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!!”

 

 

 

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!!!

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.

Frida Kahlo & The Survivors of Symphysiotomy

Symphy- whatnow? I hear you say!

Some of you may have not heard of Frida Kahlow.

All of you will wonder why I’m putting the two together.

The following link will explain the latter – Beware some graphic descriptions http://uk.news.yahoo.com/just-27-butchered-symphysiotomy-survivors-own-words-175701507.html#TTnHMvm

This link will explain Frida Kahlow a little better http://www.fridakahlo.com/

What you may not know is that one of the handrails on the trolley-bus Frida was riding when the crash happened, ended up exiting her groin.

In 2010-2011, Pascale Petit (http://www.pascalepetit.co.uk) published her fifth collection “What the Water Gave Me – poems after Frida Kahlow,” Poems inspired by Kahlow’s paintings (Petit is a visual artist by background), and often written in Kahlow’s voice – or something similar.

I saw Petit at the Cheltenham Literature Festival 2012, reading from the collection, and explaining some of Kahlow’s background. (It is also the first time I have ever been star-struck. A geeky way I know, but I stood there, having my copy signed and grinning like a loon! That is another story though)

In the collection is a poem called “Remembrance of an Open Wound,” the full poem can and should be read in “What the Water Gave Me” which also gives context, but this poem immediately came to mind when I read about the Symphysiotomy Survivors. Here is a small excerpt:

Neither of us knows
when the petrol tank will explode.
You say I’ve decorated my house
to recreate the accident –
my skeleton wired with fireworks,
my menagerie flinging air about.
…It’s time to pull the handrail out.
I didn’t expect love to feel like this –
you holding me down with your knee,
wrenching the steel rod from my charred body
quickly, kindly, setting me free.
(Pascale Petit, 2010)

 

Hopefully, out of all this will come good, and changes will happen to women’s health across the world.

 

 

Picture it and write – sweet dreams

A couple of weeks ago, Ermilia (http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com) posted the following picture up for Picture it and Write

floating-bed

Click here for the full details http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/picture-it-and-write-7/

Well, it took me all that time to think of something to write. I knew I had to because it was such an inspiring picture (and quite possibly, I may write more under this inspiration).

Well, this is what I have initially started with. It’s a little dark and surreal but it is also inspired by my own dreams. Please note, due the theme in this, I suggest this not be read by under-16’s

Sweet Dreams

Dreams float on water currents

Tracking rivers to the source

Travels like backpackers in foreign lands

Resting like former royalty in once grand beds and chambers

Trapped as a sleeping princess

Awaiting Prince Charming

Trudging thigh-high in dank water

Pulling nightmares away

Soothing the distress from

What was witnessed by the owl and the pussycat

Kissing her awake to the sound of

Waterfalls and troubled waters

Then carry her to her own

Satin-covered four-post bed.

Picture it and write – Masqueless

With a great thanks to http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com for another wonderful suggested picture for this week’s picture it and write.

ladywhite

Click here http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/__picture-it-write-61/  for the link to this week’s picture it and write and to read more about this picture

Masqueless

I slipped my shell; bone hard

Impenetrable

Exposed my real self; fragile

Vulnerable in this thick dark water

The only light from my alabaster

Heart hammering signals in Morse-code

SONAR warning of enemy shipwrecks

With faces like my old self

This blackness doesn’t frighten me

My past is easily left there

The future is somewhere ahead

me, a blog and a big black dog

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If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been the last few weeks/months, I can assure you I haven’t disappeared off the face of the planet; however, I have been hiding in a cave from a big black dog.

In March this year, I was diagnosed with stress-related depression. At that moment, six months of brain-fog, loss of concentration and reading ability, drop in motivation and chaotic prioritisation all made sense.

I had not seen that train coming, and it floored me.

 

Oddly, there seems to be a relationship between writers and depression. I am not saying all writers have depression, or that they should, but that there are a lot of writers who are followed by that black dog. Just looking at Amazon.co.uk brought up a ton of books about writers, depression, and – most famously – Winston Churchill, who has been quoted to say that he was followed by a black dog. That’s right folks, Sir Winston Churchill,  the stalwart leader of Britain during and following WWII, who agreed to some harebrained ideas which helped change the course of history, and helped to save our little island from attack.

Maybe the depression helped…

 

For many years, the word depression was NEVER spoken. It conjures up images of straight-jackets, institutions and archaic treatments.

It is still a word that, when spoken, causes most non-sufferers to look at you wide-eyed and become tongue tied. No one seems to know what to say or do.

And guess what – I’m a Christian too!

Churches all over the country, if not the world still cannot consider depression. It is a stigma which can release comments or thoughts such as, “you’re not trusting God enough,” “you’re not a true Christian,” and anything else that you can think of. I can tell you this. It is not true. God is with me through this foggy woodland I find my self in. He has hold of my hand, and has a rifle to keep away that wild black dog. The bible speaks umpteen truths to me, and its longest prayer (Psalm 119), is about depression. I can’t read my bible regularly, simply because I do not have the concentration, but I read what I can, in short bursts, and let God do the rest.

My depression takes all sorts of forms, these are a few of them:

Usually happy to be with a large group of people, more than eight people in one place causes an odd anxiety which makes me want to escape. I feel claustrophobic.

My bubbliness is infrequently apparent, and I have appeared to have lost my ability to calmly cope with rude people. I have to walk away from them; otherwise I will start an argument. Or slap them, whichever would come first.

Logical thought is virtually none existent, so I apologise if this post is all over the place as I struggle to lay out writing logically.

Most annoyingly – and importantly – I have been unable to read anything, nor have I been able to write a single thing.

I haven’t even been able to look at my own blog for ages. Twitter? Forget it! Facebook has forgotten me.

So what have I been doing whilst in the cave?

I have begun making jewellery, and letting out a creative side that I boxed away sometime between 1998-2005. I have met some great people as a result, some of whom have similar experiences to myself, and all who have turned to jewellery making for a release (and some me-time therapy).

I was encouraged to start a creative blog which is here: http://beadsbymel.blogspot.com

In terms of my poetry, I attended my very first open mic night at Gladstones Café & bookshop here in Liverpool, on 8th June. I loved it, and even met a great poet called Mike Richardson whose website is www.poetscode.co.uk (currently under construction). My poems went down well, and hopefully, I will be invited back sometime after the summer.

Oof, so that’s an awful lot to take in. This has taken me the best part of an hour to write, but, at least I have written it!

At some point soon, I will put on one or two newer poems on the sight, but for now, I’ll see you soon!

 

Picture it & write – Online presence

Before you read this, you Must See this week’s picture it & write over on http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/picture-it-and-write-special/  if you don’t read it, nothing that follows will make much sense! Hope you enjoy!

Hope this finds you well                                                       You are? Oh,

Facebook recommends                                                       friend of a friend

On top five                                                                            mutual acquaintance-

List of interesting                                                                  strangers, stalking

Profiles and facts                                                                  ex-lovers, gossip

About you, your life                                                                public, unsecure

On-line                                                                                   breached

 

I was once a friend                                                                 Sometime ago

Of your brother                                                                       Frankie dated her

He doesn’t seem to be                                                           daily stalked him

On Facebook                                                                          after they broke up

 

Is he okay?                                                                              Disappeared off-line

I haven’t seen him around                                                       Moved county

Tell him I said hi                                                                     Not a word

And that me and you are now friends                                   She’s mad

I.M. you later!                                                                         Block – right now

Goodbye!                                                                               Goodbye!

Picture It & Write – TARDIS strikes again

I left a poem by the kettle. Had to go back to the TARDIS to retrieve it.

This one is in response to: 10th June 2012; http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/__picture-it-write-31/

 

Wet pages

 

Words run from the page

Like red dye from a sock

 

Separated from sentence and structure

Evade recapture

 

Reform to drift on tides

Of time and metre

 

Metaphors slip through fingers

Land with splashes of delight

That ripples like a tidal wave in Lilliput

 

If I were a poet

I would immerse myself in such things

 

Court charming nouns

Make art from recycled water drops