Category Archives: motivation

National Poetry Day 2020

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Happy National Poetry Day! I hope you find some good words to dive into today.

Here’s a small guide to places you can spend some time in. Enjoy!

The main website for National Poetry Day is worth a good look around, but in case you are snatching a poem on your lunch break or pressed for time, I have selected some options.

36 Poems to read

Articles National Poetry Day

Poetry Recommendations

Poetry Archive

7 poems to listen to.

There are plenty of events happening online, nearly all are ticketed, some are free and there are lots of poetry take overs across social media platforms.

An exciting aspect of this year’s NPD is we are no longer bound by Geography – look beyond your region, spread the poetry love!

© Hay Festival 2020

You could treat yourself and listen to Poet Laureate Simon Armitage reading in Dove Cottage (Wordsworth). This is a ticketed event.

https://wordsworth.org.uk/blog/events/simon-armitage-in-dove-cottage/

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm BST

Tickets £7; £5 to current supporters of the Wordsworth Trust.

Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire and is an award-winning poet, playwright and novelist. In 2010 he was awarded the CBE for services to poetry and in 2019 he was appointed Poet Laureate. This year we have invited him to take over Dove Cottage for an exclusive performance of his own poetry, bringing to life the house that Wordsworth lived in 200 years ago.

Simon Armitage Trailer

Or you could just find a quiet spot, take a book off the shelf and indulge in a read, or grab a notebook and pen and have a write.

Between 2013-2018 I offered an annual writing retreat here on AWF. Over the 6 years of INKSPILL we had various guest poets gift us writing prompts, I have included a couple in this selection.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/10/28/inkspill-2018-picture-prompts/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/inkspill-2018-writing-activity/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/inkspill-guest-poet-stephen-daniels-workshop-exercise/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/inkspill-workshop-with-roy-mcfarlane-objects-to-hang-our-words-

on/https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/inkspill-beautiful-ugly-part-1/

NaPoWriMo 2020 It’s Coming!

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It is nearly time for NaPoWriMo, an annual flurry of poetry writing. Find out more here.

They have a few starter activities just for fun. The silly test mentioned in this post gives you a chance to choose Bot or Not. I had a 70% success rate. A great party game for the self isolating at this time.

If, like me you enjoy this writing month you will just be pleased to see the site back up and running and the new banners and buttons for 2020.

The Two Days to Go post invites us to go and look at Patrick Stewart’s twitter account where he is reading Shakespeare’s sonnets, I have happily already discovered this already (and retweeted) but it serves to remind me that one of the things I LOVE about NaPo is discovering resources and new to me poets and poems. Also the participants sites can be a great find too.

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Here on AWF I am always a participating site but never (or rarely ever) post a NaPo poem as this affects the copyright and means I may not be able to publish them. You will write a lot of rubbish over the next few weeks – give yourself that permission, nothing is wasted. It’s all worth it for those few poems that do work, that do go on to grow up and get published, for the ones you include in your next collection, for the ones that speak to your heart.

The day before NaPo starts there is always an Early Bird post to get you warmed up and started. So this is not a drill – take a deep breath and get ready to dive in with us!


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Hello, all! Tomorrow is April 1, and the first day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020! But since April 1 arrives a bit earlier in some parts of the globe than the east coast of the United States, we have an early-bird resource and prompt for you.

Today’s resource is The Slowdown, a daily poetry podcast hosted by former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. Podcasts are a nice way to add some poetry to your life. They also give you a chance to hear the rhythm of poetry out loud. Sometimes it can be very surprising, if you’ve been reading a poet on the page for many years, to hear their voice out loud, and realize it’s much different than the voice you’ve been giving that same poet in your head.

And now, in the spirit of an early-bird prompt, I’d like to invite you to write a poem about your favorite bird. As this collection of snippets from longer poems suggests, birds have been inspiring poets for a very long time indeed!

If you don’t have a favorite bird, or are having trouble picking one, perhaps I might interest you in myfavorite bird, the American Woodcock? These softball-sized guys are exactly the color of the leaves on the floor of a Maine forest, and they turn up each spring to make buzzy peent noises, fly up over meadows in elaborate courtship displays, and to do little rocking dances that YouTube jokesters delight in setting to music.

 

They are also quite odd looking, as every part of their body appears to be totally out of proportion with the rest. For a poetic bonus, they also have many regional nicknames. In Maine, they’re often called “timberdoodles,” but other regionalisms for them include “night partridge,” “mudbat,” “prairie turtle,” Labrador twister,” “bogsucker,” “wafflebird,” “billdad,” and “hokumpoke.”

Tomorrow we’ll be back with another resource, prompt, and our first featured participant.

In the meantime, happy writing!


I started to listen to the Slowdown Podcast and appreciated the slowness of it juxtaposing the violent onslaught of next door’s far-too-loud-radio, I know of Tracy K. Smith, I discovered her before she was a US Laureate and I know some of her work, I know she plays with pace and rhythm and sometimes line breaks used to enable this breath. Looking at the Poetry Foundation page I decided to treat myself to some of her work too and revisited Declaration from Wade in the Water.  Copyright © 2018

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During the podcast, Tracy recites Interesting Times by Mark Jarman. Bedlam right now during the Coronavirus, for sure. The words resonate with double meaning right now. An echo of the//for the global crisis.

Choking on these lines;

Everything’s happening on the cusp of tragedy,

We’ve been at this historical site before, but not in any history we remember.

To know the stars will one day fly apart so far they can’t be seen
Is almost a relief. For the future flies in one direction—toward us.

 

Mark Jarman – “Interesting Times” from Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2011

I then settled down to read the poetry snippets https://poets.org/text/thirteen-ways-looking-poems-about-birds before considering my own writing for today.

This is where the madness began (NaPo madness is normal – it starts with the research/ search engines then pages later leads you someplace else and (hopefully) back again)!

I read the snippets and then watched the videos of Maureen’s chosen bird and it hit me, WA – and the magnificent birds of Perth – as it fits my current project. That’s another NaPo GOLD-DUST tip: if you can bend the prompts to fit creative projects you are trying to fulfil – this isn’t always possible but when it is – it is GOLDEN – as often we are forced to write beyond ourselves.

I then watched a series of videos before I decided on the one. It has been made from photographs rather than footage but the pictures have magically captured the music of the birds. I am yet to pen a poem as I am getting a set ready for this evening. But I will… (the NaPo promise to yourself).

I watched the video and made a list of over 10 Australian birds, then chose one by looking for images of the species. I then searched for facts and went back to my research document to highlighted key fact on appearance and movement. I harvested a few images to study & wrote a short 5 line poem about the Royal Spoonbill.

Enjoy!

 

INKSPILL 2018 ARCHIVE Open

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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 Workshop with Kevin Brooke – The Sealed Envelope

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This workshop was devised with Young Writer’s in mind… we were all young once upon a time and still are at heart… so give it a go. 

Guest Writer Workshop with Kevin Brooke 

The Sealed Envelope

Young Writer’s Workshop on the theme of A Sealed Envelope with the story to be written in approximately 300 words

In giving advice to a writer, J K Rowling has been quoted as saying “Write the story as well as you can, revise it, refine it, and if it still seems alive to you, you’re done”.

The items each student requires are to complete the workshop are – a pen, some paper and an imagination.

The Workshop begins with each student being handed a sealed envelope

Please don’t open this as yet, because this is crucial in the creation of your story. All you need to do to begin with, is think about what is inside the envelope. Write down a few ideas of what it could be, for example, a letter, pictures, symbols, something else?

Character Creation

Now that you have some idea of what’s inside, I want you to think about who or what would send it to you? Try and picture them, imagine what they’d look like. Are they young / old / a boy / a girl / an alien / a Vampire / a goblin?

If you are struggling, have a look around the room to see if there is something that catches your eye or inspires you. If you are in a library, have a look at some of the books on the shelves and focus on what you can see on the front covers / internal illustrations.

Plot creation

Now that you have a picture of what is inside the envelope and who may have sent it, try to think of a reason why? For example, is it a threat, a wish of goodwill, a symbol of hope / disaster or a cry for help or even a goodbye?

Setting creation

Now we have a character and a reason why the envelope has been sent. The next stage is to try and imagine where they were when they sent it. Were they on the beach, on the moon, hidden in a wardrobe, inside a dungeon? Draw some pictures if this helps.

The Resolution

The story you have written so far should tell you whether it will be a happy ending, an open ending, or a sad / violent ending…read the story, think about the character, the setting. Read it through your notes several times – the ending is there if you think about it. The most important aspect is that the resolution must be based on how you think the story should end.

How? First of all, don’t forget the basic checklist

  • 300 words isn’t many. Try to keep characters to a minimum – maybe one main character and a maximum of two others.
  • Use dialogue if you can as this brings the characters alive.
  • Try not to use too many adverbs i.e. words ending in ‘ly’. If the man is tall, we don’t need to know he is really tall. Tall is usually enough.
  • Try to be specific i.e. instead of ‘she ate a pizza’ maybe think of the ingredients i.e. ‘spicy pepperoni with mushrooms’. In this way, the reader not only knows the details of what is on the pizza, they gain a sense of taste.
  • Avoid clichés – one way of doing this by using Imagery. As Stephen King is quoted as saying “see everything before you write it”. Try, therefore, to visualise every sentence you write and then write what you see.
  • Another way of bringing your story alive is by experiencing what your character is experiencing. If they go into a forest, do this for yourself, make some notes on what you saw, felt, heard or smelt and use these in your story.

Reading your work aloud

I’m a great believer in the notion that story telling is best told live. It provides the storyteller with a few, powerful minutes to take us to their alternative world, wherever it may be. In addition, if you are reading to others, listen to their feedback – they might tell you something you hadn’t considered, but something that could transform the entire story.

 

INKSPILL 2018 Writing Activity Jigsaw

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For this writing activity you will need an old magazine. If you do not have an old magazine available you can use the images at the end of this post, just close your eyes and hover your cursor across the screen at random.

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  • Look through the magazine and cut out interesting words, phrases and images.
  • Place them in a bowl, close your eyes and pull out two of these magazine snippets.
  • Write a Flash Fiction 300 words max. or a poem if you prefer.
  • Repeat until tired.

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For those with no spare paper magazines use the area below.

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – School Poetry Project

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Back in early Spring I attended a workshop where we were offered the opportunity to get involved with a project between Young Writers in Local Schools & the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

I registered my interest in March with Elizabeth Dollimore the Informal Learning and Programmes Manager and by April had received my two letters from local school children, in which they set a poetry challenge. My real challenge was the fast turn around with just 6 days to write two poems and get them posted back to the team at the Birthplace. As you know, April was busy – the week I was writing for this I was also organising the Poetry Exhibition at the Jinney Ring, facilitating 1 workshop for The Basement Project, attending another one (ironically in Stratford – but my poems were not ready to drop in) and had tickets to Idle Women.

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I knew I had to get the writing done before the weekend and here I faced a new set of challenges. Mainly everything had to be handwritten – nowadays I type almost everything. Still I thought it would be good for the children to see how great their handwriting was in comparison!

The poems were about peace, one pupil asked for humour and the other asked for nature to be included. The resulting poem ‘A Need for Peace’ was written using a rhyming scheme (rare in my work) and took a few drafts before it scanned properly, I think it was funny – hopefully my pupil did too. The second poem ‘Ground Control’ was brimming with nature and used terms to describe aspects of nature like ‘Komorebi’. They were both fun to write.

Along with the poems sent back we had to give the pupil a new poetry challenge which they then used in a workshop.

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This month I received an email from Julie Harris-Grant to say;

The local primary school has been in touch to say that the children were absolutely thrilled with their replies!  Your letters have really inspired them to engage with and enjoy a variety of poetry.

A second workshop was held at MENCAP and this has produced yet more exciting work for us to share.

 

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I enjoy any poetry projects which focus on Peace & Reconciliation, I love to collaborate and try something new.

It has been a pleasure to help connect young people to poetry and I am looking forward to the final event on the 23rd June as part of the

Poetry Festival 2018

Inspired by a theme of Peace and Reconciliation

where we get to meet the school teams and hear some of the work they have produced.

Black Box Poetry
Saturday 23 June, 2.00 -3.00 pm

Local school children, community groups and poetry enthusiasts have all been working with In-Public to create poetry about peace. Join us to hear the poems they created and be inspired by the talent and creativity on show.

This will take place at The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford Upon Avon, CV37 6QW

 

NaPoWriMo – Survival Skills – The Final Week!

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Firstly, congratulations! You made it to the FINAL week! You probably have 10-21 poems and a handful you like. That’s more than 3 poems which would not otherwise exist, cherish them, keep them safe and edit them over the coming months.

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Now you have to keep going, you have come so far along this road. Just 7 more days, filled with the possibility of 7 new poems. Just a few minutes a day will get you there. No need for 50 reps at this stage!

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Carve some time out for yourself and use it. I have written several NaPo poems whilst cooking in the kitchen, the laptop is in the room next door and popping in and out can work wonders in that 30-50 minutes.

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Remember it IS good enough, NaPoWriMo isn’t about perfection, it is not about the finished article, it is about generating the ideas, feeding the mind and most importantly HAVING FUN!

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So a few survival tips:

  • Forgive yourself for lagging behind, either spend time catching up or just accept those days are gone and move on.
  • Try a prompt, they are optional but great for generating new ideas and styles.
  • Look up a form you do not know and give it a try.
  • READ! There are 100s of sites on  napowrimo.net who have signed up and 1000s of poems to go and read.
  • Try a Haiku – a good way to catch up the days of missed poems.
  • Blog about the process.
  • Read the craft articles.
  • Just keep going.
  • Reward yourself for getting it done.
  • Write freely, edit in May!

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Explore & enjoy the adventure!

NaPoWriMo 2018 A Review of a Week of Poetry

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Well we have just completed the first week of poetry for NaPoWriMo and I am feeling positive about the daily writing. Being Worcestershire Poet Laureate is amazing but I would be lying if I said my own writing time hasn’t suffered. It needn’t have, I just decided to spend my year organising lots of events and opportunities for other writers and as far as my own progression through that time, it has been left organic.

My grey cells needed a few days to get used to the writing process again and I had to drag myself out of hiding in research.

What I love about NaPo is the optional prompts I attempt to follow often reveal offshoot ideas which I am banking for a quieter time. A notebook page is filling up nicely, I can only imagine what it might look like by the end of the month.

So at the end of a week in Napoland what have I got other than this fun new jpeg?

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A desk full of poems.

From Day 1:

Best Before (a poem about secret shame)

The Sea Jewel (John Harrison) which has since had editing circle treatment and promises to be a good finished piece sometime in the future. Plus I have now written many poems about Historical figures, a future pamphlet maybe.

Resources: A list of trivia prompts for the future and a short list of secret shames & pleasures.

 

From Day 2:

The Home at Christmas (a poem which links to work I have written on Dementia for a current PoArtry project, this poem has also received editing circle treatment and I hope one day will have stanzas all as strong as the final stanza, which is already one of those POW moments!

Apology (a humorous performance poem)

Resources: An article of Poetic I

Website for wordles

 

From Day 3:

Bring Me The Shoes (a quirky performance poem/list poem)

Several Wordle Band Name/poems

 

From Day 4:

Pudding Protest (a coupling written for the Suffragette Poetry Anthology project using a workshop prompt I created)

From Day 5:

In the Park (A translation poem)

Resources: A collection of black and white photographs and a whole list (website) of poetry in translation.

 

From Day 6:

Picking Blackberries (A poem about Dementia which uses long lines from Poetic Lines Napo prompt and part of the writing I am doing for the PoARTry Project)

Resources: Alberto Ríos’s article on the Poetic Line

 

From Day 7:

The Teacher and the Poet Are Not the Same (Working title)

So considering I have fallen 2 days behind due to real life poetry work, I have managed 7 poems and a few wordles, a stack of ideas to be used in the future and some great craft resources.

Success!

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I picked Day 6 & 7 up on Day 9. Just Day 8 & 9 to go and I will be back on track!

International Women’s Day

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IWD – Happy International Women’s Day. This post comes from the generosity of women. Find yourself a new poet, a new read, a bit of wisdom – lots to celebrate!

Poet Laureate

pexels-photo-261453.jpegTo celebrate International Women’s Day I asked you for your thoughts and inspirations. ENJOY! 

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POETS/POEMS – Recommended Reads

Rachel Curzon – Scan poem – highly recommended (Faber and Faber) – Michelle Diaz

Julia Copus any of her spectacular poems, just so very cleverly constructed but the form is always appropriate to the meaning. – Nikki Fine

Colette Bryce who I was lucky enough to do a workshop with last year as part of a local literary festival. – Penny Blackburn

Gillian Allnutt – Ode. I read poetry on my Sociology/Social Policy under graduate course. – Rachel Burns

Mary Oliver I’m reading more of her work and folding over the corners of so many favourite poems in each book…when I run out of post-it notes! I grew up in inner city Birmingham & moved to London at 18, and it’s only in my 40’s that I discovered nature and now understand what all…

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