Category Archives: Nina Lewis

A Quick Flashback to April and May

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Photo by Toni Ferreira on Pexels.com

APRIL

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-beingconnectedness, and effectiveness of all citizens through arts integrationmindfulnessmusicmovement, and healing-centered practices.

The Well © 2022

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.

Jason Allen-Paisant reads ‘Walking With the Word Tree’

MAY

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.

Photo by Travis Rupert on Pexels.com

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.

Kayleigh Campbell, Sarah James, Kathy Pimlott & 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.

Having said that – I am off to Reading in a fortnight to headline Poet’s Cafe. So I am very much still working and writing but also whirling and spinning through each day!

Photo by Alizee Marchand on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo – Nina’s Challenge #Day 30

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Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

This is the end of NaPoWriMo 2022, we made it! Thanks to those who posted the prompts elsewhere. I look forward to hearing all about your National Poetry Month!

#Day30

© Marina Barcelos

© Mel Poole

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 29

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Read the full post here.

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.

Today’s featured online magazine is On the Seawall. From the poems they’ve recently published, I’ll direct you to Barbara Daniels’ “My Lost Generation” and Melissa Eleftherion’s “Fool Reversed/Let Go.”

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.

© Joy Wright 2022

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
by sea.

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.

PROCESS NOTES:

In certain versions of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty, various fairies or witches are invited to a princess’s christening, and bring her gifts. One fairy/witch, however, is not invited, and in revenge for the insult, lays a curse on the princess. 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.). © napowrimo.net

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.

Photo by Jure u0160iriu0107 on Pexels.com

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.

Another update on the way!

NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 29

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Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

Day#29

© Maria Lupan

NaPoWriMo 2022 Day 28

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Read the full post here.

Today’s featured participant is yet again, two participants! First up, we have Eunoia and second, Karen Morris, bringing us a fully-rhymed duplex.

Our daily online magazine is failbetter. Among the poems that they’ve published recently, I’ll point out Jessie Raymundo’s “Memory with Water” and John Wall Barger’s “I Received a Bitter Email from a Good-Hearted Man.”

Prompt: write a concrete poem. In brief, a concrete poem is one in which the lines are shaped in a way that mimics the topic of the poem. For example, May Swenson’s poem “Women” or George Starbuck’s “Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree”.

I am behind by 2 days so will look into this prompt and poems tomorrow. I want to write my missing days first.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

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

Jessie Raymundo

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!

your eyes which speak whole

stories out into the space between us.

NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 28

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Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

Day#28

© Hadi Yazdi Aznaveh

© Liar Liur

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 27

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Read the full post here.

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.

Today’s featured online magazine is Wood Cat Review, I’ll point you to William Doreski’s “Toads in Early Spring” and Christian Ward’s “The Judges of Wandle River.”

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’s Toads 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.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

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.

Mellon Foundation

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.

the day he fell into a flower.

NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 27

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Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

Day#27

© Richard Bell

© James Qualtrough

NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 26

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Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

#Day26

© John T.

© Felix Dubois-Robert

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 25

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Read the full post here.

Featured participants Jacqui Dempsey-Cohen and Amita Paul.

Our featured online journal for the day is Okay Donkey, I’ll point you to Audrey Hall’s “Old Man in the Kitchen,” and Amorak Huey’s “A Small, Private Sadness.”

Today’s prompt is based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.

I enjoyed the fun of Jacqui Dempsey-Cohen’s poem, although it was Facebook – so I had to resist all temptation to catch up on there! Some of my favourite examples:

I enjoyed the scene described in Amita Paul’s poem and felt incredibly sorry for the grandmother. A very translatable scene! I have a dear memory of our own Great Aunty being wrapped up in curly chord by a then three year old great-great nephew! She was golden, just sat there and let the play happen!

while some of her progeny’s progeny and their progeny

tumble all over her in an excess of affection and youthful exuberance.

I know Okay Donkey and have them listed to submit to. I am very good at letting deadlines whoosh past and since March haven’t submitted anywhere due to life intervening the way it does and the places it leaves us in.

Old Man in the Kitchen by Audrey Hall, a poem which moved me, especially as the last one reminded me of a relative we have recently lost. The passing is heroic and Biblical, the relationship explored so succinctly.

Take the soggy reins dangling
from your veiny hands
away from Sunday breakfast.
I do not need you to split
this egg on the pan’s edge
or slice this banana into circles.

 

splinters
and brambles crowning your corpse.

A Small, Private Sadness by Amorak Huey – at least the title prepared me for the deep inhalations I knew I’d have. This poem brims with sadness and loss.

& this breeze hums your name

& pat a space next to them on the bed
& the temperature falls

& out beyond the pines
a great lake churns & churns.


The aisling is a poetic genre I know. I was taken by some of Maureen’s suggestions on this prompt:

a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.

  • Perhaps she will be the Madonna of the Traffic Lights,
  • or the Mysterious Spirit of Bus Stops.
  • Or maybe you will be addressed by the Lost Lady of the Stony Coves.

So my plan was to go and have a think about who my woman might be – but at the same time I am tempted to skip straight to one of these suggestions.

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

PROCESS NOTES

I came up with 5 possible women (I think I will return to the list and write an aisling for each of them in the future).

Fairly sure Bus Stops were in my head from the suggested ideas but also we have a bus station that despite several revamps ours had some of the old metal bus stands for a while. All updated now, but it amused me the gradual update and how the customer bit came after the rest.

I also have this internal conflict that I moved and lived all over for a decade and when I came back to the county, I promised myself I would live close to but not in the town I was born in. I did for several years and then I met Mr G. and the rest is history.

And today… I am going to share the whole poem!

The Waiting Lady of Green Metal Bus Stops

I used to see you half your life ago, longer –
you’d sit and wait on narrow seats,
head full of thought.
Your frustration of lateness,
your willing belief in the public transport system.

You who saw past the old, green metal bus stands
and looked instead to the sweep of branches
the bank of grass, who would canter over
to the brook to watch water flow over stones.
And read and re-read the timetable

despite knowing your schedule by heart.
I watched you pick at conversations
from those bus stop strangers,
how the ideas would elongate in your mind,
you’d carry them onto the bus

(when it eventually turned up), like precious
cargo, in case you spilled a line before
you reached your destination,
the city of Worcester.
Well, I’m still here and after you

moved away I saw other girls like you,
heads full of dreams, ambitions to leave
this town behind them.
You always knew the pull of this place,
your analogy was more a spider’s web

and trapped flies – but you see the beauty
now you’ve lived in cities without
stars and trees.
You came back to the green, to countryside
and small market towns, to urban sprawl

and this battered, old, bus terminal.
You admired the new digital destination board,
the ever changing roads around this space,
and smiled when you saw the old, familiar
bus stands. I am here to remind you

of this love. Of the attraction of home,
of the importance of roots –
and no matter how bad you think it’s got,
at least you’re not stuck forever
at the Bus Station, waiting.