About poetshide

I have been writing consistently for approximately four years, but I have been writing inconsistently for much longer. I am a poet first and foremost, but occasionally write short stories, and I am writing my first novel. In 2009, I had my poem, "It Happened, Today" published in the 'Golden Days' anthology by United Press.

Ramblings on banned books

I’ve got to thank/blame Book Riot for this post.

Over the past fortnight, I have been catching up with a HUGE backlog of podcasts I have been meaning to listen to for months. I listen to them in my car on my way home from work, which takes about 30 minutes. So one podcast can take a couple of evenings to finish. The latest in these catch-ups is from Book Riot. It is from last year, and it briefly mentions parents in Florida requesting books to be pulled from their children’s school because of the promotion of a religion not Christian.

And I realised that there are a fair few Book Riot podcasts that at least once, discuss the fact that parents have requested a book to be banned.

Now, I’m a Brit. I live in the UK, and I suppose I have a sheltered view on these things – but really? Parents getting books banned in schools? I have never ever known that to happen here, not like that anyway.

I would not even expect it.

You don’t want your child to be exposed to a particular book? Request the child to be removed from that particular class, into one where there is a book you are happy for them to read/be exposed to. Simple. Don’t go badgering the already pressured/stressed/under-appreciated/authority-robbed teachers!

Now, the whole issue of books being banned is one I am fascinated by. So many times it has been said that words are powerful, and that books are powerful. It’s true.

I had a very brief and totally not cross referenced or verified look at general book banning across the world, although all of the books I will talk about here are English language. With the exception of one or two, almost all at some point have probably been banned in the USA, UK & Ireland and Australasia in some form or another. Here is a link to Airship with an interesting article on books that remain banned or restricted.

I will begin with The Bible. I am a committed Christian, so it is an obvious one for me. It offends basically everyone: Jesus’ teachings, life, death and resurrection is too radical for people to accept, believe – whatever you want to call it. Illegal in many nations, and sometimes certain translations have been banned!

It got me thinking about Shakespeare & his plays. My breadth of knowledge is limited to Romeo & Juliet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, snippets of Much Ado About Nothing and Taming Of The Shrew. Despite this I know of the following: There is a sex scene, several rather nasty deaths and a bit of swearing in Romeo & Juliet; magic potions, lotions, fairies, a man-donkey and a variety of wrong-partner shenanigans, and a little bit of sweariness; and Hamlet has a power-mad uncle who kills his own brother to take kingship, and his sister-in-law as wife. There’s fighting, treachery and is really quite a dark tale. Yet these are accepted as classics. Shakespeare was a master wordsmith (the English Language wouldn’t exist in the same way without him making stuff up). He has rarely been banned (although these links show that he has in the past!)

I don’t like swearing and foul language. I believe it shows a lack of imagination, occasionally a lack of education and possibly a lack of reading/listening. Instead of banning books because of foul language, use it as a tool to discuss why is it the this language is used. Ask yourself if the book is a reflection on the current social and economic  culture of our times or is the social and economic culture a reflection of what we read? Teach your children that swearing isn’t generally acceptable especially at home (if that’s what you object to), demonstrate to them ways of expression that does not involve swearing.

Use books as tools, as reference points, as knowledge and power.

 

So, ramblings stopped.

Here are a few of my banned-book favourites (or favourite reason for banning), not necessarily in order…

  1. Fahrenheit 451: A book about book-banning (“Fahrenheit 451, the temperature at which books burn”) was banned for questionable language, and issues surrounding censorship, religion & repression. Having read the book myself, I can’t say that the language was particularly questionable – and talk about ironic! Link: Stylist & banned books week website
  2. Black Beauty: A rather bittersweet tale of cruelty and kindness, but it was banned in Apartheid South Africa because of it’s title. ‘nough said. Stylist again
  3. The Diary of Anne Frank: well, this has been banned in a few places for very different reasons including it being “depressing” and for it portraying Jews positively. Links: TelegraphStylist plus B&N
  4. Animal Farm: As well as being banned for years in many Soviet-controlled countries for the obvious political undertones of the novella, it has also been banned in other countries because it has talking pigs. Yes, talking pigs. (You can get some info about this off good ol’ Wiki, but it is a bit sketchy)

Here’s one more, just because it’s a bit daft for being “banned” and amused me whilst looking all this up: Where’s Waldo , some keen eyed book ban-ner found that on one page, there was some flesh showing from the boob-age area of one of the little illustrated people (I’m guessing they sorted this out for the UK release!)

Finally one that just didn’t bother me: John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath has been banned for all sorts of reasons. The reason I’m not bothered? I read “Of Mice and Men” in school for my GCSE’s I hated every millimetre of that book, I could not find anything so boring as that book. So much so I have refused to read anything by Mr Steinbeck since. It is interesting though why it was banned.

So there are my ramblings for the time being. I’ve not done this to offend people, and if I have, it has not been out of malice. Writers throughout centuries have been there to make people think, to look internally at themselves and to question their surroundings & possibly communities and collective beliefs (think:Charles Dickens).

I would love to know if anyone out there knows of other reasons that books have been banned for – the more obscure/obtuse/downright odd the better – and where. Has it simply been the author, the ideas contained, the simple fact that there is a talking animal in it? Let me know. I will attempt to add another related post with some of my faves!

 

 

How re-subscribing has helped me write again

Okay, so it’s not just a new subscription (or, more accurately, a return to a subscription) that has helped me to write again. Lots of things have contributed, including a change in career & working hours, which has given me enough “head space” to read more. I took the decision to take another look at an old favourite, Mslexia magazine.

I’m glad I did; a brand new design with exciting content to match, writing prompts, opportunities and inspiring interviews. I had previously fell out of love with Mslexia because it had become a bit too feminist-socialist for my liking*.

So the new-look magazine has all sorts of writing prompts, both narrative fiction & non-fiction, flash fiction, poetry and more. One section of poetry was about formal verse, in particular, canzone, villanelle and sestina forms.

I love villanelle poems. I love the form and how so many poets have used them wittily to get their point across, or simply to entertain. (Link: an old post on villanelle poems)

A sestina poem was discussed in the magazine, and used as a writing prompt. The ever elusive “Regeneration” poem I have never seemed to fully perfect came running into my mind. So yet another re-write, or more accurately, a reworking of my original poem began:

 

These buildings were beautiful once
Still are, in a way
Lost in regenerative ideals
Apathy and contempt,
Forsaken, forgotten
left to rot and decay

Facades crumble with decay –
bricks and mortar once
steadfast, sniffed at with contempt
permissive planning ideals
left alone, forgotten
as Progress tried to carve its way

History and sentiment stand in the way
And gradings only help to further decay
these heartlands of deprivation, driving contempt
for districts once
grand and well-heeled. Ideals
of modernity packing old memories into forgotten

dusty boxes in rooms in forgotten
annals of office or apartment blocks that once
were a decay
in the mouth of a city already treated with contempt
as The Armpit of The North, a dirty hole to be hidden away
after decades of pursuing different ideals

too radical for the politicians, whose unforgotten ideals
once tough as iron now burn with the contempt of the The New Way
Regeneration is over; dig out the decay, plaster the cavity in paint

 

It’s still a bit clunky in parts, and I will work on that, but I think sestina poems might be my new poetry-crush!

 

 

 

*Now don’t read this wrong. I am a woman. I do not believe that I can only be “completed’ by a man (and yes, I am heterosexual), but neither do I buy into the opposite, the, “we must do everything by ourselves, forget men – in fact hate them all” Germaine Grier kind of feminism that has plagued women’s rights and women’s issues for decades.

I am a woman who believes that I can do anything through God who created me, and by Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

I also believe that we can all be feminists. Male and female. It’s a matter of perspective. That is what Mslexia has done so well in their re-design. They’ve shifted perspective – they are still feminists, but less “we hate men” and more “we can do this – who’s with us ladies!!”

 

 

 

New Year, New Ideas, New writing?

Hello readers!

Well it’s been a while hasn’t it?

Sorry for that, the last 6 months of 2015 became rather busy for me, what with 3 weddings to attend (in 6 weeks), being a trader at 5 Christmas craft fairs over 5 weekends, a new job and Christmas festivities, I don’t seem to have stopped!

If you remember from my last posts, I was having some problems writing a poem for my cousin’s wedding…well I managed it. I was quite proud of it, and I would say it is one of my best. I also managed to surprise many of the guests that it was my own creation!

So for 2016, I plan to do a bit more writing, creating a website and general business plan for my jewellery business, and being more creative in general! I’ll let you know how I get on!

 

I hope everyone has a healthy and safe 2016

 

God Bless

 

xxx

Deadlines….I’ve done it!

Well my last post was almost 12 weeks ago, and at the time I had nothing in terms of a poem for my cousin and his fiancée.

About 2 weeks ago, I finished the poem! I still did what I usually do, wrote it, left it (for a couple of days instead of weeks!), wrote and edited it a bit more and…finished!

I have a small whiteboard in my bedroom which I bought ages ago as a sort of poem-mood-board come poetical sketchbook. I recommend getting a cheapish one to every part-time poet and even full-time ones! It’s a great thing to scribble a line or theme on, leave alone for a couple of days, yet always coming back to it, adding stuff to it and repeating the process until, voilà, a poem is conceived and born!

The final piece was well received by the couple who I gave the final draft to. I am now needing to rehearse it before the big day.

But at the moment, I have headresses to finish for my best friends wedding 4 days after my cousins’!  

Deadlines (or how this year is running out!)

Last August my cousin and his girlfriend got engaged (ya!). They have booked the wedding for September this year. 

A few months ago they asked me to do a reading – an absolute honor – and asked if I could write a poem for them. I said yes…

…then left it alone for AGES…

I wrote a line or two. Left it alone.

And realised that I haven’t read anything to influence or inspire me…I have 3 months to write a polished piece.

How I write is quite loose. I write a piece, either story or poem, leave it for a couple of weeks, review, re-write and repeat. I don’t have much time to do this. 

So I got out my anthology books with poetry about everything from apples to zoo keepers and everything inbetween and got to reading.

I’ve managed to get some inspiration from The Bard (Kiss Me Kate is right – you do have to brush up your Shakespear!) et al, but I have to get my head down and write!!!

Generate Nerve-Shredding Story Tension—Power of the Secret-Keeper

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 9.47.12 AM Image via the award-winning show “House.”

It’s tempting for us to create “perfect” protagonists and “pure evil” antagonists, but that’s the stuff of cartoons, not great fiction. Every strength has an array of corresponding weaknesses, and when we understand these soft spots, generating conflict becomes easier. Understanding character arc becomes simpler. Plotting will fall into place with far less effort.

My POV? All memorable stories are character-driven. Plot merely serves to change characters from a lowly protagonist into a hero….kicking and screaming along the way.

One element that is critical to understand is this:

Everyone has Secrets

To quote Dr. Gregory House, Everybody lies.

All good stories hinge on secrets.

I have bodies under my porch.

Okay, not all secrets in our fiction need to be THIS huge.

Secret #1—“Real” Self Versus Authentic Self

We all have a face we show to the world, what we want others to see…

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NaNoWriMo-the preparation begins

It has been months since I have written anything, my most recent being a poem about the men who were involved in the D-Day landings. So when an email from the lovely people from (inter) National Novel Writing Month skipped its way into my inbox this week, encouraging past nano-ers to prepare for another year’s madness- I mean month of glorious writing greatness!- that I thought, why not? I did it a couple of years ago, and loved every second of it.
I wasn’t able to do it last year due to holidaying and bridesmaiding in Australia with my best friends (one of whom emigrated there three years ago).
Through twitter and facebook, I was kept up to date with the latest from the write-ins, online word sprints and other nano-2013-related shenanigans, and I was disappointed that I didn’t have the time to do it all!
So this year, I have cleared my diary, made sure that I do not have any special birthdays/anniversaries/chores to be available for throughout November, and made a conscious decision to go whole-heartedly into 30 full days of WRITING!!!!

Seventy Years – remembering D-Day

Seventy Years
6th June 2014

These are the shores that
Spilled young men into
Battle-laden sea
To land in Omaha, Utah, Juno
Gold and Sword
Fighting for Freedom, Equality
Brotherhood

These are the men
Still standing proud
Our heroes of defence
Their final formal remembrance
As age now takes a grip
While distant voices of lost comrades
Sing “Abide with Me.”

M. Coulthard

A short tribute to the veterans of D-Day, and the memory of those who did not come back home.

Chameleon Queen – Picture it and write

It’s been a while since I’ve contributed to one of these, and as per usual, its a week or so late.

Here’s the picture from http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/picture-it-write-29/

Source: A Touch of Class

You do not know what I look like. I am invisible.

I hide in the shadows of the night. The moon my guide, the stars my crown.

You take me for granted, and you don’t know my name.

I am sleep.

Hear me snore…