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!!”

 

 

 

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.

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!

 

Bubble – Picture it & Write 20.01.2013

Its not often ‘I’m able to write responses to these prompts, but here is my contribution to this week’s Picture it & Write. Ill let you know how I get on.

A shrink-wrap

Bubble shrouds me

Surfactant surface tension

Closes in on airways

 

Sucking air from lungs

 

The world outside

Is unaware of my plight

Hidden by semi-translucent colours

Red, gold, purple

Blue

As my cyanosed mouth

I cannot breathe

Or scream for help

Not you would hear me

Nor would you help

Finally the end is now

Well, today I received my final evaluation/feedbackk from my tutor from my distance course with the OCA.

It had some wonderful comments and affirmed in me my thought processes when I wrote each piece.

I kinda feel sad now that it’s all over, but happy that I now have more tools to go in my poetic toolbox (along with the dictionaries and thesaurus’, pens and paper). I’ve been at a loss as to what to put in this blog after the end of the course.

Maybe I’ll just put down my slightly random thoughts on the whole poetic journey, the background – and maybe a few poem sketches/rough drafts?

Who knows – watch this space

Introducing a new page – heading photo’s

Aside

The old photograph, Bee a Flower was originally taken by my dad, who is on his way to being an amateur photographer. I will try to add some of my favourite photo’s of his, over the coming months.

The current picture (seagulls on posts), is called MINE! and was a snap I took in 2011 in Chester Zoo. The full picture is above

Nearing the end of an era

In a complete tangent from my usual musings, I have written a very small verse in honor of a local shop closing down.

Most people will have heard of the chain of clothing stores, Bon Marche. Okay, the majority of women over a certain age will frequent the store more than those of “The Younger Generation,” but it has some good party clothes and is good for a cheap pair of trousers when you’ve dropped a dress size and quickly need a pair that won’t fall down.

I have a local Bon Marche store about a 5 minute walk away and today went in with the intention of perusing the rails for a new pair of trousers and maybe a skirt. I was shocked to find HUGE bright yellow closing down posters plastered all over the walls.

It felt like a friend had just upped and left moments after cutting off my arm.

So, here’s my – currently unfinished – little (orange box) verse for this moment:

It happened (again) today

They’ve done it before

Now they’ve done it again

Gutting the inside

Of our local iconic store

Grab a cuppa – I’ll bring you up to date with what’s going on

For the 30 days of November, I have been out of the social networking, blogging, poetry world.

Why is that? I was taking part in National Novel Writing Month, along with hundreds of thousands of people around the world. There were also a fair few from my home in Liverpool, UK.

NaNoWriMo, as it is more commonly known, is 30 days of writerly abandon. The aim is to write 50,000 words (or more) by November 30th. This was my first year and only managed the get 17k and I hope I continue with this in the New Year

What does this have to do with poetry? On the face of it, nothing whatsoever

However, I learned lessons, which I will apply to poetry writing.

1)      Don’t edit immediately: This may be an obvious thing to say, but is something very difficult to do. NaNoWriMo’s mantra is: Don’t edit, Don’t delete. Both these should be done later. It is better to put down what you feel you want to say or need to say first, including all the repetitions, poor (or over) use of adjectives, nouns and verbs. Anything you do want to delete, just move it to a “trashy bits” folder somewhere, park it up and forget about it until you next need some inspiration (or, more often than not, are in need of a two headed, yellow bug-eyed prince charming who owns a thoroughbred Blue-Green Dragon that puffs out large quantities of bright pink smoke). You may never require any of the “deleted scenes,” but you will regret it if you need something that you previously deleted from existence.

2)      All storywriters should at some point, write a poem or two. This followed a conversation I had with a fellow “NaNo-er” and my only appearance at one of the specially organised “NaNo Write-In’s.” I’ll skip all the particulars, the what’s and wherefore’s, concentrating on the Why’s? Put simplistically, poets need to be precise; every word used must carry not only its own weight, but also the weight of the line. Poets are aware of the timing, the rhythm, the sound of each piece they create. Poems should make an impact on the reader – create a connection. Storywriters and storytellers should take heed of the painting of the poem, not just the subject matter.

3)      All poets should in turn, write a story (short or long). This enables context and voice to be explored at a different level and different, less restricting way.

4)      (An important one for me) When you tell people you write poetry, their eyes do not glaze over. Okay, this may be only true to other writers, but this was an amazing encouragement for me. In fact, my fellow NaNo-ers often sent me info and links on good, descriptive poetry when I was stuck at various different times trying to describe mundane things in an original way. It introduced me to poets I had never known before.

See: http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/murray-les/homage-to-the-launching-place-0574004

(Thanks to HornbeamUK for that one – It’s helped immensely)

I’m now ready to start again with the half written poems I had prior to beginning NaNoWriMo11, putting into practice what I have learned (I think 2 & 3 are already ticked off the list).

 

P.S. Big hint to anyone living in the Liverpool area: If you are part of, or are starting, a writing group, or indeed just want to get together with other writers, please leave me a message here or on twitter (@poets_hide). I would love to join you at some point (providing it is not mid-week).

And the words just keep repeating – the beginning of the end?

Sorry folks, the reflection hasn’t happened yet, it will by
the end of November – I promise.

Some new ideas and subsequent scribbling has commenced. Much
of it is in completely random orders and it is taking time to even get the
though processes running in a (generally) straight line.

I’ve have had three old poems which I had left as “bottom
drawer” fodder begin to run around in the creative spaces of my brain again.
This exercising (or should that be exorcising?!) of words has had me wondering
why I didn’t think they were working.

Here’s an excerpt from one poem “Kennie”

These buildings were beautiful once

Most still are, in a way.

Forsaken and forgotten, left to rot and
decay.

[…]

Halted regeneration, empty, shut-up houses;

No money, or no hope?

These buildings were beautiful once

Forsaken and forgotten, left to rot and
decay.

I wrote it as the ‘bones’ of a villanelle, but it never
seemed to work. I wracked my brain as to why it didn’t. I’ve wrote and re-wrote
this about 8 times now and still I couldn’t get it to work.

Then last week, it hit me. The reason it wasn’t working was
that it should not be a villanelle. I want to convey too much to confine it to
a set rhyme and meter.

Don’t get me wrong. I love villanelles, I love how they
work, their sound and shape. This poem did not, and would not mould to the shape
I insisted on beating.

“Kennie” is a
Liverpudlian term for one of the Liverpool districts, Kensington. It has been
subject to many years of poverty and latterly, regeneration. This is a slow
process (it is ongoing).

Another reason why the poem stopped working was that I saw
more of those shut up houses in other areas, looking more stricken than a lot
of those in Kensington, which affected what I actually wanted to say.

Another poem, “Mist on the Mersey” also kept popping into my
thoughts. Here’s an excerpt

Mist on the Mersey

Clears as the rain subsides

Lifting to reveal

A shell of Cammel Lairds;

In remembrance of past glory […]

[and] beat out a rhythm in synchronicity

With community spirit that protects

This community’s heart.

Yet buildings go and buildings come […]

Replacing the heart with

Inferior parts unable to mimic the familiar
beat.

See a familiarity? Yup, so did I. This is a poem about the
overhaul that Liverpool went through in preparation for Capital of Culture
2008, and, to a certain extent, is still going through (the newly opened NMGM
Museum of Liverpool Life should have been open in time for CoC08, especially as
the “old” one was packed up and sent into storage in 2006). I wanted (and still
want) to express this somehow.

I think I may need to look up Epic poetry. Any ideas?