NaPoWriMo day 29: almost there

Tomorrow marks the end of National/Global Poetry Writing Month.  Last week’s blog post turned out to be a note to the self on hanging on in there.  In the process of typing it, I surprised myself in terms of the amount of new writing and new learning this month has generated.  It remains to be seen how many poems I end up with but I’m not too concerned on that score.  My original intention was to writing something new, daily.  I’ve stuck to that.  And I have much to go back to, either as working drafts or gleanings.  I doubt I’d have written any of it without the mutual support of poets, and poem prompts from Carrie Etter, NaPoWriMo.net and The Poetry School.

This week’s ‘pages’ include:

  • writing about a rainy day, without mentioning the R word
  • an elegy for sunshine (not entirely unconnected with the latter)
  • a further re-drafting of my praise poem for my village’s nineteenth century brickmakers (I think I prefer the previous draft…)
  • an ekphrastic poem from a British Library online image, ‘A Breaking Wave’
  • A re-working of a poem about the scar on the Heart Line of my right palm (I’ve been trying to write about this for a long time; I still haven’t found a ‘way in’ that I’m happy with, though)
  • a visceral poem using all five senses
  • hypnogogic writing; a mantra to induce sleep
  • prose poem as ‘postcard’
  • a riff on a phrase: Ask me a question

This week’s gems and nuggets:

  • Daily posts on NaPoWriMo.net include essays on craft.  I found this one, by Hyejung Kook on creating poetry from absence, really inspiring
  • a ‘when…when…then’ poem, ‘When You Have Forgotten Sunday: the love story,’ by Gwendolyn Brooks
  • I’ve learnt that foetal cells pass to the mother where they can linger for years. These micro-chimeric stem cells have been known to migrate to places of injury in the mother’s body (source: Hyejung Kook’s essay linked above)
  • Anglo Saxon kennings (see here, for instance)
  • this Chinese proverb, scribbled in a notebook I keep in my handbag:

Keep a green tree in your heart
and perhaps a singing bird will come.

The company of poets:

  • Carrie’s Day 27 enquiry to her NaPoWriMo Facebook group as to how we were all getting on elicited many responses which are testament to the benefits of belonging to a writing community. Huge thanks to Carrie and everyone in the group.
  • I spent Thursday evening with seven other members of Soundswrite women’s poetry group.  We read and discussed seven poems by other poets and workshopped five of our own poem drafts.  Four of us met afterwards to discuss the submission guidelines for an exciting new publication from Soundswrite Press.  I’ll keep you posted on this!
  • Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the Leicester & South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza.  To mark the occasion, eleven of us shared a convivial afternoon of poetry, food and conversation.

Food for the soul:

  • a walk in the Leicestershire Outwoods followed by lunch out with my friend Maria: bluebells and Spring greenery, stimulating company and conversation:

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NaPoWriMo: day 22

This far into National Poetry Writing Month, I confess that I’m flagging.

I didn’t set out to write a poem a day anyway, but rather to write ‘something’ daily in response to a NaPoWriMo prompt. Some of these may end up as poem drafts, the bulk resigned to bones for future picking over.  Most days I’ve chosen a prompt from Carrie Etter’s list to her Facebook group (whichever as the fancy takes me rather than in running order) and the occasional one from The Poetry School’s daily prompts.

Increasingly, my efforts are late night notebook ramblings, inadequately illuminated by the bedside table lamp.  I tend towards the write what surprises you school of thought but I doubt much of this month’s new writing will elicite a response of ‘Did I write that?!’ when I revisit those pages, months on.  But, hey, writing’s like running: starting never gets any easier.  And so I’ll continue to muddle along in my own haphazard fashion.

Some drafts with ‘legs’:

  • a series of cinquains on the common house sparrow
  • a wobbly first draft on all the pairs of Doc Marten boots I’ve never owned but lusted after
  • a praise poem for the brickfield workers from my village who made some of the decorative bricks for the Barlow Shed at St Pancras station (who knew?!)
  • an unsatisfactory poem re-worked as a prose poem
  • settling on a ‘form’ for a promise I’ve made to myself
  • a few haiku on Spring/bird activity/the weather
  • an elegy from photographs
  • settling on a ‘form’ to write about the most emotive and time-consuming item on our Annual Parish Council meeting agenda
  • a riff on a question from ‘Atlas,’ a Terisa Siagatonu poem
  • a childhood memory from the point of view of one of my younger sisters

 

New discoveries and revisited learning so far:

So all is not lost.

 

Quotes added to my notebook, to reflect on:

To live is the rarest thing in the world.
Most people exist, that is all.

and

We are all in the gutter
but some of us are looking at the stars.

Oscar Wilde

Love makes a mess of dying,
rarifies what you’ve got left and
draws close those for whom you’ve
been essential architecture, each seeking
a totem.

and

…I’m afraid, not of dying,
but of leaving a mess for love.

lines from a Gary Gilbert poem

And one for the wall on a subject close to my heart:

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In other news:

  • 3 poems submitted to The Lampeter Review on the theme of ‘Staying’
  • 1 poem submitted to the Eibonvale Press Humanagerie anthology (submission window open until 31st May: see here for guidelines)
  • I’m considering applying for Halsway Manor’s poet residency (poetry and folk music: my kind of heaven) *self-talking*

 

 

February, I’m so over you

February’s the low point of the year, for me: a wilderness of sorts between  resolutions/new beginnings and the official start of spring. It’s the colour grey.  It’s moody blue.  And, if social media’s a barometer, I’m not the only one who feels that way.  But it’s over!  Light levels are noticeably better, my garden’s budding and cat junior is swapping the close vicinity of various radiators for outdoor high jinks.

February’s bright side:

Me at Fire & Dust

 

 

 

Fire & Dust and Nine Arches Press open mic: my first feature reading of 2015, alongside Matt Merritt at The Big Comfy Bookshop in Coventry.

 

Matt Merritt at Fire & DustMatt’s reading included several poems from The Elephant Tests (NAP) including one of my favourites from the collection, The Elephant in the Room.

Nine Arches editor Jane Commane read too – a rare treat, as the poetry-packed Leicester Shindig! events seldom allow time for her to showcase her poems.

Penelope Shuttle’s long-awaited headlining at Word! in Leicester on 3rd Feb.  Wow!  I only wish I’d been able to attend her pre-event workshop.  Kathleen Bell’s feature reading finished the first half of the evening with some of her poem sequences.

The List Cause: a Poetry School open online workshop.  I wrote a poem.  (There’s a plait in a paper bag in a box in our loft.  It’s been trying to get into a poem for a while…).  It’s been redrafted and workshopped again, since.  It’s recuperating in a subfolder.  It may become two or more poems.

Carol Ann Duffy’s reading as part of De Montfort University’s Cultural Exchanges festival.  Boy, can she play her audience!  I love how she allows the words breathing space, her measured delivery, her deadpan eyeballing of the audience.  The Laureate included several poems from The World’s Wife, my personal favourite amongst her collections.

Rosie Garland’s second headlining at Word!  When she appeared in 2012, she’d just won the Mslexia Novel Competition.  Since then she’s published two novels: The Palace of Curiosities, and Vixen, now out in paperback.  I loved both.  Good, then, to hear excerpts from each as well as several poems.  A consummate performer.

Towards a better balance in life: half term, and a two-night sleepover by all four grandchildren for starters; pottering in the garden, secateurs in hand; a day trip to London (Grayson Perry’s Who Are You? exhibition at the NPG, Portobello Road Market, browsing the magazine shelves at The Poetry Library).

Softening the blow of the latest rejection email (high hopes), is this afternoon’s news that issue 11 of The Lampeter Review is now available to read/download online, with my contributor’s hard copy to follow.  You can read it on ISSU/download it for free, here.

Good stuff to come:

Our daughter’s arrival on Sunday for a week’s stay.

States of Independence on 14th March: DMU’s annual hosting of this independent publishing fair.  A diary highlight.  A stint at the Soundswrite Press table and reading poems from Beyond the Tune as SWP marks its 10th anniversary.

Soundswrite Press goes to Inzine Fest III @The Pod, Coventry on Saturday 21st.

A feature reading, alongside Bare Fiction magazine editor Robert Harper, at Poetry Bites in Birmingham on Tues 24th.  Details here.

The Easter hols: Writing East Midlands Writers’ Conference in Nottingham; a five-day poetry residential in Cumbia; Adam Horovitz at Word! (and this time I can make the afternoon workshop).

Life’s good!  What are you looking forward to, this month?

 

 

 

The Poetry School

As I’ve said before, I thrive on poetry workshops as a kickstart to new writing (to say nothing of the excellent published poetry I’ve read in the process).  Then how come I’ve only recently begun to avail myself of all that’s on offer from The Poetry School?  There are face-to-face, downloadable and online courses to choose from. And there’s CAMPUS, the Poetry School’s social network , currently boasting 1,744 members engaged in poetry conversations through groups ranging from ‘What are you Reading?’ to ‘Web Curios’; from ‘News, Events and Happenings’ to ‘Competitions, Submissions and Challenges.’

There are no travel or accommodation costs to factor in, and ‘a night in’ doesn’t get much better than the free open workshops I’ve participated in to date.  Bookings are on a first-come-first-served basis, so signing up to CAMPUS and their email updates is a help there.  Assignments are posted to participants who then have 5-7 days to draft their poems before uploading them to the group a few days before the two-hour online workshop, facilitated by a group chat facility.  A transcript of the online chat session is made available a couple of days later so you can ponder over critiquing comments.  Writing in response to an assignment with a near deadline often works well for me: there’s little time for procrastination.

My first such was Kim Moore’s Put a Poet in Your Pocket, last May. It was refreshing (if a challenge in itself) to ‘live with’ my chosen published poem for a few days with ‘strict’ instructions to write down nothing in the way of ideas/notes before drafting my own poem in response.  Seven months later, I’m mightily pleased that the resulting poem has found a good home.

I rarely experiment with set forms, so Mosaics from the Broken Mirror – Writing and Revising the Ghazal was a real departure from the norm.  Jason Schneiderman’s excellent essays and the exemplar poems in the assignment made worthwhile reading.  And, who knows, I might someday produce a pleasing poem from the draft that currently hibernates in my WIP sub folder.

Tonight, I’ve another ‘night in’ planned, as participants of The List Cause open workshop will be entering the group chat room at 7PM for a two-hour workshopping session of each other’s list poems with tutor Beverley Nadin.  Bring it on, I say!

Oh, and that’s not all – I’ve signed up for Harry Giles’ open workshop: Beyond English – Poems in Constructed Languages.  So this weekend I’ll be googling Nadsat, Riddleyspeak, Klingon, Zaum and Lapine…