Category Archives: Writing Poetry

Review of July

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Week 1: 

Workshop/National Trust Project

Room 204 is involved in the Croome Court project Adam Speaks. We met Chris Alton, the Lead Artist at a workshop at Writing West Midlands Headquarters in the Custard Factory on Saturday 1st July.

1431782527872-adam-speaks-wwm-170701-19-rfw-credit-peter-young  © 2017 Peter Young

This was an epic 6 hr workshop. Chris is working with 4 groups Kimichi School, The Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School. It was exciting to know that these workshops will feed Chris’s art.

Adam Speaks has been set up by Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton for the National Trust, following Plumlines last year.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/adam-speaks

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© 2017 Rachel Hill

Chris Alton, from Croydon, is a multidisciplinary artist, whose practice brings together distant, yet connected cultural phenomena. Whether deploying disco music against fascism or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, he utilises seemingly incongruous juxtapositions to address the multi-layered nature of prevailing social and political conditions. 

© National Trust Croome Court Adam Speaks

Literature Festival

Sunday saw my 3rd official WPL appearance on the Poetry Walk for Evesham Festival of Words. This event had a great turn out and beautiful Sunday morning sunshine for the poetry walk, a gentle stroll across the green park around the Bell Tower in Evesham.

I performed some Evesham poems written especially for the event and enjoyed listening to poetry and prose. It was good to see some people who happened upon our merry group, stay and listen.

It was good to reconnect with Sue Johnson and I booked another event later for this year.

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This festival always has a great programme. They are already booked up for next year.

Radio

On Monday I had my first Radio slot with Tammy Gooding BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester. This was something Maggie Doyle instigated during her WPL tenure (2013/14). It is a tradition picked up by other Laureates and I am happy to continue with it.

I read ‘Gander’ one of the poems written for Evesham Festival of Words. Tammy is amazing at putting you at ease. She was also impressed with an interview which needed no editing! It has been decades since I stepped foot inside a studio. I was nervous, but had such a great time! I am already booked in for August.

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Performances

During the evening I took a guest slot at Licensed to Rhyme, Maggie Doyle & Spoz’s monthly poetry event at the Artrix.

Headlining this month was former WPL Suz Winspear, Claire Walker was the other guest poet and there were a plethora of open mic-ers. It was a fabulous evening.

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And before I start sounding like the Hungry Caterpillar… on Tuesday I took a rest. There were events I would have liked to attend but I was attempting to conserve energy for my Headline slot at Uncorked.

Having pencilled in Ledbury Poetry Festival, Lichfield and Shropshire – we arrive at Thursday.

Headline

I was booked for Uncorked at Bottles a while ago (before WPL), originally scheduled for June, I swapped into July so Charley would have a chance to sell her recently published books. I on the other hand have had my final 5 copies of Fragile Houses for months… this is the way it goes sometimes. I didn’t sell any books but I had a great evening.

Sean Colletti created a masterpiece idea for the introductory sets so instead of the traditional 5 minute teaser from each of the Headline poets we worked together on Sean’s concept of a waiting room & the result was an interesting concoction , especially considering it was unrehearsed.

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Clive Oseman, Jake Scott & Sean Colletti were all wonderful headliners and we had a good range of open floor spots too. Holly has created something magic here, helped by a sensational venue Bottles Wine Bar in Worcester.

Workshop

Up early the next morning (hard to sleep on post-performance adrenaline), I drove to Shrewsbury for a workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura. I would have paid just to meet these two poets who have been on my radar for a long time. So having the bonus of a workshop was superb.

Unfortunately, I missed the performance the night before as I was at Uncorked. It wasn’t a prerequisite to the workshop though. The workshop was based on epistolary poetry. Which is something I have only tried to a few times. Strange because I used to love writing letters, I had 33 international penfriends by 12 years old. I also started writing to an old, re-united friend during my deepest depression. These letters are now even more special to me as she sadly passed away.

The workshop was brilliant and I got some ideas from it, as well as books. Love their work and cannot wait to spend time with the pages.

I recently (28th June) re-wrote one of my workshop poems and took it to stanza. I will do something with it in the future. I am pleased with the result and know I would never have written it without this workshop.

It was at the Severn Theatre in a huge room, necessary as it was a large group. It was lovely to reconnect with the Shropshire crew. I have been busy lately and it has cut me off from many out of county events. I cannot remember the last time I made it to perform in Birmingham beyond Waterstones events. I know how quickly the poetry scene moves there, so it will be full of people I don’t know – which is exciting.

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I was booked in for my first Cathedral Poets Workshop in Worcester the following morning and an action packed day in Ledbury on the Sunday. Reason and experience told me Mr. G and I needed some time and I needed to rest. So regrettably I cancelled the workshop and now have to wait until October. October is an incredibly busy month with Swindon Poetry Festival, Birmingham Literature Festival and school workshops, so I may not get to the Cathedral again.

Ledbury Poetry Festival 

I always want to attend the complete festival, I dream of pitching up a tent and staying. It is like a massive holiday for poets with a daily celebration of words. However, knowing I could only manage one day this year – I chose a day with an action packed programme.

It was amazing. Read the full 21 Years of Gold

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Week 2

After work I was too tired to get to watch Beyond the Water’s Edge at the Artrix and I am very disappointed to miss it. I also missed the WLF Committee meeting (as I was meant to be at the theatre). Where was I? Asleep! Although having read Week 1, I am not surprised. I was also working on an application and some poetry which I used most of my post-Ledbury adrenaline to fuel.

I booked in WPL work and wrote commissioned poetry for Buildings Talk Hospital Histories (a project I spent 3 weeks working on) and got my set for Chapel Lates organised and set some promo for an event in August.

I gave myself some downtime knowing the end of the week was another hectic schedule.

Performance/ Cheltenham Music Festival

Chapel arts

Chapel Lates in Cheltenham, an amazing night of poetry and prose as part of Cheltenham Music Festival curated by Anna Saunders (Founder Cheltenham Poetry Festival). Read all about it here  Chapel Lates Cheltenham-Music-Festival-1

 

This event clashed with HOWL and Outspoken. It is always the way. It has taken 4 years, but I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that I cannot be everywhere at once.

Commission/Performance/Project 

Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories

Charley Barnes asked me to participate in a Medical Museum Project at the end of June. We had access to historical archives (photographs) which are not on general display to the public and from these we created a 10 minute set of poetry.

Buildings Talk

It was a great project to be involved in, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Louise Price had the creative vision to intersperse the medical talks with poetry. We performed our poems with the images projected behind us.

The next stage of this project is displaying a selection of our poems alongside archived footage.

Read a full review here Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories


I took a poetry break for a couple of days to work and to reunite with college friends, our two yearly reunions, epic fun! Just imagine Drama students 20 years on!


Performance

I attended Open Poetry which this month was a charity event to raise funds for PIPKA – refugees in Lesvos, Greece.

I performed my refugee poem, now written 4 years ago, this world of ours remains in crisis. Read the full review here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/open-poetry-for-pipka/

EC This event was organised by Helen Calcutt and David Calcutt and featured Guest Spots from Christina Thatcher, she read from her recent collection ‘More Than You Were’.  more_than_you_were_large

Week 3

Writing

I needed some time at the desk to complete work from the Spring (another book endorsement) and read material that I am reviewing. I also needed lots of Admin time to complete arrangements for Artsfest (working on this since February), future bookings and promotion of other events.

I had as yet not re-awoken my creative muse – not to give a spoiler… but this was the month!

This was also the last week of work before the summer, my contract had finished and although I wasn’t expecting any work I had to remain on call. This meant several bleary-eyed mornings on the computer, just in case.

I had events and meetings to attend this week which did not involve me performing. A welcome treat/break from pressure and nerves. It also gave me some time to gather energy before the Artsfest Day (22nd).

Readings

Summer Party – Nine Arches Press

I thoroughly enjoyed this event with Jane Commane and…9 arches 3

The readings were superb and the atmosphere was definitely set to ‘PARTY’! Read all about it here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/nine-arches-press-summer-party/

Meetings

The following morning I had an early start and a meeting in Birmingham at the Custard Factory with Jonathan Davidson and the other writers involved in Spark Young Writers groups. As ever it was interesting sharing ideas and great to spend some time with other writers/poets.

Book Launch

In the evening I drove to Cheltenham to finally catch a Book Launch from Angela France. DFH4x-NVoAAzcZ2 I was excited to see the multi-media element that I had heard so much about and to listen to Angela read more from this collection I have been following for the past couple of years. Read the full review of this special evening https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/the-hill-angela-france-book-launch/

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The launch shook my muse awake and for the first time in months, I was writing. For about two hours straight!

Meetings

I had a meeting with the Events Manager at the Jinney Ring to put plans into action for my September workshop using the Sculpture Trail. It was exciting, my list of 8 pointers were all achieved and it is shaping up to be a great WPL project.

Monday 18th September 10:30- 12:30 p.m glass tree

The Sculpture Trail at The Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury, Worcestershire.

The morning will start with a tour of the trail and some time to write using the sculptures for ekphrastic poetry or initial stimuli. Followed by a writing workshop in the marquee. 
Tea/Coffee and cake is provided as part of the ticket.

There will be opportunities to share writing and participants will be able to send polished work for at exhibition at the Jinney Ring in October.

In addition to all this, there will also be the opportunity to share your work at a reading in November.

For more information please contact me: worcspl[at]gmail.com

Official poster with all booking details out soon. Just awaiting the new trail photograph. 
10:15 meet at the marquee for a 10:30 Tour. 
Tickets £7.00

Festival Artsfest

droitwich artsfest

I need to write a complete blog post for Artsfest – which finishes on the 5th August. I will link back here afterwards.

It was a brilliant day with Poetry in the Square and an evening event Poetry Extravaganza at Park’s Cafe.

Watch Out Worcester! 

watch out worcs

I performed at St. Swithun’s Church at an event created by Suz Winspear. It was a great experience and I loved the building and atmosphere. I will write a blog about this event and link it back to here.

st swithins dancefest

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/NEWs/15437699.Dancing_in_the_streets_of_Worcester/

Week 4

Writing

I spent a few days chained to the desk with writing and admin. I missed Poetry Bites as I was too pushed for time to get to King’s Heath and extremely tired after the busy weekend.

I researched new material and wrote 3 new poems for 42.

Workshop

I attended a workshop led by Angela France in Stratford, I always enjoy these sessions and listening to the work that is created.

Performance

I performed at Drummonds, 42 in the evening. The theme was Curiosities and I had fun exploring this theme. I wrote about an underground library in Seattle, the hanging coffins of China and fossilised skeletons. I left the Cabinet of… for others.

It was a great night, very entertaining with a Guest Host – Kevin Brooke – who did a sterling job, he made it look easy and we all know, it isn’t!

I missed Caffe Grande Slam for another month, as I needed to conserve energy.

ArtsFest Poet in Residence

On 28th July I was at the library in Droitwich as one of the Artists in Residence for Artsfest. I had a smashing morning talking all things poetry and tested out my Poetry Kit idea. This is something I will make more of at another point.

I took this booking as a poet, but decided as I am WPL it was a good opportunity to raise awareness of this role and promote WLF at the same time as DAN – Network.

DAN Lib

It was a lot of fun and has given me ideas for future events. It was the first outing for my new WPL t-shirt and the tablecloth, bought after the workshop on Wednesday.

DAN Lib 2 Children making Poetry Kits – we were competing with the Summer Reading Challenge who had a sock puppet workshop, or as I saw it, we had a captive audience to come and make Poetry Kits for FREE after.

DAN Rhys  © 2017 Rhys Jones

Poetry

I dropped in two poems to be displayed on the table and wall at The Canal Side Studio. There are more events this summer from there. So watch this space.

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I finished the month with a Stanza meeting, which was a lovely evening and had some useful editing tips for my Dear Sky – Ivory/Figura workshop poem.

July has been exceptional!

 

BBC Hereford & Worcester

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Worcestershire Poet Laureate – first Radio Slot as WPL

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/

Tune in to Tammy Gooding’s show tomorrow from 1 PM.

LISTEN LIVE http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_hereford_worcester

NaPoWriMo Day 6 Ingredients: Actual Poems

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It is around about now (days off the end of the month) that I realise this challenge is not going to end in April for me. After 4 weeks off from my writing life, I am returning to writing for performance, performing and editing current projects. The summer is fast approaching and lots needs addressing in my life outside of poetry. My poetry life is busy preparing for festivals, events and submissions. Tag on the day job, I don’t even want to think about all the boxes I am trying to unpack my way through or the need for a DEEP Spring clean at home… the result is chaos.

I have decided not to rush the NaPoWriMo project, I want to enjoy this process and benefit from time to write – after all that’s the main point, that and to have fun.

I may dream of writing business but the nuts and bolts are art. Art needs nurturing, time, commitment, space… I am approaching it softly.

From now on I do a day a day, as it should be. Welcome to day 6.

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Our featured participant today is Kevin O’Conner, who struggled at first with our Day 5 prompt, but came up with a great poem, well-seeded with seed names.

Today’s featured poet in translation is Burma’s Ma Ei. Very little of her work is available in English, but you’ll find two poems at the link above, and two more here.

You may be interested in checking out this short film, showcasing the work of contemporary Burmese poets, including Ma Ei, as well as this interview with James Byrne, editor of a recent anthology of Burmese poetry, which includes Ma Ei’s work.

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Today’s prompt was to write about food.

teatime

This is my friend’s microwave (7 years ago), maybe they have these models in the UK in a higher budget than the mark Mr G and I look at, I just loved the message. Usually they just ping, beep or flash. Perhaps I should have written about this microwave instead of taking half a day (and night) deliberating my food poem.

I think the writing process for Day 6 is juicier than the poem so I am sharing it first. I love food, this write should have been easy. But I remember Jo Bell’s advice; abandon your first thoughts, dig deeper. Immediately, like a naughty child, I want to write all my initial foodie thoughts.

 

Butter Fingers

I haven’t written a poem about cake.

Or biscuits.

Or fish fingers, crabsticks and spaghetti hoops.

There is no advice about what foods to avoid

on (first) dates,

or heavily veiled descriptions of tier towered

wedding cakes.

No Saturday night take-away

chicken madras, sweet and sour pork, fish

and chips,

but there is a poem about food.

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If in doubt write what you are not going to write about. Just a bit of free write fun there, in the shape of a poem. Although it does pass as a food poem. At this point I placed a title above it and moved on. It is a poem.

I started with pictures of food, trying to disguise identity in an almost riddle.

Bright circus colours

a Big Top in stream form

The mustard and ketchup on a hotdog.

Then came a mind-map. Some ideas from which I may explore in the summer when I have maximum writing time.

Films about food and drink was taken from the mind-map and became an enjoyable hour of research and created some ideas for my next writing group, in May. I have a list of 27 alternative film titles substituting food words. ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crumpet’ a particular favourite of mine. Harrison Ford, dishy – doesn’t take a writer to get to crumpet there.

I then looked at Tarantino film clips involving food (another idea to chase later). I ended up on a recipe page and then spent a futile Google search looking for US Market canned Pumpkin, previously available in Tesco & Waitrose and now seemingly not reaching our island at all. I thought of filling suitcases and then baggage allowance and security.

Then I wrote a poem about Mr G and I cooking in the kitchen together.

Tango on terracotta tiles…

cabinet perimetered dancefloor…

hands gathering busy.

From here I ended up falling asleep and I woke up (2 hrs after my alarm) with a poem spilling from my head.

 

Eggs is Eggs (A pillow head poem)

Mum poached them

Dad fried them

Paul boiled them

I scrambled

and David,

was too young to cook.

 

me hallo

 

NaPoWriMo: The Inevitable Catch Up – Day 1

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I took Easter offline and have been chasing my tail ever since. It was not an intentional break from online activity, but it was a blissful and practically fulfilling decision.

My first full writing day for a while (last Thursday) was spent sorting through the inbox, finding a fair few rejections and also some work accepted for publication. I also discovered a freelance job opportunity – I would have bid but unfortunately it was too close  to the deadline. Apart from this and the backlog of social media and emails my time offline has not had any great impact.

It does mean I am 18 days behind with NaPoWriMo and one of the jobs on the list today is to get busy writing. I am mid editorial on my manuscript so in the ‘take a break’ slots I am playing catch up.

I have discovered this year that they are featuring different poets;

As in prior years, we’ll be featuring a participant each day, and giving you an optional prompt. In years past, we’ve also featured a daily new book of poetry, magazine, or poetry-themed website. This year, we’ll be doing something a little bit different. Every day, we’ll be featuring a different poet who writes in a language other than English, but whose work is available in English translation, working our way from east to west.

Our first poet in translation is Japan’s Hiromi Ito. Known for her ability to uncannily represent spoken language on the page, several of her books have been translated into English and, incidentally, she’s a translator herself, having translated Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! into Japanese. But you don’t need to know Japanese to get to know Ito’s work: Poetry International features translations of a number of her poems into English, as well as audio files and essays. Also, one of her books, Wild Grass on the Riverbank, is available in English from Action Books, as well as a selected poems, Killing Konoko. © 2016 NaPoWriMo

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As well as this they still have a featured participant each day too. I spent some time this morning exploring Veronica Hosking’s poetry vhosking without reading her NaPo work (I like to write mine cold). I will link my NaPo posts to the featured blogs because they are great to share.

DAY 1: The first challenge was to Write a Lune, which is apt as I spent the weekend writing Haikus with my Young Writers Group.

The lune is also known as the American Haiku. It was first created by the poet Robert Kelly (truly a great poet) and was a result of Kelly’s frustration with English haiku. After much experimentation, he settled on a 13-syllable, self-contained poem that has 5 syllables in the first line, 3 syllables in the second line and 5 syllable in the final line.

Unlike haiku, there are no other rules. No need for a cutting word. Rhymes are fine; subject matter is open. While there are less syllables to use, this form has a little more freedom.

There is a variant lune created by poet Jack Collom. His form is also a self-contained tercet, but his poem is word-based (not syllable-based) and has the structure of 3 words in the first line, 5 words in the second line and 3 words in the final line.

As with Kelly’s lune, there are no other rules. © 2016 Writer’s Digest

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I like this genre as it is fun to play with and doesn’t take too long to come up with new poems (unless you are writing to demonstrate the ease to teenagers, then you will struggle to identify multiple syllables and finding words to fit)!

Generally I post excerpts of my NaPo Poems, as these are short form you get to enjoy them fully.

Go have a play!

Robert Kelly Lune

The grey day unfolds

work did not

call. Freedom to write.

The sky is white with

Spring, frozen

bird sits on bare tree.

Faint music. Thin walls

the daily

ghost playlist begins.

 

Jack Collom Lune

I thought a word count as opposed to a syllable count would be easier to compose, I actually found it trickier and it is quite hard to get the brain to stop counting in syllables.

My Desk (which is messier than this Lune suggests)

Black stapler, pen,

bulldog clip, paperclip, magazine, key,

notebook, receipt, diary.

 

Now

High flying dreams

catch invisible contours and soar

further than imagined.

April

Numb feet, stinging

toes, fluffy socks, extra layers,

the English spring.

I hope you enjoy them.

RELATED LINKS

DAY 1 Lune

 

 

INKSPILL Guest Poet – Interview with Daniel Sluman

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Guest Writer Interview Daniel Sluman

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

Sonia Hendy-Isaac
© 2014

GUEST

Earlier this year A Writers Fountain spent time with Daniel Sluman, promoting his (very soon to be published) second collection ‘the terrible’.

We are delighted that as part of INKSPILL we can bring you another exclusive interview with the man himself and it didn’t escape our notice that the book cover design has been released NOW as well. Another sneak preview for you!

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  1. How did you know you wanted to complete a 2nd collection?

I kind of just kept going after my debut was released, it’s just what you’re meant to do isn’t it, keep writing. I had a project in mind and I worked for a while on that until I stopped and asked myself this very question – what am I going to achieve by writing another book beyond (hopefully) extending a career? It was really important for me to work this out, as it made me realise that there were things in my debut I wanted to articulate further, and events were unfolding in my life that I was excited about exploring in a new book.

  1. Poetry is a kind of process, how did you feel at the beginning of compiling your 2nd collection? How was it different to the 1st?

I found it quite tough to work out where I wanted to go at the start of this process, I was drawn towards a number of different ideas for this book, some more conceptual and overarching than others, and it took me a while to feel comfortable in the direction I decided on. I’m guilty of overthinking things, especially when it comes to writing, and when I started writing this book I was really worried about repeating myself, about getting lazy and complacent.

When I was writing ‘Absence…’ I was an undergraduate, and the tutor feedback and workshops really helped with developing those poems, and of course that support was something I no longer had, which made me feel a bit lost for the first six months of writing this book. In that period I made dozens of pages of notes, but I was terrified of committing anything to the page properly, I was sure it wouldn’t be good enough, nothing looked good enough. It took me a long time to get back to writing more loosely, not being afraid to write crap which could then be edited, closer to the way I felt when I was writing my debut. When that first book comes out to good feedback and reviews, I felt a certain (mainly internal) pressure attached to the next, and that definitely affected me. I locked up for a long time, I was so terrified of disappointing people, of disappointing myself, but once I found a rhythm things started to get written again, and I started to enjoy myself in the same way I was enjoying myself before the first book came out.

  1. What were some of the difficulties in this process?

I went through a lot of changes in my life during the period of this book getting written. I came out of a long-term relationship and into a new one, moved house (and area), and my health was really going downhill in terms of my back pain, which meant quitting full-time work and getting put on benefits. Drama and high emotion is something which always feeds into poems, so some of this made it into the work, but the transition of all these things meant it was hard to get into a rhythm, this upheaval meant it was a while before I felt like I could properly concentrate on writing again.

  1. What anxieties have you encountered and how have you overcome them?

I suffer from the same anxieties I’m sure most writers do – fear of playing it safe and repeating what’s worked well for me in the past, the worry whether it will sell enough to justify a wonderful publisher putting in so many hours helping to form and release the book. I’ve always suffered from imposter syndrome, and so part of me is expecting to fail spectacularly and be found out as not a poor writer.

Over the years I’ve learnt to partially overcome these anxieties by being a little less tough on myself, enjoying and celebrating successes more than I used to, and acknowledging that I couldn’t have put more hours into this, it’s the best I can do, and that has to be enough for me.

  1. Did you know when you wrote material after your 1st collection that you wanted to include it in a 2nd collection?

After a while, yes. I was aware that the work straight after a book can often represent a transition of styles, concerns, or ways of working, and so I wasn’t being too hard on myself to make every poem get to a level I wasn’t capable of getting it to. We talk a lot about ‘finding a voice’ in poetry, but I think that each new project represents an articulation of a new voice, primed to whatever direction the writer wants to go in, and somewhere last year things clicked together, and I realised I had the bare bones of a book laid out.

6) Often poets have years between collections, how long have you been working on your 2nd collection?

This book took three years, which I imagine is a pretty average amount of time for most poets. If I was a better writer it would have taken less but I’m extremely wasteful, I’ve probably written something like 90 poems for this project, cut down to the 46 that made it in this book. If it wasn’t for Jane Commane of Nine Arches I would still be writing this book now; she is brilliant at judging which poems have potential and go somewhere new, and which ones go over the same ground as others. If I didn’t have that objective eye I would have expended a lot of energy on lost causes.

7) Musicians refer to a 2nd album syndrome, do you believe it is the same for writers?

What kind of obstacles have you faced? How have you overcome them?

I think a similar theory applies to books as it does to albums; debuts usually map out an area using a mixture of techniques that point towards some kind of overarching concern, and second albums/books usually work to either further define the concerns in the first release, or explore new ones. The worst thing that can happen with second albums/books is that they appear like pale imitations of the debut they follow, they circle too similar a ground and this is a worry I’ve tried to be hyper-aware of. I think that having this awareness definitely helps in noticing when you’re repeating yourself with a new poem, as does having a clear idea where you want to go, and how you can get there. I’ve read a lot of new collections and books on theory during the last three years, and that’s a big part of developing as a poet, and it’s helped me move on from where I was in my debut.

8) How do you think creatives deal with this 2nd collection syndrome, do you have any advice for poets who have published their first collections? Next steps…

A lot has to do with the expectations we put on ourselves, as we’re often just writing for pleasure at the start, but once you get published the dynamic does change. I spent a lot of time worrying about this collection in contrast to my debut and I wish I had just relaxed and continued the journey that we are all on from the moment we first write. Belief in what you’re doing, that it’s different from what you’ve written before, that’s important, but so is being grounded in enjoying yourself and remembering why you’re writing in the first place – that you can put words in an order that affect a stranger a continent away and make them feel something, that you’re giving voice to the things you think matter. In some ways it was a case of getting back to basics for me, not being in this state of constant anxiety about what the book may look like and how people will react to it. With all this is mind, maybe 2nd collection syndrome is something that occurs because we simply overthink what we’re doing too much, and the way to overcome it is to get back to writing for the sake of pleasure, and enjoying the feeling that you are growing as a writer.

9) You have just finished your first full draft m/s for your 2nd collection. How does it feel?

It’s a relief. Three years feels like a long time, a lot of anxiety, and a hell of a lot of editing day after day, so it’s nice to be able to look at the MS with some sense of satisfaction. When my debut came out I was pretty worried about the reviews that would be written, now I think I’m a bit more relaxed – if the book is enjoyed by readers then that will be great. Now I’m just focused on doing as much promoting and performing of the book as I can with my current health.

10) How did you come to choose the title?

It comes from the title poem in this book, which is probably the most honest poem I’ve written. As our editing of the book progressed Jane and I had a deeper understanding of what the manuscript is about, and that everything in our lives, even the most enjoyable or aspirational moments we experience have a dark underside to them, a fear of it being taken away, a futility to it, that’s what the book is about I think, and the title-poem hopefully sums that up.


Huge thanks to Daniel for this interview, your honesty and insightful responses. Good luck with the final stages of the process. Looking forward to holding the pages of your new collection very soon!

honeyman Interview by Nina Lewis

Buy Daniel’s poetry from the AWF shop CC bookshop-window Garry Knight

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-shop/

SWINDON POETRY FESTIVAL 2015

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Swindon Poetry Festival – blissful, amazing, supportive, friendly, fun, abundant opportunities, fabulous workshops, performances and readings, fantastic venue and lovely vegetarian food, what more could a poet wish for… well, the whole weekend for starters. I thought I was being very clever organising an action packed day and a bit of writing time, next year I plan on making the whole festival a 5 day stretch – Thursday to Monday morning.

I didn’t want to leave and if plans hadn’t already been made for the weekend I would have booked extra tickets for almost all of the events on offer in the programme.

The programmes themselves were works of Art, striking covers and clear festival listings sandwiched between poems from the performers booked for the weekend. Most of us will keep festival programmes so to have one as worthwhile as Swindon’s is a blessing. There were also Battered Moon pamphlets handed out over the weekend with winning poetry inside and the winner of the Buzzwords competition was announced too. The whole weekend was one massive celebration of words, poetry and poets and the whole community/ retreat feeling just added to the excitement of spending time together.

Everyone was friendly, I was trying to catch up with people I knew and get to meet new people too but my anxieties ran high and I wasn’t the best of company some of the time, watching others approaching strangers and not feeling confident enough to do the same. I did spend some of my free time writing as well, which makes talking to people a bit hard.

Hilda Sheehan

I first met Hilda Sheehan in January 2014 at Buzzwords, Cheltenham, an excellent evening organised by Angela France. Hilda is an amazing, generous person and an immensely talented poet. This year she had Jo Bell there as resident poet and she certainly worked hard in her role. Both these poets are a pleasure to be around. Their positivity is contagious and smiles have to be shared.

I met a lot of people who had never been to a Poetry Festival before and some who had only recently picked up the genre. The mix of residents and day trippers made for great conversational dynamics and as with everything in the world of poetry many of us knew each other.

I had hoped to make this festival in 2014 but work prevented it. I booked my tickets in the last few weeks of September believing it to be miles away and then realising Swindon Poetry Festival was just a week away!

It came at the end of a busy work week (unfortunately) I promise myself now I will plan better for 2016! I need FULL energy to appreciate this world fully!

Many of the events and the residential accommodation is at Lower Shaw Farm, an amazing place. Tickets are sold through Eventbrite and it couldn’t be easier book.

 

 Poetry Swindon Festival Programme 
 
“The friendliest and least pretentious; rich, diverse, and encompassing; pushing past conventional views of poetry in the twenty-first century; intimately global; startlingly fresh.” Robert Peake

We welcome you to Poetry Swindon Festival 2015. Our aim to offer up poetry on a pleasurable plate mixed with music, film, food, walking, boat trips, and some Dorothy Parker to ensure you have a good time during this one big creative programme over five days. 

This year, we are very fortunate to have the Canal Laureate Jo Bell with us all weekend. She brings with her great poetry fresh from her new collection Kithpublished earlier in the year by Nine Arches Press. Jo offers us readings, chats, workshops, a canal trip and one-one poetry surgeries. You can book for the entire weekend at Lower Shaw Farm and enjoy the whole caboodle.

POETRY SWINDON FESTIVAL 2015

We have an exciting programme from 1st October to 5th October this year with wonderful visiting poets and masterclasses. Don’t miss: Jo Bell, Kei Miller, Robert vas Dias, Angela France, Ellie Woollard, Tania Hershman, Myra Schneider, Andy Jackson, Richard Skinner, Pascale Petit, Ross Cogan, David Clarke, Anna Saunders, Jacqui Saphra, Lynette Thomas, Robert Stredder, Jackie Bardwell and Cherry Potts.

I booked Friday and had the pleasure of the X-ray Spex Workshop with Jo Bell, which has given me at least 3 or 4 poems to work on.

I was one of ten 52 Poets who performed our work and promoted the anthology over lunch.

I thoroughly enjoyed Andy Jackson and the Double Bill event, followed by Kei Miller and then an evening back at the ranch with all the resident poets.

The following day after a comfortable night’s sleep, I shared time with people and wrote away the morning on the farm before I had to return home to normality and a world where words are sometimes harder to find.

There will be more photographs shared – a taster of the weekend coming soon.

 

 

 

RELATED LINKS

http://www.lowershawfarm.co.uk/oct-2015

http://poetryswindon1.blogspot.co.uk

The Things to Come…. Marvellous May

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The Hay House Summit has finished, missed most of the final sessions as I was busy with workshops and performances. My MOOC course ‘How Writers Write Poetry’ – University of Iowa is in its final few days, I am mainly saving resources and completing some of the internal projects which I encountered during the 7 weeks. I take a lot away from this course including 10 decently edited and possibly ready (although currently resting in that metaphoric drawer) poems.

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Both elements of April/May have been great fun and have served me well. I have a whole notebook from Hay House and several print outs and saved websites and resources to refer back to and explore more when I have the time.

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I have also 48hours off from performing – in which time I will be catching up, blogging and possibly working on more writing.

It is an exciting time and you have these posts to look forward to (some may appear in Poetry Wraps);

  • The WLF Programme – Worcester LitFest 2015
  • Ledbury Poetry Festival 2015
  • Longlisted for WPL – Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015-16
  • SpeakEasy with Angela Topping and Sarah James
  • Published by Paper Swans
  • Stanza
  • Tickets for John Hegley
  • 42, Fairies & Pixies
  • Writing a poem inspired by Jonathan Edwards (Costa Award winning poet)
  • Workshop with Angela France
  • Word Up
  • Opus Club with Hannah Silva

and of course the monthly review.

So I had best get writing, keep reading!

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