Category Archives: motivation

National Poetry Day – The Lowdown

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WANTED: Your FREEDOM Poems for NPD

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Send your Freedom poems my way.

Poet Laureate

NPDTo celebrate NPD email your Freedom poems to worcspl@gmail.com 

I will then blog a collection of NPD poems on this site.


Send 20 – 25 line poem on the theme of Freedom.

Please send poems in the body of an email.

You may send up to 3 poems.

Poems should not be previously published.

Write a short 3 sentence bio to appear alongside your poem. 

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Words of Encouragement

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Copy of Summer Children Kids event ccourse Poster Flyer Template (2)

Nominate a Young Poet for a Keep Writing Award

Poet Laureate

THE STORY BEHIND THE IDEA

Many of us wrote when we were children, the wonder and ambition born from praise and acknowledgement is something we should never underestimate. 

I still remember those pinnacle English Teachers, Editors and Publishers who gave me the first taste of the writing world. 

marguerite-2336291_1920One of my nephews has just reached that grand age where he leaves the first school where he has been nurtured and praised his whole school life to embark on the next journey (a slightly longer walk), to the new school in September. 

Cutting the long story short – he wrote an amazing poem for his Leaver’s Assembly and was asked to read it (which I know, having taught for 18 years – is code for WE LOVE IT)! I loved it too and not just because I am his Auntie. 

From what I did next… came my next WPL idea. 

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THE…

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NaPoWriMo – The BIG Catch Up – Day 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another seedling idea.

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

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

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

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

Dad’s car, our windbreaker,

I licked my fingers

as an hors d’oeuvre to chicken legs


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

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

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

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

I wrote two Haikus.

… meanness, fault shifted.


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


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

Day 21: In the Style of…

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

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

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

Ringers

Leaving our beds

in the thick dark

and walking

to the light switch

on the wall

we have to just step

out and trust

there’ll be a floor

beneath us

as bell ringers

pull their ropes hard

before they’ve heard

the note before

the note before.


Feel free to solve this in the comments below.

Happy writing NaPo-ers!

NaPoWriMo Day 14 – Two Weeks In & Nearly Halfway There…

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I cannot believe we have nearly reached the halfway point. This is usually where we experience the dip. I am now struggling with the fact that my NaPo poems are meaningless and not well written, with the challenge of some of the forms in the limited time I have set aside for the creation of the poems, also that nagging feeling of catch up.

So I start this morning with taking my own advice.

  • Forgive
  • Move On
  • Write

This challenge never presents 30 excellent poems by the end of April. I do not think that is the point, it is meant to fuel your writing. Maybe in August I will write a poem that would never be penned with NaPo 2017.

The frustration is in wanting to write well, (I don’t think any of us ever want to write badly, unless we’re entering an Anti-slam or something)!

I am packing my frustration away today and catching up on the writing from Day 13. In an attempt to write in meaning, my companion today is my carry around notebook, which I opened randomly and chose a line from as an initial thought.

I managed several attempts at a Ghazal, all of which need more work.

… like routes on a torn Tube map,

My poem on Carrie’s prompt ended in some research, which may result in an additional poem at some point. I think it may be the shortest prose poem in existence!

… the unforgiving silence of sin.


And now – forward, onto Day 14.

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http://www.napowrimo.net/

Our featured participant today is Clairvetica, where the ghazal for Day 13 is a mixed-emotions ode to London.

Today’s interview is with Troy Jollimore. A poet whose work often has a philosophical bent, he won the National Book Critics Circle award for his first book, Tom Thomson in Purgatory. You can find three of Jollimore’s poems here and four more here.

Last but not least, our prompt! Because it’s Friday, let’s keep it light and silly today, with a clerihew. This is a four line poem biographical poem that satirizes a famous person. Here’s one I just made up:

Emily Dickinson
wasn’t a fickle one.
Having settled in Amherst,
she wouldn’t be dispersed.

Is it going to win a Pulitzer prize? Nope – but it was fun to write!

I wrote a clerihew about our Prime Minister – I think it will stay in my notebook!


Carrie Etter’s prompt was to write a list poem, as an actual list. I have written it but my example doesn’t really feel like a poem. Maybe that is the nature of the form. I may go for this again, once I have some solid anchors to hook a list on.napo2017button1


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/  English Breakfast by Paul Summers, the title mainly reminded me that it is lunchtime and I haven’t eaten mine yet.

An interesting discussion about judgement and prejudice.


The Poetry School

Day 14: What if…?58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfull
How many stories, films and poems can be summarised with that question? Look at Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness, which asks the question: What if blindness was contagious?
Today’s task is to ask yourself a ‘what if’ question — and to answer it. It might help to start off your poem with ‘What if…’ though you may decide to delete that part later on. It can be a personal ‘what if’ addressing what might have happened, or a hypothetical, scientific ‘what if’, but whatever you choose, the key to this task is to commit. You must follow the logic through wherever it goes, even – no, especially – if it goes somewhere unexpected.
For inspiration, have a look at Mark Waldron’s ‘Lion’, the second poem featured here: https://daysofroses.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/three-poems-from-mark-waldrons-the-itchy-sea/

NaPoWriMo Day 8 – a non-writing day

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This title is misleading and of course, not true. I have written today – I have just used yesterday’s prompts and plan to use today’s prompts later when today will in fact be tomorrow, time machine anyone?

After being out all day, with weather at 20+degrees and sunny, an evening of socialising and a mini-napo catch up from no social media/digital outlet Friday night… writing 2 poems yesterday, was enough. So I have found myself a day behind. This always happens – don’t panic if it has happened to you.

FALLING BEHIND IN NAPOWRIMO – My Survival Technique

  • Accept it  
  • Move on

That’s it folks, simple! Remember it is meant to be an adventure/ fun/ pleasurable… when the fun stops, stop (as the gambling adverts suggest). Seriously, writing under pressure is something many of us do from time to time, this long-haul process of daily writing time is a tough enough challenge without making yourself all grizzly at the same time and it won’t open the writing up to you, only make you bitter.

I did manage a surf and found all the relevant prompts for Day 8 today too, reading them let’s the subconscious do some pot stirring on that old back burner whilst I get on living.


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^ See, FUN!

http://www.napowrimo.net/day-eight-4/

The featured participant for the beginning of Week 2 is Summer Blues, the interviewee for the day is Dorothea Lasky. Her poems can be found here.

Today’s prompt was to write a poem… that relies on repetition. It can be repetition of a phrase, or just a word. Need a couple of examples? Try “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe, or Joy Harjo’s “She Had Some Horses”


Carrie Etter is judging the Bradford on Avon Festival Poetry Competition this year, the theme is Flight of Fancy and there is a line limit, so today she suggested we write to that remit.

… she lost her world, entirely,

… she let go of the ground of vows…


Jo Bell posted Inland by Edna St. Vincent Millay and a discussion about rhyme and language.


More repetition over at The Poetry School.

Day 8: Anaphora or Refrain

We want poems that use repetition. We want poems that use the same words, or wording, repeatedly. We want such repetition to drive home a point. What do we want that point to be? Up to you.

Gwendolyn Brooks’ iconic poem We Real Cool is just 24 words long, but is still a masterclass in repetition. Read it here:
https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/we-real-cool

You should also take a look at Tony Hoagland’s I Have News For You. https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/i-have-news-you


I will leave you with some advice/ insight/ knowledge (call it what you will), that I posted this evening to a Napo poet:

Nobody can write 30 stunning poems in 30 days unless all they are doing is writing. We are lucky if we produce one stunner in a year. Try not to judge. The process of writing is the key. End results come later, much later… In my previous annual Napo experience you may be rewarded with 4 decent poems but you will have embarked on a committed time writing & will be processing for months to come!

You are in WEEK 2 – Hurrah! Just KEEP GOING!

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Welcome 2017

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Welcome 2017

I think it is a little late to be wishing you all Happy New Year – so welcome to 2017, I hope it has started well for you.

I took my annual break over Christmas and although I still need to tie up some monthly reviews and pages there really was little action as everything calms down a bit in December. Poets, like bears, enjoy hibernation.

This year I am spending the majority of my time writing and promoting ‘Fragile Houses’. Three new exciting opportunities have landed on my lap and in addition to these some new Literature Festivals have sprung up that I am busy organising events for. I do not plan to do 107 gigs this year, but there are still several events a month to keep me in the performance circuit/loop.

I am very excited about 2017 and have harnessed the sense of ‘new dawn’ we all experience on the 1st January and I intend to keep it. Which is ironic as I have had some wobbles already this month. So running on the pure scent of the beginning of the year… let’s get stuck in!

Be brave

be bold

and keep writing!

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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 – 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 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.