Friday, 26 April 2013

Quick NaPoWriMo Post

Well, no-one said it was going to be easy, and it's not over yet.  It's been difficult, and I'm a little disappointed with some of the stuff I've come up with but, you know what?  I've written 26 poems (one of which was not for NaPoWriMo even) in the last 26 days, and now I've got this far, I'm damned if I'm quitting!

The NaPo blog is here:

If you want to skip to the next one after I last posted in this blog, go to - my first ever sonnet (hard to believe, but true...) or otherwise just dip in.

Special mention has to be made of those lovely fellow-mentalists at the Facebook NaPoWriMo Sharing Group, and everyone who's given any kind of feedback at all so far, without whom I'm pretty sure I'd've perished of insular dismay.

One more to go today and I will have caught up. Any prompts, suggestions, notions, forms, requests, etc. considered. :)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - some thoughts and an update

So I've found a way to persuade technology to do the tedious work for me of cross-posting my NaPoWriMo poems to Twitter and Facebook. This is pleasing, and would be great if I could find a way to put them on LiveJournal (for which I still have a soft heart - as well as a curiously large body of stuff!) as well, but it also kind of takes away the personal touch...

I've been enjoying NaPoWriMo for various reasons - it's an excuse to write, to write every day, share the process with others (both those taking part in the challenge and those outside it), and gain enjoyment from the sheer fact of having Achieved A Poem each time. It's surprisingly bloody tiring, mind, and I nearly scuppered myself with Poem #7 - Excel Now- which was a series of seven loosely-chained pieces as a kind of elaborate tale bound together with themes suggested by cultural references to the number 7. I took two days over it, slept little in the finishing of it, put myself behind schedule and drained a lot of creative juice birthing the bugger.

I wouldn't mind, but I'm not even sure it's that good, really. And the title is such an obscure, multi-lingual pun I've resigned myself that no-one else will get it and that it doesn't matter - okay, nearly.

Anyway, this afternoon I found myself writing today's poem well before schedule (now I've finally caught up via #11 and #12 I'm trying to do each one on its appointed day before I go to sleep, even if that's strictly speaking the next calendar day), out of the blue and with no elaborate prompt, research, or meditation. This is a big part of what the whole exercise is about to my mind - just writing the bloody poem - so I'm chuffed, if somewhat at a loose end.

(Never mind - plenty of Poetry Admin to do - gave myself a day off yesterday, but now it's back to the Edinburgh Free Fringe Spoken Word Allocations Mill.)

I've set myself other guidelines (I hesitate to call them rules in case I'm forced to choose between breaking them and losing my sanity later in the month):

  1. Only three emergency haiku/ senryū - I find them easy to write these days, so writing a single one for my poem of the day is only allowed under exceptional circumstances and only three times in the month so choose wisely (Day 10's tanka doesn't count as that was a direct prompt and I'd never done tanka before and hush!). However, I can chain three or more together as a single poem and that's okay.
  2. Do at least one strict form I've not done before during the month. I'm a blank/ free verse poet most of the time, so this stacks up the challenge stakes. I'm not sure tanka counts as it really is just a more indulgent senryū with a twist in the tale, and I'd done terzanelle before. Maybe a sonnet? Suggestions please.
  3. Try not to do the same form twice in a row. Try not to do the same theme twice unless it's a big one (e.g. relationships) or it's an explicit decision to continue where a previous poem left off.
  4. I'm allowed one extreme emergency meta-poem - i.e. one poem about writing poetry, especially if it's a poem about how hard writing poetry for NaPoWriMo is. My skin crawls at the thought, which is not to judge poets who write their way out of a block by standing on the block itself, but not if I can possibly help it. Maybe at the end... :)
  5. The death of Margaret Thatcher is currently off-bounds. No-one else needs to know why.

Here, for your delectation, are the latest poems since I last posted on this blog:

#10 Indelible - a bit of satire-flavoured tanka for you.

#11 The One Left Behind - the third poem to be inspired by its number, and a reference to the penultimate verse in "Green Grow The Rushes O!" that had been going through my head since #7.

#12 Laborious - so, to continue the numerological theme, I couldn't give up on 12, of all numbers and, having tapped the Bible twice in succession, I chose a different mythology - the Twelve Labours of Heracles in a series of senryū. It felt both fairly pretentious and, latterly, like a series of tabloid sub-headings.

#13 Yours Always - every time I had a thought to write a poem that wasn't triskaidekaesque I rejected it, which resulted in another late, solitary night, but some other ideas for poems. If only I'd written them down. Anyway, this one kinda leapt out of my brain as the beginning of a story and soon settled into a five-line-stanza internal-rhyme thing that only people who'd spent as much time on the Wikipedia 13 page would recognise as having anything to do with that number...

#14 Chatter - Boom! No numbers, just an internal-rhyming stream-of-consciousness that came out of nowhere. The internal rhyme/assonance trope is one I use a lot in my performance pieces, and is good for taking poems to interesting places through a kind of word-association. I need tomorrow's one to rely on it a lot less, though, to jibe better with Guideline 3.

Time to post this and go think about something else. Hope y'all are having a lovely Sunday in the bright blowy Springtime, or whatever the weather with you, and that you're having fun with whatever challenges you've set yourselves lately! :D

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

NaPoWriMo Day 9

Slippage is definitely occurring. I started this one last night, played a gig, did some more sections, then came adrift on the final one until tonight.
Overambitious? Maybe, it is one of my favourite numbers...
#7 Excel

Saturday, 6 April 2013

NaPoWriMo Day 6 Part 1

Yep, slipped again. On my way back now, and internets don't cost a ton anymore. Soon I will be back in my own house, where WiFi will further enable me to read everyone else's poems at my leisure... :)
And do all those other poetry admin things I need to do!
#5 Metropolitan

Thursday, 4 April 2013

NaPoWriMo so far

It's been interesting so far; the biggest challenge at the moment being finding time to be selfish for writing.

Due to travelling, I started late:

#1 Printemps

Then another one yesterday, which grew without me noticing:

#2 French Swimming Pool 

Then, finally, I caught up this morning. Ironically.

#3 Suddenly, at 3:45am

Looking forward to seeing where this challenge takes me next... :)

Monday, 1 April 2013

Holy Moly - Shortlist-tastic!

Sabotage Reviews hold a virtually unique position in the poetry community, being reviewers of indie poetry and short story media and - here's the special bit - performance poetry. All these things are taken equally seriously by them and covered with great passion and attention to detail and for these reasons if no other, we independent poetry types should be making more of a whoop of them.

This isn't the blog post to go into the details of page "versus" stage, partly because I'm not convinced the web connection on this device is up to the task and I may have to retype this from scratch, so I'm keeping witterings short. Let's just leave it at: it's very, very nice to have an ally in a publication that considers performance poetry something to put effort into reviewing and therefore promoting. Nice one, folks!

The first review I had from Sabotage stung. A lot. I'd never heard of Sabotage before then, and such a pasting rankled. But I had to concede many of the points and started working on improvements. I also looked deeper into the publication and found myself thinking: here is a good thing. A Very Good Thing, in fact. This was further backed up when I realised at Edinburgh last year that the reviewers were burning themselves rushing to every spoken word show they could to publish their reviews and recommendations, a particularly wonderful thing to behold when the mainstream press appeared to be so roundly ignoring us at first...

This year Sabotage are yet again giving us their anniversarial awards - a fact highlighted by James Webster and Claire Trévien posting in the Allographic and Hammer & Tongue Cambridge (to name but a few) Facebook Groups that the public had a chance to vote for (and thereby nominate) their favourite writers, publications, and publishers (in a variety of categories) for the Saboteur Awards 2013. I immediately pushed my lot to vote for Small Word as I genuinely think it's a wonderful little magazine due to the talented people who've been published in it so far. Allographic Press aren't going to be making Salt sweat quite yet, but I reckon we've got a good thing going already...!

Dan Holloway tagged me in a very late night/ early morning Facebook post to do with the Awards. I assumed this was for Allographic/ Small Word and started, frankly, wiggling.

In this I was to be disappointed. In what I can only describe as a shock move, I've been shortlisted for a Sabotage Award as best performer of the last year.

Now, I know it's been April 1st all day, and I probably won't fully believe it until I check the site again tomorrow, but yeah: somehow, I'm in some outrageously good company and am among some wildly good talent not only in my own "section" (how did this happen? How?!) - the nominees in the rest of the list are ludicrously good.

I am no illusions about my ability to win this. For a start, I'm surprised enough people who get involved in these things have even heard of me, but it'll be an amazing chance to go mingle with independent literature's and spoken word's great and good for an evening. I'll get a stand for Allographic if I can at the mini-book fair, and push "my" writers, artists, and performers while I'm at it...

So I'm encouraging you, please, to all go and vote - because I'd love there to have been so many voters that the notion of an apathetic independent publishing, writing, and poetry scene in the UK is completely exploded. And because I want people to have heard of the other nominees...

On that over-excited note - goodnight!