

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© Bloodaxe

Ruby Robinson

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© Poetry Out Loud

 

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© 2016

Carol Ann Duffy.

Details on buying copies of the cited publications can be found in RELATED LINKS at the end of the workshop post.

ENJOY!


Objects to hang our words on – Roy McFarlane Workshop

 

 

My Father’s Orrery from The Fetch by Gregory Leadbetter touches on an object that ties father and son together;

My Father’s Orrery

Is without end.

What a beautiful beginning, the title and straight into the poem is without end, the memories of our loved ones, their name goes on; but there’s a warning

The solar system on the fireplace

spins only one planet around it’s sun –

Mercury, as if now the limit

of what we know, hints at the missing

planets to come: the ache in the equation

their absence makes,

Something’s not right, an incompleteness, and the line the ache in the equation their absence makes. No mention of death but we’re feeling the oncoming pain. A poem about an unfinished orrery draws a picture of the man, the relationship between the father and the poet.

And what an ending about this mathematician, astrologist who has probably taught his son about the universe;

With the planet in his hands, he felt

the weight of his loss, knew he had forgotten

how to put the universe together.

Not only a reference to his father’s dementia but an echo of the weight of loss and the falling apart of the universe when we lose our loved ones. Read the whole of My Father’s Orrey and the book.

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© 2016 Nine Arches Press

 

Hook your poems around the idea of an action, cooking, fishing, knitting, game of chess, let’s have a look at A Man Can Cook from Chick by Hannah Lowe.

You at the stove, the air spiced up with ginger,

nutmeg, clove. I know you won’t turn round

but I can stand here can’t I watch the fire

flaring blue below your pans, your hands

cajoling dumpling, knifing up red snapper,

crushing star anise? You can’t turn around,

too busy with your strange colonial mixtures,

mango roly poly, cocoa bread.

My aunty said ‘Now there’s a man can cook!

I should have let you teach me, long before

you couldn’t eat, before they sliced a moon

of flesh away from you. Now you’re blurred

by steam. These smells will linger in my hair.

I leave you here then, humming as you stir.

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© 2013 Bloodaxe

 

Or maybe a memorable day throwing Frisbees, a ride at an amusement park, or cornflake cake, as you’ll see in My Mother from Every Little Sound by Ruby Robinson

She said the cornflake cake made her day,

she said a man cannot be blamed for being

unfaithful: his heart is not in tune with his

extremities and it’s just the way his body

chemistry is. She said all sorts of things.

And here begins a conversation starting with a cornflake cake as an item that means so much for this memorable day. Loss can be so many things; in this poem similar to other poems within this collection, the poet is looking at the loss of her mother to mental health or the wider implication of being caught up in the system.

In the park, stopped for a cup of tea in a café

where we had the cornflake cake cut into halves

with the handle of a plastic fork. We saw yellow

crocuses growing a ring around a naked tree

These are the memories, the conversation that are universal as well as being personal, giving us minute details, speaking so many things between the line, memorable unforgettable, poems need to be unforgettable to the poet as well as the reader. She tells us more about their day and ends.

She said she’d been talking to Jesus and God

because she didn’t want to go to hell, although,

she said, correctly, we’ve been through hell

already, haven’t we. She said a woman should

know her place, should wait. She lit a cigarette.

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© 2016 Liverpool University Press

 

And finally Cold from The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

It felt so cold, the snowball which wept in my hands,

and when I rolled it along in the snow, it grew

till I could sit on it, looking back at home

Snowball weeping in my hands sets us up for what is to come, the cold and snow becomes the vehicle to transport us from good times to bad times, so we’re back at home. Windows blind with ice, breath undressing itself on the air, Carol’s having fun with beautiful descriptions. Have fun with, don’t settle for the old clichés, sit for a while and find something fresh and different. Carol’s feeling cold my toes, burning, cold in my winter boots and she switches to her mother, her hands were cold from peeling and finishing with such beauty.

her daughter’s face, a kiss for both cold cheeks, my cold nose.

But nothing so cold as the February night I opened the door

in the Chapel of Rest where my mother lay, neither young, nor old,

where my lips, returning her kiss to her brow, knew the meaning of cold.

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© 2011 Gutter Magazine


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Exercise

 

Like a snowball weeping, a cup holding grief, a bible with gold-edged leaves whispering, and I know you’re already thinking of an object that means so much to you and your loved one, but let’s just begin with stretching this object, imbuing it with life, let this object be the vehicle that draws us into your narrative, and then run with it.

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RELATED LINKS

The Fetch – Gregory Leadbetter (which was launched at Waterstones last week as part of Birmingham Literature Festival) is available here http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20fetch.html

http://gregoryleadbetter.blogspot.co.uk/

Chick Hannah Lowe available here http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/chick-1055

https://hannahlowe.org/

Every Little Sound Ruby Robinson available here http://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/products/73653

The Bees Carol Ann Duffy available here https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/carol-ann-duffy/the-bees

 

INKSPILL – Introducing ‘Writing Loss’

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We met with Roy McFarlane over the summer (whilst he was Poet in Residence at Shakespeare’s Birthplace). In discussing the theme for our writing workshops we chose loss. Loss plays a part in his debut collection ‘Beginning With Your Last Breath’. If you know the story behind the book, the motivation for his work, it started with loss.

Handing over to Roy…

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© 2011 Smokestack Books


Inkspill Online Writing Retreat

Writing Loss

We’ll be exploring the theme of loss in myriad ways. When writing love, love seems to pour from the heart on to the paper, spilling over the pages on to notepads, back of envelopes and any available space that you can find but in that moment of loss, or that long road to the inevitability of loss, we often struggle, we often refuse to write.

Mona Arshi said in an interview with the Forward Arts Foundation, ‘writing the poems around death of my brother, observing the anguish of a family trying to come to terms and survive was a difficult task, but one I felt I had to negotiate especially if you believe that one of the functions of poetry is to make the unbearable, bearable.’

So for this weekend, we are simply going to write with an abundance, write without the need to worry too much about form but I do want you to be inspired by the prompts and exercises I’m going to share with you, some of which have been the spark behind my writing but more profoundly, just the joy of reading from a cannon of wonderful writers.

There are no fast rules, the only rule is to write, write it your way the best way that you can. I only ask that you write the truth, bare as much of you as you can on the page – being true to yourself. There’s going to be tears, but I hope and pray that there’ll be smiles and laughter.

I’m interested in how far you can spread your net of writing, I’m naturally thinking of our loved ones; our parents, lovers, siblings, children, pets but how far can we go with this, a work colleague, the boss, coach, a teammate, the team, someone moving away that you’ll never see again, so be imaginative and throw the net out and let’s see what we catch.

INKSPILL Writing Activity #2 Found Poetry

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Found poetry is the literary equivalent of collage and although not favoured by all, can produce interesting results that often spark splinter ideas off in your mind. So be sure to have a notebook handy to scribble down all the additional ideas that spring into your head whilst you’re busy finding.

 

FOUND POETRY

It is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning. © 2016 Wikipedia

You will need a notebook, pen, newspaper or magazine. You can also follow this link for more adverts http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk

or choose from our selection below.

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WRITING ACTIVITY #2 Found Poetry

Find two adverts in the newspaper. Create a poem only using words from the two adverts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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© 2016 123printers

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© 2016 123printers

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We would love it if you felt brave enough to share the results with us here.

INKSPILL Successful Writing Habits

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Welcome back. To kick start this afternoon take a few minutes to watch this video.

 

 

  1. Write everyday
  2. Write first thing in the morning
  3. Turn off your inner critic
  4. Let other people read your work
  5. Rituals

 


We are certain many of you can tick off this simple checklist. We would love to hear about No.5 # so tell us about your own rituals.