Category Archives: Poem

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/

Listening for Pleasure

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This is on in less than 30 mins on Radio 4.

The New Lyrical Ballads

Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge first published in 1798, changed the course of British poetry. Growing up in the Lake District, Wordsworth set out to use the everyday language he heard around him in his poems in order to make them accessible to a wider audience. Both poets drew inspiration from seeing a return to the original state of nature, in which people led a purer and more innocent existence The word Lyrical linked their poems to ancient rustic bards, while Ballad refers to an oral storytelling tradition. Both poets used rural life and country people as the subject of their poetry which was a marked shift from what had come before.

To mark the 250 anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth, four leading poets Zaffar Kunial, Kim Moore, Helen Mort and Jacob Polley read new lyrical ballads inspired by the ideas in the original collection. Each of the contemporary poets have strong links to Cumbria and the Lake District and their poems give us a glimpse into life in the county now.

Produced by Lorna Newman and Susan Roberts
A BBC North production.

Copyright © 2020 BBC

 

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Go on! Give your ears some food!

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 CONTOUR Poetry Magazine Issue 4 COMING SOON

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We hope you have enjoyed the INKSPILL weekend.

During my time as worcestershire Poet Laureate I created Contour – A Poetry Magazine. The launch of this issue was hoped to be our final post for INKSPILL 2018*.  Here I was to invite you to curl up with a warm drink and experience the world of poetry and all things poetical in the latest issue of CONTOUR.

contour 4 celebration - Made with PosterMyWall

*However, the issue is not ready to go live (in case you missed the post I have had an operation) and this has set me back/time online not possible etc. This issue will go live very soon and I will post on the blog to promote it when it does.

Until then I can share some news and the previous issues of Contour for you to enjoy.

Inkspill news

My Laureateship ended in June 2018 but I have decided to continue with Contour.

It will now be an annual publication released as the final event of INKSPILL weekend. Submissions will open in July 2019, keep your eye on A Writers Fountain for more details.

LINKS:

SPECIAL EDITION ISSUE 3 A TALE OF TWO CITIES

Transatlantic Poetry Project as featured in Poetry Society Poetry News.

 

ISSUE 2 CONTOUR LOVE

 

ISSUE 1 CONTOUR PLACE

 

INKSPILL 2018 A Poem From Simon Armitage

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This Poem of the Week from The Guardian was published in May 2018. Click the read to read ‘The Straight and Narrow’ by Simon Armitage, the Poem of the Week includes an analysis.

The Straight and Narrow

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The article includes links to the following interviews/ webpages. “Swimming through Bricks”: A Conversation with Simon Armitage by Rob Roensch and Quinn Carpenter Weedon and Magic Realism in Fiction.

 

World Childless Week 10th-16th

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I have only discovered Gateway Women UK and World Childless Week today whilst breaking from Admin in Social Media.

This is something rarely spoken about, very much the stories which remain inside us. However, the amount of times women my age and younger are asked the question of children, well it is pretty much every conversation I have ever had with a stranger or new acquaintance since 2005 and it is a painful question.

So with a mighty trigger warning – I am sharing the work of the Gateway Women. With love to you all, those lucky enough and those who are not.

world childless week

World Childless Week aims to raise awareness of the childless not by choice (cnbc) community. To help the cnbc find support groups that understand their grief and can help them move forwards to acceptance. It’s for anyone who is childless because they have never been pregnant (for any reason), not carried full term or have suffered the sadness of a baby born sleeping. All our Champions and founder Steph, represent our audience.

https://worldchildlessweek.net/ © 2018

Each day of the week the site features events. Lots of people submitted their stories and today there are heart-achingly beautiful letters.

childless letters

https://worldchildlessweek.net/2018-letters-from-our-hearts/

This link will land you on today’s events page, if you scroll down you can read the letters. Once you are on the first letter The Baby On The Back Seat By Kenny And Berenice Smith you can click through the other stories.

These tales are often too painful to tell, but for those who cannot write them – reading them can give some much needed healing.

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A tiny part of mine seeped into my first pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’.

The Royal Wedding

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The Royal Wedding

The Royal Wedding – The Tone is Set, a new poem as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

Poet Laureate

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It is not every Laureate who gets a Royal Wedding during their tenure. As this website has a huge International reach and this is a momentous occasion, I decided it was only fitting to gift a poem. 

The Tone is Set

In one smile
she shows the world
her dreams have come true.

Gentle songs meander
towards strong speeches –
Fire and Love.

The Prince and nearly Princess
absorb their connection,
fingers entwined.

A mother sits alone,
closes her eyes in prayer
as the choir trills the space.

Bishop Michael invites
the congregation to think
of the shape of love.

‘Think about the time
you first fell in love
in any form.’

The smile widens
as tears are wiped from cheeks,
hats bowed in thought.

‘We were made
by the power of love.’

A moment of almost silent
sign language is shared,
as lovers do. Before ‘I do.’

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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 Week 2 Review

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WPL Wordle 3 Napo small I certainly had less time for writing this week with a diary full of doing. This made it very important to carve out some time for NaPo Writing, often just before the day’s end (which is a good time for my creative thinking).

I enjoyed the resources, articles, example poems, interviews and ideas that came from this week’s NaPoWriMo prompts and they have enabled a range of completed poems and a few I need to spend more time with.

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When I had time and the prompts appealed, I managed more than one poem, which is all in preparation of having to fit full-time work in, starting next week. It has been a couple of years since I last worked a full week and my poetry schedule has not diminished because of it. I have a Poetry Surgery to run, a special edition magazine to edit, reviews to write, sets to rehearse, I am performing at Cheltenham Poetry Festival and as 1 of 5 performers at Bohemian Voices this month too. There are also some book launches and event nights I hope to manage.

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I started the week with 2 missing days (Day 6 & 7) from Week 1, so I had to catch up with those poems too, which I managed by Day 9.

Day 6 used ‘Poetic Lines’ (Alberto Ríos’s article on the Poetic Line), I wrote Picking Blackberries, which is a poem I have carried in my head since the end of March when I started my poetry/Art collaboration with Molly Bythell.  I enjoyed this experiment, I tend to write in short lines, so it was a challenge.

Day 7 explored different layers of identity, I had my powerful and vulnerable voices talk to each other, a contest between the former teacher and the poet, the poet wins of course! I played with anagrams to find the final title – Open at Detacher (which has several meanings to me).

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  • Cotton To 
  • The Tiny Objects of a Vast Mind
  • World Going
  • White Matter Changes
  • Apples
  • The Difficult House – Poem Beginning with a line from Sean Nevin

Day 8 I wrote a dedication to Mr. G who puts up with the poetry me. Cotton To.

Day 9 A poem in which something big and something small come together. I spent a long while exploring the art of  Atlanta-based Desirée De León and not writing the first poem I had (learning from ’52’). I sat on it for a while before creating  The Tiny Objects of a Vast Mind.

Day 10 Saw another PoArtry/ Dementia Poems surface. One was an anagram rhyme which was fun to play around with World Going.

Day 11 used number sequencing and resulted in White Matter Changes.

Day 12 I used both the Naponet and Poetry School prompts. I wrote a haibun about where I live called Apples and a poem borrowing the first line from Sean Nevin The Difficult House. I enjoyed both techniques. I am happier with my 2nd poem.

This summer I will be travelling a lot and the history of the Haibun being used to almanac travel has given me an idea though!

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Day 13: Keep the Light – a poem using syllabic pattern.

Day 14: Remover – A redux/Chain poem.

 

Week 1 Poetry 

  1. Best Before
  2. The Sea Jewel
  3. The Home at Christmas
  4. Apology
  5. Bring Me The Shoes
  6. Wordle Band Name
  7. Pudding Protest
  8. In the Park
  9. Picking Blackberries
  10. Note at Preached/ Preached to Neat / A Taped Coherent / Open at Detacher

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Week 2 Poetry:

  1. (11) Cotton To 
  2. (12) The Tiny Objects of a Vast Mind
  3. (13) World Going
  4. (14) White Matter Changes
  5. (15) Apples
  6. (16) The Difficult HousePoem Beginning with a line from Sean Nevin
  7. (17) Keep the Light 
  8. (18) Remover

Celebrating IWD with Worcestershire Poet Laureates

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Happy International Women’s Day! Come and see, read, hear four Worcestershire Poet Laureates.

Poet Laureate

IWB SOCIAL MEDIATo Celebrate IWD I asked you to send your poetry recommendations, inspirations and influences to us. You can read that post here.

Whilst I was compiling your insights a sudden thought struck me and I contacted Maggie Doyle – WPL 2013/14 & Poet Laureate Emeritus, Heather Wastie – WPL 2015/16 and Suz Winspear WPL 2016/17 to ask for an exclusive contribution for IWD. 

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I am the 7th WPL and the 4th woman to take on the role. I was delighted that the former WPLs wanted to be involved and so here, I present: 

Maggie Doyle 

Gifts us some of her influential women and a poem.

Influential women who got you into writing or supported this path for you.

I didn’t enjoy poetry at school and for most of my adult life it was something I never thought about.  However, I have always loved language and the magic words provide. Their…

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