An Indoor Heaven

The strange prompts and their wonderful donated responses go on! Thanks to Jules Clare for this poem

A poetic stage
at the Translucent Sage
A satisfying slam
Full of Doc glam

What about a cave?
Fingal is all the rave
Oh, come on Poets, behave
Recite your purple fave

Her indoors is listening
Beads of sweat are glistening
It’s time for the baby’s christening
Feel the congregation stiffening

An indoor haven
The audience cave in
A lady in purple raving
Human souls worth saving

Big thanks also to Mandy Maxwell, for this slice of domestic bliss!

An indoor heaven is a duvet
When it’s raining outside on a blue day
We’re Netflix n’ chill with a movie
Salsa, tortillas n’ doobie

An indoor heaven is a cuddle
Arms n’ legs in a muddle
When all the parts of the puzzle
Fit to create the bubble

An indoor heaven is laughter
It’s belly bustin’ banter
It’s finding the perfect partner
For the happy-ever-after

Mine went odd, predictably. I thought first about sleeping in a doorway, wishing to be inside. But that didn’t work. So I thought about how I always picture Heaven as being essentially a return to Eden, an outdoor space. I imagined an artificial, indoor Eden, and then that got me thinking about how the Biblical descriptions of Heaven are actually very urban and materialistic – cities and mansions of gold and jewels. And then this happened :

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If you’d like to have a poem or short story featured that you’ve written in response to any of the remaining prompts, please comment below!

 

Happiness With Rice

Nearing the end of the first week of obscure writing prompts developed by me messing around with homophonic translations of Portuguese phrases in the fine art CV of multimedia artist Brigida Baltar, because what else does one do when one is writer-in-residence inside a modern art gallery’s archive files??

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First up, a lovely tiny poem from Lisette again

She explains for the hundredth time as she sets the timer and steam wefts its course along kitchen wall to ceiling cloud. I pretend not to remember so that I can savour her voice.

A poem from Hannah McKay

I’m not too keen on the slimy slippiness of macaroni cheese;
pebbles in the mouth poppiness of peas;
noxious fumes of cod and salmon;
lump-throat gristly-ness of gammon;
unplumbed depths in a bowl of soup;
or creamy sloppy potato gloop.
Give me clean tastes, coriander, spice
black beans and lime
finding happiness with rice.

A great folkloric piece from Ann Cuthbert

You think to slow me down, to counter
my attack but I enjoy it –
it’s the only time I get some proper peace.

You scatter grains, sprinkle seeds, leave sacks of rice.
Once it was a bag of salted nuts.
I can’t resist, have to turn back.

The rhythmic repetition calms me as I count.
Sometimes I vary language – thirteen, pandrah,  achtzein, douăzeci –
I’m a polyglot, I’ve got the knack.

You’ve called me many names across the ages –
foul fiend, Lilith, Nosferatu, Drac.
But the one that makes me happiest is Arithmomaniac.

(Folklore from many countries says that a vampire can be stopped by sprinkling seeds, grain or rice in its path because it has a compulsion to count them.)

And then mine, a fictionalised micro-memoir set in 1996 Hong Kong.

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Not NaPoWriMo 2017.04

I’ll get on with it tomorrow – in the meantime here’s a little prose-poem thingie that dropped out of my pen this evening at my TWP writing group…

A Life In Five Sentences

After you were born, female and healthy, your mother had her tubes tied so you were forbidden from ever dying. Until the age of nine, you could hear the unspoken thoughts of the neighbours in the back of your brain whenever you tried to sleep. As a teenager, you became obsessed and terrified by the image of your life stretching unbroken out before you, an endless chain of identical days. Lying in your cheap rented room in the rougher reaches of London, you imagined the snowflakes outside could carry your kisses over the channel to the man you loved like a muse. Years later, revisiting your old haunts and feeling the ghosts thick on your skin, you turn to see a message scrawled in the white-out paint of an abandoned shop’s window – “I don’t mind if you forget me”.

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Behind the scenes at a workshop

IMG_0148Last Wednesday I gave a workshop to the writers’ group at Hartlepool Library, as part of my role as poet-in-residence at the Heroism & Heartbreak WW1 project, (latest poem now available here) which was a lot of fun to plan and research. So I thought I’d tell you what I did, in case it’s useful for anyone.

I knew that the group were split between poetry and prose writers, with some of the prosers habitually reluctant to try verse (which can seem daunting even to those of us who are poets by temperament). So I thought I’d trick them all by doing a session on prose poetry!!! Mwahahaha!!! This entailed me researching what the hell prose poetry is, which I did by reading stuff online and an anthology about The Great American Prose Poem (thank you Degna Stone for the loan). About four hours of this, on and off, on trains, et cetera, and I had selected four prose poems that I thought were accessible, memorable, full of interesting formal devices, and related to themes of war. The poems I chose were The 12 O’Clock News by Elizabeth Bishop, Monument by Mary Ruefle, No Sorry by Catherine Bowman and The Most Beautiful Word by Linh Dinh.

The workshop featured an intro to prose poetry, where I went off on a bit of a passionate rant about how they are fired by a similar impulse towards documenting the subjective experience of modernity as also powers many early twentieth-century visual movements like Dada, Cubism, Vorticism, and how the fragmentation and re-configuration of form, and therefore meaning, is common to all of them, and I may have totally made all that up…

Then we played a game I made up called ‘The Prose-Poetry Venn Test’, where I had made a load of cards saying things like ‘humour’, ‘formal rhyme structures’, and ‘true stories’ and everyone had to decide if they were features exclusive to prose, to poetry OR…..wait for it….could be used by both! In this way we laid the foundations for a world where poetry and prose were almost entirely overlapped.

After that, we read the four poems out loud and discussed them, which was GREAT, love a bit of controversy! At this point I was massively over-running my lesson plan, and everyone’s brains were dribbling out of their ears, so we had some tea and came back for two short free-writing exercises. In the first one, I read out Carl Sandburg’s WW1 poem ‘Iron‘, but line by line, with each line acting as a prompt for 45 seconds of free-write, which rolled on line by line to a full time of about 10 minutes. Then we immediately did 5 minutes free write in response to a variety of prompt questions inspired by my looking through the online archive. Then we had another 8 minutes to edit one or both of our source writes into a prose poem, which I assigned the arbitrary ‘rule’ of a 100-word limit.

I pushed them hard, really hard, but the final pieces when we shared back were uniformly excellent. As usual, I just have to remember that what I tend to plan for a 2-hour session is invariably 3 hours-worth of activity….