Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Free Writing Idea

I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression. Dylan Thomas

I'm biased of course, being welsh too, but I love the poetic construction of this sentence as much as the theatre of it: and my enquiry is... and my problem us... and my effort is...

We all write for reasons but often don't take the time to articulate them. Free write for 10 minutes, starting with the phrase:

My enquiry is...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Daily Writing Prompts

During the month of November there's another opportunity to be part of the 'Your Messages' collaborative writing project that took place during November 2007. The format is slightly different this year and you can check out the details by clicking on the link below.

Your Messages is Back!

While all the prompts will be in prose, but only 30 words long this time as opposed to the 300 word pieces from the original book, Messages, there's nothing to say that you can't write a 30 word poem in response, or a poem of any length that you can post on this blog.

Someone has already commented that this is a great way to deal with a dreary November, so why not make a committment to write 30 (or 300) words every day, whether you post them online or not?

Hope to read your work at Your Messages and here at AppleHouse too.

Monday, October 20, 2008

October Poetry Prompt 2 - Islands

I spent last weekend at the Poetry on the Lake Festival at Orta San Giulio in Italy, a place to fall in love with. Here's a shot of the Isla San Giulio in the middle of Lake Orta:

taken from the Piazza Motta:

where you can sit and eat and drink and people watch from the time you get up to the time you go to bed. Just my kind of place!

The island's a very short ferry ride away and the ferry captains take you around the tiny island before landing at the steps leading to the Basilica. There are currently seventy nuns living on the island which made me think how islands are often thought of as places of retreat. On the other hand, islands can also be places of abandonment.

What does the word 'island' mean to you? Brainstorm for associations, ideas and references and see what arises. The challenge is to write a poem that makes some kind of reference to an island, literally or metaphorically.

Good luck.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

October Poetry Prompt 1 - Signs


Now five have come to dine
off the steady banquet of pink geranium;
the only sound is the whir of their wings.
Soon it will be autumn.

One is a window washer on scaffolding;
it pauses as though to sigh
before cleaning the next section.

But something, as always,
will abruptly reel up the ropes of summer.

Ann Iverson

from Come Now to the Window
© Laurel Poetry Collective 2003

This collection is unavailable in the UK, but take a look at the Laurel Poetry Collective site, above, and check The Book Depository for her recent collection, Definite Space : Poems (Holy Cow! Press 2007)

We all find signs in our lives. Ann Iverson understands that summer will end soon when she watches the hummingbirds. I like the way she parallels the actions of one bird with that of a window cleaner, and that comparison leads us into the wonderful metaphor that closes the poem. And isn’t the line break after sigh/ just so good? We also pause for breath to before moving on to the next section. I also admire the way the poem 'diminishes' in size, from a four line stanza, to three lines, to a closing couplet, so the form itself suggests a drawing to a close.

Can you write a poem that parallels the world of flora or fauna with the human experience, and which also marks or explores the end of something? It doesn’t have to be a season. It could be a relationship, a journey, a way of thinking… there are endless possibilities.

I look forward to reading your insights.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

September Prize Poem

I've spent more time reading the poems this month because one poem in particular kept calling me back, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't overlooking anything in the other poems. Re-reading them all has been rewarding and here are a few observations:

From 'Kitten' by Martin Cordrey:
Their love for me has taken flight

The wonderful iambic rhythm of this line adds just the right amount of lyricism and longing.

From Charlotte Segaller's 'Chair':
the strike of our sudden cold grief
The single syllable words (strike/cold/grief) drive home the emotion.

3. Linda W's masterful rhymes in 'Goodbye Paris Flat'. Effortless for the reader and serving, not dominating, the poem as a good rhyme scheme should.

The poem that I kept returning too however is Martin Cordrey's 'Going Home'. It's only 14 words and rather enigmatic. What's the ball of fire? Something vibrant and exciting that the narrator regrets leaving? Something destroyed and abandoned? But there's the break after ball/ on the second line, and we use 'ball' in the sense of 'having a ball', or a whale of a time. And the phrase 'Going Home' contains such resonance for most people, returning to the place of our birth, or to the place we are loved, to our roots, a source. So, is it the city or home that calls the narrator - where does the longing lie? Is he torn between two loves?

I don't need the answers to all these questions. It's enough that the poem provoked them and became a part of my life. Surely that's what we all want to happen to our own poems, that they enter someone else's world and add to it in some way?

Congratulations, Martin. If you email me (lynne@lynnerees.co.uk) with your postal address I'll put your 'prize' in the post.

Going Home

I left the city I love
for home – a ball
of fire behind me.

Martin Cordrey