NaPoWriMo 4.23: My Hitman

A quick and very-first-draft one today (which may remain so) – written in response to a prompt in Helena Nelson’s book How (not) To Get Your Poetry Published.

I won’t share what the (clever) prompt is, because you’ll have to buy the book too 😉

My Hitman

We meet somewhere outside, somewhere not-an-office and drink
fancy coffees. She (for they are unlikely to be ‘male’) will ask
difficult questions, smilingly – a disagreeable helper –
challenging my choices, to move the work on.

We will talk not only about the words, but also the style,
the paper, the print, it will be a complete
aesthetic consideration. There will be laughter, some
of it lewd, but the focus will always return.

She will be older than me, perhaps five to ten years,
able to say difficult things in a way I trust.
I will seek her advice, largely accept it,
until I find confidence in my own.

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NaPoWriMo 4.22: The Thereminist Hails a Bus

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Lydia Kavina played some wonderful contemporary classical for theremin, as well as some marvellous sci-fi and mystery classics, like Mars Attacks! and The Day The Earth Stood Still (which I must rewatch – no, NOT the Keanu Reeves one, which was awful – the 1951 film).

We went to St George’s in Bristol last night (who it appears are fundraising for a rather splendid extension), to see this musician:

It was delightful and mesmerising. I particularly enjoyed the Mars Attacks! theme performance for its soundscape-y and dancy/movement quality…

(Also, I was just reminded in watching that title sequence how much I love the Sarah Jessica Parker and Pierce Brosnan scene where they kiss while he has no body, and her head’s attached to her chihuahua’s body – inspired).

My favourite ‘classical’ (written in 1941 though, I think) was Bird of Paradise – which you can listen to here on Spotify (I didn’t know I could embed these here! Always learning…)

And so, I wrote a piece celebrating the thereminist, the instrument and the wonderful way they are played, with the above title – but am keeping it offline, as I might enter it into some things.

As is now tradition, here’s that sign:

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NaPoWriMo 4.11: Looking Through the Patio Doors at Dusk, April 2016

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“In a terracotta pot, day-/glo plastic pegs cling to the edge…”

I liked the NaPoWriMo prompt today – the idea of the last, abstracted line in an otherwise concretely descriptive poem is really useful as an approach…Here’s mine:

Looking Through the Patio Doors at Dusk, April 2016

On the ledge by the fence
the rosemary is thin
the lavender long-unfragranced
all just pricey twigs.
In a terracotta pot, day-
glo pegs cling to the edge,
some snapped, some twisted. 
A lantern with star-shaped holes
its tealight becoming an ancient 
island with one burnt-out tree.
Drips queue on the washing line. 
Everywhere the rich are 
cocooning themselves.

NaPoWriMo 4.2: Anything You Do Say

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“It said it was from IKEA…” (And this picture is from there).

Day two for NaPoWriMo, and something I started yesterday. I looked through some lists of prompts and decided to write a poem which tells a story, in 18 lines or fewer, and which mentions at least four proper nouns.

This was inspired by a detail I noticed, a couple of weeks ago – and wrote down in the back of my notebook (as part of an ongoing list of details), as advised by Natalie Goldberg in the exellent Writing Down the Bones. Here’s my day two poem (day three to follow):

Anything You Do Say

He couldn’t decide what to charge it for, but still
picked it up from the corner of Horse
fair and Union, pot
and all
(it said it was from IKEA). Just loitering there,
nobody paying it much heed,
but he could see

it might be up to something. Yet not knowing
what he should or could put on the paperwork,
whether it would fall under Solicitation
for Immoral Purposes (for who did it solicit
but the Sun?),
or Causing Affray (because
was it really in anyone’s way?). So h
e pressed
its head down as he
took it, strapped it in.

Nobody stopped to watch. Now it lies
in the corner
, (variegated leaves waving
suspiciously) reflecting
in the black
of his widescreen TV. He offers it water
once a day. He feeds it
with caution.
He wonders still what it’s in for.

NaPoWriMo 4.1 – The Crumb Museum

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“A bright seed…”

It’s April – and that means National Poetry Writing Month…And I’ve decided to really commit again this year.

I’ll be putting up brand-new just-written poems, some of which I’ll then take down and polish to send off elsewhere, some of which will stay as forever works-in-progress. (Because that’s how it works…)

Some days I’m going to use the NaPoWriMo prompt, and others I’m going to try out new ones (from various resource books), those from Jo Bell’s 52 Project or – at the wise advice of Philip Gross in a Poetry School podcast – to delve back through my notebooks at fragments, details, early ideas, and see what might come of them with a bit more focus.

Yesterday’s prompt was to write a Lune – which is actually 5/3/5 syllables. But in a Friday rush, and probably having had a Friday beer, I thought Lunes were 3/5/3. (And this does come from an earlier fragment (crumb?) in my notebook.)

So I present a poem in Inverted Lune form – still a form, just not quite the one I’d intended:

The Crumb Museum

I shook it
upside-down, that day
it caught fire:

its archive
from the black basement
billowing,

setting off
the smoke alarm’s song,
charcoaling.

But beneath
its unplugged structure - 
The Curator.

Reclusive,
her eight able limbs
busily

catalogued
these relics of bread.
The sour-dough

of last year.
Hovis Best of Both
(reduced aisle).

A bright seed
excavated from
a bagel

like a jewel
in a bright casing
of new silk.

Write Off (Spring)

A quick note to say my Write Off sessions will be starting again on Tuesday 1st March.

The sessions are open to all young people from 15 – 25 years old. As in the last sessions  (where we tried everything from haiku to surrealism and concrete poetry) we’ll be exploring different creative reading and writing approaches for fun, confidence-building, self-expression and reflection.

April is also National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) – so we’ll be delving into the prompts and resources on offer to see how they might inspire our own writing experiments!

Write Off Info Poster March 2016

Hands

A poem of mine, ‘Hands’,  has just gone up on Folia Magazine online – you can read it here.

The poem came out of a workshop a couple of years ago in Leeds, with writer and facilitator Rommi SmithThe starting point was smells – for me, the Vaseline Intensive Care in the first stanza (with the second part leading on from that). 

Folia’s aim is to “foster a deeper appreciation for the poetry of life, death, and medicine” – which was why I submitted this piece. It’s a poem which moves around in time, with a childhood memory of driving in the car with my Mum (and her hand cream), juxtaposed with a later conversation about her going through chemotherapy.

I hope my Mum doesn’t mind this being ‘out there’; in some ways it’s not my experience to write about (though the conversation was, I guess). She dealt with the process of treatment with incredible humour and courage – so I hope the poem evokes this powerful being, who can (and does) deal with whatever life throws at her.

Write Off returns…

Write Off Info Poster 2016A quick note to say that my young people’s writing group Write Off is carrying on, on Tuesdays 17.00 – 18.30 at Beatroot Cafe on Lower Park Row.

The group is for anyone aged 16-25 who feels their writing, wellbeing and creativity would benefit from taking part. It’s a small and friendly group, in a cosy setting (with great tea and cakes).

We’ve been exploring a wide range of approaches to writing and reading; different ways to stimulate our creativity, reflection and play.

If you or someone you know would like to join – then see you there! My Off The Record email is on the poster above, so get in touch with any queries…