Category Archives: poetry

Working on a Poetry Show 30-40-60

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Back in 2016 I was already planning collaborations to promote my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’, published by V. Press.

This year I had the opportunity to organise events for festivals and two of these included this body of work. Stourbridge Literature Festival saw a straight reading of pamphlets and collections that I organised with fellow V. Press published poets: David Calcutt, Kathy Gee & Claire Walker. It was fun to do and we sold a couple of books.

The next bid I placed was with Worcester LitFest, although I have been aware of the festival and participated in various events since 2014, I had never discovered the bidding stage. I wrote a synopsis for a collaborative reading.

We heard that our application had been successful in March and set to work on developing the show 30-40-60.

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We have had several meetings to script and rehearse the poetry side of things and have developed film work to enhance the experience, as well as promoting the show in hope of ticket sales. It is a something we hope to repeat at other festivals/events in the future as there has been an incredible amount of groundwork put in.

It has been one of the most pleasurable projects so far this year. The 3 hour meetings fly by and we have our fingers crossed now that we can make it a success.

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Worcester LitFest runs from 9th – 18th June and as you can see 30-40-60 is billed for the 11th June, do come along if you can make it to The Hive, tickets are a festival fiver and if you want to perform poetry, sign up for the open mic beforehand by emailing us at 304060[at]mail.com

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Litfest A5 Programme 2017 30-40-60 page

Mental Health Awareness Week – With You in Mind Anthology

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Back in 2015 I became aware of ‘The With You in Mind’ anthology that Sarah James compiled from her website, where she shared poems for Mental Health Awareness. That same year she produced The Magnetic Diaries, a poetry-play based on her collection of the same name, for the Write On Festival at The Courtyard Arts Centre, Hereford.

Since then the show has developed and toured. The ACE-funded tour included performances at Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Bristol Poetry Festival, Hereford’s Chapel Arts Centre, FEAST festival at Malvern Cube, mac birmingham and London’s The Vaults. It was also a Highly Recommended Show at Edinburgh Fringe 2016, where it had a two-week run at Aviary at ZOO Venues. © 2016 Sarah James

Alongside the touring show, Sarah facilitated Pain to Poetry workshops, one of which I was lucky enough to participate in at the MAC.

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This year Sarah added to the collection during Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14th May) with poems produced as a result of the Pain to Poetry workshops.

My initial idea was to re-blog the posts/poems as they came in throughout the week (but due to technical issues, we were offline).

The week started with Hide and Seek by Louise Stokes. If you would like to read the daily posts then follow this link and click the ‘next post’ button at the bottom of each page.

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=8080

Alternatively you can use this link to the updated ‘With You in Mind’ anthology and read the poems from 2015 and 2017.

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=5639

My own poems – Anchored and Hallmarks can be found here Nina Lewis

I am grateful for the opportunity to share work on this subject, especially as I know that without suffering depression I may not have found my way back to writing.

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RELATED LINKS:

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=5670

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=6732

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=8073

The Magnetic Diaries

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Cheltenham Poetry Festival – Dylan Thomas

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If you are mad about the boyo – you won’t want to miss this – an exciting reveal of newly discovered Dylan Thomas material. Including poems, photos and even letters.
With international Dylan Thomas expert John Goodby.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival begins today !
You can read the full line up her re www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk

 

Anna Saunders. 
Founder/CEO Cheltenham Poetry Festival CIC. 
01242 285812
 
www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk  ‘ a poetry party with a healthy dose of anarchy’The Guardian. May 4 – 16, 2017

Cheltenham Poetry Festival 4-15th May

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I am delighted to promote Cheltenham Poetry Festival for Anna Saunders this year. My tickets are already booked, don’t miss out on yours!


Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2017 4 -15 May. Venues throughout the town.

 ‘ a poetry party with a healthy dose of anarchy’ – The GuardianMay 4 – 16, 2017

Poets speak out about Brexit, ISIS, Paris terror attacks and more.

Festival aims to reflect ‘ current state of the nation’.

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The Regency town of Cheltenham is set to be the stage for an explosive showcase of new writing this summer.

The 12 day festival features drama, comedy, film and contemporary poets – and this year nothing is off limits when poets read new work inspired by Brexit, race relations and the Paris terror attacks.

Among the guests are internationally acclaimed poet Matthew Sweeney who will be reading new poems which address dramatic themes including Isis and the Paris Terror attacks.

Also on the bill – Rory Waterman reads from his edgy new collection Brexit Day on the Balmoral Estate, Roy McFarlane talks about identity and race in emotionally-charged poems and Jamaican-English poet Raymond Antrobus visits; a poet who is renowned for his uncompromising and powerful take on misogyny and cultural divisions.

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Ray Antrobus

Paul Stephenson reads from The Days That Followed Paris – poems inspired by his residency in Paris at the time of the Terror attacks, plus Jasmine Gardosi and Lexia Legend – politically conscious poets who aren’t afraid of speaking out – perform new work.

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Jasmine Gardosi

The events are part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s commitment to socially- conscious programming.

We wanted this year’s programme to showcase some of the UK’s most frank and fearless writers, to include bold and outspoken artists whose work reflects the current state of the nation. Cheltenham Poetry Festival Director Anna Saunders says.

This year’s festival shows how poetry is empowered when it takes risks –and we hope visitors to the festival will enjoy our fresh, and fearless exploration of the world we live in today.

© 2016  Robbie Elford. All Rights Reserved.

Ben Parker

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Fiona Sampson

 

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www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Anna Saunders cheltpoetryfest@gmail.com

01242 285812

07400352396

NaPoWriMo – The Final Crumbs

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Another year gone!

On May 1, 2017

Well, everyone, another NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo has come and gone. I hope you enjoyed the challenge, and even if you didn’t get all the way to 30 poems, that you had fun along the way! I also hope you’re ready for NaPoReMo/GloPoReMo, or National/Global Poetry Revision Month (just kidding).

We have one last featured participant for the year: When the Dogs Bite, where the repetition poem for Day 30 is about a panoply of dogs on their daily walk.

Thanks, as always, to everyone who signed up, everyone who commented, sent encouraging notes, and gave their time to writing as part of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo. This project wouldn’t exist without you!

I will leave the list of participants up until we being our housecleaning in anticipating of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2018! Regardless, all of of the posts and comments will remain available.

Thanks for playing along, and see you next year!

From http://www.napowrimo.net/

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Until 2018…

NaPoWriMo Day 30 – The End

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NaPoWriMo Day 30 – The End

This was my 4th year participating in Napo and I have to say the most enjoyable yet and the most committed to using prompts from several sources.

Yesterday I spent most of the day rehearsing and performing at Stourbridge Literature Festival and was out for about 8 hours, before I left, I wrote my final prompt poem from Carrie Etter’s group. I had plans for writing and submission when I got home, but then had an impromptu night with neighbours and didn’t write this last Naponet prompt poem until this morning.

Yesterday I read the prompt and started listing things that repeat.

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http://www.napowrimo.net/

Well, everyone, we all knew it was coming . . . today is the thirtieth of April, and the final day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2017. I hope all of you had fun, and that if you didn’t get 30 poems, you got at least a few!

As is usual, I’ll be back tomorrow with our final featured participant. I’ll also keep the participants’ list up and live until we start to get the site ready for next year, when we’ll go “dark” for a bit of annual housekeeping. And of course, all this year’s posts and comments will remain as a permanent part of our archives.

Our featured participant for the day is Words from a Lydian World, where the favorite-word poem for Day 29 has the lyrical sense of a song, and the mysterious feeling of a fairy tale.

Today’s interview is with Cathy Park Hong, whose pop-culture-filled verse explores language, genre and place, wheeling between the American west and the tech-industrial boomtowns of Asia. You can read more about here, and you will find two of her poems here, and another here.

And finally, our final prompt – at least until next year! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something that happens again and again (kind of like NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo). It could be the setting of the sun, or your Aunt Georgia telling the same story at Thanksgiving every single year. It could be the swallows returning to Capistrano or how, without fail, you will lock your keys in the car whenever you go to the beach.

Happy writing!

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In the end, this morning I took a scientific route involved atoms, crystallised theory and polysomnography. I spent some time taking notes before settling on the idea of writing about the sleep cycle.

I am perfectly happy with the final result of my last NaPo poem – although I am tempted to write just one more – as it will make 100 poems for April!

Body immobile,

you know nothing of this

or your pillow.

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Carrie Etter’s final prompt was to use a song you loved as a teenager and describe the scene of listening, allowing the reader to discern how the song made you feel.

This is not a poem that enthrals me, but when researching I did happen upon other tracks which hold significant memory so it is a task I may return to.

I’d sing this one

upside down

gymnastically hanging off

my friend’s huge climbing frame…


Jo Bell finalised NaPoReMo with an ancient 4 line gem.

I wanted something that would take us back to the essence of poetry. I wanted a poem that would remind us why we write, how simple it can be at base – and how reading well helps us to write well, which has been the whole point of these blogs. So instead of Auden’s magnificent, multi-layered reflective poem (which I urge you to read anyway), I offer you this ancient gem. – Jo Bell

Go find it for yourselves here http://www.jobell.org.uk/


The Poetry School PS Napo finished with Julia Bird and the Cover Letter.

Good Morning! We made it to the end of the month! At PSHQ we’ve been overwhelmed with the response to NaPoWriMo – the numbers of you taking part, the commitment of your participation, the quality of your poems. Thank you very much for joining in, and we hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves.

The prompt was from Ali Lewis.
#NaPoWriMoPrompts

Day 30: The Cover Letter

An unusual form, and one that a lot of poets get wrong. This is a type of prose poem, which obeys the following conventions:

It always starts with the words “Dear [name of a literary editor]”. This should be followed by a stanza break.

Much like a ghazal, the Cover Letter always ends with a name, usually the poet’s own.

The middle-section, which is written in long, enjambed prose lines, explains the poet’s fervent desire to be published by the addressee and often lists said poets prior achievements and publications.

The Cover Letter should be placed at the head of a sequence with 1-6 more conventional poems by the same author.


Let us know how NaPoWriMo was for you.

Review April 2017

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As always NaPoWriMo takes over April and makes it challenging to keep other blog posts up to date. I have made an effort to keep the blog NaPo intentionally this month with a few posts breaking the thread. I have had some amazing experiences this month which deserve a dedicated blogging. I plan to pepper them in throughout May.

 

WEEK 1:

I was asked to co-ordinate an event for a Festival I am already involved with – this task took the best part of a fortnight. But I am happy that it is all now booked and in place for this summer. I spent further weeks this month planning and organising the events for an Arts Festival in July.

I went to an editing workshop. Taking with me a poem from 2014 that has never fully worked. I can safely say it has the treatment now and just in time because it formed part of the set I performed at The Poetry Ballroom.

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I experienced the Poetry Ballroom. Suz Winspear (this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate) organised this event in partnership with DanceFest. It was an amazing night. I will be blogging a full write up in May, I was honoured to be an invited performer at the event and had great fun writing some dance poems especially for it. The evening was a sound success and the dancers appreciated the theme of our poetry – not realising that we would focus on dance. As an ex-dancer, it was a pleasure.

I was asked to endorse a book (my 2nd one). The first book I endorsed is due to launch in May, more on that next month too. I am currently reading this manuscript and am delighted that the publishers thought of me.

I was asked to read at a Book Launch next month. I have spent some time this month penning new poems for this occasion. To be honest the poems were also part of NaPoWriMo, but why not make your projects work hard for you. Lots of prompts leant themselves to current project pies I have my thumbs in, so given half a chance…napo2017button1

I went to a reading at The Hive with Sarah Leavesley & Melissa Lee-Houghton. I was really excited by this. Ruth Stacey had arranged it for her students at university and just gave a bit of a quiet shout out. thehiveworcsorg

Being part of an audience of students, listening to their woes made me glad this wasn’t my life anymore. It is all to easy to glamorize the undergraduate/post grad life… but really… as much pressure as the real world.

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I loved hearing Sarah read from Magnetic Diaries again after all this time and it was a real treat to hear Melissa Lee-Houghton, as she sadly couldn’t make Verve festival in the end. It was a great evening and I am glad I managed the post work rush to get there. Had to drive a hire car too – as my window decided to malfunction and I spent over an hour finding a garage willing to help me so late on in the day. The window was stuck in the down position. My lesson: using air con is cheaper in the long run!

I spent time writing the brief for a 2nd poetry festival event, involving the other two poets. It is amazing how many days it can take 3 poets to come up with less than 3 lines!

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Back in February (my month of applications), I applied for Room 204 Writer Development Programme run by WWM. They had over 130 applicants this year for 15 places. I am delighted to announce the embargo has lifted and I can share this news. We had our first cohort meeting – what a great year to be in, so much talent. We had a photo shoot (one I wanted a haircut and weight-loss for) – neither happened in the days beforehand, but Paul Stringer is a talented photographer. It was a fun morning, we were all so excited to be part of the 2017/18 cohort and already good things have happened as a result. There is a whole year of mentoring and career development ahead, over £1000 worth. Priceless if you ask me.

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I am extremely excited to be part of Room 204, I discovered it back in 2013 and have been biding my time and developing my writing to the point I thought I was able to qualify for a place on the scheme. I am grateful my application was successful. That my writing stood up to the scrutiny and competition. Here’s the rest of this year’s cohort

https://www.writingwestmidlands.org/room-204-participants-201718/

I also reconnected with a good friend of mine afterwards and we plan to exchange books and do lunch next time I am back in the area. I used to spend more time in Birmingham than I do at the moment. I am spending less time on the road this year and more time at the desk, the natural pattern of a writer. It was good catching up.

WEEK 2

Went to an incredibly exciting meeting at the Custard Factory for this year’s Room 204 programme, which we were embargoed about. The news was finally released on the 11/12th. Rm-204-logo-final-solo-600x328

Started typing NaPo poems, I decided to write longhand this year, which gave me that workshop feeling as much of my writing is straight to screen nowadays. It meant I successfully completed the challenge with 97 poems by the end of the month, however I have typed about 10 to edit so far.

Made a promotional Easter video for Fragile Houses. I was reading advice on marketing and promotion and find it hard to detail what my pamphlet with give you beyond shared experience, memory and space to work through mirrored realities. Which all seems a high promise or at the worst an abstract manifesto. Then I thought about chocolate, the calories (personally delighted this year to have so many eggs and treats). easter Had another 3 eggs after this photo was taken!

I spent half a day making the video. Poetry – less calories than chocolate. Maybe I should have offered a free egg with every book sold.

I booked onto a Room 204 event for later in the month.

Started writing a book review and went to see Kate Bush tribute Cloudbusting with Mr G. katebush

I missed License to Rhyme again as the next day I was going to Swindon. Rick Saunders aka Willis the Poet was headlining and he was happy to take me on the road trip. It was a cracking night at Oooh Beehive – a night that Clive Oseman and Nick Lovell started a while ago. Swindon is quite a way on a school night and it was the early hours by the time I was home, but it was the Easter holidays and I am glad I managed it. Lovely to see Sam Loveless and Edward, who I met at the Poetry Festival last year.

I went to HOWL and watched amazing headline sets from Charley Barnes, Tom McCann and Rhythmical Mike. It was a great night and I was happy I made an open mic spot. It was fabulous to see everyone again. HOWL

I went to SpeakEasy where Gareth Owens was headlining. That was a good night too – rare these days that I manage 3 nights on the hoof like this. I spent the day beforehand making media for an upcoming festival shoe and dealing with programme copy.

It was nice to escape for a few hours and immerse myself in poetry.

The Beltane Anthology for 2017 was published by Three Drops from a Cauldron, which has my Rag Tree poem in it. I know you should never judge a book by the cover – but with this stunning design, who wouldn’t want to see their poetry inside!

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Featuring poetry and flash fiction by Jane Burn, Rhiannon Hooson, Alison Stone, Denise Blake, Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt, Eleanor Penny, Tom Moody, Bee Smith, Rebecca Buchanan, Rebecca Gethin, Nina Lewis, Wendy Mannis Scher, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Sarah Hart, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Kitty Coles, Donald Illich, Dennis Trujillo, Lesley Burt, Cynthia June Long, Vivien Jones, Moyra Donaldson, Maggie Mackay, Bethany Rivers, Lewis Buxton, Carmina Masoliver, Nico Solheim-Davidson, R.M. Francis, Linda Goulden, Ilse Pedler, and Joanna Swan.

Edited by Kate Garrett, with the Three Drops from a Cauldron editorial team: Becca Goodin, Loma Jones, Amy Kinsman, Holly Magill, Penny Sharman, Grant Tarbard, and Claire Walker.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/kate-garrett/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/paperback/product-23143262.html

It is now also available in digital copy.

https://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2017/04/14/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/

Week 3

I had a free writing webinar with The Writers Academy & Penguin Random House, it was an interesting few hours, although I wrote copious notes not realising they were sending follow up information via email.

I had my first Room 204 1 to 1 session, we get 3 over the course of the year. It was useful and I have already started working on decisions.Rm-204-logo-WITH-WORDS

I spent an entire day co-ordinating and planning for festival events.

Holly Daffurn has started a new venture – at Bottles Wine Bar, ‘Uncorked’ an evening of Spoken Word, there were over 50 tickets sold and the night was divided into 3 parts with 5 headliners and open mic. Ambitious scheduling, beautiful venue and a stellar line up made for a perfect evening. uncorked

I performed on the open mic. Brilliant Headliners: Jasmine Gardosi, Casey Bailey, Holly Daffurn, Leon Priestnall & Joe Cooke

The Spring edition of Birmingham Literature Festival happened and despite a fantastic programme (all well received), I was unable to make it across to the city for any events. I even missed Cynthia Miller’s Primers Launch.

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I had my WWM group which meant I couldn’t attend some of the events/workshops on Saturday. The group went really well, we made our own magazines. I have since planned the final two session, so feel ahead of the game.

Week 4

I booked tickets to go and see Carol Ann Duffy in May, continued to organise festival events. The Stourbridge Literature Festival started. I went to see Emma Purshouse headline at Spoken Trend, saw Carla Rickets headline too. It was a great night, I even went home with 3 daffodils, now that is a good night.

I took a Napowrimo poem to Stanza and it was approved. I have written 97 in total this month as I have followed 2 main prompts, the main site napwrimo.net and joined Carrie Etter’s group where she provided us with 30 optional prompts. Beyond the poems, I have researched and stumbled into new project territory which is most exciting. Carrie’s group was amazing for comradery and support. Jo Bell spent the entire month posting poems for us to read as it is as important as writing and a sure way to learn/ learn about poetry. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the poems and discussions on her blog and will miss this daily ritual and ponder more than I will miss the onslaught of daily poetry writing.

imgID54935282.jpg.gallery I went to the first talk organised by Room 204 and now have a notebook full of information and ideas.

And the month finished with a flurry of PR for VOICES FROM THE MIDDLE at Stourbridge Literature Festival.

The first of 3 events I have been organising. A combined reading with: vpress sb I will blog about the festival/event over the coming days. Within 24 hours I will be promoting Cheltenham Poetry Festival and over the next 5 days working towards 30-40-60 the collaborative performance booked into this year’s Worcester Literature Festival.

I will not have time to be sad about the end of NaPoWriMo, but I hope to have time to type edit some of the work produced during April.

This was a GREAT month!

 

 

Stourbridge Literature Festival

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I have been busy this Spring organising festival events. Stourbridge are having there first Literature Festival and it has been received well so far.

Tomorrow afternoon VOICES FROM THE MIDDLE are performing at 3:30pm

David Calcutt, Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and myself will entertain you for an hour with poetry from our pamphlets/books.

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Tickets are £5.50 and for that you gain entry to ALL the events. It is a superb line up and they are also raising funds for Amnesty International.

http://wwwkatiefitzgeralds.moonfruit.com/literary-fest/4593576419

Stourbridge

Do come and support us if you can.

NaPoWriMo – Day 29 – The Penultimate Day

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Well we have nearly made it! 1 more day to go…

Day Twenty-Nine

On April 29, 2017

Hello, everyone! It’s the penultimate day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo!

Our featured participant for the day is orangepeel, where the Skeltonic verse for Day 28 celebrates (sort of) the experience of being sprayed by a skunk!

Today’s interview is with another poet/publisher, Sarah Gorham, the editor-in-chief of Sarabande Books. This interview explores her dual role as writer of her own work and the promoter of others’ poetry. You can learn more about Gorham here and read some of her poetry here and here.

And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, I’d like to challenge you to take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

Happy writing!

I really enjoyed this prompt as it gave me time to indulge in my poetry bookcase before choosing my starter poem – Mansion Polish by Maurice Riordan (who I was lucky to meet back in 2013, after 4 weeks in my poetry skin).

I followed the prompt and my concrete noun was horseshoe. After free writing I settled to the making of a poem. Not happy with my first two attempts, I cracked it on the 3rd. They are all relatively short poems. I have currently written 94 NaPo poems! I took one to Stanza last night and it was approved, so there is some hope for a small % of them.

the brass one her mother hung over the fireplace

is now a dead tissue memory, wrapped carefully

in brown paper.


Carrie Etter’s prompt was to write about an object belonging to a parent, the focus was on what it means to you. I was happy with the overall result although it still needs a little work.

I could read stories, but not between the lines.

… I outgrew my own, this hand

was never for giving.


Jo Bell posted This by Maitreyabandhu

This neat poem describes a single moment of paying attention.

…. Give yourself permission to read critically, and if a poem you enjoy seems to have a hairline crack in it, take Maitreyabandhu’s mindful approach – notice it, but don’t let it spoil your enjoyment of the poem as a whole. The poems we learn from, like the people that we learn from, can be imperfect. – Jo Bell

I shall miss Jo’s daily reads and discussions much more than writing daily poems.

Thanks for the great effort, Jo. jo bell

http://www.jobell.org.uk/


The Poetry School  58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullseem to have gone AWOL – they are in, but seem to have hidden the prompt. Thanks to Jackie Biggs, I found it on an attachment.

Day 29: The Self-Cento

Good morning on this penultimate NaPoWriMo day! Today, we’re asking you to reuse, recycle and rehash with a cento.

A cento is a poem made up entirely of lines from other poets’ poems. Our version differs in only one way. We’d like a 28 line cento, but it should use lines from your own poems written during NaPoWriMo. Not managed 28 poems so far? No matter. Write a shorter poem, or use multiple lines from the same poem, or use lines from your pre-existing poems. The important thing is it’s your own voice you’re remixing and restyling. You’re allowed to make minor tweaks to the lines to make them fit, so don’t worry about changing tenses, adjusting grammar, or rephrasing slightly, but don’t add words.

There are lots of excellent centos out there, but we’re going to go for a classic: John Ashbery’s ‘The Dong with the Luminous Nose’: http://www.english.txstate.edu/cohen_p/poetry/Ashbery.html

NaPoWriMo – Day 28 – Real Time

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What wonder I feel when I have time to participate in real time. Today is a writing day and I have just immersed myself in the prompt in the way it should be done. I cannot believe we have just 3 days of the challenge left! I am happy that they are days where I have time chiselled out to make a proper job of it. I am utterly amazed at some of the poetry I have read on participant’s sites.

http://www.napowrimo.net/

Today’s featured participant is little learner, whose poem for Day 27 is all about an acquired taste!

Our interview for the day is with Kazim Ali, co-founder of Nightboat Books and author of three books of poetry. The interview we’re featuring was done when his first book, The Far Mosque was published, and provides a good look at what it is like to have a book finally out in the world. You can read more about Ali here, and read some of his work here.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem using Skeltonic verse. Don’t worry, there are no skeletons involved. Rather, Skeltonic verse gets its name from John Skelton, a fifteenth-century English poet who pioneered the use of short stanzas with irregular meter, but two strong stresses per line (otherwise know as “dipodic” or “two-footed” verse). The lines rhyme, but there’s not a rhyme scheme per se. The poet simply rhymes against one word until he or she gets bored and moves on to another. Here is a good explainer of the form, from which I have borrowed this excellent example:

Dipodic What?

Dipodic Verse
will be Terse.
Stress used just twice
to keep it nice,
short or long
a lilting song
or sounding gong
that won’t go wrong
if you adhere
to the rule here,
Now is that clear
My dear?

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I urge you to look at the explainer site as it is a straightforward definition, not that this form is particularly hard to master.

My initial reaction was ‘oh no, rhyme’ – and endless repetition of one word didn’t conjure hope. Actually it almost wrote itself, without a rhyming scheme to adhere to it is freeing creating the end rhyme. Less constrictive.

I managed a poem and one that I think I will be performing. I am not sure there are many editors who publish this style (from the 15th Century), then again I am not that confident my NaPo poems will be submitted anywhere. The term ‘NaPo rejection’ is already frequenting social media. I have the perfect place in mind for this poem and will be performing it soon.

I had the form but not the motive – so I borrowed from Carrie Etter’s prompt for today – writing about something/action you dislike and much as this sounds daft I really HATE waking up, getting up, getting dressed and the internal monologue this daily ritual allows.

Skeltonic verse is supposed to be funny and full of energy (created by the tumbling rhyme and speed it can be read), I think on this front – I may have succeeded!


Carrie Etter encouraged us write an anti-ode, thank goodness I did all that form revision! Use vivid, concrete details to make your dislike palpable without saying it.

Having already used my subject for the NaPo poem, I had to go back to the drawing board – but fortunately being a little Eeyore there are lots of something you don’t like or an action you don’t like to do in my world!

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I have a real issue struggling with envy, I thought I would write a comical anti-ode about that. I wrote in two different forms, the message was the same.


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/ Pulse by James McGonigal

The discussion that follows this 8 line poem is full of pondering thoughts and sound advice, telling not showing and an intensive look at the language of the poem.

A title can prime a reader so they know what to expect, or give them a jigsaw piece which only fits in when they’ve completed the rest of the reading…

The title launches you into the poem but when you arrive at the last line, it often sends you back to the title, which now has some extra meaning. I can’t say it often enough – the title is a part of the poem, and must be active within it. It isn’t just an aid to filing.

Glyn Maxwell says in On Poetry, ‘Poets – your brain’s in your body’

and there’s no better motto for us. Always, always come back to the five senses.  They are always the best way to make the reader share the writer’s lived experience. Even the metaphysical needs the physical. – Jo Bell.


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullThe Poetry School

Day 28. Haiku Day

Morning poets. Today I’d like you write a haiku. Don’t bother with counting syllables – it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is the juxtaposition of two ideas or images, separated by a ‘cutting word’ (“kireji”). You may also wish to include a seasonal reference (“kigo”), to write in three short lines, and to focus on nature, but none of these are as important as the contrast between two ideas. In the below examples, I have marked the two contrasting sections in bold and italics, while the seasonal reference is underlined. The Haiku Foundation has an excellent guide on writing Haiku in English, which dispels many myths. However you go about this, try to avoid any unnecessary words or repetition. Instead of “It was a hot summer’s day” try “A summer day” or better just “Summer:”.

After an Affair

Just friends:
he watches my gauze dress
blowing on the line.

Rain Dance

Millions
of tiny Royals
dance beneath the surface,
their glass crowns erupting from the 
puddle