Tag Archives: INKSPILL 2017

October Review (better late than never)

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Just before we reach the halfway point of November I thought I would get my head down and tell you about last month!

October was such a whirlwind month. An abundant welcome into the winter and came with the realisation that I have not submitted anything for 5 months (I have organised enough WPL events to fill 100 pages of my notebook) and written more commissioned poems than I can count on all my fingers and toes… but this is something I want to get back to before the end of the year. So now I will find some extra time to carve out, December is looking good!

WEEK 1: 

I wanted to go to Kim Moore’s workshop at Buzzwords, but I didn’t get back from my stint in London at the Poetry Book Fair/Free Verse in time. Well technically, I could have detoured to Cheltenham in time but energy levels were so long I didn’t think I would manage the late drive home or even stay awake for writing and my brain was as tired as my body. It was amazing according to everyone who was there and having taken her workshop at the Verve Festival in February, I don’t doubt it!

I had my Adam Speaks Treehouse poem accepted for the NT project at Croome Court. With NPD, Credo and then hot-footing down South I had forgotten the deadline on this writing, which was already tight. This was the first poem I was forced to send on my phone, thank goodness it was a submission in the body of an email. I had to send it from Free Verse and it was a definite last minute submission. Fortunately, I didn’t look too rude doing so as the hall was packed with poets live tweeting.

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© Croome Court/Adam Speaks

I had a school workshop planned which sadly had to be postponed, I look forward to this in 2018 although I expect to change my plans to fit the curriculum topics in the Spring Term.

Then I went down to Swindon for the Poetry Festival, now in it’s 5th year (and my 3rd). I cannot express how much I love this festival. This was my first year of stewarding, generally I buy festival passes or lots of events tickets and arrive as a punter, network, drink and absorb poetry into my very core. I knew working on the team would make this experience completely different but I also knew it was a solid team to be part of and saw volunteering as the biggest thank you I could give.

I was also booked to perform V Formation with fellow V. Press Poets Stephen Daniels and Gram Joel Davies (also notably on the team).

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Some of the team and performers at the opening event POEMS ALOUD Artsite, Number Nine Gallery, Theatre Square, Swindon

V FORMATION – POETS of V. PRESS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
A celebration of three new and exciting voices in British poetry: Stephen Daniels, Gram Joel Davies and Nina Lewis.
Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry and Strange Poetry websites. His debut pamphlet Tell Mistakes I Love Them was published in 2017 by V. Press. Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon and his pamphlet, Bolt Down This Earth was V. Press’ Forward Prize nominee for 2017. Nina Lewis is Worcestershire Poet Laureate and her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press in 2016.

Our readings were on the 1st night and the event went well, was well attended and people were still talking about it a few days later.

Swindon Poetry Festival needs a blog post and I will write a full review as soon as I can find time to do so. Another case of better late than never!

 

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Highlights in brief:

WORKSHOP: The Dynamic Poem Holiday Inn  With Daljit Nagra
Poems can sometimes seem flat and lack vigour, they can drift along in a dreamy mood without any conviction. Daljit will explore with examples from contemporary poetry how to put the fizz back into a poem. Participants should expect to have attempted at least one new lively poem!

READINGS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Poke into the poetry box! Treasures of the heart, inca-named stardust, and various severed body parts! An hour of humour and water with Sue Rose, Emma Simon and Simon Williams.
Emma Simon won the Prole Laureate poetry competition in 2013 and loss, love & severed body parts scatter through her first collection Dragonish (The Emma Press). Simon Williams latest collection, Inti, was published in July. Sue Rose is the author of three poetry collections. Heart Archives was published by Hercules Editions in 2014.

POETS & PUBLISHERS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Discussions led by poet Carrie Etter with two prominent poetry editors, Amy Wack and Mary Jean Chan. Come and join a discussion about what it takes to get published.
Carrie Etter is a Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her most recent collection, Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in New Work in Poetry by The Poetry Society.
Since 1990, American expatriate Amy Wack has edited Seren Books’ multi-prizewinning poetry list. Her own poems have appeared in various journals, most recently a 12-part poem inspired by feral cats in Spain in Long Poem Magazine.
Mary Jean Chan, from Hong Kong, is shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and is Co-Editor at Oxford Poetry. Her work has been published in The Poetry Review, Ambit, The Rialto, The London Magazine, Callaloo Journal.

WORKSHOP: Call and Response Sun Inn With Rishi Dastidar
We’ve all been to workshops where we’ve been inspired by other poems, maybe visual art too, and then written in response to them. So what happens when we use pop songs instead? That’s the simple premise behind ‘Call and Response’, where some great music will hopefully provide great inspiration for writing poems. Just bring some paper, pencils – and your ears.
Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works, a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, a member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective. His debut collection, Ticker-tape, is published by Nine Arches Press.

and more…

During the festival I missed the beginning of Birmingham Literature Festival and a meeting with the poets involved in the Elgar Poetry Project.

Week 2: 

Swindon Poetry Festival and the highlights of the weekend. An amazing end to the festival was Monday morning, breakfast with Daljit and then Breakfast and Poetry over at the Tent Palace as our festival finale.

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I got back on Monday afternoon and Monday evening was straight out to open mic at Licensed to Rhyme in the new venue Cafe Morso, Barnt Green.

cafe_1imag© Cafe Morso

Fergus McGonigal was headlining, so good to see him again and to see him back on the circuit with his new book, now one of my new shiny books too!

Everyone is now unhappy© Burning Eye 

As WPL I was busy gathering submissions for World Mental Health Day – as Mental Health Week started when I was in Swindon and I had been hit by the dreaded Swindon Lurgy! Which meant I missed most of the events at Birmingham Literature Festival that I planned to go to!

I was also organising the Hanbury Hall Project for poets to go and write about artwork displayed in the Long Gallery by DAN. The Gallery opened on the 10th and the exhibition ran until the 29th and they had over 3300 visitors, only 15 of which were poets!

Not as WPL but as a poet I was also busy preparing INKSPILL – our online writing retreat.

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I missed tons of events being ill (proper ill with blankets).

Week 3: 

I made it back to the edge of health in time to perform as WPL at the SpeakEasy event for Mental Health Day at Cafe Bliss, this is a wonderful annual event which brings together speakers from a variety of Mental Health and Wellbeing backgrounds, agencies such as The Samaritans and this year The Shaw Trust and of course local poets.

It was a very moving experience and a good afternoon. I also received submissions for the World Mental Health Day Anthology from participants. I love it when the WPL projects reach local people through events and radio broadcasts. I made the decision to keep the submission open on the Mental Health collection for the duration of my tenure. We raise awareness of it a few times a year through these calendar events, but actually it is everyday living for 1 in 4 (official statistics were 1 in 5 but recent NHS figures show 1 in 4).

The following day after dragging myself around a D.I.Y store with Mr G. I diagnosed myself healthy enough to venture into Birmingham to catch Joe Cook and Hollie McNish at the Town Hall. This is the 2nd time this year I have seen Hollie and she was as wonderful as ever. It was also the 2nd time this year I gave up on queuing to meet her. I met her several times in 2015 and I know I will get my new books signed one day!

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© Birmingham Mail

I had planned to get to Wellington Festival, but I still wasn’t 100% well and also my car was slightly damaged over the weekend.

I made it to Hanbury Hall and was able to meet up with the Cheltenham contingency of poets (well, some of them). I took plenty of photos and notes and ended up writing 8 poems – 6 of which will make it public.

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On the 18th I was back in Birmingham for Stablemates at Waterstones. Jill Abram always sends me an invite to these London events, so I could hardly refuse when she brought it to the Midlands. It was a fantastic night. I really felt uplifted by the end of it. It was also a chance to finally meet and watch Rosie Garland who I have heard so much about. I got to see Jackie Hagan again (last time I saw her was at Hit the Ode) and listening to Henry Normal was a pleasure, I love the fact his is Oscar nominated and a BAFTA winner and has yet returned to his first love of poetry.

I started to promote my first WPL event for children, which had been in the pipeline for a while. The WLF team produce a Halloween Event for LITtleFest at St.John’s library which along with the usual storytelling, pumpkin carving and treats I included a Writing Workshop for 5 – 9+ years old.

LitFest Halloween 2017 poster

I also had a call out for Halloween Poem Submissions which needed a push.

I spent the tail end of the week working on the Elgar Poetry commission (WPL).

 

Week 4 

I had my 2nd writing meeting with Spark Young Writers at The Hive, we had a go at our own spooky theme and also had the new WWM Operations Assistant, Heddwen Creaney come to visit our group.

I spent 4 days busily researching Elgar and completing 14 new poems for the event in November.

I spent some admin time organising festival events for 2018.

I worked on my WMRN role as Reader in Residence for Rugby Library organising next month’s Review Writing Workshop.

I had my WPL spot on BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding, talked about the Elgar Project and Mental Health. I shared my poem ‘First Steps’ from Fragile Houses.

In the evening I enjoyed dressing up for Halloween (I looked like a Gothic Librarian – but what I wanted was Suz Winspear our first Goth Poet Laureate) and went to 42. It was rather cramped as we were in the Lunar Bar upstairs and it was a great turn out for the night. It also gave me a chance to promote the Halloween submission call too.

I missed Jenna Clake’s Book Launch of ‘Fortune Cookie’ in Birmingham, which I was gutted about but I also asleep by the time it started. So the right call was made!

We had a Stanza meeting and then it was Week 5!

 

Week 5 

INKSPILL of course, which needs no introduction around here… our 5th annual online writing retreat – it is mad to think we have been going for as long as Swindon Poetry Festival! This year’s Guest Poets were Antony Owen & Stephen Daniels, both fellow V. Press poets, although I hadn’t realised that until after the booking.

It was a massively successful and fun weekend. Take a look at the programme page if you missed it and you should be able to navigate through from there using the menu tools on screen.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/inkspill-2017-programme/

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It was also the Halloween Event at the library – where my workshop was attended by children aged 4 to 12, all enjoyed themselves and watched me, dressed as a witch attempting to fly around the room. They did ask why my face wasn’t green and I told them all about the family tea party I was going to afterwards.

It was fun and the most exhausting WPL event yet!

On Sunday I spent a long time creating the first issue of the WPL Magazine Contour – submissions all about Place/Worcestershire closed at the end of August and since then I have been sifting through work. Fortunately during some local research I discovered Philip Halling and we were able to use his images throughout the magazine with a few additions from local poets.

 

The end of the DAN Exhibition at Hanbury Hall was marked with a closing celebration on the 30th which Polly Stretton was invited to read her poem ‘Curves’ at. Polly won a competition created by Peter Hawkins (Chair) to find a poem for the closing of the exhibition. I sneaked one of mine in as WPL/Organiser of the poetry part of the project.

The artist for my piece was there, Stephen Evans and I am delighted that he will be using my work alongside his painting in his next exhibition in December.

I successfully completed a WPL Productions Poetry Film to show off the Halloween Poetry Submissions and added some prose as a one off Poet Laureate special to the blog.

 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

More on the Adam Speaks Launch day next month.

Adam Speaks National Trust Launch Event

Buy your copy of Fergus McGonigal’s new book here

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/everyone-is-now-unhappy

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INKSPILL 2017 Closing with something NEW

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I hope you have all enjoyed this year’s retreat – the posts remain active, so spread the word.

And in case you have more room for poetry – let me present the first issue of CONTOUR the WPL Poetry Magazine. Packed full of Worcestershire in words, photos and interviews. ENJOY and share!

INKSPILL The Editors

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Finding your voice, what editors know and look for, the idea of better writers, editing and more.

Watch this interview with Writers and Editors Victor Dwyer and Charlotte Gill talking to to Ian Brown about modern writing in 2014 from Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

BANFF

 

 

INKSPILL Guest Poet Stephen Daniels Workshop Exercise

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We asked Stephen Daniels for a workshop activity. Get your pens ready! 

‘Wordslast’ is a poem from Stephen’s debut collection. tell mistakes

It started life as a workshop poem, written in one of Hilda Sheehan’s workshops. Stephen shared the poem during his interview earlier and now shares the exercise.

We read a poem called ‘deer suddenly’ by Carola Luther (the start of the poem can be found here here) – in the poem the poet pushes together words to add pace, to surprise and for originality.

I was then asked to try the same – push words together, maybe even pull them apart and see what happens to your writing.

My poem ‘Wordslast’ does something similar but I used the reversal of these pushed together words to drive the narrative. I think this  technique is a good way of surprising yourself with writing, and the experimentation can help us find a way into subjects that can be tough for us to access otherwise.

 

INKSPILL Guest Poet Stephen Daniels Those Quick-Fire Sparks

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We asked Stephen a series of quick-fire questions and he was game enough to share his results. 

Here are the questions – maybe you would like to comment with your own answers below.

 

Confident writer or anxious?

Slow or fast?

Planner or plunger?

 

 

 

And now here are the questions and Stephen’s answers. (We didn’t want to sway yours!)

 

Confident writer or anxious?

A confident writer – an anxious self-editor, and my own biggest critic! 

Slow or fast?

Fast, Fast, Fast… I tend not to do anything slowly… life is too short! 

Planner or plunger?

Plunger… I find that planning tends to over complicate things. 

101 .Stephen Daniels swindontheatrescouk © swindontheatres.co.uk 

INKSPILL Guest Poet Interview Stephen Daniels

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1) How long have you been writing?

Not long really. I started writing Poetry in March 2015. I was encouraged to write by my creative writing tutor (and now very good friend) Hilda Sheehan. 

 

2) What tips would you give to someone starting out?

Read – write – read – write – repeat! It is so important to read when you are starting out – I learned more from reading than I ever did writing and it exposes you to different styles. This is what helped me find the writing style that worked for me. 

Secondly, don’t worry about being bad. I think it is important to just write at the beginning – being good should be secondary, that will come with time, but I think most writers struggle with feelings of inadequacy. My advice is to write through it – I think we all have to write the personal, cheesy poetry to break-through to the good stuff! 

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Stephen Daniels had his debut pamphlet published by V. Press in 2017

 

3) Where did ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’ start? 

I had written a lot of poetry and had been lucky enough to have much of it published. So I started thinking about what I could do next. I looked at the body of work I had created and realised I had a strong theme running through some of the work and started to pull it together.

I had around 50 poems which were semi-autobiographical, telling tales of my life, my family and my anxieties. I went through them all with some poet friends and whittled down the poems to around 30 and the line ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’ stood out on one of my poems and I felt like it summed up what I was trying to say.

The poems can be quite devastating, and I liked the idea of optimism running through them – even though some times it can be really, really hard to spot! 

 

4) Why V. Press? (I know you did lots of research – admirably so)

I have read a lot (A LOT) of poetry over the last two and a half years, and I found V. Press by accident, I read a poet called Claire Walker and loved the poem – so I bought her book – which was published by V. Press – I read it in one sitting and fell in love with it.

Claire Walker

My first poetry love! The content was amazing, but I also loved the way the books were produced and I felt a strong affinity with the style of poetry. So I started buying more V. Press books.

I have nearly all of them, and love them all. So when I found out V. Press had an open submission window, I sent them my manuscript. They were the only place I had considered, and thankfully the editor Sarah Leavesley enjoyed my poetry enough to offer to publish it!

 

5) I know we shouldn’t have them, but a favourite poem from your book?

I shall skilfully avoid this question and my own ego – by bowing to the people! One of the biggest surprises of having a book published is the poems that resonate with other people.

The poem that has resonated most with people was not what I expected but it has been a very pleasant surprise and that is ‘Wordslast’ a poem that came out of a Hilda Sheehan workshop… I will share the workshop task below so that you can try it!

Wordslast
 
Now she shouted shutwindow
Shutwindow now she shouted
So I said windowshut
Windowshut I said so
 
Opendoor now please come in I said
I said Please come in now opendoor
Dooropen now she screamed at me
Now at me she screamed dooropen
 
Lockedgate She demanded now
She demanded lockedgate now
I replied gatelocked now
Now gatelocked I replied
 
Now she questioned clearroad
Clearroad now she questioned
Roadclear now I answered incorrectly
Incorrectly I answered roadclear now
 
Wideeyes she pleaded with me
With me she pleaded wideeyes
Eyeswide I struggled to tell her
I struggled to tell her eyeswide
 
Handhold she asked me to
She asked me to handhold
Holdhand I said closing my eyes
Closing my eyes I said holdhand
 
 
(Previously published in ‘And Other Poems’)

Also published and discussed here https://louisacampbellblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/signpost-twelve-wordslast-by-stephen-daniels/

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6) Describe your typical writing day.

I crave a typical writing day!! Unfortunately, like editing, I tend to write in the space in between things. I tend to give myself time in the evenings to write, but if I am struggling to put anything meaningful on paper I always have book nearby as an alternative.

 

7) Where do you write?

Anywhere, I find my best poetry tends to happen when I am watching people – on a train, in a pub, in a park etc. but sometimes an idea just grabs you and you have to write  it there and then. I find that if I don’t capture it at that point, it rarely comes back again!

I always liked Ruth Stone’s story of how she would capture poems… I’m not sure my experience is as intense, but I definitely relate to the experience!

Taken from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Stone) :

As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming . . . ’cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.
The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would “continue on across the landscape looking for another poet.”

 

And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.

 

8) Who are you reading right now?

Books I am enjoying right now include Sinead Morrissey’s collection ‘On Balance’, Pascale Petit’s ‘Mama Amzonica’ and ‘The Nagasaki Elder’ by Antony Owen – a stunning collection of poems published by V. Press earlier this year.

 

 

INKSPILL – Guest Editor Interview with Stephen Daniels

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Guest Editor Interview with Stephen Daniels.

 

1) Why was Amaryllis Poetry started? What was the idea behind the magazine?

Amaryllis was started over 4 years ago by my Poetry Swindon friend Hilda Sheehan. Hilda wanted to help publish Swindon poets and friends and it started as a relatively informal invite only project. After a year, the project slowed and was paused for around a year. Two years ago I offered to take Amaryllis over and invite submissions. I was hoping to find exciting poets within our network, but it soon exploded and I was receiving submissions from all over the world. Amaryllis has now published over 200 poets and is widely read around the world. 

 

2) Any advice to writers submitting to Amaryllis? 

Make sure you include a small note with your submission – nothing frustrates me more than when people send their poems with no note. It shows a lack of pride in your work.

A final piece of advice is something I publish on the website when submissions are open: Take a risk – Early on during Amaryllis I received very ‘safe’ poems and I am really looking for poems that are different, poems that reach the parts other poems struggle to reach!

 

3) What makes Amaryllis different to other mags on the market?

First there is the editor – me! I think my taste in poetry is quite eclectic. I enjoy more formal poetry, but I don’t think there are many online magazines that are embracing experimental poetry in the same way that Amaryllis does.

Secondly I am always eager to find new poets and new voices. I tend to forgive the exuberance and imperfections of a less experienced poet and I think this has built a reputation for publishing poets for the first time – who then go on to be published in many other places.

 

4) What is your mission at Amaryllis?

To share great poetry with as many people as possible. I don’t think it is any more complicated than that. 

 

5) Describe a day as an editor.

It is fairly unremarkable – as I have a full-time job and two relatively young children, so I tend to edit in the time in between things. Finding 30 minutes here or there to sit down and be invited into someone else’s world – it is a real privilege.

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6) Anything that has surprised you about editing a magazine?

I think the thing that surprised me most, was that a powerful poem is not enough. When I started writing, I wrote some seriously dark poetry… sometimes that is all it would have – darkness and more darkness and I thought that was fine – if it is written well, it will be good enough. What I have come to realise through editing is that this is rarely enough.

A well written poem is good, but it needs different dimensions.  It needs to be have moving parts and complexities that surprise the editor – this has affected my own writing and it is often the most disappointing rejections, where the poem is well written, but hasn’t got that extra element that lifts it above poems.

One other thing that surprised me, is that most poems are good. This may sound ridiculous, but what I have found from people submitting is that they perceive a rejection as the poem not being good. In my experience that is rarely the case – it is more often the case that the poem lacks something I am looking for, or that it wasn’t right at that time. It is likely that the poem will be picked up by a different editor. Don’t take the rejection process too seriously – it is just one person’s opinion. 

 

7) Any upcoming projects we should know about?

No – other than submissions are re-opening in November!

 

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http://www.amaryllispoetry.co.uk/p/submissions.html

INKSPILL An Afternoon With Guest Writer Stephen Daniels

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Our second Guest Writer and Editor is Stephen Daniels.

Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry  and the Secretary for Poetry Swindon. His poetry has been published in various magazines and websites, including: The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework, Ink Sweat & Tears, And Other Poems, The Lake, Clear Poetry, Picaroon Poetry, The Fat Damsel, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Eunoia Review, Algebra of Owls, The Open Mouse, I am not a silent poet and Nutshells and Nuggets, Good Dadhood, The Poetry Shed, Obsessed With Pipework, The Curly Mind and Down in the Dirt.

Stephen’s poetry appeared in several anthologies including Richard Jefferies Writers – ’78 Anthology, Domestic Cherry, Ink Sweat & Tears ’12 Days of Christmas’ 2016 and my poem ‘Light’ was runner-up in the Candlestick Press micropoem competition 2015.

His debut pamphlet ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them‘ was published by V. Press this year.

You can find out more at www.stephenkirkdaniels.com and @stephendaniels

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© swindontheatres.co.uk

INKSPILL Spooktastic – Writing Exercise #4

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It doesn’t seem right having this weekend retreat so close to Halloween and not include an opportunity for some Horror writing.

Writing Exercise #4 – Mysterious/Scary

A murder has taken place in a cabin in the middle of a snowy field.  Your character finds three sets of footsteps entering the cabin, but none leaving.  Apart from the victim, no one else seems to be there.  What is going on?

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