Tag Archives: awritersfountain

NaPoWriMo Day 9 – Be Brave


There’s nothing like a good book launch to get creative juices flowing, that is why I couldn’t get back to sleep at 6 a.m and why the coffee is settling in the cafetière. Poetry time. Of course I emptied the junk mail and scoured inboxes first, but now – an hour later… I am ready.

napofeature1 Our poet in translation today is India’s Mallika Sengupta. Her poetry has been called “unapologetically political”, but it can also be pretty funny. I particularly like her “Open Letter to Freud,” which can be found, along with three other poems in English translation, at the link above. Further poems translated into English can be found here.


Today’s prompt asks us to write a poem including a line that you’re scared of. How’s that for suddenly emptying your head. All those brave lines ran away scared and I was faced with an empty screen for a while.

First cup from the newly used cafetière….

I started listing brave lines, I knew I had them in me. These are lines that hold emotion or personal secrets, are ugly or strange. I was shocked by some of lines and decided that those brave lines that shocked me should be my focus.

Really my focus should be buckling down with my manuscript… creating new poetry has more of a first thing in the morning appeal.


I use my ‘brave’ line to open the poem;

‘I am still scared of the dark’

throughout the poem I explore recent memory, coping strategies, childhood recollections, rituals and eventually the crux of the matter in the closing stanza, which I will share here.

I do not fear the dark in company,

sometimes I quite enjoy it,

intimacy found in the empty spectrum.

I think it is being left alone I fear.

NaPoWriMo Day 8 Back to the Future


Throughout May I will be posting my belated participation in NaPoWriMo.

We’ve passed the one week mark. I’m so happy to see that so many of you are still going strong!


Our featured participant for Day 8 is Ghazals and more at the bitter wished-for child, which shows how a successful tritina can be built from very simple language and simple words.

Our poet in translation today is Nepal’s Banira Giri. Giri emphasizes the importance of spontaneity in writing poetry, as well as expressing the connection between living things. In this way, her poems navigate between the personal and the political, the lyric “I” and the socially conscious “we.” Some of her poems, translated into English, can be found at the link above, here, and in the online literary journal The Drunken Boat.

napo small

Day 8 invited us to write about a flower. My Shakespearean based poetry from Day 5 was heavily floral, but I welcomed the prompt because I know just the sort of flower I wanted to honour today… and I don’t tend to write about flowers, so it is good to increase my bank of floral tributes. The white Plumeria flower of Hawaii.

This is the second poem of NaPoWriMo that I consider to be a finished piece. I enjoyed writing it and taking myself back to Hawaii. I am sharing the 2nd stanza;


As common as an English Rose to these islands,

this flower seeps effortlessly into dream-time.

Reflecting sunlight, the cleanest ke’oke’o

heightened against blue sky. Five petalled star,

overlapping like playing cards spread in a magicians palm.

Scent of beauty with essence of white magic.


plumeria-pixabaycom © pixabay.com


NaPoWriMo Day 6 Ingredients: Actual Poems


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.


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.


Today’s prompt was to write about food.


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.



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 Day 5 – The Great Catch Up


I feel like a storm chaser!

Back in week 1, at the beginning of April this was what Day 5 had in store. It started with a timely reminder that Rome wasn’t built in a day… you are telling me, I have barely made it to the Lazio region.

NaPoWriMo has also had a naming update. GloPoWriMo – Global Poetry Writing Month.


Today’s featured participant is “this. and other poems,” with a rhyming November-themed haiku. November here seems both cruel and kind, with its sense of a fine balance between cold and light.

Our poet in translation for today is China’s Jiang Hao. Born in 1972, Jiang Hao is known for both the experimental nature of his work, and his incorporation of classical Chinese themes and forms. At the link above, you’ll find English translations of six of his poems, and his work also appears in the anthology New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry 1990-2012, available from Tupelo Press.


I get to revel in the mystery of what my poem might have been if I had written it 3 weeks ago. I am performing at an event tomorrow night that celebrates Shakespeare 400 and I have lost the sonnet I wrote especially for my set, so I needed new poetry and perhaps a lesson in how to take care and manage computer files, notebooks and paperwork!

The prompt was to think about seedlings, seeds, names of plants etc. We have (well by ‘we’ – I mean Mr G) have spent 3 years working on our garden, visiting garden centres and tending for our precious plants. My favourite was a fuchsia we bought because it was called ‘ Wedding Bells’.

Initially I thought I would look up some seed names and sprinkle them through earthy verse, then I realised I needed new material for tomorrow and so took a curve ball.

William Shakespeare’s plays reference flowers or use them as plot devices, so this was where I began.

Here is an extract;


Pansy of hurried thought

marked since Roman times,

…. flower juice consumes hearts,

divine purity falls to lust

chaotic disturbance

prized by some unsuspecting soul.



I wrote another poem using lifted / directly sourced quotes about flowers from his plays and weaved them together. Then I wrote a further two poems attempting Shakespearean language, followed by paralysing recollection of an A-Level exam on Antony & Cleopatra. I hope the audience will enjoy some of these tomorrow night.

shake getty images © Getty Images 2016



NaPoWriMo Day 4 Resources & Inspiration


Pretending that it isn’t the 25th April, here is Day 4 from NaPo.

News of a couple of resources that I have glanced over and hope to come back to later on in the year.

First, at the NPM Daily blog, you’ll find a new interview with a poet each day during April. Second, in addition to writing poems for NaPoWriMo, maybe you’d be interested in making a guerrilla poetry video. There is a Facebook events page – just type in National #Guerrillapoetrymonth and hit search. I have copied the information from this page.

ZFG Promotions, Sol Collective and Outside the Lines teamed up to celebrate this year with the return of the National (Guerrilla) Poetry Month video series. Originally started in Sacramento in 2014, National (Guerrilla) Poetry Month features videos of poets performing at surprise locations throughout the city. Tune in all month. There will be new releases every few days.

This is a challenge to poets around the world to create and share their own National (Guerrilla) Poetry Month videos!

1) Create an awesome guerrilla poetry video.
2) Post it on your social media outlets and use
3) Share it like crazy!

Contact ZFGpromotions{@}gmail.com for more information.

When I first embarked on Performance Poetry, back in the 90s in Leicester, I knew a couple of hard-core poets* who performed Guerrilla poetry and recently experienced it live at Ledbury Poetry Festival. Personally I have not got the time or the tech to join this challenge, but it may be of interest to some of you.

* Who rather like Base Jumpers skirted close to the law by choosing certain establishments, like Banks, to perform their Guerrilla poetry in!

ZFG promtions ZFG Promotions © 2016


Our featured participant today is Ileea, who is participating in NaPoWriMo from Sweden! Her poem for Day 3 is a fan letter to the author Donna Tartt. My Swedish is pretty rusty (well, actually, it’s nonexistent), but with the help of Google, I’ve discovered lines in Ileea’s poem that would be wonderful in any language, like “It took eleven pages for me to love you,” and “Beauty is fear.”

Today’s featured poet in translation is Vietnam’s Nguyen Do. Known for the musicality of his work, Nguyen considers his poems “somber,” but not necessarily “sad.” Cerise Press has made available dual-language versions of several of his poems. Nguyen is also heavily involved in translating other Vietnamese poets’ work into English, working with Paul Hoover to produce an English-language version of the selected poems of Nguyen Trai, and an anthology of contemporary Vietnamese poetry, Black Dog, Black Night.


The optional prompt today is writing about the cruellest month, which is hard. I appreciate time and love the whole year for many different reasons. I cannot even allocate a month to some of the major traumatic events in my life. I do not like to blacken time.

I realise the prompts are optional, but I enjoy the challenge. I decided to write about this March, where an early Easter saw me dip in writing time and I switched off and disconnected for a while.


An extract from ‘Empty Pages

‘heat drained from bones

body simmers for summer months

waits for chroma plied wings to open

and reveal

hopeful skies.’









NaPoWriMo Day 3 – Work got in the way


It is nearly the end of NaPoWriMo 2016, we are less than a week off the end of the celebration of daily writing and I am on Day 3…

I am sure this makes you feel better if you are lagging behind. Come on! We can do this!

The featured participant today is emangarduque, I really like the look of the blog and there is a double haiku from the Day 2 family prompt to enjoy.

The featured poet in translation for today is South Korea’s Kim Hyesoon. Her poetry, which has been widely translated into English, is known for its outsized, grotesque imagery, as well as its concern for the relationship between individuals and society. Poetry International has made English translations of around a dozen of her poems, as well as editorials and essays, available online.

I am drawn to today’s prompt, write a fan letter in the style of a poem. I have many heroes, mostly dead (they cannot disappoint or stray from my rose tinted vision), no they weren’t chosen because of this, they just happen to be dead.

After toying with a list I have decided to address my letter to something else entirely.

Whilst I am put supermarket shopping (oh, the glamour) I will let my ideas swirl about my head and hopefully pen my poem when I get home.


I attempted to write a fan letter to the weekend (something I will come back to later) not happy with the results I decided to write to one of my long-loved heroes, Jim Morrison.

The poem needs some work. To inspire me I listened to an interview with his father and sister that I had not seen before Interview (without comments).

‘… the spirit of us folded together across secrets and truth’

‘… drawn towards your wise mouth.

Words uttered, half prayed in your pen.’

A Review of March


March started with a performance at ‘The Works’ Canteen’, a night of poetry, music and storytelling at the Black Country Living Museum, hosted by the museum’s poet in residence, Dave Reeves. An event that has been on my radar for a long time and one of the few events I blogged about in a timely manner. The Guest Poets were Jan Watts & R.M Francis. Rob Francis hosts Permission to Speak (PTS) and took a collective to perform at the museum, including me.

It was a fabulous evening – read more about it here.


I received my long awaited and much anticipated copy of Under the Radar – Nine Arches Press, where my poems Fortiori and The Gift share the pages with a plethora of poetry talent. These poems are from my forthcoming collection and I was delighted to have them accepted. They were accepted in 2015 and it seems like a lifetime ago now.


I completed research to write poetry celebrating Women’s History Month and took great pleasure rewriting a poem about Annie Edison Taylor, the first person over Niagara Falls in a barrel and she survived, her only injuries came from trying to get out of the barrel after the drop. All about the adventure! Her poor cat was the test lunge, the cat was barely harmed either.

My work with Writing West Midlands was secured for another year.

The second week of March involved a lot of writing, more submissions were sent out and admin tasks, which every writer could use a PA for. I was asked to judge a slam for Womanly Words, in the end I performed instead. I missed events I had planned to go to, day job work kept me busy and with the heavy writing schedule I didn’t have the energy. I dream of a poetry chauffeur.

The WWM group met our new Assistant Writer and worked on our book project. I missed a Memorial event for Sammy Joe at The Edge, which was on the same day.

I enjoyed ‘Poetry by the Lake’ in the Arboretum, Walsall with David Calcutt and performed a short set. It was a sunny day and the park was full. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Highly recommended.


The third week of March could be the reason why I ended up fading away. I was working full time and also had a timetable to get all my submissions out on time. The writing still needed editing and polishing.

  • I wrote over 12 new poems.
  • Sent 8 submissions.
  • Wrote a set of poems for Woman’s History month.
  • Took bookings for next month and the summer.

I missed events I had hoped to attend. Three of which fell on the same night. I also missed WLF & Fringe Earth Hour which I wanted to support. I had already committed to the Vanguard Readings, with Richard Skinner. An amazing night of poetry from Helen Calcutt, Emma Purshouse, David Calcutt, David Clarke, Jane Commane and Richard Skinner. I have yet to blog about this event and wish I had managed it in real time.


I performed at Worcester Arts Workshop for the first time, for Women’s History Month, it is always lovely to come across new (to me) poets. It was a pleasant evening, vibrant, warm atmosphere and lots of support and love for women, organised by Feminista Leisa Taylor. I am grateful to have been part of it.

her story

By Week 4, I barely knew my name. I had a writing day (they do not exist as much as I would like), worked on my manuscript (approaching what I hope is final editorial stages), I marked WORLD POETRY DAY, missed a photo shoot with fellow Womanly Words poets, wrote a short article on poetry and completely forgot about Stanza! It fell on Good Friday and Mr G and I had had an action packed start to the Easter weekend.

The end of March was slightly strange as I took a break from most of my writing and performance schedule for Easter and never started again. The last few days of the month were mostly offline. I proofread copy of an up and coming anthology. Another lingering process which started last year. It will be a delight to finally read the collection. I have the proof copy but I want to curl up with the real thing.

I finished the month with a workshop in Stratford with Angela France and submitted the blog as a participant for napo2016button2

Preparation NaPoWriMo


It is that time of year again, Spring has sprung and poets all over the world are limbering up to take part in NaPoWriMo. Founded in 2011, I have been a participant since 2014 (when I discovered it) having battled Camp NaNoWriMo and the full event in the Autumn in 2013. From time to time I have discovered other such boot camps but to be honest I have rarely done anything with the writing afterwards. A waste of over 100,000. So now is my strategy planning time.


I love taking part just for the fun and comradery of the event and the scheduled commitment to writing – which after last week, I know I can do alone. I had submission deadlines as well as day job work and performances, so I basically drew up an old school timetable (not done since exam revision time) and was as hard-core. Relentless. I managed all submissions as a result and even had a poem published. This year I need a Post-NaPoWriMo Plan.

As with other years I have signed the blog up as a participating site and will be writing about the event throughout the month. I will also post extracts from the poems I write. Many people will be taking part posting full poems and another aspect of the event is reading work by other poets. I am going to carve NaPo reading time into my April writing time to do just that.

Find out more and sign up your site here http://www.napowrimo.net/

napofeature3This poem featured in the Top 10 listing for ‘Best poems about Spring’ compiled by The Guardian in 2014.

In Perpetual Spring by Amy Gerstler


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Gerstler won the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for Bitter Angel (1990). Her early work includes White Marriage/Recovery (1984), and her more recent works include Nerve Storm (1993), Medicine (2000), Ghost Girl (2004), and Dearest Creature (2009), which the New York Times named a Notable Book of the Year. A graduate of Pitzer College and Bennington College, Gerstler has taught at the Art Center College of Design, the University of Southern California, and the Bennington Writing Seminars program. She lives in California with her husband, the artist and author Benjamin Weissman.

Happy World Poetry Day



It doesn’t seem like a year has gone since the last one. I usually like to mark special days like this, but this year I have been at work all day and I have had one of those days. You know the sort, sending random S.O.S messages from your mobile in the only 10 minute break you will have all day. Still it is over now and for a little time I can immerse myself in the waters of the fountain and write about poetry.

heart As you all know, I love poetry. I have had a wonderful weekend of poetry and have survived a manic week of writing. My schedule was hard going after work every night. It was worth it though. I have more poems out there flying around editors desks than EVER before.

On Friday I celebrated Woman’s History Month with new poetry written about Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. This poem started life a few months ago as a poem about adventurous daredevils, I researched heavily but after the poem was finished found out subsequent information which I felt the reader/listener needed and so the poem had a rewrite. This was a great night of poetry which I will blog about soon.

On Saturday I went to the Vanguard Readings – another night of exceptional poetry. I felt recharged from listening to all the poetry that night. Special feelings, like Christmas Eve. Magical.

On Sunday (I am beginning to feel like the Hungry Caterpillar) I received great news, my poem ‘Journey’ was chosen to be published, my manuscript finally reached the end run of editorial work and I have been asked to perform at Spring/ Summer events.

So today, apart from ‘work’ work – I am having a rest and am celebrating WPD from behind my screen with Goggle and Social Media.

1 nb

I asked my friends in honour of WORLD POETRY DAY to talk to me about their experience of poetry, what it means to them, favourite poems. This post will be updated to include more opinions. Perhaps you would like to add yours in a comment below. It is a great way of discovering poets and sharing some love.

I started writing poetry about six years ago and since I met my poetic friends from Worcestershire, I haven’t looked back with any regret as you have all been a great inspiration to me. This is a special day.

Timothy Stavert

Two life-changing poems for me: HD’s “Eurydice” and Margaret Atwood’s “Circe/Mud Poems.” The ideas that the myths I grew up with could center around the women in them, and not as victims, blew open my mind. In later life, two I return to again and again are Joy Harjo’s “New Orleans” and “What Music.”

Jennifer McGowan

Poetry is breathing, right?

Angi Holden

It’s my hidden language, my religion, my imagination, my comfort blanket, my pulse, my lifeblood, it’s my world!

Elaine Christie.

Poetry for me is exploration and communication, of and with the self, of and with the world. When I was a teenager I ran a poetry magazine from my bedroom which people could buy via mail order. One of the contributors sent me a copy of Sharon Olds’ ‘The Sign of Saturn’ as a thank you for publishing their work and ‘being supportive’. They, and no-one who bought or read the mag, knew I was a 16 year old schoolgirl! Anyway, the book had a profound effect on me and I’m a fan of Olds to this day. So, something from that book, or from ‘The Gold Cell’, which I bought soon after, would be great. Maybe ‘I Go Back to May 1937’?

Mab Jones

I feel like it’s a bit of a secret self for me. Perhaps my true self – or that might be the boring office one – but somewhere I can escape to.

Emma Simon

Sometimes it feels as if it’s all of me. It’s my way of becoming visible – of saying, ‘this is me!’ It’s not recognition, it’s validation. I exist through my poems and poetry. Sad but true.

Favourite poem:
‘The suburbs dream of violence. Asleep in their drowsy villas,
sheltered by benevolent shopping malls, they wait patiently
for the nightmares that will wake them into a more passionate world’

Stella Wulf

It’s very absorbing.

Cathy Dreyer

WPD mine RELATED LINKS: Eurydice Margaret Atwood




Performing & Writing


After taking a three week break over Christmas I am determined to get back into my stride with writing and performing, the heavier proportion needs to be weighted to writing this year as I have a few projects underway.

I have succeeded (partly due to organising an Action Plan) – I can Life Coach myself after all! Another personal qualification of mine. I have this week managed to perform, write new poetry (the first since early December), I thought I’d lost the power! I have even managed a submission too and plan on spending this, my first full writing day of 2016 writing more poetry for submission.

Break your goal into smaller steps, make sure they are achievable.

Spoken Word at The Ort 8th

Last Friday I journeyed over to Birmingham to unite with other poets who were still in shock over the news of Sammy Joe, to welcome in the New Year with Debbie Aldous at her event and to share poetry on the open mic.

It was PACKED! To the point where I began to feel claustrophobic. It was a good night though with lots of poetry/ spoken word. It was mainly good to connect with others and see people that I needed to hug.

Writing West Midlands

I also spent part of the week finalising my plans for the first of the 2016 sessions for WWM working with young writers. We had some new joiners, I am doing my best to increase the numbers for our group this year. I planned a whole session on New Beginnings and it went down well. It was good to be back.

I missed several events this week, Stirchley Speaks, Permission to Speak and Poet’s with Passion.

Headline Bookings

Last year, I was fortunate to appear in lots of headline slots. This week I was asked to Headline next month at Stirchley Speaks alongside; Alisha Kadir and Mark Kilburn. I can’t wait!

Patience Agbabi

I discovered Patience Agbabi was coming to a local university and has a ticketed performance at The Hive on 29th January. I booked a ticket.

As I didn’t get a place on the Arvon City Retreat, I have filled that weekend (29th-31st) with POETRY. The Sunday will be filled with 52 – more on this later.

Mouth & Music 12th

I am dedicating a post to this separately as it was the last one for a while. I will add a link back here.

Thank you for the Music (and Mouth)

SpeakEasy 14th

SpeakEasy was last night, I have not managed to get to one of these for a long time and enjoyed reconnecting. There was a healthy number of audience to performers and some of my favourite poets were performing. It was a lovely evening (if not a tad cold, we have had snow) hosted by Maggie Doyle, who eloquently announced each spot with an blush worthy introduction.

I finally (after a block of a month or so) managed to write three new poems this week and I performed them all last night.

Lindsay Stanberry Flynn was the Headline and she read from her latest novel – ‘The Broken Road’.


Lindsay Stanberry flynn the broken road



A Writing Day

Today is my first official writing day of the month, sacred time. I have my list in front of me and I am busy working through it. I managed to write – edit and submit some work on Wednesday evening – in between going out for a belated New Year’s Meal with Mr G’s family. I was fairly proud of what I managed to accomplish in two hours, let’s hope the editors are too.

Loving the possibilities of the next four days, after a run of (hard) work, I get to tie myself to the desk and get on. I have a manuscript to finalise as well as new writing and of course the inevitable admin tasks (much further down on the list).

This is the good side of the apple.

Eat around the Bruise

I know people who are fussy (or perhaps normal) about food and would bin fruit as a punishment for being bruised. I know that there is still goodness in the remaining unbruised part and will carefully eat around the bruise.

2016 feels a little like this at the moment. I’d let go of negativity dragged from 2015 into this new year and was all ready and primed for a fresh start. Then things beyond my control happened – as they do, otherwise known as life.

When this happens there is no way to protect from bruising. Allow that time and then, get stuck in! Eat around that bruise.

Give what you have to give.

ww me