I have been overjoyed to play a part in The Well/ Mindful Poetry events over the past few years, (since Lockdown 2020/21). For the 2nd year running I am delighted to have poetry included in the anthology.
The Book Launch happens today at The Mercantile Library, which is incredibly beautiful and in Cincinnati… however, if you are not you can still watch the event on Crowdcast, to register: book tickets for the Live Launch or reserve your spot virtually check here.
I am really looking forward to spending some of my Birthday celebrating with these poets and can’t wait to hear everyone’s words.
Hope you can join us!
Book cover artwork courtesy of @alexandraramirezarts Mindful Poetry Moments was incubated with @onbeing and virtual gatherings are supported by @cincyhive @wordplaycincy and @themercantilelib #TheWellWorld #TheWell #MindfulPoetryMoments #MindfulPoetry #Poetry #PoetryCollection #OnBeing #PoetryUnbound #Poems #Poets #Poet
I was lucky enough to complete the manuscript (my first collection) last year. I then sat on it for a while before returning for final edits in Spring 2022. It is now finding a home with a publisher. So it brings me great joy to announce Cafe Writers chose to feature my poem In the Breast Unit as the poem of the month.
It can be hard to find places where writing poems about our bodies is an acceptable read. I am grateful to the team for picking this poem.
Proud to be sharing the space with so many wonderful Poem of the Month Picks.
As anyone who follows the blog will know, April is mainly a space for NaPoWriMo, half of which falls during Easter break, the other 15 days are snatched between work and life. This April we also had lots of family needs and it was necessary to step back from work as much as possible to support and survive.
I realise it is now almost the end of June and I have not posted, so here is a little flashback beyond NaPoWriMo.
I had two wonderful events in April, Peter Sutton’s Book Launch, where I was a Guest Reader and Country Voices in Ironbridge, where I performed alongside Nick Pearson & Cherry Doyle. It was a brilliant afternoon of poetry.
Both of these gigs saw my return to LIVE events (after an attempt last September). There is something very strange about the act of leaving your home to perform nowadays, it all feels so new and different. Both events were well attended, so it shows not everyone was as nervous as me.
I have read Cherry’s and Nick’s work but never met them, that was a pleasure. I saw Nick perform again this month at Welshpool Festival. I have also worked with and been aware of Sara-Jane Arbury for years but had never met face to face, that was lovely after knowing her online for a few years.
In Elmslie House the gallery also had a few pieces on display which were created by another of Sara- Jane’s Ledbury Poetry workshop participants. We had fun finding them. Peter’s book launch was an incredible event, a packed audience and so much rich poetry. Black Pear Press know how to throw a party/launch!
I also took part in the Mindful Poetry gathering run by The Well in partnership with the On Being Project. I have attended since 2020 lockdown year, it is a wonderful group of creative Americans and is always a lovely hour of soulfulness attended by people from all around the world. I have really missed these events and was looking forward to them coming back for National Poetry Month.
The Well is nourished by the non-profit organization A Mindful Moment. Our mission is to improve the mental and emotional well-being, connectedness, and effectiveness of all citizens through arts integration, mindfulness, music, movement, and healing-centered practices.
I went to lots of events and watched some stunning sets. I was lucky enough to see Jason Allen-Paisant, who I came across just two years ago during Lockdown. His poetry is amazing and my bookshelves now house him.
May was full of medical appointments, work and family. We celebrated some of our American relatives arriving in our part of the UK after time in London and before a trip across to Dublin. I was also busy developing the program for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, along with the rest of the team. I missed several events due to complete exhaustion. Later in the month there were some family needs which very much took over everything.
I did manage some much needed time at the ocean (my first time away from home in 4 years), it was a long trip to Wales for a short amount of time there but worth every hour of the journey.
I received a beautiful copy of a pamphlet a group of Stanza members worked on in 2018 as part of a Forest of Dean project. It is beautiful and a privilege to read all our words from that day. Thank you to Andrew Hoaen for my copy of SILVA – it brings that incredible day with the trees back to me!
I went to the Nine Arches Press Book Launch of Julia Webb and Tom Sastry, a wonderful event and two stunning collections! They were joined by Daniel Sluman, who’s latest collection ‘Single Window’ is also on my shelf!
Another great Book Launch with Bloodaxe poets Jo Clement, Sarah Wimbush & Clare Shaw.
I admire the work of all these poets. It is also lovely knowing (most of) them!
I also had the gift of a Verve Poetry Launch which included Sarah James and her latest collection Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic. I have heard Kathy Pimlott read before, I have read some of Kayleigh Campbell’s work and it was fascinating hearing Georgina Wilding.
I finally finished work on a project I have been sitting on for the best part of two years. And by the end of the May WLFF Festival was ready and we were all busy with promotion.
I had some poems accepted for publication, which was fabulous as I have been unable to submit much since March and there have been lots of rejections stacking up the inbox! I have had all three of my poems accepted for a project which will entail an anthology both hardcopy and digital. I had some of my manuscript poems accepted by an anthology too and have managed to get some work into the Mindful Poetry Anthology (USA) for the second year running.
Now we are in June and I have been working full time and trying to balance the rest of life on plates with small circumferences. I have to get back to the desk at some point, but I am not quite there yet.
I am very much still working and writing but also whirling and spinning through each day!
For the first time, we have a trio of featured participants, as there were so many wonderful responses to Day 28’s “concrete” poem prompt! First up, here’s Alice Whitehead‘s lovely pear-shaped poem. Next, Joy Wright‘s criss-crossing, repeating poem about a bandstand, and last but not least, flippedserendipity‘s wavy ocean poem.
PROMPT: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth — whether they are actual presents, like a teddy bear, or talents – like a good singing voice – or circumstances – like a kind older brother, as well as a “curse” you’ve lived with (your grandmother’s insistence on giving you a new and completely creepy porcelain doll for every birthday, a bad singing voice, etc.).
The penultimate day of NaPoWriMo 2022 and I started with a much needed catch up. You will see the last 3 days have been added to and now I am ready for poem 29.
Alice Whitehead‘s Pear-shaped poems is gorgeous, it is posted on an open FB group (which is already in the public domain), so I hope to share it here for you to read again.
Joy Wright‘s Bandstand poem is equally brilliant and great fun to read. I gained permission from the poet to use this image because you can’t discuss concrete poems without seeing them. With thanks to you both.
And finally I read Flippedserendipity‘s sea poem – Waves of the Ocean, which was incredibly visual and seemed to pull in and out like waves of the sea.
In wave after wave, carving the sand
Then I headed over to On the Seawall and read My Lost Generation by Barbara Daniels. I loved the playfulness of this poem, which is actually covers some serious topics.
Mary Lou took off after Mai Tais went out.
Without leis, rattan, and almond syrup, she lost
her desire to live.
The market bottomed, so Winslow
relocated to a treehouse. Each day he wheels up
bagels and cream cheese and dumps his trash
on the lawn.
The last onionskin, Wite-Out,
and carbon paper led to the last of Miss Rossiter,
said to be reading palms in LA.
I then read Fool Reversed / Let Go by Melissa Eleftherion. A brilliant contemplation and I adore the conclusion!
Both these poems are exceptional and I look forward to reading more in On the Seawall journal soon.
Just wanted to remind myself of the prompt after getting lost (in a great way) with all that poetry reading! I will gather my thoughts and write them out in a bit.
It is (another Bank Holiday weekend in the UK) and I have pushed out 3 Napo poems today on catch up mode. Spent some time with Mr G. after work and went to class. Where I spent another while writing, so coming back to re-read the prompt and have decided I will dabble tomorrow after work.
I am behind by 2 days so will look into this prompt and poems tomorrow. I want to write my missing days first.
One day later…
I read Adapting, by Smitha V. The poet felt the Duplex was an effective form for this telling and so do I.
It's meeting the old and the pain resurfacing, that scares me. Old memories scare me and the pain, the past brings with it.
I'm used to forgetting and being forgotten. Forgetting and being forgotten takes time to get used to
And Karen Morris even managed to rhyme her Duplex! Kudos. The poem is on FB so I had to take care of rabbit holes.
(Like full-time work’s not chore enough),
Shelves to dust and floors to buff.
Many of us have probably written about the memory of water (I know I have).
Memory with Water
who carries a pair of Neptunes in her eyes
Gravity is when the psychiatrist assessed you & located a heart that is heavy for no reason.
like a remembrance possessed by echoes
This poem was superb. So much backwater (no pun intended) story and a drive that flowed like rapid water.
I Received a Bitter Email from a Good-Hearted Man
John Wall Barger
John Wall Barger had me from the start. Wow! And the resolution of the piece is blessed. If only we could all find such peace and certainty when friendships fail.
So twenty years of friendship ended in a small gesture like a door sliding shut,
How blessed I was, it didn’t seem real, like a gardener who keeps finding seeds in the creases of his clothes,
Well aware of concrete poems (shape poems), have taught them on the curriculum for decades and occasionally enjoy writing one. I read the example poems anyway. Love all the reading you get to do with Napowrimo.
I thoroughly enjoyed May Swenson‘s, Women and to think it was published in 1978! Wow. And the content of George Starbuck‘s, Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree was certainly different to other concrete Christmas tree poems I have read! And a Sonnet to boot! I struggle to write them without creating a shape on top.
I have no idea of a starting point and I know shape poems can be digitally challenging, but I am in catch up mode and ready to dive in!
Cheesy as it is – I went for the ‘shape of love’ and of course, contoured a heart. Although it currently looks like a map of Australia with the basic prog. I am running!
While the poems may have seemed difficult to write, the responses to Day 27’s “homeric similes” prompt were really quite amazing. Featured: First up, we have Vixie’s Stories, second, we have Poetry by Hasen.
PROMPT: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “duplex.” A “duplex” is a variation on the sonnet, developed by the poet Jericho Brown. Here’s one of his first “Duplex” poems, and here is a duplex written by the poet I.S. Jones. Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first.
And what is it I say? You have to love a Duplex!
Flash of orange by Vickie Johnstone was a wonderful poem.
blazed his way through the carriage like an orangutan swinging between branches, looking for the swiftest route through the fervent foliage and busyness of leaves.
Winter Snow Barges by N. K. Hasen
the cars now under Frozen mounds over eight inches high of snow, Trapped like ancient shells in a block of ice.
I look forward to reading Wood Cat Review properly. Today I read the suggested poems.
William Doreski’sToads in Early Spring
A cracking opening.
At mid-day, huge slobbery toads
slug up through the melting snow.
I collect them like truffles
And despite using language like slobbery/slug up/ there is beauty in this, perhaps from the truffles. It is a beautiful poem.
Christian Ward’s The Judges of Wandle River
Again, an incredible opening:
A drizzle of midges
The wedding dress of a white
shopping bag suspended
above the river
threaded with comparisons in judgement. Great poem. I read it many times.
Duplex – I think the 2nd or maybe the 3rd one written during this year’s Napo – will have to check document. In a similar position to yesterday having just spent an hour in poetry, we now have all those life tasks to do before work tomorrow. So I am carrying my duplex around in my head and will catch up with myself on Friday.
I have just written a poem which feels important to me so I may use that as a basis and see what happens when it emerges as a Duplex.
Two days later…
I know Jericho’s poem well. In case you don’t here is the man himself telling it because you have to hear it in his voice for the full read. I know I have posted it before on this site.
And I.S Jones‘ poem, Self-Portrait as Etioly is similarly powerful. You can listen to the poem on the link above.
I am a spell of six letters. I have a name that begins and ends countries.
I set about working on my own Duplex.
Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines.
Seven, two-line stanzas.
The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza.
the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza.
The last line of the poem is the same as the first.
This description (from the Napo prompt) and the example poem from I.S Jones are different to other Duplex poems I have read in the variation on words in the repeated lines. So I will do the same today.
And as with all Duplex structures extracting a line or two doesn’t have the same affect. However. this poem has legs and I want to do something with it. So today I leave just one line which explains what the entire Duplex is about. A magical moment caught on camera. Written about in a class earlier this week when we were asked to think of an ordinary miracle moment.