Tag Archives: The Poetry School

NaPoWriMo Catch Up – Day 20

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Right now I should be at Cynthia Miller’s Primers Launch in Waterstones, (part of the Birmingham Literature Festival Spring Edition). I have a million things that need doing and a lack of time to squeeze them all into.

For the past few days I have managed to write my poems on time or in epic late-night catch ups. I am currently on Day 23, letting ideas settle in my mind. I have fallen behind with blog posts as I am currently organising 3 festivals and have been busy with research, work and real life.

Day 20 – Step Back in Time…

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http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-4/

I really enjoyed the prompt today, had lots of fun and research points, became a half decent poem, edited into a decent poem and performed at Uncorked that same evening.

I cannot believe we are 2/3 through NaPoWriMo and I am feeling proud that this year I have managed it. Thanks to Carrie Etter’s group.

I get the feeling that most of my Napo writing is airy draft, I know I can go back to these poems and extract the gold dust and rebuild. So please do not be hard on yourself if you feel that most of your daily writes have been a bit naff.

I spent some time wandering around participants sites the other day and reading some incredibly strong poems (with a glint of envy), it is amazing what rolls out of people’s heads during this April challenge.

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Our featured participant today is this and other poems, where the creation myth for Day 19 is “tenuous,” but strikingly believable!

Our interview today is a two-fer: the poet Rickey Laurentiis being interviewed by the poet Carl Phillips. You can find examples of Laurentiis’ work here and Phillips’ work here.

Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game. Your poem could invoke chess or baseball, hopscotch or canasta, Monopoly or jai alai. The choice is yours!

I chose Poker, as it is a game I do not play and I discovered lots of associated vocabulary that leant itself to poetry. It was a fun write although not so jolly for the character in my poem. It went down well with the audience at Uncorked, so it has been filed in the OKAY pile for now.

For the first time I used the computer rather than my notebook. This is how I usually write and I wonder if this has anything to do with creating a better poem. My brain understanding what I am trying to achieve as my hands dance across the keyboard.

For me, the difference of swimming safely in a pool or being out in the open sea, those blank pages scare me sometimes. Although I love the freedom of writing in notebooks, as I love the sea, but there is always danger lurking and scribbles have to be crossed out rather than deleted from existence!

She placed even money

on diamonds, lost it all.


Carrie Etter’s prompt involved using titles. Titles are not copyrighted but some poets felt that they couldn’t use work in this way. I liked the idea and wrote from a title as a springboard and then edited the title out.

Sandra Lim has some splendid titles in her first collection, Loveliest Grotesque.

I used ‘Curious This’.

Crossing roads between moving cars…

…like the aura of a Prophet…

I also revisited my poetry from Day 19 and wrote a poem I like ‘Crabsticks and Gin’.

White hair dyed Paprika,

Cherry Red applied over

shallow pink lips

that talked for England.


Jo Bell (whose Canoe writing workshop I am also missing today at BLF Spring Edition), posted Variation on a Theme by Rilke by Denise Levertov. I am really appreciating these daily reads and discussions.

The best thing – the very best thing – about reading poetry widely and deeply is that when you need it, it finds you… Yesterday, hearing news of the impending UK election I felt a mighty need for something to give me a sense of purpose and positivity in the coming weeks. – Jo Bell


The Poetry School offered us

Day 20: The One-Sentence Poem

Which for anyone taking part is light relief – well it would be, but a one sentence poem is harder than you imagine.

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Morning poets. Today, I’d like you to write a one-sentence poem. Draft it in prose, so you’re not worrying about line-breaks. They can come later. You’ll also find that you become more expansive and loquacious by drafting this way. If you reach a natural break, connectives (also known as conjunctions) are your friends: use ‘but’, ‘and’, ‘which’ and so on to carry on your sentence. Brackets and dashes are useful, but I’d like you to avoid colons and semi-colons as they stop you in your tracks when you’re supposed to be flowing.

Your example today is Steve Scafidi’s magnificent ‘To Whoever Set My Truck On Fire‘, but your poem doesn’t necessarily have to be this long!

 

Day 19 – Early Morning Creation & Gratitude

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Welcome to Day 19, so close now. So many poems to type up. Writing longhand in my notebook has made this NaPo experience feel different and has kept me on track and enthusiastic, more so than previous years.

I have to say that Carrie Etter has had a huge part to play in motivating me to complete the challenge – both in terms of the group she created on social media and her list of prompts, which I have still not allowed myself to read in the entirety, despite copying to a document 19 days ago. Thank you, Carrie!

Having instant access to other poets completing NaPo has created the same buzz I experienced from Camp/ Community boards in NaNoWriMo. Sharing days it works and days it doesn’t, keeps you going and this year with following a double set of prompts I will have produced over 60 poems.

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It is little wonder I feel a bit tired. Not all of them are fully formed and some are a bit rubbish, they didn’t work out.

An exercise like NaPo gives you chaff and grain. The excitement of the following months is revisiting and finding the lines/ideas/images you can harvest or re-use. It is all good poetry compost, keep turning!

I also want to say thanks to Jo Bell, for giving us all a daily poem to read. I have discovered some poets that I will read more of and revisited favourite poems/poets along the way. I have been privy to (although, not really as the posts are on a very public blog), it feels like I have been privy to some exciting thoughts and opinions as well as having my eyes opened a bit on occasion. Seeing a poem through a different point of view. But mainly I have found time to read during NaPo, which in itself has enticed me back to my own poetry shelves (which I think was Jo’s intention).

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Whilst we’re at it – thanks to Maureen Thorson for the conception of NaPoWriMo. Read all about it here

Maureen Thorson, a poet living in Washington, DC. Inspired by NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month), she started writing a poem a day for the month of April back in 2003, posting the poems on her blog. When other people started writing poems for April, and posting them on their own blogs, Maureen linked to them. After a few years, so many people were doing NaPoWriMo that Maureen decided to launch an independent website for the project.

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\\Gushing Gratitude Over// Let’s move on… Day 19

19!

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Our featured participant for the day is dogtrax, where the neologism poem for Day 18 created many new compound words!

Today’s interview is with Tommy Pico, whose first book, a long poem that unfurls like an extended meditation-slash-text message, was published to critical acclaim last year. You can check out some of Pico’s work here.

And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always!). Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a creation myth. It doesn’t have to be an existing creation myth, or even recount how all of creation came to be. It could be, for example, your own take on the creation of ball-point pens, or the discovery of knitting. Your myth can be as big or small as you would like, as serious or silly as you make it.

I love a creation myth and cannot wait to get stuck into this.


Carrie Etter’s prompt involves remembering someone who has passed away, remembering one of their interests or hobbies, talk to them about it in a poem and end with a question.

Carrie’s prompt made me write about a relative I lost two decades ago, someone I rarely write about. It started with a 30 minute freewrite – I wasn’t timing myself, I just found I couldn’t stop.

Something was uncorked. I then went about my day and this afternoon without reading the notes back I wrote a poem. it is rather long (2 A4 Pages), but it is a start. I think I will find it is about 3 or 4 poems in one. So next time I pick it back up I may try to sift it into two poetry piles and rebuild from there. Definitely one to leave alone for a while. I feel quite strange.

Did you ever tell him you loved him?


Jo Bell left us an Untitled poem by Muriel Rukeyser to read.

With an interesting read afterwards of Jo’s thoughts about this poem. For me it is stunning when work written over fifty years ago is so relevant and shows the human cycles we move in. I am currently reading a book of poetry that was published over 20 years ago and it is fascinating when our world with all its complexities is still struggling to master the same basics.

Rukeyser’s poem has more political mirroring than my simple meandering thoughts here – but I’d like to direct you over to Jo’s blog to see it for real. http://www.jobell.org.uk/


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullJames Trevelyan suggests we write the worst poem possible today, like the idea of an Anti-Slam. Day 19 – often by now poems have gone one of two ways: dedicated to daily writing they are growing stronger or (like mine) are dribbling out like weak tea! So having permission to write a bad one on purpose might tick your criteria today!

Day 19: The Pits

With a hat-tip to Charles Bernstein’s ‘Experiments’, today’s task is to write the worst poem you can imagine: awful scansion, hopeless imagery, tone-deaf statements, bluster, pretension, wrenched rhymes, sentimentality – that’s what we’re after.

http://www.writing.upenn.edu/bernstein/experiments.html

For inspiration, have a look at The Anti-Slam: https://www.facebook.com/theantislam/

And, of course, ‘The Tay Bridge Disaster’: http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/gems/the-tay-bridge-disaster

Have fun writing! I am off to create my creation poem now… although it will possibly cover The Poetry School’s prompt as well!

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NaPoWriMo Day 18 – The Late Service!

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I read the prompts this morning before I left for a meeting in the city. I got home shortly before Mr. G finished work. I spent the evening researching and organising festival events and then sat down about an hour ago to work on my poems.

Here are today’s prompts and lines.

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http://www.napowrimo.net/

Today’s featured participant is Voyage Cities, where the nocturne poem for Day 17 is inspired by the work of Kenneth Patchen.

Our interviewee for the day is Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner, former Poet Laureate of the United States, and the author of ten books of poetry, a novel, a play, a collection of short stories, and a book of essays. Whew! That’s a lot of writing. You can find a number of her poems here. If you’re not sure which one to choose, here’s my personal favorite.

And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates neologisms. What’s that? Well, it’s a made-up word! Your neologisms could be portmanteaus (basically, a word made from combining two existing words, like “motel” coming from “motor” and “hotel”) or they could be words invented entirely for their sound. Probably the most famous example of a poem incorporating neologisms is Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, but neologisms don’t have to be funny or used in the service of humor. You can use them to try to get at something that you don’t have an exact word for, or to create a sense of sound and rhythm, or simply to make the poem feel strange and unworldly.

I love the Jabberwocky, despite having to study it in school and subsequently using it for teaching. Sometimes when academia is involved creative enjoyment diminishes, not the case here. My poem was not intended as a nonsense poem, but the result is definitely just that.

I started with a list of portmanteaus, then proceeded to use almost all of them in my poem.

when eyezips restored the balance,

allowed lightwalls to crumple beneath

cupboardskirts…

I also love Rita Dove and was fortunate enough to see her in action back in 2015. Birmingham Literature Festival


Carrie Etter left a choice of 5 words from a list of 6. I wrote a short 6 line poem.

… tie your hopes to branches of the Willow,

hear them catch

beneath the weight of leaves.


Jo Bell gave us Yes by William Stafford http://www.jobell.org.uk/ along with a what is poetry discussion.

Some poems derive their power from the act of isolating a thought or a moment, and focusing attention on it – almost like a meditative text. Isolating that idea and expressing it concisely and with clarity, is perhaps the most important skill.’ – Jo Bell.


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Day 18: You’ve Got To Start Somewhere!

  • Getting started is the hardest part of writing, so let’s get it out of the way. Either:Go to the Random Sentence Generator and click the button to generate a completely random new sentence. You might have to have a few goes before you get one that makes sense.Or choose a sentence that appeals to you from a nearby book. Don’t think too hard about it. It can be poetry or prose.There – you have the first sentence of your new poem. Now lineate it in a way that adds meaning, and you have your basic line length. Finally, write the whole thing, then (optionally!) delete your first sentence.Off you go!napo2017button2 Nearly on the 10 Day Countdown, keep going! 

NaPoWriMo Day 17 – Over the Hill

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Today is a Bank Holiday and in true Bank Holiday style Mr G and I have run the gauntlet between leisure time and working. I popped online earlier to take a look at today’s prompts and am posting them here before going to do my NaPo write.

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http://www.napowrimo.net/

Today’s featured participant is Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings, where the correspondence poem for Day 16 is a bittersweet meditation on a letter never written.

Our featured interview for the day is with Hoa Nguyen, whose work is marked by a sense of immediate address and a pop-culture sensibility. You can learn more about Nguyen here, and you can find examples of her poetry here and here and here.

And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, I challenge you to write a nocturne. In music, a nocturne is a composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound. Your nocturne should aim to translate this sensibility into poetic form! Need more inspiration? Why not listen to one of history’s most famous nocturnes, Chopin’s Op. 9 No. 2?

I wrote my poem whilst listening to this video. It is a piece I know well.

A moment of stillness, in the dark.

The silent prayer, ‘Do not wake child’,

settles like a crown on the mother’s head.


napo2017button2 Carrie Etter’s prompt was about a news item. I am currently researching an article and choosing 5 phrases to sum up different points involved.

These will be used in the poem and the work will be written between them.

We have had two female Prime Ministers,

but out on the green, nine men reign.

I wrote about a piece of Cultural news reported by The Guardian. Gillian Wearing (Sculptor) is going to be creating a statue of Millicent Fawcett, a suffragist. Wearing created the ‘Ordinary Family’ bronze statue, which was unveiled in Centenary Square, Birmingham in 2014.

Centenary Square is appearing as my NaPo poem place fairly often.

My shocking discovery during researching this poem was that only 2.7% of British statues are named after women, mostly Royals. Considering most Towns/Cities have statues this is a shocking statistic.


Jo Bell suggests we read http://www.jobell.org.uk/ to become better writers. You won’t find many who disagree with this statement, you will find some who do not follow the advice.

Today we have Darling, Would You Please Pick Up Those Books? By Kathryn Maris.

Followed by a great discussion about subject, form and poetry. Opening our eyes to things we could easily miss.


Over at The Poetry School PS Napo Ali Lewis offers

Day 17: Aphorism and Fragment.

The aphorism is a difficult form: you have to be smart, terse, self-knowing, and incredibly confident. On the other hand, how many of us have lines, half-lines and phrases we’ve always wanted to use? Well, now’s the time to dust them off, as aphorisms and fragments work best in groups. In fact, Don Paterson has a whole book of them, The Book of the Shadows, from which the below are excerpts.

My work is the deferral of work, which exhausts me; the actual work I barely notice.

Good ideas prompted, bad ideas willed.


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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 14 – Two Weeks In & Nearly Halfway There…

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I cannot believe we have nearly reached the halfway point. This is usually where we experience the dip. I am now struggling with the fact that my NaPo poems are meaningless and not well written, with the challenge of some of the forms in the limited time I have set aside for the creation of the poems, also that nagging feeling of catch up.

So I start this morning with taking my own advice.

  • Forgive
  • Move On
  • Write

This challenge never presents 30 excellent poems by the end of April. I do not think that is the point, it is meant to fuel your writing. Maybe in August I will write a poem that would never be penned with NaPo 2017.

The frustration is in wanting to write well, (I don’t think any of us ever want to write badly, unless we’re entering an Anti-slam or something)!

I am packing my frustration away today and catching up on the writing from Day 13. In an attempt to write in meaning, my companion today is my carry around notebook, which I opened randomly and chose a line from as an initial thought.

I managed several attempts at a Ghazal, all of which need more work.

… like routes on a torn Tube map,

My poem on Carrie’s prompt ended in some research, which may result in an additional poem at some point. I think it may be the shortest prose poem in existence!

… the unforgiving silence of sin.


And now – forward, onto Day 14.

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http://www.napowrimo.net/

Our featured participant today is Clairvetica, where the ghazal for Day 13 is a mixed-emotions ode to London.

Today’s interview is with Troy Jollimore. A poet whose work often has a philosophical bent, he won the National Book Critics Circle award for his first book, Tom Thomson in Purgatory. You can find three of Jollimore’s poems here and four more here.

Last but not least, our prompt! Because it’s Friday, let’s keep it light and silly today, with a clerihew. This is a four line poem biographical poem that satirizes a famous person. Here’s one I just made up:

Emily Dickinson
wasn’t a fickle one.
Having settled in Amherst,
she wouldn’t be dispersed.

Is it going to win a Pulitzer prize? Nope – but it was fun to write!

I wrote a clerihew about our Prime Minister – I think it will stay in my notebook!


Carrie Etter’s prompt was to write a list poem, as an actual list. I have written it but my example doesn’t really feel like a poem. Maybe that is the nature of the form. I may go for this again, once I have some solid anchors to hook a list on.napo2017button1


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/  English Breakfast by Paul Summers, the title mainly reminded me that it is lunchtime and I haven’t eaten mine yet.

An interesting discussion about judgement and prejudice.


The Poetry School

Day 14: What if…?58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfull
How many stories, films and poems can be summarised with that question? Look at Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness, which asks the question: What if blindness was contagious?
Today’s task is to ask yourself a ‘what if’ question — and to answer it. It might help to start off your poem with ‘What if…’ though you may decide to delete that part later on. It can be a personal ‘what if’ addressing what might have happened, or a hypothetical, scientific ‘what if’, but whatever you choose, the key to this task is to commit. You must follow the logic through wherever it goes, even – no, especially – if it goes somewhere unexpected.
For inspiration, have a look at Mark Waldron’s ‘Lion’, the second poem featured here: https://daysofroses.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/three-poems-from-mark-waldrons-the-itchy-sea/

NaPoWriMo Day 13 – Unlucky?

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Not have time to complete my writing for NaPo today but posting the prompts all the same.

http://www.napowrimo.net/

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Today’s featured participant is Jane Dougherty writes, where the alliterative/assonant poem for Day Twelve is wistful and lilting.

Our interview today is with Evie Shockley. Originally from Tennessee, Shockley is the author of two books of poetry, and is at home with both formal verse and more experimental lyrics. You can watch a video of Shockley giving a poetry reading here, and you can read some of her poems here.

And now for our (optional) prompt. Today’s is an oldie-but-a-goody: the ghazal. The form was originally developed in Arabic and Persian poetry, but has become increasingly used in English, after being popularized by poets including Agha Shahid Ali. A ghazal is formed of couplets, each of which is its own complete statement. Both lined of the first couplet end with the same phrase or end-word, and that end-word is also repeated at the end of each couplet. If you’re really feeling inspired, you can also attempt to incorporate internal rhymes and a reference to your own name in the final couplet. Here are a few examples – Evie Shockley’s “where you are planted,” Ali’s “Tonight,” and Patricia Smith’s “Hip Hop Ghazal.”


Carrie Etter’s prompt was

What are you feeling right now? What are the three abstract nouns that would best describe it?

While the narrative of events leading to those feelings would be mundane and probably uninteresting, is there another, more condensed narrative–something that could happen in, say, ten minutes–that might convey the same combination of feelings?

In a prose poem, write the narrative that helps to convey those feelings, and let the title clue the reader in to that general mood. (This was my approach with my poem ‘Melancholia’ in This Line Is Not for Turning: An Anthology of Contemporary British Prose Poetry.)


Jo Bell posted Event Horizon by Andrew Grieg


The Poetry School

Day 13: Ekphrastic Poem Challenge

Good morning everyone and congratulations on making it this far! Today’s challenge is a real treat: the ekphrastic poem.

John Keats’ ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’ sets the bar high for ekphrastic poetry, those verses which take another work of art as their ignition point. What piece of pottery / old master / Motown single / videogame will spark your ekphrastic poem? It helps if the poem can stand up on its own without the reader knowing the art-work!

Here’s Keats: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44477

And here’s another example from Liu Xia: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/57517 


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NaPoWriMo Day 12

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Day 12 http://www.napowrimo.net/

Our featured participant today is Tidbits by Shannon, where the “Bop” poem for Day 11 invites us to do the attractively unthinkable.

Today’s interviewee is Ocean Vuong, a Vietnamese-American poet raised in Hartford, Connecticut. His first book of poems, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, was published last year by Copper Canyon Press. Vuong’s poems incorporate uniquely startling images with a tight attention to sound. You can learn a little more about Vuong here and find examples of his poems here and here.

Today, I’d like you to write a poem that explicitly incorporates alliteration (the use of repeated consonant sounds) and assonance (the use of repeated vowel sounds). This doesn’t mean necessarily limiting yourself to a few consonants or vowels, although it could. Even relatively restrained alliteration and assonance can help tighten a poem, with the sounds reinforcing the sense. Need some examples. Here’s Gerard Manley Hopkins showcasing alliteration and assonance on overdrive. And here is a poem with a more restrained approach from Kevin Young.

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I managed a very short poem and have promised myself time to come back to this page.


Carrie Etter’s prompt 12. Think of something you do every day, and tell someone else how to do it in step-by-step imperatives that provide close descriptive detail of the actions and any objects.

I wrote the obvious – brushing my teeth.

It ended up with a twist in the ending that turned the poem into something more than it was, which is pleasing.


Jo Bell explores Searchlight by Jim Carruth. A good discussion about making your ‘life’ poems relevant to the reader. A journey I went on with my own manuscript for Fragile Houses. It was never sentimental – I learnt how to avoid that through workshop advice and reading well established poets. But it was a long consideration making sure the poems worked beyond themselves.

It’s that act of generosity, of giving something to the reader as well as recounting his own experience, that makes a poem more than anecdote. – Jo Bell


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Day 12: Word Association

Today’s prompt is less about form, and more about your imagination…

Let’s form the skeleton of a new poem using the favourite game of long car journeys. Write down the first word that comes into your head when you read each of the words below.

Fountain
Berry
Surprise
Dust
Temperature
America
Book
Tortoise
Cyclone
Security

Now use your ten new words in your poem, one per line, in the order you have them. NB: Don’t use the above words in your poem – use the words you associated with them, e.g. not ‘fountain’, but ‘splash’ or ‘water’. If you don’t want to start with the words we’ve given you, open the closest book to you and pick the first word on every page from 50 to 60 and associate from that.

I love these types of playful poems. In light of following naponet and Carrie’s prompts I have not had time to write for or make use of the Poetry School yet this month. I do plan on revisiting all the prompts. I will just have to Stanza the poems for useful editing advice.

 

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NaPoWriMo Day 11 – Unleashing Counter Protest Poetry

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Day 11 – I was super busy and had time to look at the prompts and not write any poetry. So this is the first day of NaPo that I failed to write my poem a day – this happens. It happens to most people embracing the challenge, maybe the poetry that comes today will be stronger having lingered in my head for 24 hours.

Yesterday I spent the morning making an Easter Promotion video for Fragile Houses (better than an egg), reading proof copy, organising festival events and writing blurb for programmes. In the afternoon I went to Swindon with Rick Saunders (Willis the Poet) to watch him Headline at Oooh Beehive, Clive Oseman & Nick Lovell’s Spoken Word Night. Other Headliners were Aaron Samuel (who has been in the game for just 4 short months and is AMAZING) and Bryony Vine – both of whom were spotted by Clive and Nick at Milk Poets. It was a great night!

Totally forgiving myself for not writing poetry.

Let’s step back in time…

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http://www.napowrimo.net/

Our featured participant for the day is Unassorted stories, where the poem for Day 9 is a portrait of a mental makeover.

Today, we’re also featuring a 1962 interview with Sylvia Plath. In popular culture, Plath is known for three things: (1) she wrote angry poems, (2) she killed herself, and (3) teenage girls who feel angry and a little gothy read her to feel angrier and a little gothier. But look a little further, and you’ll find a deeply philosophical poet, a master of unusual similes that set the reader rocking back on their heels, and a refuser of obvious or comfortable ideas, particularly about motherhood, femininity, and the reality of existing in a physical body. There’s a lot to learn from her densely layered, uncompromising verse. Looking for a few examples of her work beyond those poems you might have already seen? Here’s one, and another, and another.

And last but not least, here’s our (optional) prompt for the day: the Bop. The invention of poet Afaa Michael Weaver, the Bop is a kind of combination sonnet + song. Like a Shakespearan sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition. In the basic Bop poem, a six-line stanza introduces the problem, and is followed by a one-line refrain. The next, eight-line stanza discusses and develops the problem, and is again followed by the one-line refrain. Then, another six-line stanza resolves or concludes the problem, and is again followed by the refrain. Here’s an example of a Bop poem written by Weaver, and here’s another by the poet Ravi Shankar.

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Yesterday I got as far as reading the examples and writing out my frame. Today I sat down to write my first ever Bop. My first attempt worked technically and was something I needed to write out of myself. It stands as a poem, but didn’t say enough. Then I thought back to recent events in Birmingham. The EDL marched on the city and one of my friends was racially abused. I wanted to write about that. Go Back Home

Saffiyah Khan’s photo (smiling at protestors as she stepped in to defend a woman who was surrounded) has gone viral, I watched a video interview with her yesterday and the whole thing needs to be united against. It seems to me the Bop is a perfect form for such a political statement. So I set back to my page again.

Saffiyah Khan Birmingham Mail

I am working on a re-write and depending on whether I bag an open mic slot at HOWL tonight, might share it with the city.

Our multi-cultural city stands united.

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Carrie Etter’s prompt was to describe an image in 2-5 lines and use this as the end of the poem and work back from there.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/birmingham-edl-march-photo-picture-woman-mosque-best-of-british-tea-party-muhammad-afzal-a7674726.html

I wrote about the image of Saffiyah Khan

edl The Independent

The Independent © 2017

Fighting against this dark veil

shrouding Centenary Square.

I think it is important for people to know that there were Unity Rallies, Counter Protestors and demonstrations, like the tea party held at the Mosque. 300 attended that, there were 50 EDL members. The protest was originally planned for the East Midlands, but moved to Birmingham after the Westminster attacks.

Saffiyah was not a counter-protestor, she was just in the city and came to this woman’s aid. Stepped in where others looked on.

I was not there – I was in the city in 2014 when the EDL came, I was performing at an event at the Library for Birmingham Literature Festival, an event that one poet pulled out of because her skin was the wrong colour that day. I was afraid and I was inside the library. Saffiyah states she wasn’t being brave, but it takes a lot to stand up like this. Look how straight her back is!


Jo Bell shares Late Fragment by Raymond Carver http://www.jobell.org.uk/


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullThe Poetry School gave us Day 11: Old English Day

Old English or Anglo-Saxon verse is fascinating and powerful. To write in a typical Anglo-Saxon way, you need:

·         lines with 4 stresses (though it doesn’t matter how many feet, i.e. your line can be as short as ‘Hold. Stay! Hold, hold!’ or as long as you want providing it only has 4 stresses)
·         an optional central caesura or pause between stress 2 and 3
·         alliteration of 3 of the 4 stress words (this doesn’t have to be on the first syllable if the stress is on a later syllable, e.g. although would alliterate on ‘th’).

It’s all very flexible though. If you want to alliterate 2 of the words, or all 4, or you want to skip your caesura, that’s absolutely fine. Sound complicated? It’s not! You’ll soon get the hang of it and it’s a very natural, flowing way to write.

It’ll all be much easier with an example few lines from Simon Armitage’s translation of ‘Gawain’ (which is actually a Middle English revival of the alliterative style). The stresses are indicated in bold.

as he heaped his hair to the crown of his head,
the nape of his neck now naked and ready.
Gawain grips the axe and heaves it heavenwards,

A longer extract can be found here https://www.theguardian.com/books/2006/dec/16/poetry.simonarmitage


 

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.

poetry foundation

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!