Sunday, 29 March 2015

Recipe for a poem

The work of Michael Cardew is central to the HotPots project.

Taking part in the HotPot writing project at the Ceramics Gallery in Aberystwyth University with tutor Katherine Stansfield is proving to be a very productive experience.

We are writing about pots on show, and about food and cooking and about anything really, wherever the pots lead us. One prompt we have been given is to write in the form of a recipe - for anything at all.

Here's one of mine (a little tongue in cheek!) 

Recipe for a poem

a varied selection of words
a little rhythm
some rhymes (optional)
a caesura or two
add an enjambement
metaphor and simile
some punctuation (optional)

First, discover the emotion you want to write about. Think about where it comes from and how it feels. What does this feeling remind you of? Do you associate it with a place, a building, a person, a sound, a painting or a piece of pottery? For example, could a pot be a metaphor for your feeling? Would that help you say what you want to say – its shape, colour, the sound it makes, how it feels,  what it is used for? Think about the characteristics of the place, person or pot, will these characteristics help you?
Make some notes. Think about the words you put in, are there better ones? Can you think of synonyms?
Rough out your idea. Look for things you can cut – definite articles for example. Are there any words that aren’t working for you?
Now you need a pinch of magic. Stir well, but not too well. Mix lightly is a better term.
Type it up. Edit it a bit, move things around until you are happy with the sound and look of your poem. Save it. Put it in a dark drawer for a day or two and leave it alone. Then have another look and fiddle about with it again.
Save it. And back up your file. You can print it at this stage, but you may want to let it rest again and come back and do some more work on it first. Now you can take it to a spoken word event with an open mic session  and read it to others. Or take it to a workshop to let other writers fiddle about with it.

There are many possibilities,
but try starting the poem at Stanza2.
You could cut the last two lines.

More info on the HotPot project here:

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

A life in a week

Someone made me laugh today when they asked me: ‘So, you are a writer, that’s not really work is it, what do you do all day?’
I thought I’d give a brief rough outline of a ‘normal’ sort of week in the life of this writer. Every writer is different, of course, but we all do writing-related stuff all day – and night. Even when we are asleep the brain is working at writing. Some of us dream our poetry, some dream their stories.

So here’s an outline of a recent week in this writer’s life.

AM - workshopping and discussing poems with a small group of poeting friends. Need to make a few amendments to my poem and I hope I was able to give some helpful criticism too. I also workshopped with the group a list of possible titles for my first collection, which will be published in September. Helpful feedback on this, but still thinking!
PM – met a writer friend for lunch. Handed over the draft of my collection to another writer friend who is reading it over for me. Went to the first birthday party of Leafed Through, Cardigan’s community bookshop. There was cake! And readings from several local rather excellent authors.  There was also a reading in the afternoon at the other independent bookshop in town, Bookends, which I managed to get to as well.

AM - up late, it’s raining so I am going to get on indoors with some admin and fiddling about. I write a new blog for this site and upload it.
PM - I have a long poem that I need to finish editing. I check out a haiku sequence I wrote a while ago after a poetry workshop; and make sure it’s in order to take back to a follow-up workshop next weekend. I email friends to arrange car sharing when we go to yet another writing workshop later this week. I update my account books with latest expenses. I read and critique a poem sent by a friend on email.

Catch up with emails and social media (many writing colleagues and friends on there).
Meeting with publisher about the forthcoming collection (two hours). Poems n Pints, Carmarthen, tonight. I’ll read a few of my poems in the open mic session, so spend some time practising them.

Catching up with some commercial writing work (yes, I have to earn money from writing). This time, I am writing blogs for websites that promote small businesses of all kinds. Garden centres, florists,  double glazing, beauty therapy, solar energy  – I write about it all.  Catch up on some reading this evening the new Blythe Spirit is here (journal of the Haiku Society of Great Britain). Fantastic magazine.

AM - Finish and send off those commercial blogs. Going for coffee at a friend’s house for a catch-up.
PM – off to Aberystwyth for the first in a series of new writing workshops being run by the poet and novelist Katherine Stansfield. I love writing in response to paintings. This is about ceramics!

AM – meeting with friend who is reading my collection draft. She has comments! So I have amendments to do - all morning. Do not disturb.
PM – preparing paperwork for meeting of PENfro Book Festival committee tomorrow ( I am chair this year, so plenty to do).

AM - Chair meeting of PENfro Book Festival committee. The main festival is in September, so it’s time to get the planning going for the weekend of events and to get the competitions set up.
PM – prepare poems to read tonight at The Cellar Bards live literature event in Cardigan. Also, printing off work for a workshop tomorrow. Evening: t The Cellar Bards, Cardigan for the monthly spoken word event.

AM  - Poetry workshop with about 12 others. More work to do
PM – deal with action points from yesterday’s PENfro meeting, many emails to write. Also go over collection draft and make more revisions. Send off to publisher.

Must get more new writing done next week.

Oh, if there are gaps, it is because I do other things, mainly outside in the open air. When you write you have to breathe outside air.