Lyrical beauty, decomposing poets and butterflies

The New Mills Poetry Trail Open Mic Event – The Butterfly House at The Torrs, New Mills, by Nicola Hulme

As the setting sun filled the evening sky with a spectacular orange glow, I drove through the Derbyshire lanes to a small town nestled against the dramatic backdrop of the Peak District. I was on my way to celebrate the New Mills Poetry Trail with an evening of open mic poetry.

The residents of New Mills extended a warm welcome to the “outsiders” from Stockport’s Write Out Loud group; they even extended their arms to a poet from who hailed from the far reaches of Glossop, such a friendly bunch.

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Held in the beautifully ornate Butterfly House at the Torrs Hotel, poets spilled out into neighbouring rooms such was the amazing turn out. It was heart-warming to see so many people of varying ages and backgrounds coming together to share in their passion, to hear and be heard. Remarkably, for such a large gathering, the atmosphere still remained intimate, reminiscent of stories told around the fireplace.
Published poets, new poets, experienced performers and those, like I, who still shake inwardly when approaching the mic, came together in a shared appreciation of the spoken word. Topics conveyed ranged from the pastoral pleasures of a slow canal walk, the heartaches of unrequited love, through to the surprise of eight family members surviving their first holiday together without anyone’s demise! For our delight we were told how Wordsworth’s decomposing body made fine fertiliser for the daffodils and allotment gardeners cried out for insect genocide, namely the extinction of the Cabbage White. The strength of Manchester was praised in a salute to the bees and conversations overheard at Costa were mulled over between drinks.

It was interesting to observe how we write as introverts, cocooned individually honing our craft, yet, on nights such as these, when we share our lines a new beauty emerges. Like a butterfly spreading its wings for the first time verbalising our humanity, vulnerabilities, passions and fears we create something new and more captivating together. We create a place of trust, empathy and support where smiles, nods and applause say “Yes, we understand, we have experienced the same and can relate to you.”

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IPhones, technology and social media may play a huge part in our daily life but it’s reassuring to know the poetry scene is very much alive and well, uniting communities. On this night the people of New Mills and the surrounding areas turned their backs on box set binging and X-Factor warbling, preferring to spend time with friends in a lyrical wonderland.

I’d like to say thank you to Randy Horton and his team of volunteers for organising the Poetry Trail and the open mic evening. Thanks also to the shopkeepers who supported the event by allowing poems to be displayed in their windows and of course to the people of New Mills for coming together and making it a night to remember. I hope we can do it all again next year.

Review is about New Mills Festival Poetry Trail Round Robin on 26 Sep 2018 (event)

Visit @writeoutloud for details of your local poetry groups.

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A Muggle’s Spell

Yesterday, at Harry Potter Day held, at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery, I promised the spell-writing children that I would create a spell poem from the unique ingredients they conjured up. Here it is in all it’s glory;

 

A Muggle Spell

by Nicola Hulme

hogwarts

 

A muddle of magical muggles,

A sensational spectacular scene,

Wizarding costumes everywhere

An incredible Hogwarts dream.

Quill-Paper-and-Wax

 

Unique ingredients invented,

Imaginations running wild

Spells cast on the unwitting

By a most innocent looking child.

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Heads were filled with potions,

Hands quilled beautiful lines.

It warmed the heart to see their smiles

Though mischief was on their mind …

 

Here’s a list; a bizarre selection

of the ingredients captured that day,

a spell written to bond and bind them

for good or evil, who can say?

Into the cauldron

 

Into the cauldron dark and deep

Add a snore from a big sleep.

Add the wing from a hippogriff

This will make the mixture stiff!

Hippogriff-5e

 

Two purple ants, two Muggle eyes

Fan the flames until bubbles rise.

Killer’s blood, just a drop,

Add a teaspoon of troll snot!

Spider eyes and Hagrid’s beard

beard-hagrid

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a potion wild and weird.

A feather from a phoenix wing

Spit from snake, keep stirring!

dragon claw

 

Nails from a dragon’s toes

(You might want to hold your nose)

Finally a giggle of newt’s laughter

To give us the spell that we are after….

 

 

Ingredients provided by the children of Hogwarts Stockport

on Harry Potter Day 11th February, 2018

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.

bee

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.

 

Lost socks

A later post than usual; today my son turned 5 years old, so birthday cake, balloons and presents stopped Napowrimo play. Normal service will resume soon. 

It’s Day 13 and the challenging prompt for today was:

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.

My response:

Have you seen my socks?

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“Have you seen my socks?

They are not here. I need some clean socks”

“What kind of socks are you looking for;

Sports socks, work socks, “going out” socks?”

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“The black ones!”

“Is that black sports socks, black work socks or black “going out” socks?”

“Damn it woman, I’m going to be late!

The Black work socks! I need the black work socks!”

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“And did you put those lost black work socks in the wash?

Or are they the dirty, black, thrown-on-the-bathroom-floor socks?”

“I put them in the wash basket!

The ones on the bathroom floor are sports socks.”

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“Here they are, in front of your nose;

the lost black work socks that Nic had to wash and put-in-your-drawer socks.”

 

Blood, blood everywhere!

With a slightly gothic twist, here is my response to the Napowrimo challenge on Day 11

The Prompt: 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.

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Midday Feast

It’s 11 am and I can’t sleep.

I’ve tossed and turned for hours.

My stomach growls, gurgles, groans.

It pleads with me, begs me to feed the need.

I’m coffin bound, I can’t roam around.

In this light how do I find my next victim?

Blood, Blood everywhere and not a drop to drink.

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I could bang on the wood, yell for help,

In the hope the prey comes to me.

As they enter the gloom, a quick puncture wound

I can almost taste them now.

Perhaps I can find a cover, to shield my skin

venture out in the midday sun?

Sneak up from behind, grab a quick bite.

Oh for a pint or two! Right now a kitten would do!

Blood, Blood everywhere and not a drop to drink.

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But I have no cover, nothing I can use

So I lie prostrate in this box.

Its 2017, you would think I would learn

To prepare for this eventuality.

But I am a man. I don’t have a plan.

I shall just have to wither away, until dark marks the end of day.

Blood, Blood everywhere and not a drop to drink.

 

Fortuitous Festive Feast

When does prose become prose poetry or vice versa? Where is the line drawn between prose poetry and free verse? Does any of this matter? Perhaps the poets out there can enlighten me?

I’m classing my response to today’s Napowrimo challenge as an artistic expression, free from limitations, simply so I can complete the challenge on a day where I’m over-stretched…sorry!

Day 7: Write a poem on luck or fortuitousness

My response:

Fortuitous Festive Feast

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We saw it at the same time.

Halted our march through the grimy slush.

Our toes pinched with cold.

Mum stooped down,

Quickly picking up

the bunched and crumpled papers.

We stood to one side,

letting the throng of shoppers pass.

We waited. We watched.

Time ticked by. Busy bodies bustled by;

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a constant stream of upturned collars,

chins tucked in, heads down,

red noses glowing in the fading light.

Clouds of breath rose in the icy air.

Confident no-one was looking

for a lost bundle, we slid

into a small side street.

Huddled together, mum drew out

the tightly wrapped notes.

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Ghostly white, trembling fingers

unfolded the green notes, one by one.

It was Christmas Eve,

The cupboards at home bare.

Now we held enough money

To buy Christmas dinner, pudding

and still have some left over.

Mum stifled a laugh.

The Christmas lights swaying

in the bitter wind,

looked brighter, prettier

but not as pretty as

mum’s tear filled eyes.

She looked up to the sky,

said a silent prayer

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then grabbed my hand

dragging me, running, skipping

back to the market to buy

our fortuitous festive feast.

 

Fireside Tales and Folklore

Yesterday, I spent the day in heaven. I was surrounded by nature. I was in the company of creative writers with a passion for the written word. I was  taught by a master of the craft.

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Joy Winkler, the former Cheshire Poet Laureate, ran a masterclass in re-writing myths and legends with a modern twist, from the grounds of a beautiful National Trust Park. 

 

From the minute I entered the gates of Tatton Park, I was inspired. The tree-lined driveway leads past reindeer, quietly grazing in the morning haze. It continues on to the impressive architecture of the old hall, then on through farmland. I actually stopped the car on the drive to have a “moment” with an adult deer, which stopped eating, looked up and made eye contact, gently tipping his head to one side as he did. By the time I got to the car park, I was peaceful, relaxed and ready for a day’s writing.

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To add to my bliss, there is a very short walk through a tree canopied pathway, which is one of my favourite spots in the park.

As I turned onto the path, I was greeted by crowds of golden daffodils, with heads swaying in the breeze.

blog112.jpgPink and white blossom trees shed their petals as the wind rocked their branches. They fell like wedding confetti as I walked by.

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Turning in to the stable courtyard, deep purples and violets burst from the filled planters, vibrant crimson crept up the exterior walls of the kitchen gardens.

What a welcome.

Reluctant to leave the fresh air and sunshine but excited to join the writers; I entered the classroom, which for today was a converted barn. A few people had arrived. There was a lovely atmosphere as everyone greeted each other and settled themselves down with cups of tea and coffee. Joy is a wonderfully personable lady, who has the comforting presence of an old friend, from the first moment you meet her.

spell writing

She began her lesson in re-writing old myths and legends. She introduced the topic of our own family stories which had been handed down the generations, told and re-told perhaps by the fireside, perhaps as bedtime stories. Changing the time period, slowing the pace, embellishing with detailed descriptions were techniques discussed.

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Following a writing exercise the group read out their work. I always enjoy hearing how others have interpreted the prompt. Their personalities are revealed by glimpses of their passions and fears, it’s fascinating to hear and observe.

I very quickly realised I was in the midst of very accomplished writers, people who loved their craft and were passionate lovers of literacy. I learnt more than expected from the lively conversation as we shared our experiences and knowledge. It was a dream to spend the day with book lovers and creative minds.

After lunch, a walk around the gardens, more writing, readings, and discussions, the day came to a close. Everyone was reluctant to leave. It was a perfect day, in the most wonderful surroundings, with the best company.

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I’m very grateful to have been part of the magic and will treasure the memory – perhaps I may tell the tale to my children and grandchildren in years to come… with an added elf, monster, wizard and princess, of course.