Category Archives: Poem

May 2021 Review of the Month

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Summer’s late to the UK this year and so is my May review. I didn’t manage to finish the content in time before getting swept up with festival programming. Rather than leave people out I decided to delay the post.

Better late, than never… May.

May and June are always Festival busy and life online is no different. I also had a few exciting projects I was working on, so it has been another packed month.

FESTIVALS OVERVIEW:

SAHLF 2021 26th April – 9th May

The Stay at Home! Literary Festival celebrated a 2nd year of stunning, FREE events and brought us a fortnight packed with Readings, Interviews, Workshops, Panel Discussions and Books! It was fantastic.

You can read my posts about the SAHLF events starting here.

Saboteur Awards Festival 10th-15th May

Saboteur Awards Festival (10th – 15th May) The team have been working hard on how to adapt the awards to a digital platform for the 2nd year and have introduced the Saboteur Awards Festival -a Panel Discussion, Workshop, Reading Series ‘specifically to promote work that had been impacted by the pandemic and/or the various lockdowns throughout the UK’. At the end of the festival this year’s winners will be announced and then you can lock forward to the Spotlight Winners Series running all the way into June.

Read my festival post here.

Still-at-Home! Fringe Fest 11th – 26th May

https://www.stayathomefringe.co.uk (11th -26th May ) The Still-at-Home! Fringe Fest is the punk-brat little sister of the award-winning Stay-at-Home Literary Festival. Now a year old, and on our third festival, we’re letting loose one last time because we’re still at home!

MASS Poetry Festival 13th-16th May

MASS Poetry Festival (13th – 16th May) This was an absolutely packed programme of events – ‘more than 50 events in total featuring well over 100+ poets‘ – no wonder it’s a biennial event! The festival is a mix of in place events and virtual. I attended a lot of MASS PF workshops and have always had an eye on this one so it is a delight to be in a position to join in.

This was an incredible festiand I am so glad I had a chance to catch it and be part of it online.

Read my Festival post here.

Urban Tree Festival – (London) 15th-23rd May

I was delighted to see the Urban Tree Festival back after its award winning 2020 Festival.

2021 marks the Urban Tree Festival’s fourth year As lockdown eases in the UK, we hope to bring some on-the-ground events and activities, however, the majority of the Urban Tree Festival is online. Building on the success of our entirely on-line festival last year, that introduced us to new audiences across the UK and far beyond…’

Norfolk & Norwich Festival 17-30th May

Norfolk & Norwich Festival is a Festival of the Arts being celebrated this year both in place and online.

HAY Festival 2021 26th May – 6th June


www.hayfestival.com
Back for a 2nd year on Digital platforms (and still FREE) is Hay Festival – nearly every bit as good as the real life one! Extensive programme of events and a long run. If you missed it completely, you can view it if you subscribe to Hay Player.

Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

WEEK 1: Readings, workshops and published.

There were lots of great readings this week. Cheltenham Poetry Festival had more wonderful offerings, I went to the reading by Jonathan Davidson and Wendy Pratt. It was a joy. Pavillion Poets 2021 Reading (Liverpool University Press), featuring Alice Miller, Alice Hiller & Sarah Westcott. I enjoyed the fine new work from these poets.

I managed to catch a wonderful reading at White Whale Book Store, with Adrienne Su reading from her latest collection peach state. She was joined by Kazim Ali & Erika Meitner. It was another reading worth staying awake for. Beautiful event. The flipside of no work for a 5th week… meant I managed to get back to the Live Canon Lunchtime reading series and enjoyed sets from: Nora Nadjarian, Benjamin Cusden, Sara Levy and Jeffery Sugarman.

I experienced the final MASS PF PEM Museum Workshop with Kirun Kapur which was a delightful look at epistolary poetry. Well worth staying up late for. I am now busy crafting these poems.

After seeing Rachel Bower again at SAHLF this year, I was delighted to discover her ‘Glimmers: Writing out of the Ordinary’ Workshop with Union Street (which had a similar theme to the workshop I planned for Cheltenham Poetry Festival Freeverse series this month). And I found it just in time to attend this wondrous hour!

I took part in the final (of a series) Mindful Poetry Workshops with The Well. This week was Sarah Yeung of SKY Sound Yoga who opened our time with a sound meditation. And, Eddie Gonzalez, Director of Engagement at The On Being Project who led the poetry workshop. It was a fantastic experience to be a part of. I am now baking these poems too.

I finally submitted to IS&T earlier this year, a magazine I have read for years. I was delighted to have a poem accepted by them ‘Where We Begin’, was featured on the 2nd May.

WEEK 2:

Was a whirlwind of real world work, readings, workshops and multiple festivals. I also managed to make a submission and craft some new poems.

Live from The Butchery hosted another fabulous afternoon of poetry with Tim Liardet, Jennifer Militello, Jenny Pagdin and a week later were announced as winners of the Best Regular Spoken Word Night Saboteur Award 2021 , a category full of stiff competition, so kudos to the team.

Followed by an equally exceptional evening at Cafe Writers featuring Tiffany Atkinson and support from Tristan Coleshaw & Eve Esfandiari Denney.

I did my usual sessions Line Breaks and Bronx Beats with Peggy Roubles-Alvarado which is always fast, furious fun and Redwing’s groups. The WLF team started finalising mini-festival 2021 plans and I had some wonderful readings and workshops from the Saboteur Festival and MASS Poetry Festival.

I made it to most of the Poetry Business Spring Launch and caught up on rewatch. Evesham Festival of Words have also been producing events online. I managed to get to Home and Away featuring the Cheltenham Poetry Festival – Anna Saunders, Ben Ray and Zoe Brooks.

I also missed some events and readings as I was working.

WEEK 3:

The festival events continued and a workshop I had been looking forward to for a long time with Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton. Great things have come from this session ‘Collision, Collusion & Craft’.

I enjoyed a workshop with Sarah L. Dixon and a Fair Acre Book Launch for Carl Tomlinson and Annie Freud’s wonderful launch event ‘Hiddensee’ with Jacqueline Saphra.

Last Autumn I was booked by Cheltenham Poetry Festival for the Freeverse Programme to facilitate a poetry workshop day. The theme I chose was ‘Finding Fortune’ and it was a pleasure to provide a bespoke Freeverse Workshop for this project.

To wind down afterwards I joined the Urban Tree Festival for Sounds of Plants with Planet Utopia. I discovered a while back the magic of tree communication – it was wonderful to hear it and lovely to be part of such a laid back hour.

I also caught another reading with Adrienne Su, for Caltech, a wonderfully generous event.

The organisation of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival ran full steam. I was busy with the tech side of the our 2nd Digital Mini Festival. Preparing for pre-festival meetings and Poet Laureate interviews as well as organising events and herding poets (and everyone knows we are like cats or badly behaved sheep)!

I had to miss events due to work and carved out one evening away from the desk.

I missed at lot of the Still-at-Home! Fringe LitFest (Fringe for SAHLF) – or as marketed, the punk-brat little sister of the award-winning Stay-at-Home Literary Festival. I did manage to get to enjoy Tawnya Renelle’s workshop and one at the Urban Tree Festival – Writing Wood Words with Electra Rhodes and the other with Chris Vox on ‘Serendipity’ as part of the SAHLFringe Festival. As well as a Magma Poetry Talk and I managed a couple of submissions.

WEEK 4:

I spent my weekend at a variety of festivals, went to a couple of workshops we had the 2021 Worcestershire Poet Laureate Interviews and I finally made it back to USA open mic with Great weather for Media. I missed some submissions, due to work commitments. I arranged an interview in June for BBC Hereford & Worcester radio. And the HAY Festival began with an amazing Gala event.

Sadly this year I didn’t make it to all the events I had hoped to catch at HAY. I haven’t been able to work properly for 2 years, so I am currently snapping jobs every time they come. I managed to catch some before they disappeared into Hay Player – which has a reasonable rate for an annual subscription. I was working and full of cold. I had lost my voice completely when 42Worcester came about and so for the 2nd time this year (after not missing any for the best part of 5 or 6 years) I missed it again, I managed to pop on for a few readings and then had to leave. I had managed to pen an on theme poem in my lunch hour and was fully prepared to join in.

I did a wonderful Ledbury Poetry Festival workshop with Sara-Jane Arbury, where I fell in love with a couple of mesmerising sculptures we looked at. I had an evening at Wordsworth Grasmere with Wendy Pratt as part of the 2021 contemporary poetry reading series, “Go to the poets, they will speak to thee”, is curated and hosted by poet Kim Moore. We will be listening to what poets have to say about our turbulent times, and how poetry can cross borders to challenge, delight and inspire us. Each event in the series is part reading, part open mic – and the theme of the open mic changes every month!  © The Wordsworth Trust

I thought I had a quiet(ish) weekend to finish the month, especially after three weeks of work… but then, along came The Black Country Living Museum with a whole day of workshops facilitated by the Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists as part of the Loff Out Loud Festival, a Sheffield Libraries event and HAY.

May was finished off at the WWBPA where we celebrated Walt Whitman’s 202nd Birthday with a presentation of artwork and film inspired by Leaves of Grass. It was marvellous curation and an enjoyable watch.

Featured on Ink Sweat & Tears

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I realise despite writing 38 poems in the past 4 weeks for NaPoWriMo, you haven’t seen any of them – so I can treat you all to a full poem today care of IS&T who kindly published ‘Where We Begin’, it is the featured poem today.

Much of the poetry I wrote in 2020 (beyond my own ongoing projects), was as a result of fantastic, generous workshops. When I reminded myself of the origins of this poem I knew I needed to add thanks to Zelda Chappel.

Zelda ran several classes/workshops throughout Lockdown. This poem came from the Week 1 Writing in New Spaces, so thanks Zelda for making me write in the fresh places.

https://news.wttw.com/2020/04/14/more-magic-skies-planets-and-moon-align-show-week

It was written over a year ago, a few weeks into the 1st Lockdown, it reminds me how far we have and have not come.

With gratitude to IS&T and Helen Ivory for considering this poem.

Keep safe all of you.

x

RELATED LINKS:

Moon sweeps close to three planets.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/apr/12/starwatch-social-distancing-heavenly-bodies-moon-mars-saturn-jupiter

Corona: An Anthology of Poems – Launch

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Last year I tried not to write about Coronavirus, it crept into a lot of the work and in the end I fell into the school of thought that part of the job of a poet is to comment on our experiences and the times and 2020 was certainly packed with events that found way to many pens for those of us who could still write.

As far as submissions go, I haven’t actively been working on that as I have been busy with writer/editor/reader head on for a while and have seen many collections pass my way. I did have a couple of other poems published in another anthology too, Geography is Irrelevant but most of my C0’19 poems cling on in notebooks!

I am excited to be performing again at the Walt Whitman Birthplace this evening, (I featured there in Oct. 2020).

Find the links for the launch and register here.

WWBA is delighted to host a live poetry reading to celebrate the release of “Corona: An Anthology of Poems” edited by Gayl Teller, the Nassau County Poet Laureate for 2009-11 and the 2016 Walt Whitman Birthplace Poet of the Year. This luminous collaboration of 98 poets, including many poets laureate from the US and abroad, evinces a kaleidoscope of perspectives and experiences during our historic and traumatic time of pandemic and racial strife. Celebrate Poetry Month with us on Zoom during a live reading with a diverse group of poets sharing their reflections on the quarantine, social distancing, masks, and other aspects of the global pandemic.   

© Walt Whitman Birthplace Association 2021

The title Corona suggests not only the pandemic but luminous hope.

BUY your copy of the anthology here.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 17

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Day Seventeen Click here for the full post.

Today, our featured participant is A Writer Without Words, who wrote a tale of rodential woe in response to our Skeltonic verse prompt for Day 16.

Our reading for the day is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 18, at 4 p.m. eastern daylight time. The reading will feature poets whose books have recently been published by the press Lavender Ink/Diálogos, one of the founding organizers of the New Orleans Poetry Festival.

Prompt – I’ve seen some fairly funny twitter conversations lately among poets who are coming to terms with the fact that they keep writing poems about the moon. For better or worse, the moon seems to exert a powerful hold on poets, as this large collection of moon-themed poems suggests. Today, I’d like to challenge you to stop fighting the moon. Lean in. Accept the moon… write a poem that is about, or that involves, the moon.

Happy writing!

© NaPoWriMo

PROCESS NOTES:

Today (as with most of April) was a busy one, so much so I almost forgot about NaPo! Candace Shultz’s Skeltonic There’s a Mouse Inside My House made me smile, it had a drastic ending! Shultz also makes narrative sense, which is the biggest challenge/ accomplishment of this form.

The reading will be 8PM and I am already attending a festival event, I may be able to catch up by watching it through Facebook though. I was aware of the New Orleans poetry festival from the beginning of NaPo – there are many festivals happening at the moment and spending time at them all is impossible.

I have only written poems specifically about the moon a few times at the beginning of my writing career – it is something I love but rarely write, so was looking forward to diving into the prompt today. I feel a new obsession rising!

The large collection of moon themed poems article is a lot of text to get through, a great many references and some interesting quotations and information. If you have time I recommend you reading it all. Some of the poets cited were known to me and others, not so much. I clicked through all of the hyperlinks in the article anyway.

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

A poem that is about or involves the moon (my 3rd or 4th ever moon poem was about to happen)!

I took an ekphrastic approach, starting with a look at the Moon, free wrote around the images and then worked on the bank of words and phrases I was left with. I felt great urgency to create a concrete (shape) poem from my words.

I really enjoyed writing today’s poem and am happy with the initial result, a sort of breathless praise to the moon, deeper than anything I have written which has been moon based before. I felt I was writing to the moon/ for the moon.

Here’s a short extract:

I had never considered your evolution,

always thought you

unchanged.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 16

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Day Sixteen Click for full post

Today’s featured participant is Kyle M. Bondo, who penned an ode to his inherited inability to send back poorly-made restaurant food in response to our prompt for Day 15.

Our featured reading for the day is another pre-recorded one … a 2008 reading by the poet Ted Kooser, who won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for his poetry collection, Delights and Shadows.

Prompt: … rather silly form called Skeltonic, or tumbling, verse. In this form, there’s no specific number of syllables per line, but each line should be short, and should aim to have two or three stressed syllables. And the lines should rhyme. You just rhyme the same sound until you get tired of it, and then move on to another sound. Here’s a short example I came up with.

                             A toad beneath a log

                             Cares not for storm or fog.

                             He’s not a bee or frog

                             Or a naïve polliwog.

                             No! He’s wise and bumpy.

                             His skin is thick and lumpy.

                             He doesn’t work for money.

                             And his disposition’s sunny.

Happy writing!         

       © napowrimo.net

PROCESS NOTES:

I liked the concept/habit of Kyle’s poem – it is one many of us struggle with and also made me consider non-physical habits my parents had that I may have picked up (which is not a route I had imagined).

She would either eat around the problem,

I would love to have to courage to refuse it,
But I’m a son enslaved by my mother’s habit.

Thanks to an earlier NaPo reading (Donald Hall), I knew who Ted Kooser was. Relieved it is a pre-recorded event as the weekend diary is packed with online events, I watched the 2005 reading.

University of California Television (UCTV)


U.S. Poet Laureate (2004-2006) Ted Kooser is a major poetic voice for rural and small town America and the award-winning author of ten collections of poetry, most recently 2004’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Delights and Shadows. Nebraskan Kooser often draws from his native Great Plains and his poems are acclaimed for their simple, straightforward style. Kooser reads from his poetry before a standing-room only audience in Campbell Hall at UC Santa Barbara. [8/2005] [Humanities] [Arts and Music]

Loved Ted’s Hobbit story, the letters from children comments made me smile. Ted’s humility is clear and it was an entertaining intro. Many of his poems carry his humour. A wonderfully engaging reading and a great meeting of this poet. Student was brilliant. Splitting an Order – his valentine poem (and the 700 women on his list)… other times incredible powerful At the Cancer Clinic. This reading brought me joy!

I enjoyed reading about Ted and read some of the poems collected on the Poetry Foundation website too. I will definitely read more of Ted’s work, watch more videos of his readings.

I have written a Skeltonic poem before (for a previous NaPo), despite the form veering towards comic content I wrote about this Lockdown 13 months on and my practise year of the isolation part. Obviously it is a serious subject, I haven’t written a humorous poem. I don’t enjoy writing in this form so I doubt it will be reworked, but a few lines might find there way into something else. Here are the end-lines:

kept themselves safe and clean

coated in Polytetrafluoroethylene.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 12

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Day Twelve Click for the full post.

Our featured participant today is Catching Lines, where you will find an intriguingly fruity poem in response to our epistolary prompt for Day 11.

Our reading is a pre-recorded one… It features Donald Hall, who besides being a wonderful poet, wrote the children’s book Ox-Cart Man, which has introduced generations of kids to flinty New England thriftiness.

Prompt… I’m calling this one “Past and Future.” This prompt challenges you to write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science FictionCathy Park Hong for a tweet to the science fiction dictionary and Hoa Nguyen for the Classical Dictionary.

Happy writing!

© napowrimo.net

Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

PROCESS NOTES:

Someone had the morning off, so I fell behind on writing and posting Napo. I love the sorts of prompts we had today, so was looking forward to writing today. I reached my desk at 6 PM. The first place I went was the Napo prompt but then I had events, time offline. I decided as I hadn’t even approached writing for NaPo I would leave it until Tuesday.

THE NEXT DAY…

I read the A Kitchen Incident. An incredible poem. Intrigued by and connected to this poem.

Did you see, in that line, how I halved myself like an orange?/ Peeping through each other’s letterboxes./ Or maybe I’m the juice, running out and away like a river, losing myself in the ocean. I once thought us immiscible. Oil and water. /perhaps we’re more like milk and blood, clotting in each other like casual dynamite.

^ Beautiful lines.

Despite being a US Poet Laureate I hadn’t come across Donald Hall. I listened/watched the featured reading over two days. It is only a 30 minute video but I fell down a rabbit hole and also had a day away from the screen/desk yesterday.

University of Virginia video, Donald Hall, U.S. Poet Laureate – With numerous awards such as two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Marshal/Nation Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Lily Prize for Poetry, Hall is one of the greatest poets of our time. He has published 15 books of poetry and now shares his creative wisdom in this thoughtful exploration of his work.

I listened to this reading in bitesize chunks of 10ish minutes, I heard the first 4 poems three times. I tried to find the time to watch it properly so today (Tuesday), I sat down for lunch with Donald and watched. This isn’t necessarily a style of poetry I would seek or read but I enjoyed his humour and hearing the stories behind some of the poems.

I particularly liked The Poet and hearing him talk of his father, how he wrote straight away in his grief but it took 17 years to complete White Apples, to fit the parts together needed one more line, eventually (as poems do), it came and also gave the book its title – White Apples and the Taste of Stone (2006).

His poem about POETRY READINGS – To a Waterfowl …. ‘I tell them I am in POETRY’… is definitely worth a read/ listen – Donald says about it; “that was a lot of poem to write!

It was an emotive reading, I appreciated Donald talking about the structure of his poems and his process. The narrative in his work is rich indeed. ‘The Day I was Older’ – A poem in which he considers growing older than his father (who died at 52), is written in 5 parts each with a title ‘The Day I was Older’ // The Clock: ‘ … a thousand favourite favorite stars’ /

And Olive – well what can I say? Watch it!

I did a little post reading research.

Donald Hall (1928-2018)

He was the 14th US Poet Laureate – succeeded Ted Kooser from October 1, 2006, and was succeeded by Charles Simic in 2007.

He was the author of over 50 books across several genres from children’s literature, biography, memoir, essays, and including 22 volumes of verse.

He was the New Hampshire (home state) Poet Laureate (1984–89).

After this I fell down a rabbit hole of other You Tube videos, talks and readings, read the Poetry Foundation pages and explored some of Donald’s other poems.

I saved the link to his children’s book (inspired by the poem Ox-Cart Man which he read as part of his University of Virginia reading) to listen to later.

Never too old for a children’s story.

I then spent a while (and I mean a long time) exploring and enjoying the dictionaries – Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.

I still haven’t chosen my words. I did some of the research yesterday, but am yet to settle down to write it out. I will be back later to write two days of NaPo and will update this post.

UPDATE:

I knew I would enjoy this prompt and I did. It took ages to pick words from these two resource texts. I screen shot them and kept them on the screen as I wrote.

During Week 1 of Napo I wrote about Venus and so when I came across Lucifer in the Classical Dictionary that had to be my starting point and from the Historical Science Fiction dictionary I chose anti-agathic.

I just let the poem come out, free write. It centred around the dual name aspect and touched on the 2 facades of people/ public-private. It was an interesting prompt and one that can be repeated many times from these rich resource texts.

If she could live all her days as two…

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 8

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Day Eight Click here for the full post.

Today, our featured participant is Uncle Phil’s Blog, where the Shadorma/Fib prompt for Day 7 led to a very funny shadorma indeed.

Our featured reading for the day is pre-recorded, so that you can watch it whenever you like. It features the poet Denise Duhamel, reading at Arizona State University.

Our prompt – I call this one “Return to Spoon River,” after Edgar Lee Masters’ eminently creepy 1915 book Spoon River Anthology. The book consists of well over 100 poetic monologues, each spoken by a person buried in the cemetery of the fictional town of Spoon River, Illinois.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to read a few of the poems from Spoon River Anthology, and then write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily – perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood, like the gentleman who ran the shoeshine stand, or one of your grandmother’s bingo buddies. As with Masters’ poems, the monologue doesn’t have to be a recounting of the person’s whole life, but could be a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy. Be as dramatic as you like – Masters’ certainly didn’t shy away from high emotion in writing his poems.

Happy writing!

PROCESS NOTES: Watch out for the not-really-Rabbit-Holes!

Welcome to the 2nd week of NaPoWriMo! I found today good fun, hope you do too. I started with the featured participant I LOVED the coffee poem, both poems followed form. The Shadorma about family was intriguing – I know the Shadorma was promoted as funny (it can be read this way) < see how subjective poetry is? When I read it – Uncle Pete caused concern and then later in thought perhaps sympathy – the fact we don’t know why he is left out is a little sinister, or perhaps just brothers who have fallen out, there’s lots to unpack for such a short form – clever writing.

Today was a day of 100s of poems! I listened to the Denise Duhamel Poetry Reading at ASU. Denise Duhamel Poetry Reading at the Arizona State University “Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference.”

Denise Duhamel earned a BFA at Emerson College and an MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Citing Dylan Thomas and Kathleen Spivack as early influences, Duhamel writes both free verse and fixed-form poems that fearlessly combine the political, sexual, and ephemeral. Duhamel has published numerous collections of poetry, including Kinky (1997), Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (2001), and Ka-Ching! (2009). Her honors include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has been included in several volumes of Best American Poetry, and has also been featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and Bill Moyers’s PBS poetry special Fooling with Words. An associate professor at Florida International University, she lives in Florida.

It was a great reading, amusing and a fantastic companion to my morning coffee and at 20 minutes more manageable than some of the featured readings offered. The story behind her Sestina to Sean Penn is brilliant! Delta Flight 659 for Sean Penn. I will watch/listen/share this reading.

Photo credit: Gary Lanier

If you want more than 20 minutes of poetry you can let Vimeo deliver the rest of the “Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference” videos to your screen, most of them are from 2012 Conference.

I listened to Sally Ball. – Not exactly a rabbit hole because I wasn’t seeking it – glad I caught her reading though.

Sally Ball reading from “Annus Mirabilis” at the Arizona State University “Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference.”

Sally Ball is the author of Annus Mirabilis, which was selected by Ellen Bryant Voigt for the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize (NY: Barrow Street, 2005). Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Ploughshares, Slate, Threepenny Review, Yale Review, and other journals, as well as in the Best American Poetry anthology. Ball is the associate director of Four Way Books, an independent press based in New York City. In 2007 she was the Margaret Bridgman Fellow in Poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, where she teaches poetry workshops, courses in modern and contemporary American poetry, and a literary publishing and editing class. She also offers internships with Four Way Books to students in the MFA Program for Creative Writing.

2012 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference
Feb. 23-26 • ASU Tempe campus

I also read more of Denise Duhamel‘s poems on Poets.org – again notreally-a-rabbit-hole as it was on the same page as the NaPo link and I have only just discovered Denise today and loved her work. Rabbit Hole in time though. I have stored a few for later.

NaPoWriMo often send gems of ebook resources, I didn’t read all of the Spoon River Anthology but I have saved the link on my NaPo resource list. A free book, always a bonus!

Today’s prompt meant that I returned to the book with a 2nd cup of coffee to read a few poems. I have only ever written one dramatic monologue – they were a popular form here on the spoken word circuit about 5 years ago, especially amongst students studying creative writing. Of course they have been in vogue for years and used by Wordsworth, Browning, Tennyson, Eliot and Yeats, to name a few. They are sometimes referred to as persona poems. I have a background in theatre and drama so at one point in my life knew more monologues than poems. The poetic form is a little different from the dramatic form.

I know this prompt is one I shall start this morning and carry with me before I sit to write it out. Especially as I have my first walk in 2021 Walk in Nature planned before lunch. It won’t be far because of the leg/back recovery but it will be OUTSIDE and although cold the sky is blue, there is no sun and the sun is SHINING! Scarf and boots ready. Also it was around this time last year in the 1st UK Lockdown when I felt brave enough to venture outside of my home range for a walk. I saw three fields over the course of 2020 grow through a cycle that let me know some of our world still works as it did. There are geese, ducks, birds of prey and the hills in the background and in a socially distanced way, my mum (who has been shielding so we have big gaps of time where we didn’t see each other off screen).

The walk was a joy! The sky was big.

PROMPT:

read a few of the poems from Spoon River Anthology, and then write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead… perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood, … a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy.

Read from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters.

I only read a few of the poems from Spoon River, Cassius Hueffer explores the idea of people’s idea* of us and our real selves can be different. *I like the idea that it may not be the truthful version of what people think anyway but the gravestone is not the place to write a harsh truth. I know whatever comes in the next few hours will stem from this poem.

Dramatic Monologues:

The basics of a dramatic monologue, demonstrated through the poems collected in the Spoon River Anthology:

Single person speaking/ opinions not necessarily those of poet (assumed character)/ – which creates a distance between the reader and the writer, /it is dramatic (like the theatre- settings/character/conflict) so is spoken to/assumes a listener or is addressed to another character.

M.H. Abrams says; “The main principle controlling the poet’s choice and formulation of what the lyric speaker says is to reveal to the reader, in a way that enhances its interest, the speaker’s temperament and character.”

What came out was a two page poem about a friend we recently lost to suicide. In his voice. Free written, typed at speed. I won’t share an extract but I feel him with me, in my heart.

WOW. Today’s Napo is powerful and not necessarily pleasant in the end, give yourselves self-care if you have written about … or found this traumatic or difficult, this prompt could unpluck a lot of people. Take care. x

Inua Ellams 2020 Vision: A Reflection on the Year

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2020 Vision: A Reflection on the Year

© Henry Nicholls

2020 was a year like no other. Tune in live for the launch of a specially commissioned poem by internationally touring poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams. A unique chance to not only take stock of last year but also to look forward to the future.

This event will also include a live Q&A, giving you the chance to ask Inua about his writing, his experience of 2020, and his process for creating this poem.

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I feel so privileged that I caught the premier of this work and was there for the enlightening Q&A afterwards. What a brilliant end to a poetry filled morning. I started in Sheffield Library beforehand with Claire Walker’s Poetry group, this week looking at poems with plants/flowers/gardens. I woke to unrealised snow, childlike excitement hit my soul when I saw out the window!

It is always a pleasure to listen to Inua, he is incredibly insightful and generous in his tips and conversation around his work. It was great to hear his approach for this particular commission. I won’t paraphrase the entire hour, I am sure you will want to watch and enjoy.

But here is my positive take away: Be present. /Stay present. /Who I am? Why I am. /Stay weird/ Harness it – we are lucky.

Flashback Spring (May)

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Photo by Boris Pavlikovsky on Pexels.com

If I thought April had been a whirlwind, I wasn’t quite buckled in for May!

I was enjoying off screen time in the garden, had already taken photos of the blossom and enjoyed the early Spring flowers.

You know it is easy to misremember how it was? I closed the last flashback with the realisation I had not travelled more than 1.5 miles from my home – actually my perimeter was a lot smaller in April. I hadn’t started walking outside of my home and the supermarket is not that far away so thinking back, the frame of my life was caught in a circle of 3 roads, just one small block of life!

This was the month it expanded to 1.5 miles.

I do remember I stayed in, if I wasn’t in the garden I was in the house. Most of the street were out in the back gardens, enjoying the sun, building new sheds, cabins, garden furniture, slides and swings whilst I was indoors fighting the good fight for Furlough or burying my head in the sand of a writing world that became my Narnia.

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May started with more festivals: Avon Book Festival, Stay at Home Fringe Festival (organised by the Students/graduates of Glasgow Uni), The Urban Tree Festival and of course HAY (which I managed to blog in a timely fashion). Huge gratitude to everyone who has worked so hard to give creatives access to platforms and festivals at this time.

Big gratitude to Julia Webb for the prompt/course she ran this month. To Kim Moore for braving the online world of workshops and furthering my year of learning. To Carys Hannah who started a Golden Girls Watch Party, which reminded us what laughter is and made us all hope we get to grow old.

To Anna Saunders and the team at Cheltenham Poetry Festival for delivering a feast of poetic pleasure with numerous events and a great line up of poets. To Seren for creating a series of reading events, AWP for giving us a night with Joy Harjo (Poet Laureate of USA). For the universe for keeping my neighbour safe the morning she climbed up on our conservatory roof to clean and I couldn’t stop her!

Thanks to Helen Ivory & Martin Figura for events at the Butchery and to Jinny Fisher for her Poetry Pram Party. Thanks to Jane Commane at Nine Arches Press for videos, live readings and Book Launches, to Emma Wright at the Emma Press for Book Launches and webinar readings/Q&A. To Phillipa Slinger and Chloe Garner who moved Ledbury Poetry Festival and the Salons online.

This month I also enjoyed the Saboteur Awards and Book Launches for The Unmapped Woman by Abegail Morley (Nine Arches Press), Dorothy by Briony Hughes (Broken Sleep Books), Apple Fallen by Olga Dermott-Bond (Against the Grain).

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And I finally realised online events meant we could travel after all… and travel I did, first stop back to Australia. I headed back to Perth and Freo. Thanks to all at VoiceBox. I reunited with some of the Perth crew at Zoomouth, which was brilliant!

I finished the 6 weeks Writing to Buoy Us course with Cath Drake and writers from Europe and Australia. I started a Hybrid Experimental course with Tawnya Renelle https://tawnyaselenerenelle.com/ , who I also met through the Stay at Home Fringe Festival. And who also needs a huge shout out of gratitude. I was glad to help where I could at the beginning and have loved watching the take-off!

I completed work on the animations for Poetry Renewed with Elephant’s Footprint and wrote lots in journal form and a few poems. Covid had crept into the writing and I was attempting to not write about it in the beginning. And the BIG conservation started about the artists place in all this, whether it is our job or not to almanac the times (which is what a lot of writers/artists do). I believe most of us do, but also agreed that writing books about it probably wouldn’t even make it to the slush pile, of course I am sure there will be some, there already are. But I’m still processing last year and things which happened at the beginning of this one (pre-Covid).

May was the month: I realised my back can’t manage Yoga and gracefully I saluted the sun for one last time, started to walk in nature, used my walking stick for the last time (hadn’t needed it for 3 months), I blamed the yoga but looking at this it was more likely all that sitting at the desk! It marked the milestone of my first submission in 5 months! I have been very slow to get back on that horse!

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/