Tag Archives: poetry

NaPoWriMo Day 15 – Halfway There!

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We made it halfway! Congratulations, treat yourself to a reward… pen your next poem! Keep going.

Over at http://www.napowrimo.net/day-fifteen-3/

Our featured participant today is Strangelander2015, where you will find not one, but three clerihews for Day 14.

Today’s interview is with Kaveh Akbar, who is not only a wonderful poet in his own right, but the editor of a journal devoted to interviewing poets! You can find examples of his work here, and here, and here.

Last, but not least, here’s our prompt for the day (optional, as always!). Because we’re halfway through NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something. The poem could be about being on a journey and stopping for a break, or the gap between something half-done and all-done. Let your mind wander into the middle distance, betwixt the beginning of things and the end. Hopefully, you will find some poetry there!

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I found this prompt inspiring, despite not having any immediate muse settle in my head. I started writing about my late nan’s jewellery and that moved onto a family orientated poem. It needs revisiting.

Then I wrote a short form poem about the artist Marina Abramović, having written ‘Unfolding’ last Autumn, I planned to write a small sequence, which I still have not managed to work on. This poem might suit it – although it deals with the same imagery as ‘Unfolding’. So maybe not.

Finally I wrote a series of 4 Haikus about Mr G and I and life itself.


Carrie Etter’s prompt was to write a poem in response to some news, written from a different perspective. She asked for a nuanced response, a complex of multiple emotions.

I attempted to steer clear of the predictable.

I started with a news search and found a few plausible stories, I wasn’t feeling the result, as they gave me lines rather than poems. Then I happened upon an inspiring image that took me onto an image search, a good fall back stimuli, I found some interesting images of women during both World Wars.

The story I finally used was from 1941, an old woman knitting socks for the Red Army. I still needed a way in, so I chose to write an irregular ode (these follow ABAB, CDCD, EF, GG, HH pattern), my poems do not normally rhyme, so this helped get the voice of the narrator, the elderly lady who I turned into a spinster.

I think the poem needs work but it is a start.

‘Though my hands are aged and body old bone,

I knit socks for the boys and hope them home.’


Jo Bell posted Ford by Robbie Burton. http://www.jobell.org.uk/

From Robbie’s new pamphlet Someone Else’s Street, Happenstance Press 2017

An interesting discussion as always.


The Poetry School PS Napo

Day 15: Technology Day

When was the last time you checked your mobile phone? And when was the last time you read about someone checking a mobile phone in a poem? Technology has completely changed the way we live, but reading most contemporary poetry, you’d never know.

Have your poem interrupted by a tweet every other line; write about virtual reality; or lament that computers are finally besting humans at the board game Go! And remember – technology doesn’t just mean the internet, think physical tech as well!

… think about the way technology weaves into our lives – perhaps even celebrate it!

Here’s one of my poems, Phone, with improvised music from my friends in The Hermes Experiment. 

ENJOY!

NaPoWriMo Day 10 – 1/3 Of The Way Through

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With a busy day ahead, I got my NaPo writing in early today. The prompts I follow from NaPoWriMo and Carrie Etter both feature people and I have enjoyed writing about Mr G and my newest nephew.

I cannot believe today we are all one third of the way through this year’s NaPoWriMo. Congratulations, that is a huge achievement.

http://www.napowrimo.net/day-ten-5/

Our featured participant today is Whimsygizmo’s Blog, where the nine-line poem for Day Nine tells us how to capture the moon!

Today’s interview is with former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. She has written four books of poetry, including Native Guard, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007, and a book of creative non-fiction, Beyond Katrina. Trethewey’s work draws from both her own family history and the history of the Gulf Coast where she was born. You can find a selection of her poems here.

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And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you. It doesn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, as what they are or were. If you need inspiration, here’s one of my favorite portrait poems.

NaPoWriMo.net © 2017

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For this prompt I chose a holiday snap of Mr G and just started freewriting, I was trying to focus on the telling of the person rather than describing the photograph. I managed a short poem but found most ideas were coming just as one or two lines.

So, in the end I wrote a Haiku. I am unlikely to submit this little love poem anywhere, for the first time this year you can have the full poem.

You Look Away

Your eyes are speaking,

one raised eyebrow sends me love,

perfect half smile lips.


Carrie Etter’s prompt encourages a 2nd person poem where the ‘you’ addressed is a specific person.

I wrote about my nephew and his new tricks. It was an easy write that flowed and will need to be edited but it has legs.

‘Your new trick is aeroplane arms…

you twist your neck like an owl baby

send me another smile.’


Jo Bell posted A Blade of Grass by Brian Patten. http://www.jobell.org.uk/ a discussion about the poem and lazy critics.

Ultimately, nothing we write about captures the importance of the thing itself. The signifier never quite attains to the power of the signified. Jo Bell © 2017


The Poetry School 58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullask for a letter poem and leave some fine examples. I know Bobby Parker and had the pleasure of meeting/hearing Melissa Lee-Houghton last week at the Worcester University reading at The Hive.

Dear poets,

Melissa Lee-Houghton is currently running a course on the epistolary poem for The Poetry School. As she has said, “sometimes all we need to be able to write the thing we most need to write is to know who it is we must write to”.

But it’s the young British poet Bobby Parker (whose latest book bears a cover endorsement from Melissa) who we’ve chosen as an example. See Heroin Lullaby (or Open Letter To My Wife Upon Our Separation).

http://thequietus.com/articles/14538-poetry-heroin-lullaby-poem-by-bobby-parker
Or, for something a little less intense, have a look at Elizabeth Bishop’s Letter to NY: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2006/07/22

Ali Lewis © 2017


Happy writing!

NaPoWriMo Day 5

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For the first time since the start of NaPo I have found myself time limited. I am following four different prompt areas this month and tend to write from two sources. This means that my NaPo poetry has already reached double figures.

Today whilst at work I considered the nature prompt from NaPoWriMo, I made some notes hoping to work on a poem this evening. http://www.napowrimo.net/day-five-4/

I was too tired to concentrate when I first got home, then fell asleep. I have an idea that is bubbling in my head and would like to form a poem before bed. However, I know that this is the only prompt/poem I will create today. Carrie Etter’s prompt is a prose poem and that is a style I tend to steer clear of. I will attempt it at some point but also like the idea of stashing documents of prompts away to face later in the year. So I will forgive myself and move on if I don’t take the prose prompt. NaPo is all about forgiveness, I learnt that the first year I tried it. It is my 4th year doing this crazy poem-a-day thing.


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I was excited when I saw Mary Oliver on today’s Napo thread. I bought her book ‘ A Poetry Handbook’ at the tail end of 2013, my year of learning.

The featured poet came from the Enigma prompt https://ccthinks.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/when-this-boy-croons-every-moon-in-june-blooms-napowrimo-day-4-enigma-variations/

The interview was with Mary Oliver http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/maria-shriver-interviews-poet-mary-oliver

Read her poetry here https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/mary-oliver#about

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And the reason for the allotment photo… the prompt was about an experienced nature, (I didn’t actually write about the allotment, despite having a mini series of allotment poems).

In honor of Mary Oliver’s work, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is based in the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. But it should be about a slice of the natural world that you have personally experienced and optimally, one that you have experienced often. Try to incorporate specific details while also stating why you find the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful. © Napo.net 2017

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My poem was about flowers. It mentions radial patterns and US Airlines following spoke and hub routes…

It is yet to define itself as a poem!


Carrie Etter’s Prompt was to write a prose poem.

The Poetry School Day 5: The Aubade (touches of 52). An aubade is a poem addressing the break of day. A traditional aubade often featured the parting of lovers, but yours doesn’t have to. It also doesn’t have to be an ode to the morning; morning can arrive quite gently or tangentially in your poem — but it has to be there. Two example poems today, neither of which is remotely traditional (after all, you all know Larkin’s ‘Aubade’ already, don’t you?).
 
Carl Phillips: Aubade: Some Peaches, After Storm
https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/aubade-some-peaches-after-storm
 
Ocean Vuong: Aubade with Burning City
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/56769

© The Poetry School 2017


Jo Bell (encouraging a month of reading) posted NaPoReMo (National Poetry Read(ing) Month), Song by Adrienne Rich.


Be inspired (I’ve got poetry to go and write) x

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NaPoWriMo Day 1

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As we are a participating blog, I thought it sensible to keep up to date with NaPoWriMo. So far it has been a busy weekend with an event in a neighbouring County and the Poetry Ballroom. I have managed my writing time but am only just now finding a space to blog about it.

Unlike previous years (where I have more or less gone alone), this year I am in several groups and have even joined in at The Poetry School. I am using prompts from various sources to kick-start the writing. So far I have managed dual prompts from www.napowrimo.net and prompts from Carrie Etter, from her Facebook group – where we are not sharing poems (that is what the Poetry School enrolement is for), instead we are discussing some of our favourite poems and how it feels to be embarking on a crazy month of a poem a day. Carrie added a page of 30 prompts and poets have been dipping into them in random order. Out of 7 poems written so far I have 4 that I shall keep to edit and mould later in the year.

I do a draft/edit/rewrite – move on – 30 in 30 days is a pace of a thing but generally you get a sense for the ones to revisit and no writing is wasted time (in my opinion). I enjoy the challenge of this craziness and also carving out some daily writing time.

For the first time since discovering this challenge (2014), I am writing longhand in notebooks. That in itself makes a change to my normal practise.

DAY 1: SATURDAY

http://www.napowrimo.net/day-one-it-begins/ napo2017button1

I wrote Day 1 in the early hours of Day 2, I learnt a few years back that when you are busy FORGIVE yourself for not writing to deadline, the world will not collapse.

The main prompt at Naponet was a Kay-Ryan-esque poem: short, tight lines, rhymes interwoven throughout…

I negated mentioning animals and I think my sharp philosophical conclusion may have to be added in later edits, in was in the style as far as line/rhythm. A poem about our house, more honestly the state of our house my lifestyle has created.

I think ‘Home’ works as a complete poem but looking to post a flavour here (as blogging it in full is considered publication), I cannot choose lines that will give you much taste at all.

This year’s links from NaPo are all interviews with a poet, whether you are joining in writing this year or not I would urge you to check out the links and interviews found on the official site. Spend the month reading instead.

Today’s interview came from the Paris Review and is with Kay Ryan https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/5889/kay-ryan-the-art-of-poetry-no-94-kay-ryan

All Your Horses By Kay Ryan https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/57401

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The featured participant for DAY 1 was gloria-logo-02http://www.gloria-gonsalves.com/glopowrimonapowrimo-early-bird-spring-wedding/ with a special Early Bird prompt (Haibun) inspired by wilting tulips in her writing space.


My 2nd effort came from Carrie Etter’s first prompt, I am tackling hers in order. I wrote about a badge collection that I had almost forgotten collecting, lots of childhood memory resurfaced.

Day 2 napo2017button2 suggested using a recipe for inspiration, I found an Ancient Roman recipe and rewrote it as a couple attempting to conceive. An interesting exercise.

Over at The Poetry School the prompt was to write a long thin poem.

Manchester – Quiet, Quiet Loud Headline

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Last year Sarah Dixon contacted me about headlining in Manchester, originally the booking was set for April/May- but due to Sarah relocating my spot was brought forward to March.

I booked time off work and made arrangements. I was originally going to do an overnight and what I learnt from this experience is how to be sensible… gigging further afield, it is probably best to stay overnight. Fortunately, Rick Saunders (a.k.a Willis the Poet), signed up for the open mic and offered to drive. Unfortunately his car broke down the week before and we ended up hiring a nifty little number to get us Northbound.

Manchester isn’t all that far away, but after a day of work and with butterfly nerves I did not fancy driving. Plus I have an inherent fear of the M6! That pesky Toll road…

Our journey out there was easy, didn’t take long. We found the venue and headed off for some tea before going to the The Llyod’s Hotel. Our journey back was horrendous with motorway closures, traffic jams and a satnav that was convinced the signs suggesting junction closures were wrong.

BUT – it was all worth it!

Quiet, Quiet Loud is an incredible event that Sarah has been running for two and a half years now. I can imagine the loss to the local poetry community (having just experienced the end of PTS at the Scary Canary).

March 14th Quiet, Quiet Loud

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Guests Mark Pajak and Becky Cherriman and Nina Lewis

Mark Pajak was born in Merseyside. His work has been published in Magma, The North and The Rialto (among others), been highly commended in the Cheltenham Poetry Competition and National Poetry Competition and won first place in the 2016 Bridport Prize. He has received a Northern Writer’s Award from New Writing North and was 2016’s Apprentice Poet in Residence at Ilkley Literature Festival. His first pamphlet, Spitting Distance, was selected as a Laureate’s Choice and is published with smith|doorstop.

Becky Cherriman is a writer, workshop leader and performer based in Leeds. Published by Mslexia, New Walk, Envoi, Mother’s Milk, Bloodaxe, Well Versed and in Poets For Corbyn, she was resident poet for Morley Literature Festival in 2013 and lead artist for Altofts Festival In A Day 2016. Becky is a co-writer and performer of Haunt, a site-specific theatre commission for Imove, a project about homelessness. She is currently working on her one woman show with voices, Corseted. Her first poetry pamphlet Echolocation and first collection Empires of Clay were published in 2016 by Mother’s Milk and Cinnamon Press respectively. www.beckycherriman.com

Nina Lewis is widely published in poetry journals and anthologies, including Abridged, Fat Damsel, Take Ten, Hark, Here Comes Everyone (HCE), I am Not a Silent Poet, New Ulster Poetry, Nutshells and Nuggets, Under the Radar and Visual Verse. Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2015/2016 runner-up, Nina often performs at spoken word events and literary festivals. She was commissioned to write and perform poetry on ‘ecology and the city’ at the Birmingham Literature Festival in 2014. Her haiku have appeared in an art installation at the Midlands Art Centre, on the Poetry Fence at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm and in Municipal Bank Vaults for an International Dance Festival. Nina’s work also formed part of the poetry trail for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014. Fragile Houses, published by V. Press autumn 2016, is her first pamphlet.

I was really excited to meet Becky and see Mark again (who I first saw perform at Waterstones last Autumn with the Poetry Business).
It was a thrill to stand in a room I had seen on social media for years! The standard of poetry was really high and there were plenty of open mic spots. An appreciative, poetry loving audience and bundles of talent. It was lovely to see Sarah again and hear her poems, many from her pamphlet collection (fingers crossed for this to make publication soon). I had the pleasure of reading through a draft copy for her last year. She chose some strong poems to share with us.

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Becky Cherriman was the first Guest Poet to take to the floor. I love it when I do not know a poet and have no idea what to expect.
I was moved by Becky’s set and need to buy her book, she was a wonderful performer and her poetry ran a gauntlet of emotions. An incredibly powerful set. It was good to meet her.

I would have bought her book on the night but with hire charges and petrol/drinks etc. my cash was a little light. I will catch her again and you should too. A gifted poet who deals with all shades of life. I still have her poetry in my head a fortnight later.

http://www.beckycherriman.com/

Mark Pajak took us into his world after the interval. I was looking forward to hearing his work again and thoroughly enjoyed his set. It was good to hear more from him. He is talented performer and an engaging poet. He writes about some seemingly bizarre incidents and is not afraid to share them, despite being advised not to. I appreciate that rebellious side. His work is like nothing I have read or heard from anybody else, unique. Prizewinning and extra special.

Mark Pajak

I was nervous having watched these masters at work and really wanted to change my set – but having timed it I didn’t think it was appropriate to cast last minute changes. I find my pamphlet fairly difficult to share as I want to give the audience enough of the sizzle and taste but don’t want to take them on the whole chronological journey or indeed read all the poems in the book. I have seen other headliners (with pamphlets) sharing several newer poems too, this may be the way forward – but I am not entirely sure. It may be like when you see a band and want them to play the albums and they slip in several B sides… I have always been a fan of the B side.

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It was a pleasure to be invited to the final Quiet, Quiet Loud and read in Manchester. It was an inspiring evening filled with poetry buzz.

If you want to read a review of my set, check out Rick’s blogpost below.

RELATED LINKS:

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/quietly-does-it/

Mad March

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It has certainly been insanely busy this month, I knew I would need to allocate blogging time elsewhere and I am delighted to see some of the older posts reactivated.

I have been working on writing and submitting as well as organising events and completing applications. I have missed events due to a lack of energy and am battling constantly with balance.

You will be able to read about the events in my monthly review (the end of March will be here before we know it).

In the meantime here are some links you may enjoy!

cart3  For those who need motivation

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/whats-the-point-keeping-motivation-alive/?frame-nonce=0c88788c2f

This post includes links to lots of related posts too – although it is fairly narcissistic, please forgive me – it was 2015!

For entertainment and knowledge try

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-how-to-get-rejected-guest-writer-william-Gallagher/

from 2014 Inkspill AWF Writing Retreat

Something to watch

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-poetry-film-2/?frame-nonce=0c88788c2f

Try Poetry International – originally posted in Inkspill 2015

Want to write?

Try this workshop post on characters also from Inkspill 2015

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-workshop-2-creating-characters/?frame-nonce=0c88788c2f

 

 

Poetry Alight – Happy 5th Birthday!

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I have had a great week of poetry. It isn’t often (anymore) that I go to events back to back, but this week there was a run of three events, none of which I wanted to miss. They were all headlined by poets I know, whose work I know. (Warning: Some Fangirl moments may be included.)

The week kicked off with Poetry Alight, a night hosted by Gary Longden in Lichfield. We celebrated 5 years of PA and were treated to the room behind the main bar where the atmosphere was definitely set to ‘party’. Complete with handmade bunting and delicious interval cakes, this night was roaring. It was great to see poetry friends, some I haven’t seen for a while and those I saw a few weeks ago.

The open mic spots were wonderful. Steve Pottinger and Emma Purshouse treated us with floor spots. I was really looking forward to the headliners – Ruth Stacey and Ash Dickinson. It has been too long since I watched Ruth perform. Her set was amazing. Gary splits the headliners, so we get to hear them before the interval and at the end of the evening. Ash treated us to a mixed set from Slinky and Keys and threw in some new poems too.

I love watching the audience react to poets I know, who are new to them. I love hearing poets perform their words, words that I have on my bookshelf that they breathe ultimate life into. This is where the ‘power’ of poetry begins. The fusion of ideas stirred by the vocal chords that conceived them.

Ruth performed some of her Foxboy poems. This was her debut pamphlet published by Dancing Girl Press and is one close to her heart. Based on real people and real issues faced. It is deeply moving and resonate, even though I have never suffered from issues or opinions of ethnicity I key into the emotions in place in this collection. The wandering and the wilderness. I am glad Gary Longden requested her Bear poem too.

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It was lovely catching up with Ruth and hearing all about what she is currently busy with. There are some people I really miss seeing regularly and Ruth is one of them.

Ash was brilliant too. He has very recently performed in Derby, Burton and Stourbridge so he was endeavouring to deliver a set without repeated material. He had a set list that after his first half he had hardly touched, this relaxed approach (I blame the bunting), worked because we got to hear poems he may not have performed otherwise. I fell in love with his Camden notebook, a work of middle earth art itself. It was a delight to hear some newly penned poems as well as gems from his  collections. I want posters* of his Coffee poem, ‘If I Miss A Coffee’ and Fridge poem, ‘Chiller Queen’ and I love ‘Method Poet’ particularly as I trained as a method actor.

*And I don’t even have posters anymore!

“She never loved me more than when I was a flower.”

 

Ash Dickinson is a writer, poet and comedy performer.

A multiple slam champion- including Edinburgh and Cheltenham- Ash won the BBC Radio 4 Midlands Slam in 2009. In the previous BBC National Slam in 2007 he progressed through the Scottish heats, eventually finishing among the top 8 in the UK. Ash was runner-up in the 2011 UK All Stars Slam.
In the summer of 2011 Ash embarked on a six-date feature tour of Canada, a country where he also performed in 2006 (including the Winnipeg Fringe Festival). He has performed in Australia, the United States and New Zealand where he was invited to perform at the 2002 New Zealand Festival. In 2012, Ash was flown out to both Spain and Jordan for literature events, and in 2013 he headlined a show in Berlin, Germany. In 2016 he was flown out to Prague, Czech Republic to run workshops.

Ash had a four-star rated one-man show at the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the following year formed part of Scotland’s renowned Big Word during its run there. He has appeared at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the Glasgow Comedy Festival, the Bristol Poetry Festival, The Larmer Tree, In The Woods, The Wickerman, the Stratford Poetry Festival and The Camden Crawl among many others. He has headlined shows throughout the UK and performed at venues such as Ronnie Scott’s (London), the Colston Hall (Bristol), Oran Mor (Glasgow), Jupiter Artland (West Lothian), Stowe House (Bucks) and The Jazz Cafe (London). He has shared bills with many national and international poets as well as comedians such as Frankie Boyle, Miles Jupp and Andy Parsons.

Ash has been widely published in newspapers, magazines and poetry presses. He has compered busy cabarets and music nights, performed at private and corporate functions and supported bands. He is in heavy demand to run poetry workshops. His media appearances include BBC Radio, The Times, The Scotsman, The Guardian, Metro and Sweet TV.
Ash’s debut collection, “Slinky Espadrilles”, was published in 2012 by Burning Eye Books. His follow-up, “Strange Keys”, was released in April 2016.

Ruth Stacey is a writer, artist, and lecturer. Her debut collection, “Queen, Jewel, Mistress”, was published by Eyewear July, 2015. Her pamphlet, Fox Boy, was published by Dancing Girl Press, June 2014. She designs the covers for V Press poetry pamphlets and was part of the Vaginellas; a collective of female poets re-imagining classic forms of poetry.

Carolyn Jess-Cooke wrote of her debut collection thus : “The significance of this book (Queen, Jewel, Mistress) as a work of art, however, is in its reclamation of history from the female perspective. That the poems themselves are brilliant, almost all of them adroitly executed, makes me want to stand up and give the book a round of applause. There is mastery here, boldness, and a lively assertion of what poetry can give to the historical imagination. This is a book that deserves widespread acclaim.”

Gary Longden © 2017

It was a fantastic night and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I liked being described as a poet on the great conveyor belt of Worcestershire’s talented poets and the whole event inspired me to get scribbling new material. The cakes were gorgeous and to top off the wonderfulness that was Tuesday evening, Ash bought a copy of Fragile Houses. Beam.

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January in Review

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typewriter-1227357_1280 2017 started well with lots of diary dates, events and writing time. Of course it was also back to work after a fortnight (unpaid) break. Much needed. I made it back to Ludlow to support Claire Walker who was one of the Headline poets alongside Matt Black. A little like not realising two years had passed since I last watched Ash Dickinson perform, I cannot believe a year has passed since I last went to the Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room! This time warp has to do with working for 18 months on Fragile Houses I think. Months slip by fast and the first thing that has to go when you shackle yourself to the desk to write is faraway events.

Week 1:

Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin in Ludlow, it was lovely to see everybody again and I hope to make it back before 2018. Matt Black (who I first years ago at a special event we both performed at The Ort in Birmingham  (2014), more recently we shared the floor in Birmingham at Stirchley Speaks (my Headline, back in October). headline-stirchley-speaks-oct

He was entertaining and as we had all had a conversation about vegetarianism on the journey over, apt poems in his set made us giggle.

Claire Walker was amazing, I do not think I will ever tire of hearing her perform from The Girl Who Grew into a Crocodile. She also treated us to some new poems from her next pamphlet collection.sitting room

I completed a lot of research for current writing projects and groups. I also completed a collaborative project set up in December and worked hard on submitting poetry. I had fun writing about Leonard Cohen and am keeping my fingers crossed that the editors will enjoy the results.

I missed Buzzwords in Cheltenham.

Week 2:

In December I submitted to 7 places and the rejections rolled in from 3 of them this week. We all learn to handle this but one publication in particular was dealing with a subject close to my heart and it made me a little glum that they hadn’t taken my work. They did send feedback including details of the process that the poem they nearly took went through. I will not be perturbed. Another rejection cited that the pieces weren’t best fit this time but encouraged resubmission.

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Back in 2015 I had three poems accepted for an anthology by Shabda Press on Nuclear Impact. We all signed contracts in 2016 and it has been a real labour of love for Teresa Mei Chuc who has now got the project to final proof stages. All proof read and returned and I cannot wait to see the result. The readings are all taking place in the States but I am currently looking at the logistics of video performance.

The cover has been revealed featuring the Artwork of John Sokol. Cover Art: “On the Road to Perilous” nuclear-impact-front-cover-final-cover-art-on-the-road-to-perilous-by-john-sokol I could write more poems just from a glance. This book will hopefully be in our hands later this year.

I went to SpeakEasy – where Brenda Read-Brown was headlining and what a set she treated us to. New work, powerful work, emotive (I nearly cried twice), honest and filled with passion. I was really glad that I was able to make it and witness such a performance.

I shared some new poems and gave Fragile Houses a rest, most of Worcester have bought it already and as I headlined last month and read most of it and as the last poem in there was written in 2015, I fancied sharing something newer.

I went to Stanza although I was so tired I was not much use to others and the poem I had written half an hour before leaving didn’t quite work. I do not see the point of taking perfectly polished work to groups – unless perhaps it’s a poem that has been unsuccessfully submitted a few times, in which case new eyes are good. However, I need to give my writing a chance to sit and simmer for a bit so perhaps I should try this year to get a poem ready the week before. Give it some breathing space. It is hard when you feel so attached to something, too vulnerable.

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Sadly at the weekend I said goodbye to Sally Grainger who has been my Assistant Writer for WWM Spark Writers group for the past 9 months. We had a full house for her final session and ran a great group on Scriptwriting. It was fun. I am sad to see her go.

I received exciting news about a new Literature Festival which I am currently organising a showcase/event for.

Week 3:

I spent my time mainly at work, in spare hours I was organising the festival event, missing deadlines, proof reading and writing comic poetry.

Last year I was invited to take part in a one off (now to be repeated as it was so successful) Baldy Poems presents Kings and Queens of Comedy in association with WLF (Worcester LitFest). I love the idea that WLF are fundraising via event charge at one off events throughout the year to help fund/pay for the summer festival. It is a great idea and I have loved the events that have popped up so far.

I was honoured to be one of the 6 performers (we had 8 on the night with Kieran Davis and a Special Surprise Guest joining us). I have only written about 5 funny poems and the two I had ready for this event have not seen the light of day since 2015, so I decided to emulate BaldyPoems style and kick out 6 new ones. That and I needed the material to cover a 10 minute set. More on this later.

I missed David Calcutt at Smokey Joes in Cheltenham – Poetry Refreshed and sadly I missed Clive Osman’s Waterstones book launch for his debut collection ‘Happy’. Both nights looked to be good. I had taken on extra work and with a gig Thursday night and Friday needed to sleep.

After almost 2 weeks of working full-time, I finally finished on Thursday at 5:30 and then headed over to Birmingham with Mr G and a friend, in birthday celebration mode. We went to see THE BLUE AEROPLANES at the Hare and Hounds (where UB40 played their first gig) and it was exceptional. I am so glad that I was filled with the charm of performance because it set me up for the following evening for Kings and Queens of Comedy.

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I was so nervous – worried that the audience wouldn’t find the dusted off material funny, But I forgot the universal appeal of my moustache poem, the magic of proto-type props and the delight of people who have never heard this one before. It was also funny because people who know me know that I am funny, I just do things that amuse people as I have no logical bone in my body and I have a quick, dry, wordy wit… in fact there was a turning point once upon a time between poet and comedian. The world breathes a sigh of relief.

Anyway because a lot of people now on the scene weren’t back in 2014 when I played the clown a little more, they didn’t see me as a funny poet and were quite shocked at the billing. There are now at least two people who will never take me seriously again!

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To read a full review of the evening click here

And then I had a well deserved weekend off to catch up with Mr G and writing.

Week 4:

Saw happy news and my first acceptance of 2017. That collaborative project I mentioned earlier was with Claire Walker. The result was a meeting about prompts, shared ideas, word lists and after writing editing together. After a few weeks we had a poem written by each of us from working with the other and a joint poem written line by line. The acceptance was a the poem Claire Walker wrote called ‘The Puzzle of an Ending’, a beautiful title and a hard hitting poem. It was the strongest of the collaboration.

It delights me that it exists because of an opportunity I found and a risk I took (asking another poet to partner me and risk rejection, that lack of self-belief/inner critic we all have to deal with). Fortunately, Claire was only too happy and we enjoyed this rather intense poetry pocket in our otherwise Christmassy/family orientated holidays. There will be more to come. And I am doing something here I first dreamed of in 2014. Happy.

I spent the night, along with many poetry friends at the Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham for Jacqui Rowe’s ‘Poetry Bites’. The featured poets were David Calcutt & Claire Walker (fellow V. Press poets) and Jacqui announced (which most of us already knew) that they are going to publish her first collection this year too. Her ‘Ransom Notes’ was the first pamphlet of the run in 2015 from the round I applied successfully for in 2014.

ransom Poetry Bites was a packed out night, it is so sad that this is Jacqui’s final year, but it is a phenomenal achievement to have hosted and supported such an abundant amount of poets over the years. The atmosphere was great and there were some top class floor spots as well as a V. Press collective, Kathy Gee was also reading from her collection Book of Bones.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with Brumside poets I had not seen in a while, as well as listening to some inspiring and thought provoking sets.

Maybe it was the double dose of Americano coffee, or the Kitchen Garden cake… I came away buzzing and refuelled with an extra layer of poet-y energy!

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I wrote new poems for Burn’s Night, which was celebrated at 42, in Worcester on the 25th. I even made a badge – Lewis tartan, of course. I have thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about this 18th Century rascal. It was a great night, intimate and full of heart – but not lungs or liver (haggis pun)!

I missed a workshop with Ash Dickinson, that had I not been performing in the Quiet Compere/ Wolverhampton Literature Festival the following night, I may have tried to get to. It was just a little out of range geographically and no way I could have got myself there on time after work without the help of a helicopter and pilot… neither of which I have. Oh, to be a rich girl! So I just have to brush away the disappointment and hope for another opportunity in the future.

This brings us to the finale of the poeting week – the first literature festival to be held in Wolverhampton and a great line up of events across all genres. I was lucky enough to be one of the ten poets on the bill for Sarah Dixon’s Quiet Compere Event at the Art Gallery on Friday evening.

What an evening it was. Fabulous line-up, including two poets who are new to me (always a pleasure), Tom McColl & Gerry Potter. What a venue, the room was majestic and had one of the best backdrops to poetry I have ever seen. The setting was incredible. It was a wonderful night and I was still buzzing the next day. You can read the full review of the event and find out more about the performers here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/quiet-compere-wolverhampton-literature-festival/

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I got home to find emails about up and coming books and spent a while chatting to the other buzzing poets online. A fine night.

walsall-arboretum I finished my weekend at Open Poetry at Walsall Arboretum with David Calcutt and an amazing number of poets on Sunday. Despite the horrible rain, bad driving conditions and leaving a ton of work on the To Do List, I headed out for some poeting fun.

It was a great couple of hours, lots of moving and humorous work was shared. I met some new poets and saw John Mills, who had battled the unnavigable roads of Walsall to experience David’s event for the first time. walsall-arb © 2016 Walsall Arboretum

Then I spent a horrendous amount of time sorting out unread and unmanaged emails instead of completing applications which I now need to do tomorrow after work. There are lots of deadlines in the next 72 hours and I plan to hit them all.

Wolverhampton Literature Festival finished with a Poetry Slam that Nick Lovell won and Willis – a.k.a Rick Sanders came 2nd and Rob Francis, 3rd. Well done, boys! An all male sweep. I was sad not to be able to go to the festival this year. Other plans had already been made. Hopefully they will do another one next year.

The Extra Few (Writing) Days

Mainly spent Monday night at the computer pulling a 6 hour shift (after a day at work), writing new material, researching, organising events, writing applications and submitting. There are so many end of month submissions and I have been busy enjoying myself and thinking the end of the month was a while away yet and here we are. I am pleased that I have managed a few more submissions as I have not been keeping the resolution of weekly output, as advised by another poet.

Obviously there is a certain amount of selectivity both in terms of material, feel, attitude, time etc. My aim is for monthly submissions, which should be entirely achievable – as the months missed last year were to do with the final editing process of the pamphlet.

I will spend the final day of the month (in the evening, after work) getting productive with my next To Do List and making final submissions too.

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There are so many exciting things planned for February already, I can hardly believe we have reached the end of January!

I hope you had a good one, filled with spirit and joy …. oh and writing!

 

Blog Void

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I promise I will do better (next year), well we all need a resolution don’t we. I realise that I have committed the ultimate sin, I haven’t abandoned this blog (I never will… slightly concerned about what happens when all the data is used up, but am WAY off that eventuality), however, it looks abandoned. So I started to rectify this by listing all the posts I owe the blog and promised to people. These will be posted by the end of the month.

In the meantime here is a whistle-stop breakdown;

October End

Post- INKSPILL (which was our amazing online retreat) I needed some time to recoup energy. During this weekend I was also scheduled to perform and attended a deeply moving workshop.

I had a week off work where I tried to catch up with real-life, family/friends, chores etc. Worked on writing projects, having only just found the ability to write returning after working on the manuscript for 18 months. I also performed and workshopped, took bookings for 2017, raised money for charity at a Quiz Night, celebrated family birthdays and entered some poetry competitions.

November

Started working on a new project, performed poetry, entered a competition, completed research, took writing groups, missed birthday parties, had a bonfire party, went to a gig, wrote new poetry, had work published, bought poetry books, met new to me poets, went to readings and had a few exciting invitations/ opportunities.

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Over the next few weeks I will blog about lots of these things. In the meantime, I share an interesting article written by Sarah James. Reblogged here Reaching Your Audience

 

INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘The Final Write’

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

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

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

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Roy Mcfarlen

© 2014 Najma Hush

 

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

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

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

– Nina Lewis

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

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

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


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

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

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So this is what I’m left with.

A stained brown cufflink box lined

with stained red silk,

two black elastic loops, one snapped and frayed.

I hold it to my nose, search out

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

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

Fifteen pounds in a post office account,

a notebook scrawled in horses’ form,

one photograph of three Jamaican aunts

in white lace dresses, straight-backed

with clasped hands under a palm tree?

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

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

As I Walked Out One Evening

And down by the brimming river

I heard a lover sing

Under an arch of the railway:

Love has no ending.

I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you

Till China and Africa meet,

And the river jumps over the mountain

And the station sing in the street

And then this beautiful gem…

the glacier knocks in the cupboard,

The desert sighs in the bed,

And the crack in the tea-cup opens

A lane to the land of the dead.

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

It was late, late in the evening,

The lovers they were gone;

The clocks had ceased their chiming,

And the deep river ran on.


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Exercise

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


 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: