Tag Archives: poetry

The Missing Bits & the Bits I Missed

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exit Last summer I was incredibly lucky to fly to Western Australia as one of the International Guest Poets at Perth Poetry Festival and I will be blogging about some of the adventure over the coming months. I didn’t have much time once I was back on UK soil as I had bookings and the tail-end of a summer to spend with Mr. G, as well as going back to work. Just as I was making videos and writing a review, I ended up in hospital with an unexpected operation. So nearly 12 months later… better late than never. Many people believe the myth that the problems I have suffered were as a result of this travel and the phenomenally long trip I had on my return to save some pennies! It was not the cause of my problems. My time in Perth was a joy and I can’t wait to share it with you!

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September was fairly packed – you can read the review here

My last performance was National Poetry Day, my health was already crooked, but I had been booked and didn’t want to miss NPD. Cut from the same cloth as my dad, do not miss a gig.

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It was a wonderful evening spent with fellow Poets Laureate Tim Cranmore, Heather Wastie, Suz Winspear and Betti Moretti and I had a lot of fun.

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I also particularly enjoyed going out for a meal beforehand and how much the audience enjoyed the show. Tim was a trouper for organising the event and it was pleasure to attend, despite being tanked up on antibiotics and painkillers!

 

Then came a whole series of things I had to miss. I missed so months of events, book launches, stanza meetings and editing groups. I had to pull all my Autumn/Winter bookings and by the time 2019 happened I had come off social media as I couldn’t deal with everything I was missing. I had a booking I made in June 2018 and a m/s accepted in July 2018 to edit and I couldn’t even manage to start working on these until March! I basically ceased to exist for a 1/4 of a year! 

October

I missed Swindon Poetry Festival as I was in hospital the day I was due to travel down, I had to pull out of a Guest Reading and Workshop for Brum Stanza, I missed the WLF Mental Health Event and a Reading for one in Malvern, I missed the DAN exhibition at Hanbury Hall which I was organising poets ekphrastic writing opportunities and performances for. I had to write my poems this year from photos sent to me by organisers and friends, this was the only writing I did and I didn’t manage that until December.

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My poem Wild Lilies and the Beauty of Abandoned Milk Bottles placed 1st in The Ring 21 Miles Poetry Competition and there was a digital exhibition 15th-28th Oct. at The Hive and a reading. I had only been out of hospital a week and was only really awake to take the daily dose of 27 tablets!

You can find the winning entry here

I won a tent and Mr.G and I can’t wait to use it! I cannot lie on the floor (or get back up) at the moment – so this will have to wait.

I missed being a Guest Reader for Neil Richards’ Book Launch.

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Wings made from the muscle of a river

November

The only event I managed thanks to the kindness of a lift and gentle persuasion from friends was Roy McFarlane’s Book Launch in Birmingham. I had to take 4 tablets during the course of it (and it wasn’t a long night) and the worst thing for me was I couldn’t hug anyone. Unbeknown to me at the time, it was a sort of swansong as that was pretty much the last thing I managed. Fortunately it was before I slipped discs in my back so I could still walk and sit! I held myself the whole time – but also didn’t want to miss it.

It was an incredible night which lifted my spirits. The room was full of creativity and love.

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Cover artwork   ©   Barbara Walker

The book itself is a project Roy told me about early on in the process and is a powerful body of work.

The Healing Next Time

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I missed Remembrance events, a reading before the silence in a local town’s ceremony, organised by the Rotary and an evening in Worcester, Beacon Lighting. This is the first year I have been asked to participate in such events and it would have been an honour.

I missed the Verve Festival Pre-Launch Party and attempted and failed to edit my manuscript.

I missed deadlines on exhibition poetry and publishing the 4th issue of Contour (still outstanding), I missed performing at the newly opened Sandon Hall for Ben Parker’s event and sadly I missed out on a trip to Voiron for the Festival. voiron 2018 I had flights booked and everything! I couldn’t get a refund, but if I am well enough I can use the cost to cover a ticket somewhere European this summer.

I was also unable to take a booking for a special Poetry Night Roy McFarlane organised, a Q&A chat show style poetry panel.

December

By this time I had stopped taking any new bookings and resigned myself to life on the sofa, for a long while I had to live downstairs because I couldn’t make it upstairs! I still had to pull bookings for Guest Poet at Jennie Farley’s Book Launch for Hex.

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I had to cancel Meet the Authors, an event organised by Sue Johnson for Evesham Festival of Words. I had not been able to write for all this time and the panic set in about whether I would ever again.

I organised one event for the Hanbury Hall Poets to read at Park’s Cafe for the DAN artists. It was a great night and once again the only thing I did in December.

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2019 Jan – May

In the new year I decided to go to our local stanza meetings, they are held in homely comfort and do not last as long as event nights. Also I wasn’t writing or able to feel creative so it was necessary support for my soul. I had old poems to take and it was also a good challenge for an idled brain. I joined Worcester Film Poetry Collective, who meet monthly (in the comfort of home) with Elephant’s Footprint – this group led by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron has been a godsend. I have had lots of free time but have not been able to do much. Creating poetry films and animations takes an incredible amount of time, but currently 4+ hours is not difficult for me to find and it has been a fabulously rewarding way to spend an entire half day at a time.

By March I was able to think straight, off meds and able to tackle work on the now delayed manuscript. I was delighted to be a Guest Reader at Kathy Gee’s Book Launch for checkout (V. Press) and although I needed a special chair it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and lovely to reconnect with everyone.

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So much so that Kathy encouraged me to try Dear Listener the following week – which was when I realised I wasn’t ready. I tried again at the end of the Month with Poetry Bites, but couldn’t manage the 2nd half of the evening. However, listening to poetry enabled me to start writing again.

April was NaPoWriMo and this enabled me to crack that barrier and write freely. I have included some of my NaPo poems in recent sets and ended up with a few good ones.

By April/ May I started working on my festival show for Evesham Festival of Words and this month I have made the decision to try to get to some events every now and then.

June

I have managed Licensed to Rhyme, which was my first reading since Kathy’s Launch and that itself was my first reading for 6 months! It was a superb night. Great to see/hear everyone again and try out some edited NaPo poetry.

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The following night (last night), I read at the Worcestershire Litfest at an event organised by Suz Winspear ‘A Night at the Gallery’… more on that soon!

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Jilly Oxlade-Arnott © 2019

I had planned on going back this evening for the Anti-Poet, but my body isn’t ready, so I have to be sensible and give it a miss. But I am no longer absent from the scene and shall continue to strive for strength, mobility and pain management.

It leaves me with a very happy feeling to be back amongst poets, nestled in words.

Returning to the Land of the Living

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Alternative Title: Essay on Health!

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Like many adults the values instilled in us as youngsters steer the way we manage life. I was brought up to believe in working hard and only as an adult has my mum passed on the wisdom that all areas of life need or deserve 100%. Work, work has never been one of them and I am proud of my work ethic. Guilt is something I have not managed to shirk off from my informative years, so for me if you are off sick from work, that is that – you stay in bed and get better. However, when your post op body is weakened and you slip two discs in your back, staying in bed is not the thing to do and no one can expect you to put your entire life on hold whilst you recover!

The abridged version (it’s still quite long)!

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I was still on medication in the Spring which dictated what and how much I could do, (I have sciatica and my left leg/foot has been numb since November), I have been in Physio since November and my weeks have been filled with medical appointments, novels, trash TV, pyjamas & general convalescence. I have experienced the depression of long term sickness and the frustration of not being able to do much. I have advanced from not being able to bear any weight on my left leg to walking with a stick and nowadays, often without. I have a lot more mobility in my left foot thanks to Chair Pilates and a mum who encouraged me to do it. The Specialists I have seen all expect 9-12 months recovery time. I have been off work since the operation (which healed in March). I went to get the results of my MRI scan in May, which is when we discovered it was 2 slipped discs prolapsed on top of each other and the Advanced Physio talked to me about going back to work in the Autumn, but encouraged me to start back with Poeting (my term not his) as soon as possible. Mental Wellbeing and good for the soul.

It is with slightly less guilt that I have started to take his advice. I have a lot more spare time now I am down to 2 appointments a week and my brain works again now I am off medication. I am even having to renew my library books nowadays, I was devouring a novel every few days.

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In March I returned to my desk to work through the edits for my next pamphlet (sent when I was in hospital in October). By the beginning of June that was all ready for the next exciting stage of endorsement/cover design. I have managed to forget about the fact that it was scheduled for release earlier this year and accept the delay caused by ill health. I am truly grateful for the understanding and compassion of my publisher, V. Press. It will happen later this year and I will enjoy it more as I will be able to manage better physically!

Back in March, I found I could write again and attempted some poetry events (which I discovered I wasn’t quite ready for). I had to pull out of Festival bookings, performances, Guest Readings at Book Launches, talks and a trip to a Literature Festival in France this Winter and it has been really hard disconnecting from the poetry scene.

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In March I managed to read at Kathy Gee’s Book Launch for ‘checkout’ published by V. Press. I was super nervous as I hadn’t read in public since National Poetry Day (September)! It was a superb night.

I did a workshop, then I got an almighty case of hives and had a weekend where an ambulance was called and I ended up in A&E with breathing difficulties – although the ECG had shown there was no problem with my heart. I’d had a double mammogram a few days earlier and although it felt as if my sternum was inflamed it was more likely pulled chest muscles.

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A week later, I attempted my first event, Dear Listener, featuring the current Birmingham Poet Laureate Richard O’Brien. I went as audience and was not performing, it was hard (physically) and by the 2nd half I was stretched out at the back on a sofa. I tried again at the end of the month at Poetry Bites, this time I did an Open Mic slot, which I managed by leaning up against the radiator (which was on and very hot)! By the interval I was stretched out in the adjoining room on the sofa, where I listened to most of the 2nd half before hobbling back in to watch. After this I decided to call it quits and wait for my body to catch up with my mind.

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Since January 2019 I have attended Stanza meetings, Worcester Film Poetry Collective meetings and a few workshops thanks to friends who were kind enough to give me lifts, (the equivalent of about 12/163 days) although even these can be physically uncomfortable they’re based in people’s homes which tend to have more accommodating furniture than venues.

Fast forward to June with another wave of Festivals, a medical specialist giving me permission to get back into it and the ability to write again, I was keen to get back on the circuit. Plus I’d already committed to several Festival Events (one pre-op). And so far, I am managing… which is a huge relief!

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So welcome back to the blogging, I am reactivated. It is currently Worcestershire LitFest and I am working on a project show for Evesham Festival of Words at the end of June. I may have to miss Stratford Poetry Festival next week and Ledbury at the start of July. But I am doing what I can. One day I will be ready to take bookings again and in the meantime I give myself permission to enjoy a soft re-entry into the world I love and miss so much!

NaPoWriMo Round Up Week 2

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What a glorious week it has been, some truly inspiration prompts and resources.

 

This week I have written the following poems;

Jabs- Sore- Suing (my longest poem for NaPo so far)

Things That Have Lost Their Power (my shortest NaPo poem)

Dreich

Modelled Reality

Riddle

Black Out

SEADI

 

I have discovered the poetry of Maggie Smith and the wonderful possibilities of incorporating jargon/argots into works. I have discovered Cowboy Poetry and over 100 terms for rain. I learned about black holes and the science (and woman), Katie Bouman behind the first image of one.

I created a poetry film animation from Black Out for the Worcester Poetry Film Collective, read lots of poems and had a good time creating new ones.

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 8

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Are you ready for the 2nd week?

Let’s do this!

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As always to read the full post, click on the day.

Day Eight

Our featured participant today is Poem Dive, where Day Eight’s prompt of gifts and joy is full of sensory detail. I can feel the sunlight!

Our video resource today is this short film version of Maggie Smith’s poem, “Good Bones.” It went “viral” in 2016, as recounted in this article from The Washington Post. The reception of “Good Bones” is a potent reminder that poetry is a vibrant method for understanding the world, and understanding what we want from it, and from each other.

Our prompt for the day, is inspired by Smith’s poem. You may have noted that the central metaphor of “Good Bones” turns on a phrase used by real estate agents. Today, I’d like to challenge you to think about the argot of a particular job or profession, and see how you can incorporate it into a metaphor that governs or drives your poem. This rather astonishing list of professional slang terms might help you get into the mood. Or, if you work a white-collar job, perhaps you can take inspiration from one of the business jargon phrases that seem to predominate in corporate environments.

Happy writing!


NaPo Process Notes

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I followed the order of the post, starting with the participant’s site. A full poem considering it was written about nothing at all. Very different to the one I produced yesterday which was very deeply about the most important thing in life, life itself.

The I listened to Good Bones – a poem by Maggie Smith made by Filmmaker ANAÏS LA ROCCA before watching it. Created my own imagining of this cinematic work. The power of adding music/soundtrack to poetry works as an artform and feeds additional layers into the work. I love working with musicians.

It is such a beautiful poem. Begs for a film. The repetition is really striking and stunning lines, darkness that is the world and lighter shades of hope, of possibility, of future. If you don’t get goosebumps… well. I could barely breathe through it.

I then copied the transcript of the poem and saved it to my Napo Poetry Resources file. Once I had settled back to normal, I watched the Poetry Film. WOW! I am glad I listened first my imagining was more outside in the world than the domestic setting of this film, but there was more magic in it than I expected. I watched it on full screen and suggest you do the same. Enter the world created.

I then read the Bonus Content Interview with Maggie Smith. It can be found here http://motionpoems.org/episode/good-bones/bonus/

You can watch Maggie Smith read Good Bones.

As I am currently involved in the Worcester Poetry Film Collective and obsessed by discovering new work, and as her work is Award Winning, I picked some more of Anaïs La Rocca’s films to watch. They are mainly commercial/marketing – beautiful to watch though.

I then read the article from The Washington Post. I missed this poem going viral in 2016.

 

On Writing 

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I have written poetry using the language of jargon and business/sports talk before, as with many things in the world of writing it is not a new idea, but it is a rich source for new poems.

I started by exploring the links detailed in the prompt above and read examples of professional slang terms and business jargon.

I got addicted to the Generator and think I will utilise a lot of the jargon examples, in part at least.

With all these ideas buzzing around my head, I am off to write.


Every now and then you come across prompts which get you with such intensity, they take over. This is what happened to me.

Yesterday, I didn’t manage to write a poem, I had the time but not the headspace… but what I did do was explore other online generators and I collected an entire document of potential buzzword/jargon lines.

At bedtime I stayed awake long enough to finish my current novel and start a new one… the universe did that thing it sometimes does and every chapter of this book was full of techno babble.

I am excited to stitch words together later today and will come back to post a snippet.

 

My poem is 20 (!) stanzas long and describes the breakdown of a relationship as one partner advances their career, I used a multitude of business jargon, the title is an anagram of business jargon Jabs – Sore – Suing and the snippet I include here doesn’t hold much of it, although it does include the most cliched 4 words! I like this idea and dream of writing something as effective as our example poems. I will revisit this idea.

Sitting inside their home

he incubated his plans,

thinking outside the box.

 

 

 

 

 

 


NaPoWrimo 2019 Day 6

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We have nearly completed a week!

See writing a poem a day is not so painful after all. I am a little late posting today as this is my first chance to be online and of course Saturday night means a very slow connection. This could test my patience!

logo-napowrimo As always for the full post click the day below.

Day Six

Our featured participant for the sixth day of Na/GloPoWriMo is Everyday Strange, where the villanelle-based prompt for Day 5 resulted in an eerie poem with even more repetitions than the average villanelle.

Today’s video is this TED talk on “Why People Need Poetry.”

Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of the possible. What does that mean? Well, take a look at these poems by Raena Shirali and Rachel Mennies. Both poems are squarely focused not on what has happened, or what will happen, but on what might happen if the conditions are right. Today, write a poem that emphasizes the power of “if,” of the woulds and coulds and shoulds of the world.


NaPo Process Notes

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Today’s prompt inspires me and so I am looking forward to attempting a poem from it. Reading the featured participant’s Villanelle was a good place to start. I still have to finish mine and this has spurred me on. Catch up is a common phenomenon during NaPoWriMo.

I always have a little look around the featured websites and this is one I shall return to. I discovered it is a good place for prompts. So when April turns to May, I will go back and check the weekly updates. You can too – more information here.

https://everydaystrangeblog.wordpress.com/about/

I love a good TED talk and often watch the writing/poetry related ones. A few of my friends have even been lucky enough to feature. In fact I have watched this TED Talk before and possibly even featured it during INKSPILL. But it is always good to be reminded of such things, so I listened to Stephen Burt. As Maureen Thorson (founder of NaPoWriMo) suggests poets know this… but always handy to have the arguments for why it matters when confronted with non-believers.

I also like to hear how people come to poetry.

Give yourself 13 minutes to listen, it is worth every second and has been viewed 1,256,937 times!

Now, poetry isn’t one thing that serves one purpose any more than music or computer programming serve one purpose. The greek word poem, it just means “a made thing,” and poetry is a set of techniques, ways of making patterns that put emotions into words. The more techniques you know, the more things you can make, and the more patterns you can recognize in things you might already like or love. – Stephen Burt

It is easier than ever to find poems that might stay inside you, that might stay with you, from long, long ago, or from right this minute, from far away or from right close to where you live, almost no matter where you live. Poems can help you say, help you show how you’re feeling, but they can also introduce you to feelings, ways of being in the world, people, very much unlike you, maybe even people from long, long ago. – Stephen Burt

After that – there is no way you are not feeling fired up to write a poem, right?

I resist the urge to get straight into writing and instead check out today’s suggested poems. Starting with ‘daayan at gold streak river’ by Raena Shirali. A poem rich in language and description which I savour and save, knowing I will read it again. I keep files, I will have mentioned this during Process Notes before. So when a resource hits and me and sometimes (with the poems especially), even if they didn’t I copy and save – making sure I also copy the URL and save each under the daily NaPo so I know which day/prompt connects it.

I then read [POEM ABOUT NAOMI; UNSENT] BY Rachel Mennies , which you can also listen to. A poem often holds more power when you hear it read by the poet. I listened a second time. I will definitely return to this page, I have already started to listen to more of her poems. I want to indulge myself again after NaPo.

Finally, after thoroughly enjoying today’s resources (one of my best days so far this NaPo for me)… I sat at the blank screen, waiting for my poem.


On Writing 

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I type 4 words onto the screen.

The power of if…

Then I start thinking of the possibilities of a poem. I wrote about a dead Rock Star, a childhood hero of mine. I delved into research mode and watched hours of footage/documentaries, looked through images and occasionally typed a line or two. I enjoyed creating the art slowly, felt the process. I did all this in the early hours of the morning. Slept on it for a bit.

This morning I continued the end of a video and started writing more couplets. In the end I produced a 27 line poem called IF MELANCHOLY HAD A RELEASE VALVE, it contains a lot of ‘If only…’ lines. This morning, after I finished mine, I read people’s Day 6 NaPo poems and there are lots of ‘If only’ examples.

In sleepless wake we mourn the stories,

as if they are our breath. Our blood.

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NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 3

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We made it to Day 3, congratulations.

TOP TIPS: 

  • Promise yourself a cup of tea/coffee but only when it is done!

 

  • Believe.

 

I looked back today at my round up of NaPoWriMo 2018. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/napowrimo-2018-a-review-of-a-week-of-poetry-4/

Sometimes it is easy to forget where our writing has come from. I realised by reading the list of poems that a good few are appearing in my next pamphlet. I used them in a Poetry Project last summer and forgot that they actually came from April and a mad month of writing.

There is a lot of comment and speculation about writing this many poems in a month and the calibre of the outcome. You only need to read some of the participating sites to see the standard of poetry which can rise from these daily prompts.

So for now I wouldn’t even worry about what the poem may become or where it may take you…

  • just enjoy the process of writing and have fun!

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For the full post click on Day Three.

There is also an extra link to an interview with longtime participant Vince Gotera, who has published The Coolest Month, a book featuring poems written during past Na/GloPoWriMos.

Day Three

Hello, everyone! We’re now three days into Na/GloPoWriMo. Hopefully, you’re starting to get into the swing of things. 

Our featured participant today is A Reading Writer, where the interrogatory prompt for Day Two gave rise to a very slithery metaphor!

Today’s video resource is this animated version of Erin Mouré’s “Homage to the Mineral of Cabbage.” The English text of the poem is cleverly incorporated into the video, but the narration is in Galician, a language spoken in Northwest Spain. My Spanish is pretty rusty, but for me that adds to the audible mystery and delight of this video – I can almost understand it. For even more multi-lingual flavor, you can also see the video with French-language text here.

 

And now for today’s prompt. Today’s prompt is based in a poem by Larry Levis called “The Two Trees.” It is a poem that seems to meander, full of little digressions, odd bits of information, but fundamentally, it is a poem that takes time. It takes its time getting where it’s going, and the action of the poem itself takes place over months. Today, I’d like to challenge you to similarly write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time. Perhaps, as you do, you can focus on imagery, or sound, or emotional content (or all three!)

Happy writing!


 

NaPo Process Notes 

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Today I read up on Vince’s new collection. Vince Gotera is a Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa where he served as Editor of the North American Review (2000-2016). He is now the Editor of Star*Line, the print journal of the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. His collections of poems include DragonflyFighting Kite, and the upcoming Pacific Crossing.
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If you are local to there you may be interested in his Launch, the event is free.
A release reading for The Coolest Month will be held on Tuesday, April 9 at 7:00 p.m. in 1017 Bartlett Hall on the UNI campus. This event is free and open to the public.
I also had a look at his website and read his NaPo poems for 2019.
I then read ‘Evening Snake’ by Rose Gonzales (from NaPo Day 2). I wandered around her beautiful blog for a bit.
I love the fact that this year’s additional resources are video. I am currently part of the Worcester Poetry Film Collective, a course run by Elephant’s Footprint, who were featured as Guests in last year’s INKSPILL Writing Retreat. We are working with stop motion animation this month and I have become obsessed!
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Poetry Film has always interested me and my first dabble came in 2015. Since then I have created several poetry films including a sequence from my 2016 pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’ (V. Press). I have created about 12 animated films since our last session and have been researching and watching lots online.
I was excited to watch Erin Mouré’s “Homage to the Mineral of Cabbage”.  I thoroughly enjoyed both the poem and the animation. There was I thinking I had a finished one for our next session. I can only aspire.
I then read ‘The Two Trees’ by Larry Levis.

Then I set aside some prompt thinking time for: a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time.


On Writing
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After a long search for ideas (mentally today, no search engine was used in the process of cracking this poem), I sat down to write.
I settled on writing about the 6 months of illness I have just experienced. The start of it. Time passing to 10 days over the course of the poem. But I was only part way through when I realised the metaphor I’d chosen wasn’t fit for purpose, but carried on. I wanted to see where it would take me and how I could write myself out of this. Besides today was a day set aside to work on the manuscript so I had limited time for my NaPo write.
I wrote a poem called Ridge, it has… yes, you guessed it… 7 stanzas. Here’s a snippet.
The air became tight –-
the knoll scarred by new contours, 
recovered alone. 
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No Napping – The Bit Before NaPoWriMo 2019

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Over on the official NaPoWriMo site posts start at the beginning of March to get us ready for the epic task of writing a poem a day throughout April. This year I was not online much during March, my post op recovery has been slow (and painful) and I had a manuscript waiting to be edited that the publishers sent shortly before I was in hospital (October), so when my mind was finally back to being creative and medication was minimised, my first port of call was getting the edits back to the publishers.

Now I am still mainly offline and working through edits and preparing for a Festival in the summer – but apart from NaPoWriMo and LitWorld 2 Journal commitments I am not at the desk much, still recovering and still off work. My body needs a chance to heal and get stronger and that takes time. I have 5 physio activities to repeat several times a day, plus lots of medical appointments. I need to manage energy levels after the past 6 months so I missed the countdown/ lead up to NaPo 2019.

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Here are the pre-NaPo nuggets all in one place.

Have fun!


To read these posts in full head over to the official site http://www.napowrimo.net/

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March 1st 

Hello, poetry lovers!

It’s March 1, and that means that just one month separates us from the beginning of National/Global Poetry Writing Month! 

To get us started, here’s a poetry-related movie scene you might recognize! Take that, stilted approaches to the value of poems!

 

March 15th 

Today is March 15, and that means there’s only half a month to go until the beginning of National/Global Poetry Writing Month!

… while we’re counting down to April, we’ll be giving you occasional bouts of poetry and poetry-related content, as taken from popular films and television!

Today, why not check out this scene from the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, a romantic comedy starring, alongside Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell , a recitation of W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues.”

 

March 25th 

Hello, all! As of today, we have just one week to go until the start of National/Global Poetry Writing Month!

We hope you’re getting your pencils sharpened, your laptops charged, and all your finest glittery pens prepared for a full month of writing verse.

Finally, as we’ll be featuring poetry-related video resources throughout April, we’ll leave you for the time being with this oldie-but-goodie – Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” as interpreted by The Simpsons. Fair warning – they may have taken some, er, minor liberties with the text.

 

The 3 Day COUNTDOWN

March 29th 

Hello, all. There’s just three days left in March, and that means that there are only three days to go until NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2019.

To help you countdown, we’ll be posting a poetry-related move/tv clip each day until April 1 (at which point our video links will become a bit more “substantive”), and on March 31, we’ll have a special early-bird prompt for those of you for whom April begins a few hours before it does here at Na/GloPoWriMo headquarters.

The poet William Blake was a visionary, a religious mystic, and pretty much all-around weirdo. He also seems to exert a strange pull on scriptwriters, as you will find him being quoted in both Bull Durham (a pretty good movie about minor league baseball)

 

and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (a pretty awful movie about . . . raiding tombs),

 

as well as being paraphrased in the dystopian sci-fi classic Blade Runner.

 

March 30th 

Hello, all! There’s just two days until we start Na/GloPoWriMo 2019, otherwise known as “that month in which you write a poem a day for 30 days.”

Each day during the month, we’ll be bringing you a featured participant, a video resource, and an optional prompt. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with an early-bird prompt and another fun instance of poetry in the movies, but for today, we’ll leave you with this clip from Memphis Belle, a WWII movie in which an airman passes off the work of Y.B. Yeats for his own.

 

March 31st 

Hello, everybody! Na/GloPoWriMo officially begins tomorrow!

We have an early-bird prompt for those of you located in time zones where April 1 starts a few hours earlier than it does on the east coast of the United States, but first, let’s round out our pre-April set of movie/tv clips involving poetry.

Today, we bring you a clip from that classic Bill Murray comedy, Groundhog’s Day, wherein our hapless hero, who is kind of a self-centered jerk, is forced to repeat a day over and over again until he gets it “right.” In this clip, he mocks his love interest’s college study of French poetry. Bill, that’s no way to get a girl! After a few rounds, though, he’s actually reciting French poetry at her – now, that’s more like it.

Early-bird prompt

Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poetic self-portrait. And specifically, we’d like you to write a poem in which you portray yourself in the guise of a historical or mythical figure. Does that sound a bit strange? Well, take a look at this poem by Mary-Kim Arnold, “Self Portrait as Semiramis,” or Tarfia Farzullah’s, “Self-Portrait as Artemis,” and perhaps you’ll get a sense of the possibilities.

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NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 2

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How was yesterday?

TOP TIPS

  • Make sure you keep your writing, even if it feels little more than a draft or an idea.

 

  • Try not to re-read it with a critical eye just yet.

 

  • If you are working straight onto a keyboard save all your NaPo poems in one place/file.

 

  • If you usually work straight onto a PC or in a notebook, try swapping your method.

 

  • Remember the prompts are optional, write whatever you want.

HAVE FUN!

 

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Here from the official website is our second prompt. Click Day Two to read in full.

Day Two

Today’s featured participant is Not Enough Poetry, where the instructional prompt for Day 1 yielded an evocative poem about riding a train in the Andes.

Featured video poetry music video, involving a highly dramatic reading, in German, of a Shakespearean sonnet set to the music of Rufus Wainwright.

As one of the commenters on the video stated, “I didn’t understand anything but I love it with all my heart.” Poetry can be like that, sometimes!

Today’s prompt is based on this poem by Claire Wahmanholm, which transforms the natural world into an unsettled dream-place. One way it does this is by asking questions – literally. The poem not only contains questions, but ends on a question. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.

Happy writing!


NaPo Process Notes

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I started with reading the featured poem ‘How to Ride a Train in the Andes’ by Lupita Eyde-Tucker. The first stanzas are beautiful and I found myself re-reading them. Lupita definitely delivers us into the Andes, or transports us there (if you want a train joke). She also adds a note about her experience/ memory/ family history. I had a quick look at her blog.

The featured video was fun, I know the sonnet and Shakespeare (a few years of study), but have never watched it in German, a language I only studied for a year and one in which I have retained just a few phrases so I found myself really entering the performance as a physical piece. Before I was a poet or teacher I was an actor and so I LOVED the drama of this performance.

The original Sonnet 66 can be read here, including study notes. http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/66.html

Then I read today’s featured poem ‘The Meadow, The River’ by  Claire Wahmanholm. I panicked when I saw today’s prompt because personally I tend to avoid writing questions in poems. It is something I dislike, although I don’t baulk as much when I read poems which contain questions. So I take an extra deep breath before I begin writing and remind myself that this is what NaPoWriMo is all about. Writing new. Tackling things you avoid. Attacking from a different angle and being open to new resources/poets and changing opinions.

 

On Writing

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I remembered a previous NaPo prompt (2018) where the starting point was a poem in a unfamiliar foreign language and you had to write your poem from it. I immediately wanted to do this with the video resource, so I replayed it faced with a blank screen and completed a free write.

I wrote a poem called Tired which explores locked parts of someone else in 7 stanzas. It definitely matched the melancholy of this theatrical scene.

You walk each step with care as if you are unpeeling

your very soul. Even your shuffle carries whispers,

 

I often find that I produce more than 30 poems in April and have done NaPoWriMo/ GloPoWriMo since I started writing again in 2013 – which was before I returned to poetry (Sept. 2013). The first year I ran it alongside NaNoWriMo Camp too. Madness!

Next came the real challenge… Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.

So, as predicted that was hard in conception. My starting point was conversation starter questions, I chose 6 and actually by the time I came to write the poem was able to incorporate my own.

From my question list I decided to write about Australia. I have started to write a sequence of poems around my trip. Fitting NaPo into current projects is a great idea, although not always possible.

My good friend, Amy, emigrated out there a while back and is now a full citizen, we hadn’t seen each other since she was last in the UK (about 6 yrs ago). I wrote about part of the evening we shared in the middle of my trip. It was my birthday and as I was out there as an International Guest Poet for Perth Poetry Festival most of my time was actively on the festival circuit. My birthday was a day/night away and it was wonderful way to spend it reuniting with my friend. Plus we got to retrace our steps through Fremantle from the first time I visited her back in 2006.

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12 years of Amy & I (2006- 2018)

I had great fun writing this poem, which has a working title of Forty Conversations, I am sure we had more than that in our non-stop chatting reunion. It is another 7 stanza poem. 7 is my lucky number but it is a bit random that these NaPo poems are coming out the same length. Maybe that is the length of time my brain can manage to hold a thought. I have just had 6 months off where I wrote very little. This one only really works as a whole poem and I have changed the question at the end three times. Here’s a snippet.

When we listened to music on your Echo

and you asked me for my playlist

every band name fell out of my head.

 

It has been an in depth writing time today, but that is the other pleasure of participating in NaPoWriMo, allowing yourself the time to write, be creative.

Enjoy.

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NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 1

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Visit the official site http://www.napowrimo.net/ Read today’s post in full It begins!

I have included the full introduction in case you are new to NaPoWriMo.


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If you’re just joining us, Na/GloPoWriMo is an annual challenge in which participants write a poem a day during the month of April. What do you need to do to participate? Just write a poem each day! If you fall behind, try to catch up, but don’t be too hard on yourself – the idea here is to expand your writing practice and engage with new ideas, not to stress yourself out. All too many poets, regardless of their level of experience, get blocked in their writing because they start editing even before they have written anything at all. Let’s leave the editing, criticizing, and stressing out for May and beyond! This month, the idea is just to get something on the page.

If you’ll be posting your efforts to a blog or other website, you can provide us with the link using our “Submit Your Site” form, and it will show up on our “Participants’ Sites” page. But if you’re not going to be posting your work, no worries! It’s not a requirement at all – again, all we’re really trying to do is encourage people to write.

To help with that, we’ll be providing some daily inspiration. Each day, we’ll be featuring a participant, providing you with an optional prompt, and giving you an extra poetry resource. This year, those resources will take the form of poetry-related videos.

 


TOP TIPS

  • I have completed NaPoWriMo for several years and the most important point is to ENJOY it. Sometimes life is busy and you will miss a day or fall behind. Do not battle against yourselves over this, accept it and move on. Either write extra or save the prompt for a time when you have more time to write.

 

the idea here is to expand your writing practice and engage with new ideas, not to stress yourself out.

  • Accept that sometimes what you write will feel like rubbish. This is okay too. Those words you find not working for you will help create the steps to the ones that will.

 

  • Keep going.

I am particularly excited by the poetry videos being incorporated this year. Even if you decide your 30+ poems are utter drivel you will have built up a fine range of prompts and resources by the end of April.


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Our first featured participant is Miss Ella’s House of Sleep, whose poem “Annie Edson Taylor’s Birthday Plunge,” used our early-bird prompt to explore a fascinating and little-known historical figure.

This is funny because I wrote about Annie Edson for Women’s Day in 2016. I will be posting the early-bird material later this week. Due to a vast number of medical appointments last week I didn’t make it onto the site to read them.

Our resource for the day is a short film of January Gill O’Neil reading (and acting out!) her poem “How to Make a Crab Cake.”

If you’d like to read the poem itself as you follow along, you can find it here.

For our first prompt, let’s take our cue from O’Neil’s poem, and write poems that provide the reader with instructions on how to do something. It can be a sort of recipe, like O’Neil’s poem. Or you could try to play on the notorious unreliability of instructional manuals (if you’ve ever tried to put IKEA furniture together, you know what I mean). You could even write a dis-instruction poem, that tells the reader how not to do something. This well-known poem by John Ashbery may provide you with some additional inspiration.

Happy writing!


NaPo Process Notes
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After I watched the daily resource/video – I went to explore Gill O’Neil’s website, I read a few of her poems as well as her bio and book blurbs.
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Then I re-read the prompt –  write poems that provide the reader with instructions on how to do something. It can be a sort of recipe, like O’Neil’s poem. Or you could try to play on the notorious unreliability of instructional manuals (if you’ve ever tried to put IKEA furniture together, you know what I mean). You could even write a dis-instruction poem, that tells the reader how not to do something.

Over the years I have written lots of instructional poetry so I knew I wanted to do something different. I then remembered Mr G. has a unique way of interpreting IKEA instructions so I fancied writing a poem about that. I also liked the idea of a dis-instruction poem.

As it was very late when I tackled this prompt these are stream of conscious ideas at this stage, but as always with NaPo – will be worth a re-visit later because your inner editor has gone away this month!

(Note to my publisher, the inner editor will be back at the desk to work on my m/s, fear not!)


On Writing
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So the Mr.G inspired poem which is a play on the notorious unreliability of instructional manuals is called ‘We Only Go There for the Meatballs’, which of course is not true. It is a 4 stanza poem. I am sharing just a couple of lines, as I do.

Language is a jelly-bean cartoon man,

who he instantly creates a story for –

 

I then played with the dis-instruction idea. For this I started with typing ‘instructions’ into a search engine and allowing the cells to appear with suggestions. The one which caught my eye was – instructions for sellers initially on cheese – brilliant! Unfortunately for me and my late night brain this turned out  to be a cryptic crossword clue. I am banking it for future writing,

My next search gifted a PDF on ‘Instructions for Conducting Examinations 2018-2019’ which was my speed-read starting point and as someone who once was a full-time teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed turning the restrictions/instructions/government guidance upside down. Although I wouldn’t fancy being an invigilator in the exam room I created!

This 9 stanza poem became an almost narrative poem, it could adopt the layout of a prose poem and certainly reads like one in places. It possibly doesn’t have a genre identity just yet.

I called it A Box Within a Box – which is the security surrounded by exam materials once they are on site. This is a working title and is likely to be replaced. Here are a few lines.

 

At the end of the exam let the students mount the tables

and take a run for the door, only collect in the papers

without tread marks,

 

 

Let us know how NaPoWriMo is going for you and feel free to share links back to your blogs/websites throughout April.

Have Fun!

NaPoWriMo 2019

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Due to health, I have not been actively blogging since October and although there is lots of improvement, I am not fully back to superhero condition, in fact it has been so long WordPress have changed the colours of the buttons and the way posts are edited.

It is April the 1st and that means the start of this year’s NaPoWriMo.  Now called GloPoWriMo – as it is GLOBAL, I can’t get used to that so still refer to it as NaPoWriMo.

So here we go, 30 posts at least this month. 

In the past I have brought you prompts from sites other than the official one, such as The Poetry School. This year I will just be following the official prompts. Last year I did 3 and ended up writing 99 poems! About 5 were decent and the 3 I submitted were published… so I believe it is a worthwhile exercise.

Due to publishing restrictions I tend to only post a line or so of the poems I create, but will share the prompts/ poems/ articles from the official site and others I may find along the way, as well as posting some tips along the way.

Let’s step into Day 1.

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