Tag Archives: Guest Writer

INKSPILL Guest Writer – Introducing Robert Harper

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DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES we regret to inform you that there will be no INKSPILL exclusive from Rob Harper today. We have decided to include the introductory post anyway so you can spend some time reading his poetry and checking out his websites and of course, Bare Fiction magazine.


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Robert Harper is an actor, poet, producer and director of theatre and television. Since the early 90’s, Robert has performed in hundreds of varied productions on radio, screen and stage throughout the UK, most notably as a member of the BBC Radio Drama company.

He is Founding Editor of Bare Fiction Magazine, which started the same year I did (2013) and Artistic Director of Bare Fiction Theatre Company which is dedicated to the production and presentation of new work.

Robert holds a BA in Theatre Studies from RWCMD, has just completed his MA in Creative Writing and runs Shrewsbury Poetry Stanza.

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Robert Harper – Poet

As part of his MA he recently collaborated with composer Zakiya Leeming on a new piece for four voices based on his poem Hush, along with a solo piece developed especially for the Rosamond Prize.

He regularly reads at Poetry Events and read alongside David Morley and Gregory Leadbetter at the Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014, where his poetry also appeared on the Wenlock Festival Poetry Trail.

His work has featured in The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Acumen, Royal Philharmonic Society and for National Children’s Heart Week 2014. He was Highly Commended in the Poetry Book Society Student Poetry Competition 2014 and performed at ‘An Evening with Carol Ann Duffy and Friends’.

Robert’s poetry can be found here http://www.robert-harper.co.uk/poet/

 

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.

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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.


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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.


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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

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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 Introducing Gaia-Rose Harper

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Introducing Gaia-Rose Harper our youngest guest writer. We are delighted she agreed to an interview and are grateful for her time, given to us for free. If you ever have a chance to see Gaia read, I urge that you do so. As you will hear from the video clips and audio, she is a wonderful reader.

I was fortunate enough to be in Ludlow for ‘Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room’ when Gaia made her debut performance and despite her nerves, she captivated the audience. I was mesmerised. Her work is deeply layered, well researched and polished with quality. Like Gaia, I was a young poet once, first published at 15 but my early works are not a patch on Gaia’s. It isn’t just the themes which run beyond her teenage years. The depth, wisdom, brilliance and obvious love of language contained in her work, raises it to that place many writers hope to reach.

Gaia Harper is a Young Poet from Shropshire who won the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award in 2015 (aged 14) for her poem ‘Columbia Calling’.

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Gaia is a 15 year old poet and winner of the Foyle Young Poets’ of the Year Award 2015. Her work has been published in Write On! magazine, and she has performed in a number of places, including the Wenlock Poetry Festival 2016. Gaia is an avid artist, lover of classical languages, and aspiring filmmaker.

 

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.


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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 ‘Writing Loss’

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We met with Roy McFarlane over the summer (whilst he was Poet in Residence at Shakespeare’s Birthplace). In discussing the theme for our writing workshops we chose loss. Loss plays a part in his debut collection ‘Beginning With Your Last Breath’. If you know the story behind the book, the motivation for his work, it started with loss.

Handing over to Roy…

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© 2011 Smokestack Books


Inkspill Online Writing Retreat

Writing Loss

We’ll be exploring the theme of loss in myriad ways. When writing love, love seems to pour from the heart on to the paper, spilling over the pages on to notepads, back of envelopes and any available space that you can find but in that moment of loss, or that long road to the inevitability of loss, we often struggle, we often refuse to write.

Mona Arshi said in an interview with the Forward Arts Foundation, ‘writing the poems around death of my brother, observing the anguish of a family trying to come to terms and survive was a difficult task, but one I felt I had to negotiate especially if you believe that one of the functions of poetry is to make the unbearable, bearable.’

So for this weekend, we are simply going to write with an abundance, write without the need to worry too much about form but I do want you to be inspired by the prompts and exercises I’m going to share with you, some of which have been the spark behind my writing but more profoundly, just the joy of reading from a cannon of wonderful writers.

There are no fast rules, the only rule is to write, write it your way the best way that you can. I only ask that you write the truth, bare as much of you as you can on the page – being true to yourself. There’s going to be tears, but I hope and pray that there’ll be smiles and laughter.

I’m interested in how far you can spread your net of writing, I’m naturally thinking of our loved ones; our parents, lovers, siblings, children, pets but how far can we go with this, a work colleague, the boss, coach, a teammate, the team, someone moving away that you’ll never see again, so be imaginative and throw the net out and let’s see what we catch.

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