From new girl to “writer”

A creative breakthrough at my local writing group; promotion from “new girl” status to “meeting chair” albeit for one session only (for now, but I can dream!)

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Is this validation that my writing and knowledge has reached a point worthy of sharing with other writers? If so, couldn’t be more thrilled!

Last year, I joined a writing group; Stockport Writers, based at the very beautiful Stockport Hatworks Museum. We meet once a month to write with various prompts to help stir the creative juices. 

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One of the charms of this writing group is it’s ever-changing attendee list. Some group members have been attending since the group first formed, others have joined over the past year; some new members are just beginning their writing journey.

Each writer has their own unique skill set, genre, preferred writing style. From the impact of short stories, to the challenge of a novel, everyone has their own path. Whether editor or poet, college student or student of life, who writes purely for the pleasure in doing so, all are welcome. It’s a magical mix.

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Each month, a writer leads the group through the session; from free-writing warm up, to a reading of last month’s homework (or any other piece) through to the use of prompts, followed by more readings, and finally the closing prompt or exercise to close.

When I was asked to step up to the role at next month’s meeting, I was honoured to do so. It’s an absolute privilege.

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Now all I need to do is come up with a plan of what topics we can cover. Errrrmmmmm…

Any ideas from fellow writers? 

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Success; I Did It! Napowrimo 2017 (with a short sprint to the finish line!)

It’s the last day of Napowrimo. It’s the last day of my first year and first attempt of the Napowrimo challenge. I was doing so well throughout April, submitting a poem each day, until the last few days. Life got in the way as it tends to do and I was distracted. However, I’m not a girl to give up so easily, once a gauntlet has been thrown down, so here on my final Napowrimo post, you will find not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 4 poems, which complete the challenge.

Day 27 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem that explores your sense of taste.

My Response:

Heaven In A Tea Cup

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First the crunch satisfies.

The chocolate drops close my eyes,

as pleasure begins to rise

and swirls around inside me.

A cup of tea to wash down

the jewel in this perfect crown.

No greater pleasure is found

than a cookie and a cup of tea.

Day 28 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem using Skeltonic verse.

My Response:

Never Give Up

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Napowrimo has almost ended.

During April my mind has bended.

My honour now must be defended,

as I finish these final days.

The last three days, I’ve lagged behind.

I must complete the final deadline.

Whether or not it actually rhymes,

I don’t think anyone actually minds!

Day 29 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

My Response:

(From To Autumn, by John Keats, the word “mists”)

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The mist lies above the lawn,

hovering; a spectral form.

Beautiful yet surreal scene,

mystic haze, a ghostly dream.

 

Day 30 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem about something that happens again and again

My Response:

Sweet Addiction

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Again and again

I give in

to temptation.

All it takes is

a mere suggestion,

of sweet treats.

Destroys all

my good intentions.

I can’t resist 

the taste sensation.

 

That’s it. 30 poems written in 30 days. Would I do it again? Maybe. I need a lie down before I think about answering that. Were the poems any good? Some have potential, some need to be filed under “rubbish” immediately. It’s been a fantastic experience and I have learnt a lot. The main lesson, is that a good poem takes time. A first draft to meet a deadline is fine, but to produce something good needs time to ruminate, cogitate and deliberate. Poetry can’t be rushed.

Now for that lie down. 

Tinned People

I enjoyed writing this one, the concept amuses me.

Napowrimo Challenge Day 26

The Prompt:

Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us? Today, I’d like to challenge you to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist? 

My Response:

Tinned People

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Little tins of people drive by;   

some are big, some are small, some long.  

At all times of the night and day,  

little tins are moving along.  

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Some are packed and chattery.

Others contain a single one.

Where are you going tinned people?  

Tell me, where did you all come from?

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From left to right, a constant stream  

of shiny black and silver cars.

What do you know? What have you seen?

Do you think there is life on Mars? 

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My questions fall on deaf tinned ears, 

as the tins keep moving on. 

Not a “hello” or “cheerio” 

From a single, solitary one.

 

Remote Space

Napowrimo Challenge: Day 25

The Prompt:

Write a poem that explores a small, defined space – it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos. It could be the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand. Any space will do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to you.

My Response:

 

Remote Space

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Warm sunbeams stream through the windows

bathing my room in golden light.                                             

Propped by plumped, puffy pillows.

Nested, I settle down to write.

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A peaceful retreat tucked away,

so sacred, secure and serene.

Escape from everyday melee,

to conjure, create and dream.

Medieval Marginalia

Napowrimo Challenge Day 24

I initially struggled with this prompt, but once I’d found an angle, it became much easier to write.

The Prompt: 

Write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art…base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts. Here you’ll find some characteristic images of rabbits hunting wolves, people sitting on nests of eggs, dogs studiously reading books, and birds wearing snail shells. What can I say? It must have gotten quite boring copying out manuscripts all day, so the monks made their own fun. Hopefully, the detritus of their daydreams will inspire you as well!

My Response:

 

Hollow

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A young boy, bent and twisted

over a dimly lit desk, peers at the page.

The candle flickers.

Stiff with cold, his bones ache

from long diligent hours, transcribing reverent texts.

His repetitive days pass in silent gloom.

His quill scratches hairy parchment with thin ink.

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Original thoughts are not required,

Nor dreams or ambition.

Bound by his vow of celibacy,

he will never know the passion of young love.

Hunger and starvation pains his body, pains his soul.

Neglect and lack of sustenance drive him

to the point of defacing the page

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with subversive medieval marginalia.

Supressed dreams, desires and anger merge

revealing his inner torment.

Offensive images of vulgarity spill out onto the page.

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He longs to run away from the sordid squalor,

from the dark, cold and damp monastery.

To stretch his legs, straighten his back,

feel sun on his face as he runs into the arms

of one who smiles and cares.

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The monastic life drives him away

rather than draws him nearer to God.

 Are the words he pens so hollow?

 

The Book, The Writer

Day 23 Napowrimo Challenge

The Prompt:

Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. There are some good examples in the link above.

A double elevenie would have two stanzas of five lines each, and twenty-two words in all. It might be fun to try to write your double elevenie based on two nouns that are opposites, like sun and moon, or mountain and sea.

My Response:

The Book

Book

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Almost published

Work in progress

Awaiting illustrations and print

Excited

Writer

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Almost published

Edge of seat

Endlessly pacing the floor

Eager.

Georgic

Day 22 Napowrimo Challenge

The Prompt:

In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to challenge you to write a georgic. The original georgic poem was written by Virgil, and while it was ostensibly a practical and instructional guide regarding agricultural concerns, it also offers political commentary on the use of land in the wake of war. The georgic was revived by British poets in the eighteenth century, when the use of land was changing both due to the increased use of enlightenment farming techniques and due to political realignments such as the union of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Your Georgic could be a simple set of instructions on how to grow or care for something, but it could also incorporate larger themes as to how land should be used (or not used), or for what purposes.

My Response:

Nature

Each blade of grass cools and cushions naked summer feet.

Pure daisy petals inspire children to form chains for halos and crowns.

Scented blousy roses tempt lovers to give away unguarded hearts.

Sage and stately trees steadfastly raise their arms in worship,

whilst housing birds, squirrels and bugs.

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Their roots protecting foxes, badgers and rabbits

in bracken covered burrows and mossy dens.

The bluebells delicate and snowdrops hardy,

the clinging ivy, sheltering scurrying insects,

all withstand the extremes of each season, weathered yet thriving.

Opening and closing in response to the sun,

reaching skyward in praise.

None needs man’s intervention.

Man takes the fruits of their labour to feed his own.

Frustrated that nature is not abundant enough,

not convenient enough, not quick enough

to satisfy man’s demands, he violates the earth.

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Tearing up nature, he manipulates and reforms the land

into ordered geometrical design;

to contain more production in a single acre,

to harness and harvest every last ounce nature can provide.

Like a caged tiger pacing, sleeping, repeating,

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she churns out crops, silently awaiting freedom.

She survives captivity and molestation.

When man has gone, she will flourish once more,

using his decomposed body as nutrients to feed the soil.

The largest, most dominant predators fall,

swallowed up and fossilised by the ground they once trampled.

 

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The roses arise more fragrant.

The bees produce a sweeter honey.

 

 

The Ham Sandwich Incident

I’m human. I confess. Not only did I miss yesterday’s Napowrimo challenge, but as my response will show, when trying to please everyone, I usually get it all wrong!

Please note, unusually for me, there are religious references, but please don’t misinterpret my jest as an intention to offend anyone… if I do, add it to my list of imperfections and please accept my deepest apologies. I merely make light of today’s struggles to keep the faith (particularly mine).

Please could I also ask anyone reading this who knows me personally, please don’t tell my Mother-In-Law I posted this across the entire world wide web, I’m in trouble enough!

Napowrimo Day 20 

The Prompt:

Write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game.

My Response: (with a very loose reference to a card game)

The Ham Sandwich Incident

It was Jack’s 5th birthday

I had everything;

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Bouncy castle, candles,  

balloons, ribbons and bows. 

Birthday cake and presents,  

a great big gazebo.

I had buns for hotdogs,  

pizzas and lots of treats,  

when I was reminded;

no-one will eat meat!

“Today is Good Friday,

everyone eats fish!”

“Your buffet looks lovely

but was fish on your list?”

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Fish finger sandwiches!

Yes, they will surely do.

I pre-heated the oven

and hurriedly set to.

I saw her pick the ham

off the pizza that I served.

Ate fish fingers, hungrily.

Was that a tiny burp?

The party in full swing.

The buffet went down well.

Hotdogs and ham sandwiches

devoured without hard sell.

Mum in law picked her food.

No meat touched her hands.

Eyes darted to the buns,

filled with freshly carved ham.

Yet she was adamant;

It was a day of fish!

Nothing would persuade her

to pass meat across her lips.

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At 5pm I walked in,

her mouth full of ham barm!

She hung her head in shame,

asked; would it do her harm?

“It was only one” she said

“I’m sure you’ll be forgiv’n”

I reassured her more,

that God will surely listen.

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The card game that evening;

she couldn’t win a hand.

She was sure of the cause

“Eating that damned ham!”

She was being punished

for lack of discipline.

Bad juju on her game.

She’d never win again.

As I was the tempter,

I suggested we atone.

Back into the kitchen,

Produced the hot x buns.

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This will surely fix it,

cancel wrong with a right?

She agreed and ate it

with one almighty bite.

I’m glad God in Heaven

was pleased with her once more,

but it was a reminder;

He’s always keeping score.

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Rainbow Child

Napowrimo Day 19

The Prompt:

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.

My Response:

Rainbow Child

 

sunbeams in misty forest

In leafy forest glade,

amongst meadow flowers fair,

heady floral fragrance

hung heavily in the air.

Still, she sat in zenful peace,

as daydreams drifted by.

A breeze blew the tallest leaves

and whispered softest sighs.

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With eyes closed, she observed

a world of scents and sounds.

Then she pushed each thought out

until silent mind was found.

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Maiden so serene and soft,

in state of inner calm,

exhaled long, stretched aloft

her slender ivory arms.

With slight move, turned her face

to the golden orb on high.

Reaching with delicate grace

plucked insight from the sky.

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Again she reached, caught more;

glints of wisdom and of truth.

Pulled each near her fairy form,

where they glowed, brightest hues.

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Nimble fingers worked thereon,

wove gems into ribbon tails.

Multitudes of colours shone

as fluttering bright yacht sails.

Her fingers worked into night.

Ribbons stretched to the stars.

Weaving kindness, peace and grace

into finest work of art.

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The Gods saw the modesty

of this gifted fairy child,

whose work simple honesty,

from a soul so meek and mild.

They raised her up to heaven.

Forever she will remain.

Her ribbons stretch across the sky

when sunlight meets the rain.

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Soft Slumber

Napowrimo Day 16

The Prompt: 

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!

My Response:

Soft Slumber

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Night lead me by the hand

as we climb a twinkling staircase of stars.

Darkness cover me. Tuck me in.

Place a goodnight kiss on my forehead.

Shadows close my heavy eyes.

Guide me into sleep.

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Dreams waltz with me

across an endless sky of velvet black.

Stillness soothe my mind.

Sing me a lullaby of moonlit melody.

Softness sway my soul.

Rock me gently with your sympathetic lilt.

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Peacefulness rise and fall

with every breath, as I slip deeper

into restful slumber.