Tag Archives: Guest Poet

INKSPILL Introduces Guest Poet Antony Owen

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BIOGRAPHY: ANTONY OWEN 

Antony Owen was born in Coventry and was raised by working class parents. His poetry subjects are diverse with a general focus on forgotten people and the consequences of international and domestic conflicts.

He is the author of five poetry collections by Pighog / Heaventree / Hesterglock /  and most recently V  Press .

His work has appeared in several literary journals worldwide including Magma, International Times plus translated works in both Dutch and Japanese war poetry anthologies by Poetry International Europe and Coal Sack Press (Japan).

In 2015 Owen self-funded a trip to Hiroshima to interview A-bomb survivors and meet various schools who have been taught some of his poems. His work has been exhibited at various peace centres including the International Convention Centre, Hiroshima.

In recognition of his work, CND Peace Education UK selected Owen as a patron in 2015 alongside award winning writer AL Kennedy.

Other past recognitions include being selected to meet Irish President Michael D. Higgins in 2014 on the first state visit to the UK by an Irish President. This was to acknowledge Owen’s voluntary work on co-organising the Coventry / Cork twin city poetry exchange.

SOURCE: https://antonyowenpoetry.wordpress.com/vitae-2/

His latest collection  The Nagasaki Elder was launched with V. Press this year. It is the result of years of work. It is a powerful collection (understatement) and is much needed in this world. Launched in September and currently on the 2nd print run.

You can buy a copy from the INKSPILL Bookshop.INKSPILL BOOKSHOP

https://antonyowenpoetry.wordpress.com/

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Bridges Over the Wall – Antony reading at the Peace Poetry Vigil – Coventry Cathedral.

Antony arranged a voluntary peace poetry vigil for victims of conflict at the Chapel of Unity (Coventry Cathedral) on Sat February 4th.

This poignant remembrance project titled ‘Bridges over the wall” will consist of bridging poetry and spoken word for those without a voice from places of conflict across the world. The event will also bridge conflicts past and present eulogising those affected from the bombings of places like Coventry, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki to recent conflicts in Syria and Yemen. During the course of the vigil hundreds of dedicated poems will be read by Owen and selected poets throughout Warwickshire and beyond. Owen also plans to engage a local school and refugees to take part. For each poem read a candle will be lit in the Chapel of Unity creating a universal candle for world peace made up from places of conflict and peace poems.

Owen said “I wanted to show the social conscience of poetry and how important the role of art is in these difficult times. It is vital in these hard times that we build bridges to bring each other together and not walls to keep us apart. War poetry historically has always shed a light from the darkness of war and evoked some sense of the senseless”

Owen also acknowledged how Coventry was the first city in the world to twin with another (Stalingrad in 1944) and wanted to keep that spirit of reciprocal remembrance alive, Owen said

“In 1944 it was 900 of our women from Coventry who demonstrated human empathy to civilians caught up in the battle of Stalingrad, they embroidered their names on a tablecloth and sent messages of sympathy to the women of Stalingrad for the huge losses they suffered in World War II and their message was this: “From our city of Coventry, scarred and ravaged by the arch enemy of civilisation, our hearts go out to you, who now face slaughter and suffering even more fearful”.

About the Event

Coventry now has 27 twin cities and Owen plans to contact as many of them as possible to share news of this event. The Chapel of Unity is a consistent beacon of remembrance and for decades has been a centre point of remembrance including the annual remembrance event for Hiroshima & Nagasaki where civilians of those cities also remember victims of the Coventry blitz. The vigil will be further enhanced by a separate event in the main Cathedral taking place in the afternoon which will bring Coventry Cathedral boy choristers together with those of Derby Cathedral, Leicester Cathedral and Southwell Minster for a combined service to take place separately from the vigil. They will be rehearsing in the Nave during the afternoon from about 2 pm and so providing a gentle backdrop to the Peace Vigil as it continues in the Chapel of Unity. Antony Owen hopes as many people will come to support this peace vigil by asking for a poem to be read for a place they want to be remembered. Optional donations to the Chapel of Unity and/or Cathedral can be made directly in the allocated boxes for any poems read and/or the other event in the main Cathedral. Please note that whilst entry to the Chapel of Unity is free of charge there is a separate fee to visit the Cathedral. 

About Antony Owen

Antony Owen is an acclaimed and prolific author with four poetry collections. Some of his poems have been translated in Mandarin, Dutch, and Japanese in notable anthologies by Poetry international (Europe) and Coal Sack Press (Japan). Following a self-funded trip to Hiroshima in 2015 to interview A-bomb survivors amongst other work Owen was awarded the winner of Coventry’s 2016 Peace & reconciliation award at the Coventry Community Cohesion Awards. In recognition of his work, CND Peace Education UK selected Owen as their first male UK patron in 2015 alongside award winning writer AL Kennedy.

©2017 – Coventry City of Peace

INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘The Final Write’

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This is Roy’s final workshop, we are delighted with the amazing coverage in these workshops. We are sure you will all agree he has worked extremely hard on this programme. As with all our Guest Writers, time is given for free.

It would be great to see some feedback and response in the comments below, maybe you could even thank Roy by buying his book… the gift would be yours, as ‘Beginning with your last breath’ is an amazing debut collection.

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/beginning%20with%20your%20last%20breath.html roy-bwylb

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Roy Mcfarlen

© 2014 Najma Hush

 

This was an event I performed at ‘Diverse Dancers’ Photographic Exhibition by Najma Hush. This was the first time I watched Roy perform. I did not meet him properly until later in the year (2014) at Jacqui Rowe’s Poetry Bites. I knew a lot about his poetry and work as he was Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2010-11.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/diverse-dancers-exhibition-najma-hush-performance-event/

I had no idea back then that a few years later he would be producing an amazing collection of workshop exercises exclusively for INKSPILL. I am eternally grateful to you Roy and your generous spirit.

– Nina Lewis

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In the previous part of this workshop we looked at ‘Missing You’, writing about what is left behind, what we possess after our loved ones have passed away.

We start this next part as a link, so look back over what you wrote earlier and dive in for the final write with Roy.

In this workshop Roy re-visits the poetry of Hannah Lowe and W.H Auden.


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We started with objects at the beginning, so let’s finish with the idea of what we possess after our loved ones have passed away, and again explore beyond the normal aspects of gift, but maybe they left you with a burden, left you with a secret, left you with a joke, left with your beautiful memories; the page is yours.

The list poem comes to mind, where we just list what we have before us but you’re a poet, you have to take the naming of this list to another place, let’s look at the third passage from Six Day in March by Hannah Lowe.

*

So this is what I’m left with.

A stained brown cufflink box lined

with stained red silk,

two black elastic loops, one snapped and frayed.

I hold it to my nose, search out

the sweat-and-tobacco smell of his hair, his clothes,

the old yellow cardigan. What’s a life made of?

Fifteen pounds in a post office account,

a notebook scrawled in horses’ form,

one photograph of three Jamaican aunts

in white lace dresses, straight-backed

with clasped hands under a palm tree?

Is there a sense of disappointment with that opening line or is it the sense of weightlessness of life the lack of worth maybe? And so she seeks for something tangible, search out the sweat-and-tobacco smell of his hair… the desperation of loss is felt her, the need to hold on to you every piece of her father’s DNA.

We all know Auden’s stop all the clocks, but how about this lover’s lament

As I Walked Out One Evening

And down by the brimming river

I heard a lover sing

Under an arch of the railway:

Love has no ending.

I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you

Till China and Africa meet,

And the river jumps over the mountain

And the station sing in the street

And then this beautiful gem…

the glacier knocks in the cupboard,

The desert sighs in the bed,

And the crack in the tea-cup opens

A lane to the land of the dead.

And then after all that declaration of love, the reality of life that life goes on

It was late, late in the evening,

The lovers they were gone;

The clocks had ceased their chiming,

And the deep river ran on.


writing

Exercise

Think of a moment, an everyday situation, walking past lovers by the river, clock chiming in the background. A supermarket aisle, with the Tannoy going off; sitting in a café with the sound of the vending machines; football terraces and a goal being scored; in the stalls of an operatic piece and the conductor taps the stand; think of something of the presence that shows the living, the continuation of life, whilst we remember our loved ones.


 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:

INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘Missing You’

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In this workshop Roy uses the poetry of Abegail Morley roy-abegail-morley and

Sarah James roy-sarah-james information on purchasing copies of their collections can be found in Related Links at the bottom of the post.

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Missing you

Wow, after that incredible and powerful poem that you’ve written (Being There Workshop), let’s write I miss you poems, how do we say I miss you, that sings a litany, a beautiful melody so far removed from tireless clichés, this is the one, this is where we write them into life, we go back to those beautiful moments and make time stop or we create a sliding doors (the movie or alternative universe) moment as in this wonderful poem by Abegail Morley from The Skin Diary

Before you write off your imaginary sister

remember how she didn’t take her blunt playschool scissors

to your Tiny Tears doll, didn’t lop off a curl,

how it didn’t make you cry for three nights in a row,

your only consolation, not inviting a mantra to your lips:

You are not my sister, you are not my sister.

Think of that night she wasn’t at the tap-end

of the bath, not blowing bubbles through her fingers,

not sloshing them over your face, how water didn’t slop

over the bath’s rim, how you didn’t slip

when your mother hugged you out in a towel.

Memorise how she didn’t cuddle close for those stories,

clap when they escaped the Gingerbread House. Learn how

she didn’t travel with you on the school bus, wasn’t there

when you rubbed your fingers over the invisible bruise

that couldn’t yellow on your thigh, wasn’t bashed by her bag.

Before you know it, she’s not at your wedding,

taking the posey from your nervous hands, doesn’t smile

when she doesn’t do it. Bear in mind she didn’t

have a look in her eyes when she didn’t hold your son

in her arms in amazement. Learn by heart those miles

she couldn’t take because you couldn’t call her at two a.m.

thinking he might die from colic. Remember how

she doesn’t say she loves you more than ever, and how

desperate that cannot make you feel. And know now

all you can say is, I miss you, I miss you.

Find an arc in your poems from the first stanza that sets up the premise you are not my sister, you are not my sister to the pay back, I miss you, I miss you.

Or this gorgeous (can you hear my Craig Revel Horwood impression) poem from Sarah James Plenty-Fish

Bagging Up

I found it this morning: a single pink bootee

gaping white like an empty shell.

When I see flowers,

or bonnets and frilly dresses

next to the boys’ dungarees

I picture you.

You should be grown tall by know.

But I can still hold you: fosilled

fragments from the scan cupped

in my hand: small as a bullet,

or hole in the heart.

I imagine dark curls and shy smile,

though when you speak,

it’s merely an echo of their toddler talk.

I write this to you,

my child that never was,

yet is,

but

I write it for me –

though words won’t bend

to explain that longing for you,

I love the boys no less.

So, as I fold away bibs and bodysuits

And bag up blue for my friends,

The pink of your bootee creases my thoughts.

I ought to throw it, finish this, say goodbye…

Instead, I reach up, hide it high

In a cupboard my sons must never find.


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Exercise

Write them, write their beautiful stories, you don’t need a prompt for this one.

We started with objects at the beginning, so let’s finish with the idea of what we possess after our loved ones have passed away, and again explore beyond the normal aspects of gift, but maybe they left you with a burden, left you with a secret, left you with a joke, left with your beautiful memories; the page is yours.

 


 

RELATED LINKS:

Buy The Skin Diary by Abegail Morley here

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Buy Plenty Fish by Sarah James here

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INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘Being There’

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So Roy’s workshops are going deep, for this one you may need tissues (and we should never let that put us off), or as he suggests a shoulder to lean on afterwards. You can always start a conversation in the reply boxes below and if you happen to have the ‘treasure’ of an empty house to write in, you may want to have some connection after this.

We are here LIVE today, so talk to us if you wish to.

In this workshop Roy looks at the poetry of Hannah Lowe.

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© 2011 Smokestack Books

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Being there

Being there is the toughest journey, you’re a journalist on a battlefield, fighting the inevitable, there’s no turning back, you’re right in the middle of it, seeing blood and fluid, hearing the groans and pains, screaming for help and assistance. The following is the middle passage of Six Days in March by Hannah Lowe from Chick.

*

No dignity in this.

We find you on the stairs,

old child in tears. You want to piss

and so I carry you,

the weightless body folded in my arms

The house is smaller, brighter.

I pass the doorway quickly

where my mother holds your face,

a bowl of milky water on her knee, a razor.

The nurses come, their blue efficiency,

their muscled hands. They twist you on the sheets

and lay you naked, powdered clean, clean.

The shocking body in the light,

bone and paper skin,

the ladder on your shins of buckle scars,

thighs so slight and girlish,

your penis dumb and nuzzled

In its bed of hair.

Old child in tears. You want to piss, the old adage of twice a child once a man, so beautifully put, the fragility of old age, the dependence now on his daughter, search for those juxtaposition, poetry loves juxtapositions.

The house is smaller, brighter. So much is said in these few lines, the child returns as a carer, but the house being brighter fascinates me, maybe she sees her father clearer now, do we see our parents who were hard on us different when their older or in Hannah’s case the father who picked her up at ballerina classes, is no longer the taxi driver (the narrative she shared with friends), she now sees things in a brighter light.

The nurses come, their blue efficiency, their muscled hands. They twist you on the sheets, I love this description blue efficiency, muscled hands, they twist you, there’s no time for sensitivity, there’s a job to be done, a repetition of work that nurses are so use to and this is not a damning of insensitivity but an honesty of the work that nurses have to do, industrious, thankless and tireless.

The ladder on your shins of buckle scars; what more do we have to say, poetry loves new way of describing, condemning the cliché to the bottom draw and bringing out something new, something ladened with a story, history, just go for it and say something new in that one line.


writing

Exercise

I need you to think of that moment, in the hospital room, at side of the road of an accident, at work, those days leading to the inevitable or at the moment of death. I want you for this moment to step out of your body and be the individual going through the pain, suffering; be another member in the room, a child maybe; be the nurse, doctor or any other staff; be the bed, the mirror; and then be yourself and see where you go.

Take your time with this, take time out if you need to and have your best friend, partner or sibling near, by phone or in the house, because you might just need someone to lean on when you’ve finished this exercise.

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INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘Physical, tangible & unforgettable’

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Welcome back to another Roy McFarlane workshop, get your pens and hearts ready as we explore the ‘Physical, tangible & unforgettable’ – you can almost taste the poems you are about to write already!

If possible you will need a large sheet of paper (A3)

In this workshop Roy uses Stretch Marks from Her Birth by Rebecca Goss and his own poem The Map of your Leg

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© 2011 Smokestack Books

Physical, tangible and unforgettable

Physical markers that connect us to those we’ve lost; the way we might look like an individual or the spitting image, the sayings and proverbs that we promised we would never repeat, the marks we wished we had that would remind of us them.

Stretch Marks from Her Birth by Rebecca Goss

My swims kept those scars at bay,

Two thousand lengths it took, to form

My mapless globe. No trace she was here,

Her travels around me refused to surface

As she divided between poles, lapped

That black belly ocean. Once born, meridian

Of my achievements, she went off course.

I followed her divergent route, but this was not

Her geography. I have wished for them,

A record of her tracks, all snowed over, gone.

Read an extract from Rebecca Goss of the journey for putting this poem together from poetry archive; ‘I did an awful lot of swimming through both my pregnancies to keep fit…and I didn’t get any stretch marks – but after Ella died, I really wished I had some stretch marks…physical branding to prove that I had her…’ please read the rest of this introduction.

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© Guardian

My poem The map of your leg begins with;

In hospital your legs are unusually dry

after a weekend lying in bed,

The scene is set for an intimate mother and son moment, where the son creams her mother’s legs and notice her scars, all with their different story to tell.

There’s a survey of marks across your legs

Mapping time and continents,

The basin of scar on your shin bone

That carries you back to the teenager

Daring to backchat your mother…

And the stories that are told, until we’re brought back to the present moment, especially the blemishes of darkness where the most important thing to be said is the most difficult thing to be said.

And you ask me

What have they done to me?

The chemotherapy? The radiation?

they’ve told me that these are the signs

of the cancer returning again.

I continue creaming your skin

But I can’t tell you yet.


writing

Exercise

The easiest way to do this, is to possibly draw the outline of a body on A3 paper and mark the scars on the body you remember, describe how they look, be inventive, and then tell the story.

Remember, think big, we’re looking at stretch marks, scars, beauty marks, (lets stretch this further), have a look at parts of the body as in Elaine Feinstein Hands, or the lack of certain body parts go for it make it unforgettable.

Hands by Elaine Feinstein can be read here

 

RELATED LINKS:

Her Birth is available to buy and is currently on offer (10%) discount. Her Birth Carcanet

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Listen to the poem here http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/rebecca-goss

https://rebeccagoss.wordpress.com/

 

INKSPILL: Guest Writer Workshop Roy McFarlane ‘Writing their presence…’

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Are you ready for more from Roy McFarlane? Today we will be sharing the remaining Workshops he has generously prepared for us. In this workshop Roy uses ‘Hands’ a poem by Elaine Feinstein from ‘Talking to the Dead’.

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© 2011 Smokestack Books

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Writing their presence rather than the grief of loss

Talking to the Dead opens with a death in winter, and closes with a grandchild ‘as tender as blossom’. In poems which are moving but never dispiriting, Elaine Feinstein evokes her husband as he was – now affectionate, now querulous. It is his presence, rather than the grief of loss, which is the centre of the book. The next bit I love the truth of poetry, their willingness to be naked; theirs was not an easy relationship. Feinstein registers the difference between them, the ambivalence of a long marriage, and the intimacy of their last month together, this is what you’re going to do but we’ll read a few extracts before we start writing.

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Hands

We first recognized each other as if we were siblings,

And when we held hands your touch

Made me stupidly happy.

Hold my hand, you said in hospital.

You had big hands, strong hands, gentle

As those of a Mediterranean father

Caressing the head of a child.

Hold my hand, you said. I feel

I won’t die while you are here.

You took my hand on our first aeroplane

And in opera houses, or watching

A video you wanted me to share.

Hold my hand, you said. I’ll fall asleep

And won’t even know you’re not there.

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© Alma Books

writing

Exercise

This is where you go crazy, write down, quirks, infuriating actions, sayings, proverbs, habits, things that you pissed you off (be careful), things you loved, something they said that takes you back to a moment, or something said that has echoed over time or generations. Go for it, spend (15mins) just writing as many things as you can.

Ok, step back and see if you can find a refrain, an outstanding statement or action to repeat and build a poem. Here’s something extra see if you can find two strong lines and try to create a villanelle, I suggest the two lines that you’re using should be different, maybe opposites, or complimentary to each other, like;

Do not go gentle into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The greatest villanelle of all is by Dylan Thomas.


 

 

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For those who need it find out how to write a villanelle here.

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Villanelle

 

 

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.elainefeinstein.com/

Talking to the Dead is available to buy here

Read the full poem – a preview page showing ‘Hands’ can be read here Roy used the full poem in this post, other poems are available to read in this book preview, should you wish for more from Elaine Feinstein.

 

INKSPILL: Gaia Harper and the Foyle Young Poets Prize

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You met our Guest Writer, Gaia Harper, you read she won the Foyle Young Poet prize in 2015. Here’s where you find out about the competition and hear a BBC Radio interview Gaia excitedly managed when she was in London for the prize giving last year.


Every year, 15 young people across the country are selected as top winners of the Foyle Young Poets competition. In 2015 judged by esteemed poets Liz Berry and Michael Symmons Roberts. There were thousands of entries from all over the world.

The winning entries were anthologised in Wolves of Normality

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Image copyright 2015 The Poetry Society

You can read them here

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is the biggest award for writers aged 11-17. It welcomes poems on any theme and entry is completely FREE.

Since it began the Award has kick-started the career of some of today’s most exciting new voices. Past winners include Sarah Howe, Helen Mort and Caroline Bird.

© 2016 The Poetry Society

The Guardian also publish the winning poems, read them all here https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/oct/08/foyle-young-poets-winners-2015-poetry-day


 

RADIO INTERVIEW with Gaia Harper

Gaia-Rose Harper is interviewed by BBC Radio Shropshire on National Poetry Day about her prize-winning poem ‘Columbia Calling’. Gaia-Rose’s poem was chosen from over 12000 entries from 69 countries as one of the 15 winners of the 2015 Foyle Young Poets Award.

In the photo, Gaia-Rose gets her picture taken with poet Liz Berry, one of the judges of the competition.

 

This year they received over 10,000 entries. The judges were Malika Booker and W.N. Herbert. Find out more about the 2016 results here

INKSPILL Guest Writer Interview with Gaia Harper

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Gaia Harper talks to Nina Lewis about her love of language, why poetry is important and winning Foyle Young Poets prize in our exclusive INKSPILL interview.


 

Can you describe a time when you realised creating (writing) was something you absolutely had to do?

As soon as I had read Howl by Allen Ginsberg, I knew I had to write. That was the defining moment for me; it still continues to be one of the most powerful influences behind everything I write.

Who are some of your favourite poets?

Ever since I first got into poetry I’ve adored the Beats, so I’d have to say Allen Ginsberg. Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus is one of my favourite collections, and anything by Whitman catches my eye. As for modern poets, I’ve recently got into Sarah Howe and Claudia Rankine.

Why is poetry important?

To quote Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, “We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.” Poetry is in everything you or I do, in the folding of a napkin, the simple act of smiling. We would be stupid to ignore it.

What comes first in a poem, are you prompted by the idea or form?

Most of my poetry is purely spontaneous; I am rarely one of those people who can sit down and choose to write on a certain topic. The smallest things can trigger a poem for me. Often song lyrics or quotes from films prompt ideas; writing purely on a song or film is something I’ve recently got into. I have a love-hate relationship with form, as most of what I write is in free verse, however I love playing with form from time to time; I’m a big fan of a loose sonnet.

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What books are you currently reading?

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. I love books that make you think, but sometimes you need a good horror to get your teeth into. Poetry wise, I’m currently flicking through Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.

What was it like entering the Foyle competition?

To be honest, I was dubious about entering at first considering the vast number of entries, so it took me a long time to get around to submitting. When I eventually sent them off, the anticipation was awful, but obviously the results were worth the wait.

How did you find Arvon with Liz Berry & Michael Symmons?

It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Liz and Michael are such lovely people as well as poets, and they are so supportive. It was strangely wonderful to be able to have a lesson with them, and then have Liz helping you cook dinner.

Are you a member of the Young Poets Network?

I’ve been a member of the Young Poets Network for a couple of years now. Everything they post comes straight to my email, so it’s great to get unexpected prompts and competitions I could enter.

Do you have any advice for aspiring young poets?

To any young poets out there, I would say ignore everything anyone has ever told you about what poetry has to be. School is never going to teach you a thing about poetry, even if it tries. Rant and shout about every little thing you want to, and write it all down. Don’t let anyone put parameters around your writing; whether it be a rhyme scheme or a way of feeling. What teenagers write is often dismissed as angsty; fight back. Write whatever the hell you want.


 

INKSPILL: Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘Letters, Phone calls and Texting’

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Following on from the earlier workshop ‘Objects to hang our words on’, Roy takes us deeper into exercises and writing in the next session ‘Letters, Phone Calls and Texting’.

This workshop focuses on poetry from Pascale Petit and Roy McFarlane. You are invited to extend on your earlier writing. So take a deep breath and dive in.


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Letters, phone calls and texting

Arrival of the Electric Eel from Fauverie by Pascale Petit

Each time I open it I feel like a Matses girl

handed a parcel at the end of her seclusion,

my face pierced by jaguar whiskers

to make me brave.

I know what’s inside – that I must

unwrap the envelope of leaves

until all that’s left

squirming in my hands

is an electric eel.

The positive head, the negative tail,

the rows of batteries under the skin,

the smell, almost blind eyes,

The day turns murky again,

I’m wading through the bottom of my life

when my father’s letter arrives. And keeps on arriving.

The charged fibres of paper

against my shaking fingers,

the thin electroplates of ink.

The messenger drags me up to the surface

to gulp air then flicks its anal fin.

Never before has a letter been so heavy,

growing to two metres in my room,

the address, the phone number, then the numbness

I know you must be surprised, it says,

but I will die soon and want to make contact.

Pascale captures the dread of opening a correspondence, there’s that association with an indigenous girl from the Amazon, a brave Matses girl, the knowledge of knowing and then we have the electric eel. The letter is alive; charged fibres of paper, thin electroplates of ink. Now feel the weight of the letter watch it grow two metres and then the last two lines leave us in turmoil.

The next one is Leaves are falling from my collection Beginning with your last breath. Autumn plays a big part here, the way I guess things slow down when you hear bad news, like leaves falling but for me a storm is coming and you pray that the weather forecasters have got it wrong.

I didn’t notice the leaves falling

the day they told me it would be

weeks more than months.

The rest of their words

fell softly on deaf ground.

I remembered in the morning

they had forecast an oncoming storm,

the tail end of a hurricane

from the Caribbean seas.

What do they know?

They never get things right,

it will never ever reach here.


writing

Exercise

Take yourself back to the moment you received news about a terminal illness, the passing away of a loved one, somebody moving on or a message via letter, email, friends, or searching through your beloved belongings and you find a message addressed to you. Hold that moment, imagine the feeling, numb, shock, surprised, scared, angry, start writing those feelings, just the feelings, get a thesaurus and explore the feelings, look at its root meaning, the etymology of the word you’re playing with. (15 mins writing) Now think of an animal, weather, or nature inhabit their essence, their very being, imagine every nuance you can think of, don’t link the two together yet, just keep writing (15 mins) Now you should have two A4 writing of notes, (I’m joking, a few lines are just as good). Now put the two together, hopefully you’ve been bursting to correlate the two things to make your poem.

 

 

RELATED LINKS:

Beginning with your last Breath by Roy McFarlane – buy a copy here

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/beginning%20with%20your%20last%20breath.html

Fauverie by Pascale Petit – buy a copy here

https://www.serenbooks.com/productdisplay/fauverie

http://www.pascalepetit.co.uk/

INKSPILL – Introducing Roy McFarlane

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Photograph: Roy’s Book Launch – Beginning with your last breath Published by Nine Arches Press 2016

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Roy McFarlane is one of our three Guest Writers. He has worked really hard on producing a workshop programme for INKSPILL 2016, we are grateful for all his time and effort. We are also happy that through the process of writing for us, we have inspired Roy to create his own series of writing posts which he will be releasing at the end of 2016/2017. We will keep our followers posted on those, so if you haven’t already, please follow the blog. One click, done – easy!


Roy McFarlane can be found online here http://roymcfarlane.com/

Roy was born in Birmingham and now living in the Black Country. He has held the role of Birmingham Poet Laureate and Starbuck Poet in Residence.
His writing has appeared in magazines, Under the Radar, The Reader, The Cannon’s Mouth and The Undertow Review. His poems have been included in anthologies, Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe 2012) and he’s the co-editor and writer for Celebrate Wha? (Smokestack 2011).

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He’s presently performer in residence for Warwickshire Poetry Voices and his debut collection Beginning with your last breath is published by Nine Arches Press.

About

Roy has several years’ experience within the world of poetry; crossing over and collaborating with the world of theatre, working along with musicians and dancers, running workshops, projects and training in many different settings, giving young people and adults the knowledge and skills to be the poets and performers of today and tomorrow.

Roy has developed Mentoring/ Arts scheme helping young people to be inspired, to promote confidence and give opportunities for qualifications and future employment. Roy has also developed numerous arts and education packages and tailored workshops to be used in schools, communities and events.

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Writing

I remember being introduced to Langston Hughes The Negro Speaks of Rivers which blew my mind, inspired me to write words that spoke of my world, my journey, my being but more importantly the profound possibilities of sculpturing or painting with words.

I’m constantly in conversation with any format of art, past and present. Art which proposes a truth through what is seen and what is lived; often leading to truths that reflect on the micro and macro aspects of the world around us.
I write for the joy and love of it, the spark that troubles you in the midnight hour, the thought that follows you in a dream, the ache that wakes you up, the inspiration that makes you write on the margins of a newspaper; it’s all part of the reason for writing poetry.

© 2016 roymcfarlane.com


RELATED LINKS:

2009 – Roy McFarlane BBC Interview

Roy McFarlane talks performance poetry Arts & Culture Performance Poetry

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/beginning%20with%20your%20last%20breath.html