Monday, 21 April 2014

Writing workshops

Often writing workshops produce the unexpected. Two I have been involved with recently were concerned with small, unnoticed objects. The result is always more than the object you first thought of. This one about a plastic champagne cork turned out to be a short poem about memories.

The plastic champagne cork

You exist to preserve my sobriety.
The value of your importance
far exceeds your weight.
You look like a mushroom
but your ridges are on the wrong side of your cap –
so I can grip you to twist you out.

When you are pulled
and left with the rubbish on the table
it is not only sparkling wine that flows.
Out come the memories –
parties, holidays, anniversaries.
Gardens in Spain where oranges grow,
the heat of midday shade in Seville,
drinking and dancing by the midnight beach.
Too much remembering.

Keep it in the bottle,
oh yes, and please preserve the fizz.

The room is cold and dark.
You sit there,
your white head mocking.
Maybe I should take you out again.
You are too clever for me,
how do you stop the memories?
I should lose you, or forget you,
then I would have to drink the whole bottle.

 (started at Tiffany Atkinson’s workshop on Thing Theory, November 2013, Teifi Writers. Revised and reworked for 52 prompt, week 15, ‘the unnoticed object’ - )

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Blog Tour

Welcome to my post on The Blog Tour, and please follow the links at the bottom to some great blogs by other writers.

What am I working on?

Oh, so much poetry! I have about half a collection together. 
Loss, separation, grief, hope, love, touches of humour, responses to nature and landscape, the visual arts and to music are all in there. The despair of bereavement finds a place beside the joy of creating new work. The power that creativity has to help us not only to survive the worst that life can throw at us, but to make ourselves anew, is what it's all about. The collection loosely charts a personal journey and shares with the reader some of the experience of grief – from the numbness to anger and many other emotions, to re-awakening, to re-invention of self and the emergence of a new voice.

I also have a collection of haiku almost ready to go to press. It was a project for my 60th year and I wrote haiku almost daily throughout that year. I love the form and I am going on a course on haiku writing in May at Ty Newydd, the writers’ centre in Wales -- . After that I aim to complete the work on this collection and move towards publication.

Through 2014 I am also taking part in the 52 poetry project –  – which provides a great prompt each week. From this I already have plenty of new work to revise and edit as the year goes on; and it is fantastic to share and discuss work with many other poets in the online workshop.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

Every poet’s voice is distinct from the next.

Why do I write?

I have to. It’s not a choice, it’s essential, I can’t imagine life without it.  


How does my process of writing work?

Make no mistake, it is work. I can feel incredibly tired at the end of a day of creative writing.

I am inspired to write by so many things – the emotions we live with daily, art, music, all of the natural world and local, national and world politics.  My background in journalism (that’s how I earned my living for 40 years) will always influence my work and I’ll often research a topic before writing, especially for the social comment/political stuff. See for example:

All the stories in that poem are true.

Once an idea is formed, the process begins – I spend time with the idea, free write, make notes, walk the beach, always walk the beach, if it’s a social commentary piece I do research and I make more notes. Then stop, wait, meditate, do yoga, sit down with the idea, walk the beach again, allow myself to spend time in that magic zone where the creative process happens, then begin to write, just begin. And in that still place inside of us the grey haze of mist that is the creative process turns and swirls and begins to form into something. Each thought, each word leads to the next, just keep going.

Next week The Blog Tour takes us to:

Noveslist and children’s fiction writer, Nina Milton:

Thanks to poet Sue Moules for inviting me to join The Blog Tour:


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Flavour of real life

WHEN a poetry workshop prompted me to write about my High Street, I just had to do something about the impetus to ‘Shop Local’.

That is a strong movement around here, where people are leaving the superstores in good numbers. Many now prefer to buy their groceries at local produce markets, farm shops and market gardens – and there is plenty of great food on offer here in west Wales, most of it grown and produced locally.

This is the poem:
Fall from Grace

They don’t go there any more,
to those aisles where they fought daily,
elbowed each other aside in the cause
of finding perfect, uniform sprouts
for the Christmas dinner.
In this great hall where they barged
to grab a bogof or a three-for-two,
assaulted by the sickly aroma of spice buns,
the scent of coffee is sour.
This cathedral of retail power
echoes to the squeak of
a single crooked trolley wheel.
They have all abandoned
the banks of bleeping tills,
turned from the altar of
50 per cent extra, to be free.
They no longer value the offer of
double points on a loyalty card.
They have sacrificed the
‘cut price’ flashes to put
fair trade on the table.
They smile at knobbly carrots,
they like their parsnips dirt-dusted,
their leeks sandy, potatoes muddy,
they savour the taste of the earth
of this home-grown land.
Oh yes, they shop local here
for the flavour of real life.