Tag Archives: poetry

Carving Time Not Pumpkins

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A writer’s life is all about carving out time. We have to learn to be organised. We have to prioritise and we have to work hard.

I have blogposts I am desperate to write about all the wonderful things which fill my diary: poetry festivals, literature festivals, performances, events, projects… but I also need to invest time in the plates spinning precariously above my head.

It’s all about hats really… (this is definitely where I should mention Swindon Poetry Festival, but the reference will not make sense until I blog about it).

The Poet Laureate hat is a tall hat and possesses magical powers!hat-2844056_1920

It can elongate time and gift me extra pairs of hands! I am currently pulling together the Hanbury Hall Poetry Project where a group of 18 poets are writing ekphrastic poetry based on a DAN Art Exhibition.

NAT TRUST

© Hanbury Hall

Many of the poets are busy creating poetry and I am delighted that I managed to get to the Exhibition, talked to some of the artists, met up with some of the National poets and got poetry written too.

The Vice Chair is organising a competitive element by choosing one poem/poet to also perform at the Celebratory event in the Long Gallery at Hanbury Hall (a National Trust property) on the 30th October. I am organising a reading with some of the poets for November 14th.

Hanbury Hall Poets

This hat is also working on a commission for an event organised by Peter Sutton to raise funds for the Elgar Festival 2018. I am writing poetry for a complete set and also researching the work of Elgar’s contemporaries. I was delighted to be asked to be a part of this project, back in September but a week at the Swindon Poetry Festival followed by another ill under a blanket as well as going back to the day job has halted the flow on creating work somewhat. Peter needs the work for programming so I will be inside the PL Top Hat this weekend for sure.

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I told you this was a top hat! I am also working on an exhibition of our Sculpture Trail Poetry for the Jinney Ring, which will be on show in the restaurant throughout November.

Also working on a poetry reading event for this body of work.  final design

I have also been planning my next WPL workshop, this time with children, for Halloween, there are lots of activities planned and it should be a really great afternoon in the library next weekend.

LitFest Halloween 2017 poster

So if you know any little people – send them our way (come with them, obviously), now that WOULD be scary!

world mental health The World Mental Health Day Poetry Collection was such a necessary anthology that I scrapped the deadline and opened the submissions to last the term of my Laureateship. I was delighted after performing at the Mental Health & Wellbeing Awareness Event on the 14th to receive a submission from someone who was there. mental health awareness day bliss

I am also compiling the first issue of CONTOUR – my digital WPL magazine. Copy of Food Magazine Flyer Template (2)

 

Now my Poet hat looks like this… hat-2406035_1920

if it truly was mine it would have a coffee in the background! It has been a busy time under this hat, mostly the end of September and beginning of October, before the dreaded Swindon Lurgy caught up with me post-festival. I missed lots of events such as Howl, PTS and a workshop. I had hoped to go to many events at the Birmingham Literature Festival, but missed everything apart from the final day.

I went to see Hollie McNish perform from Plum at the Town Hall in Birmingham, it was great to watch Joe Cook supporting her. I missed all of Cheltenham Literature Festival, I missed Wellington Festival as my car needed attention. I did get to Stablemates (finally) – although they came up from London to Birmingham Waterstones. The trains were a nightmare and the total travel time verged on 3 hours… but I think I was lucky that my trains ran at all.

I have planned my next Spark Young Writers for this weekend – getting a little early spooky in.

I am busy preparing INKSPILL for the final weekend in October, especially as I will be workshopping for part of it. The first year, I knew nothing of scheduling and spent the whole time LIVE on the laptop. Since 2014, I have mastered the dark art of WordPress, although I like to be present and LIVE when I can be.

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I am also hoping to make it to a few Book Launches before the end of the month!

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This is the hat of West Midlands Reader Network Reader in Residence.

For a title that long you need a feather or two. Since our meetings in September I have been working on some reading challenge ideas for Rugby Library and planning my first workshop – to be delivered at the end of November. I am also planning to write a Guest Blog by way of introduction before the real work begins next month.

So although I would love to carve a pumpkin or two, my hands are going to be fairly busy typing for the next week or so!

I owe this blog posts on: Credo, Free Verse Poetry Book Fair, Swindon Poetry Festival, Hollie McNish, Stablemates and more!

 

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CREDO – Creative Synergy – Credo by Liz Johnson

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I am currently working on an exciting project. Earlier this month Liz Johnson, a composer, contacted me regarding a collaborative project taking place on the 29th September, Elmslie House, Malvern. elmslie-final-logo-large-darkblue-outlined_1_large

I felt it was meant to be as I am performing in London (at Free Verse) at the end of the month and originally travel plans meant I would not have been available on the 29th, they changed and I am.

You know how I love poetry beyond the page, I eagerly agreed and waited to discover more.


Creative Synergy – Credo

It started with Dora Williams (Artist) inviting Liz to three collaborative sessions, at the time they had no idea what the outcome would be.

Credo liz johnson co uk Liz Johnson © 2017

Liz’s award-winning Colwall Requiem for Aleppo became the central focus of the collaboration, with Dora creating new artworks inspired by Liz’s music. Now Liz has responded by composing a new work for solo viola Credo in which music from the Requiem is reworked and added to, inspired by Dora’s series of abstract paintings.

The violist Adam Römer, who performed at the premiere of the Requiem, has been working closely with Liz and Dora to create a major new work for solo viola

The performance will include discussions with Dora, Liz and Adam about the creation of the piece and the whole Creative Synergy project, and there will be opportunities for the audience to ask questions of the performer, composer and artist as part of the evening.

Source: http://www.elmsliehouse.co.uk/2017/08/31/creative-synergy-credo-by-liz-johnson/

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Elmslie House © 2017

The collaborative works of artist Dora Williams and composer Liz Johnson explore themes of migration and displacement, through art, film and music with Credo performed by Adam Römer (viola leader of CBSO) on the opening night.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 30th (10 – 4 pm) and runs until the 8th October. Details (Free admission 2.30-4.30pm). 

This piece explores what we believe, with music from ‘Colwall Requiem for Aleppo’ inspired by the art work of Dora Williams, the plight of refugees, the Grenfell Tower disaster and what we consider to be ‘Home’. Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis will read her own poetry and Liz, Dora and Adam will also discuss the creation of ‘Credo’, which centres around ideas of seeking/finding refuge. Artist Dora Williams has created a stunning new series of abstract works on this theme, on display at the venue. 
To reserve your seat for the evening recital (29th September), please call Anna on 07789 470780

Tickets £10 on the door including a free interval drink


typewriter-801921_1280 I have spent the past week filled with excitement in anticipation of creating writing for this opening event. I have a busy schedule at the moment and was still working on a WW1 commission (which entailed a lot of research and redrafting), now completed as well as Poetry Workshops when I agreed to this new work. I knew I had to shift my brain for Credo and needed a clear mind.

I like head space, the days spent thinking about a project before you dive in – it helps gather thoughts and those which manifest the deepest will stay and become part of the work.

The themes of migration and displacement are areas I have written about before. I could use a body of existing work, but felt this was not in keeping with the spirit of the collaborative project. I promised new work and set about creating it.

The performance itself is split into three sections, three themes. I have completed writing on two of them. Time wise I have perhaps one or two more poems to write before my set is complete.

I asked Liz to send information about the background of the piece, how it has been created and then I used a mixture of audio clips (mainly Requiem music) and images, including an original abstract by Dora Williams. I also used news articles and mirrored some of the instructions given to the musician, writing for the first time improvised poetry. Although, you could argue all poetry is improvised. Intentionally improvised, let’s say. It has been a rewarding process and I am thankful that I managed to find a block of time (in the middle of the night) to complete this work.

Credo

Liz Johnson © 2017

WANTED: Your FREEDOM Poems for NPD

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Send your Freedom poems my way.

Poet Laureate

NPDTo celebrate NPD email your Freedom poems to worcspl@gmail.com 

I will then blog a collection of NPD poems on this site.


Send 20 – 25 line poem on the theme of Freedom.

Please send poems in the body of an email.

You may send up to 3 poems.

Poems should not be previously published.

Write a short 3 sentence bio to appear alongside your poem. 

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ARTSFEST

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15th July – 5th August

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I have been performing at this annual event since 2014, it was a pleasure to have key involvement this year. I have been planning the poetry events since the end of February and now cannot believe they are now days away.

 

For the FULL programme please click here.

save arts DAN

22nd JULY St Andrew’s Square (main pedestrianised town centre area) map

I will be performing poetry alongside Val Harrison, oakley Young Poet Laureate for Worcestershire and Antony Owen.

Between 11- 3 PM

FREE EVENT

http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-and-literature-day/

We are followed by Pens and Needles, a local writing group from Redditch. This event has been organised by Carla Kovach

From 3 PM FREE EVENT

 

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In the evening there is an event at Park’s Cafe from 7PM

Poetry Extravaganza

http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-extravaganza/

FREE EVENT

13 Poets and Writers will be performing.

Food & Bar available. Not free.

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BBC Hereford & Worcester

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Worcestershire Poet Laureate – first Radio Slot as WPL

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/

Tune in to Tammy Gooding’s show tomorrow from 1 PM.

LISTEN LIVE http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_hereford_worcester

Working on a Poetry Show 30-40-60

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Back in 2016 I was already planning collaborations to promote my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’, published by V. Press.

This year I had the opportunity to organise events for festivals and two of these included this body of work. Stourbridge Literature Festival saw a straight reading of pamphlets and collections that I organised with fellow V. Press published poets: David Calcutt, Kathy Gee & Claire Walker. It was fun to do and we sold a couple of books.

The next bid I placed was with Worcester LitFest, although I have been aware of the festival and participated in various events since 2014, I had never discovered the bidding stage. I wrote a synopsis for a collaborative reading.

We heard that our application had been successful in March and set to work on developing the show 30-40-60.

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We have had several meetings to script and rehearse the poetry side of things and have developed film work to enhance the experience, as well as promoting the show in hope of ticket sales. It is a something we hope to repeat at other festivals/events in the future as there has been an incredible amount of groundwork put in.

It has been one of the most pleasurable projects so far this year. The 3 hour meetings fly by and we have our fingers crossed now that we can make it a success.

30-40-60

Worcester LitFest runs from 9th – 18th June and as you can see 30-40-60 is billed for the 11th June, do come along if you can make it to The Hive, tickets are a festival fiver and if you want to perform poetry, sign up for the open mic beforehand by emailing us at 304060[at]mail.com

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Litfest A5 Programme 2017 30-40-60 page

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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© A.Cooke 2013

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.