Dust

A shirt is shaken, sprawled over a board.

Her smile is fixed, eyes glazed

hours pass by as the iron runs.

Life evaporates with the steam.

The corpse is well turned out,

the headstone reads “she kept a tidy house”.

 

Dust piles upon dust

falling layer upon layer

dancing on sunbeams in shafts of light

piercing silent rooms.

Bed clothes lie ruffled.

breakfast pots sit in the sink.

 

No-one cares they run through fields

climb over styles

gather mud on their boots

eat picnics on blankets

whilst the tap drips into a bowl

waiting, waiting, waiting.

 

Wind-blown hair, sun burnt skin,

smiles light up the meadow,

birds chatter along with laughter

on the breeze, the dandelion clock

sends parachutes to mark the hours

of this endless day.

fun in fields

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From there to here

I am of hard cobblestones

that broke developing bones

of damp bricks and dense drizzle skies.

I am of the baggy grey sock

that slumps down the leg

and is constantly hitched up.

I am of skipping ropes tied

to flaky paint lampposts

of hot buttered toast suppers.

I am of backyard washing lines,

coal holes and metal bin lids.

I’m of children home by lamplight

and Grimm Fairytales.

Of job centres and blue collar jobs

and paydays prayed for weekly.

Now, I’m of tidy semi,

tarmac roads, motorway hell

of clinical 9-5 desk job

office politics, niceties, pleasantries.

I’m conditioning brilliant white socks,

limiting lightly buttered whole meal toast.

I’m central heating and condenser dryer.

I’m of assessed, measured, compared,

evaluated, tracked and monitored kids

and censored fairytales.

It’s Day 11 of Napowrimo and the prompt is to tell of where you are from and where are you now. Please excuse the poor punctuation… this is written on the hoof as always.

Open Mic Poetry Night … awaits

I haven’t blogged for ages and for a multitude of reasons, so rather than procrastinate until the cows come home, I’m just going to dive right in to what’s going on in my world, or more specifically my head, right now…

open mic2

 

it’s Open Mic Poetry Night in 16 days…happening on June 13th at 7pm at The Samuel Oldknow Pub in Marple, Cheshire as part of the Marple Book Festival 2018

 

– which is a great thing…. and my poetry group Stockport Write Out Loud are appearing there… which is a fantastic privilege….

but I cannot think of a single thing to write … to read out loud…

only 16 days to go….

where is my muse? Where did you go?????

writers block

 

 

I’m expecting a 3am wake up call with a full verse running through my head any night now….please!

 

 

 

Here’s a list of other events happening during the Book Fair Week… (I’m reading Portia The Pear at the library too – bring your little ones).

marple book fair 2018

 

Move on #Napowrimo #2

Move On

Life is too short and so

to save time,

to be efficient,

einstein

 

I wear an Einstein wardrobe;

white blouse,

black jeans,

boots,

yet

 

flamboyant colour

when a kaleidoscope of colour

flounces before me, I envy

the flamboyance,

briefly.

I indulge in the dream of being

free to reside in sparkling rainbows

simply dancing, with no destination

kicking away scrumpled up “to-do” lists

tossed aside with abandon.

 

einsteins wardrobe.jpg

 

The moment passes.

I console myself;

a books beauty is held on the inside.

I move on.

 

 

This poem was strangely influenced by  an article by Julie Marie Wade, Wednesday, March 18, 2015:  article

“Put a Dog in There: Poetry and the Power of Concrete Nouns”

used as a Napowrimo craft resource. In her essay she discusses the power of including nouns.

 

We interrupt this blog to give you…. #Napowrimo 2018 #1 Threadbare

I’m falling behind rapidly on Napowrimo 2018… which may be a small mercy to my blog readers… however, onwards and upwards… here we go on the catch up…

My first poem of April was inspired by Write Out Loud Stockport’s prompt “Threads”. Although completely unrelated to #napowrimo’s prompts, it’s a chance to get something down on paper and make a start;

Threadbare

biscuit tin photos

Each family member spins a yarn.

Tales told over years are

embellished with brass buttons and ribbon strands.

Sepia memories kept in a Jubilee biscuit tin

are brought out and closely studied

with moist eyes.

 

buttons and ribbons

Though charity shop clothes were worn

until the cuffs frayed,

troubles were patched at the elbows

and spare buttons found, amongst the treasure

in the old treacle tin,

which sat next to bundled knitting needles

best china

 

and china cups, saved for best ”

in case the Queen should come”.

 

 

 

grandma sewing

 

A thimble was all that was needed to protect

the seamstress, until the day she laid down

her work and found rest;

leaving her children and theirs, to pick up

the thread and embroider their own stories,

to pick up the shears and cut their own cloth,

each stitch a priceless and unique addition.

 

 

 

 

How Portia The Pear Found Her Publisher

A friend I met at a writing workshop, asked me recently, how I became published after writing my book. This is a question I’m asked frequently and if this interests you, put the kettle on, get comfortable and I’ll tell you the story of… Portia The Pear. I have to tell you the whole story, because there is an element of luck, fate, or maybe serendipity to this, or perhaps I was ready and willing when the opportunity arose? I’ll let you decide.

I had rediscovered my passion for writing, and fell in love with the craft all over again. I’d also discovered a new level of proactivity, which I’ll discuss in a future blog. With this new energy, I sought out and found a local writing group, Stockport Writers who meet at The Hatworks once a month. I also joined a local poetry group, Write Out Loud, who meet at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery once a month. With the support and encouragement I found discussing writing with like-minded people, my confidence grew and so did my level of passion for the subject.

With this confidence, and heightened awareness of all things literary, I spotted a postcard on a noticeboard at Bredbury Library. It advertised a writing group which met in Marple, every Thursday night called The Storytellers Place. I went along. I was cramming in as much writing, reading and group work as I could, enjoying every minute.

As any woman knows, you share everything with your hairdresser; it’s the law. At each appointment I was babbling on about the writing groups and how fascinating it was and how I wanted to write bedtime stories for children. It was at this point where the magic started to manifest. At one of my appointments my hairdresser gave me a leaflet from Tatton Park advertising their 100 years celebration of the work of Roald Dahl, saying “I saw this and thought of you”. As part of the events taking place, there was a creative writing workshop to be held, called “How To Write Like Roald Dahl”, run by a lady called Joy Winkler. It went on to describe how Joy was Cheshire’s Poet Laureate in 2015. A poet discussing children’s books, it sounded perfect for my master plan of writing a bedtime story. When I looked into the event in more detail I found it was affordable but would mean I needed to book a day’s holiday from work. Up until this time I had always booked days to be off with my children, covering school holidays. However, I was so intrigued, I book the day off and booked myself onto the course whilst feeling like a naughty school girl playing truant!

Roald_Dahls_Matilda

On the day, I drove over to Tatton Park in glorious sunshine, arriving for a 10.30 am start. I then spent the morning with the inspirational Joy Winkler as she taught the techniques for writing for children and exploring how Dahl created his fabulous characters. At lunch time we were sent into the kitchen gardens with the instruction of spending two hours developing characters and writing a story that unfolds in the gardens themselves.

 

The first sight to greet me, as I walked outside was a beautiful row of pear trees trained into perfect lines with the most sumptuous fruit hanging neatly from the branches. I had a closer look and saw each tree had a different “name” and most names were female. A very knobbly pear then caught my eye. It was all scrunched up and had dark freckly skin unlike the rest of the fruit. The shape and twists made it look like a sad face, and I knew immediately that this was my character. I sat quietly and wrote and two hours later read out my story to the group. It was well received and Joy suggested I submit it to a publisher because it had a strong voice. I hope you are paying attention because this is the part that truly is magic.

The very next day, an email popped up telling me that a Children’s Publisher was coming to The Storytellers Place to talk about Independent Book Publishing in the following week. I quickly “Googled” the publisher and found their submission guidelines. I checked that my story was in the format they wanted, a word document. I checked and re-checked it for spelling mistakes and grammar, then drafted a cover email, attached Portia and pressed send. All I had in mind at that point was to ask for some feedback and pointers on what could be improved.

Two gentlemen from Tiny Tree Children’s Book Publishers delivered a presentation to my writing group and nervously I hung behind to speak to them after everyone had left. I then told them I had cheekily submitted my book and asked if they could tell me what they thought. The reply was that they hadn’t read it yet, they had been very busy. “That’s a ‘no’ then” I thought. I went home dejectedly and had a sulky early night.

The very next day, an email popped up this time from the publishers, telling me they loved the book and asking if I could call to the office to discuss it with them. After bouncing around my office like Tigger, I replied and agreed to the meeting.

For what happened next you can read my blog “Feedback and re-writes” dated March 6th 2017 followed by “Validation and Illustration” dated March 13th 2017.

blog6

 

So what do you think? My hairdresser told me of a writing workshop, where I wrote a story and was encouraged to submit it. A writers group introduced me to a publisher, who said “yes”. Was it luck, serendipity or fate? Or was it the amount of work learning the techniques in the months before, that meant I was ready with an almost finished piece of writing when an opportunity arose? I am unsure. I worked hard and put in long hours, but surely the email arriving the day after writing my story announcing a publisher was coming to me, suggests more powerful forces were in play, doesn’t it?

Fate or luck, one thing is certain, to be published you must have first written. As Joy Winkler emphasises “you must sit and write” and who knows where it will lead you, if you do? A great quote from Stephen King sums this up “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

If anyone has any questions on creative writing, the process of being published or simply what to expect at writing groups, please ask. This is my passion and if I can help in anyway, I’d be glad to do so.

Good luck and happy writing.

magic quote

 

 

The Sycamore Prince

Slender branches silhouette

beneath his golden crown.

Sparks thrown out by the silver sun

ignite his flaming hues.

The autumnal prince towers above

ethereal mists, caught between earth and sky.

In a final flourish, passionate embers

of saffron and copper smoulder.

Only to cool as the light fades

and chill winds blow.

Each yellow fingered leaf, I mourn

as it falls and returns to it’s roots.

I will his warming glow to remain

to comfort my spirits during

November’s nip and winters depths.

Knowing my protests cannot halt

ruthless frosts from calling “time”.

November 2017

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

blog9

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

blog5

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”)

bee

 

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

blog5

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

blog12

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.  

bee

Some are packed and chattery.

Others contain a single one.

Where are you going tinned people?  

Tell me, where did you all come from?

blog 21

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? 

b;og7

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

blog 21

Warm sunbeams stream through the windows

bathing my room in golden light.                                             

Propped by plumped, puffy pillows.

Nested, I settle down to write.

blog6

A peaceful retreat tucked away,

so sacred, secure and serene.

Escape from everyday melee,

to conjure, create and dream.