Posts Tagged ‘poems’

I finally finished my reading on setting at the poetry stage, and this week’s book is Penguin’s Poems for Life, selected by Laura Barber.

What I wanted to pick up was how feeling and setting interact but what I got was a little wider than that.

What I took was that description is an art.  In much the same way I am studying the importance of the right word, the power of poetry is linked to picking the right language.

For example, Seamus Heaney’s The Railway Children describes ‘shiny pouches of raindrops’ a phrase that describes their appearance, reminds the reader of the industrial nature of trains, gives a sense of something hidden within them (in this case, words) and makes them tiny gifts.  All these ideas are part of the setting of the poem: on the railway cutting.

Another example which caught my eye was Walt Whitman’s poem A Noiseless Patient Spider.  The sense that the web of a small spider could be a metaphor for life, a soul, creation was rather beautiful and unexpected.

This is a good reminder really – you can be both literal and figurative in poetry but sometimes you also need to be bold: follow a thought through its twists and turns and see if the journey is worth recording!

I had a fair number of poems I could share, different examples of poetry I love, but poetry is a particularly personal medium and my passion won’t necessarily match yours.

The best and most important point though is that truly effective writing, in whatever form, is a connection between the writer and the reader. The more you are able to bring them into your world, the more trust they will place in you and the more likely they are to lose themselves in your work.

I forget to think about poetry when concentrating on prose writing but that is very short-sighted because it means I miss opportunities to improve my work.

As a result of this reading exercise I have decided to make sure I read  at least one poem a week, analytically, to understand it and see what lessons I can learn for my own work.

Happy reading,



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…and all through the house
Were the remnants of wrapping
And bags to fill a warehouse!

I can’t believe it’s only a week until Christmas.

Normally I spend some time around now thinking about the strengths of my writing year and areas I can develop in the next, but this year went way off plan and never got back on track.  I don’t see the point in reviewing a year in which all my intentions went awry!

So I will focus on two specific positives of the year…

The first is the crime writing convention back in April. I found it thought-provoking and it made me want to go to more events like it. We all know that the year didn’t work that way, but I still want to go to more, and I am intending to go to the 2017 Classic Crime event in June 2017.  Hopefully more than just the one, in fact!  I don’t think I realised at the time quite how useful the day would be going forward.

The second is getting back into writing after my rubbish summer.  I may not be where I want to be but it would have been so easy to admit defeat some of those days, and I got back on the horse.  Yes, the horse is a bit of a scraggly old thing but it’s moving, and that is important.  I always say you can’t edit a blank page, and that is particularly relevant when things are going badly.  Any writing, however rough and ready, is better than none.

Two things don’t seem much of an outcome for 12 months, but both represent something important in my year: the first, a change in direction and in perception; the second a challenge I won.  It might not be reflected in word counts or books read but I’m still here, still writing, still being inspired. That’s a major success in my book!

I don’t expect to have any time to pop back before Christmas but I will prepare a suitably cheery post for Thursday, at least.

Whatever you are doing for the next fortnight, I hope it’s a happy, healthy and peaceful time for you all.

And I promise 2017 will be a more energised year on here.  I did ask Father Christmas for my mojo back, after all…!!

Happy Writing,







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Last week was a bit same old, same old – rushing about, fitting writing into small gaps that I eked out here and there, not getting into the writing task list as well as I had hoped.

So writing about it would create a post interchangeable with a number of others because this is the pattern at the moment. I have to thank you for sticking with me when it’s clear my writing life this year has not gone well at all!

So instead I will look forward; I will take the good, and build on it.

The exercises are proving to be useful: I am working, I am talking about writing, I am getting inspired. I am excited about filling up pages.

Importantly, I am making writing a habit again, because we all know that’s what it needs to be – something like brushing your teeth, a daily activity that you do without question.

This week I will be doing exercises on bibliomancy and alliteration, which will be good fun. I’ll be using my magnetic poetry kit to create some little ditties for my husband’s amusement when he gets the milk out of the fridge in the morning. I will continue teaching our overseas consultants odd words and phrases in English, and learning a few in other languages too, I hope!

In other words, I’ll keep making writing, and words, a part of life.

Just as they should be!

Happy writing,

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Yesterday I wrote about a book of poetry, and it got me thinking about how little of my work I have ever shared on here.

There are a variety of reasons why I don’t and they are all perfectly reasonable – and perfect excuses.

So I am going to share bits – snippets of poetry, a few lines of the books, maybe a phrase or two from the notebook even.  It’s my way of overcoming the barriers I have put between me and you.

Firstly, here is a stanza from a poem I wrote called ‘March Garden’.  It has been through a number of transformations but this is the most recent iteration!

The English summer blooms early this year,

And puffball clouds dance merrily.

The voices of neighbours climb over my fence

And sit on the patio with me.

This poem is about sitting and watching nature around me and is very jolly – most of my poetry isn’t so I am lulling you into a false sense of security!

Would you like to read more?  Let me know in the comments!

Happy writing,



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I didn’t get through a novel this week, so revisited some poetry instead.  It’s a bit of a cheat really, because I tend to read a few that grab my attention rather than the whole book of poetry, but this one deserves a mention!

Book 36 – Willow, Wine, Mirror, Moon: Women’s poems from Tang China, translated by Jeanne Larsen. This is a book of poetry written 1000-1400 years ago, and is a treasure trove of beautiful imagery and culturally-specific references.  The book is split into sections based on the roles the women had in their society – Women of the Court, Women of the Household, Courtesans and Entertainers, and Women of Religion.  The poems themselves are a mixture but the one thing that binds them together is that they deal with real experiences.  They are a reflection of, and a response to, life as they lived it.

I referred to this book way back in 2012 and have mentioned Jeanne Larsen more than once – her book The Silk Road is one of my favourites – so obviously this isn’t a new discovery.  However, even as a re-read I am struck by the spare beauty of the work.  Simple images convey an enormity of emotions, but there is also a directness, a willingness to address life: loneliness, bitterness, hope, love – these women were constrained by their lives and found an outlet for those feelings in their writing.

This style of work really entices me in, and I have even written my own works influenced by the stylistic methods of these writers; it lives on because of its beauty and accessibility.

I love this poetry and I was glad to rediscover it after a few years, because it fills me with a desire to write.

Happy reading,



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I’ve been all about the poetry again this week, whilst trying to rest up following exposure to some rather unpleasant germs – not what I want when I’m still recovering.

I find it particularly frustrating as a writer, because sluggish body = sluggish mind: I am constantly struggling to find the right word for the scene or emotion I want to convey.  I have some extremely erudite friends and I often feel the need to expand my capabilities, but even for me I’m being pretty basic at the moment.

It’s very problematic when my vocabulary lets me down.   I spend ages not just trying to think of the right word for a particular feeling, but any word that is approximately correct which I can use to hold the space…

So I am going to try to minimise the impact, and get back to reading the word for the day I get tweeted each morning – I have neglected Twitter on the basis it’s really not essential right now, but as a tool it has its uses.   And I’m going to use it!

Hopefully the next couple of week will see me get back some of my writing confidence – or if not confidence, at least ability.

In other news – this week coming is a big project week for me at work, and I will be hard pushed to get any posts written on Tuesday or Thursday; I’ve done very little reading over the last few days anyway so I don’t think you’ll be missing much, but if I get a chance I might just post a positive quote or a happy song.  It’ll be something else to think about when I need a break from project talk!

This is a short and sweet post, but that’s ok, I think.  The important thing for me is being here, and getting back into the groove.

Happy writing,



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Since my break, I’ve lost track of what week I am on and after some deliberation I have decided it doesn’t matter. Writing is not a project where I have to report on progress against my targets or identify any risks and mitigations – it is a way of living my life. So for now I am dropping my weekly count.

If I change my mind, you’ll know soon enough!

As I said on Thursday, I wanted to get back into the habit of writing poetry. I have succeeded in pulling a short draft piece together and although its probably not ever going to be for human consumption, it has unblocked me a little and helped me process some thoughts and feelings that have been building up in my mind.

For this particular poem I have dealt with the frustrations of being unwell and how time loses all meaning when your normal daily experience has been undone in some way. I feel better for it.

Writing is a great form of therapy. It is an empowering way of taking strong emotions and owning them – crafting them into art and then making a choice about their future. It gives back a sense of control, which is incredibly important to me, and I’m sure I am not alone.  I have poems on all sorts of subjects from grief to embarrassment to physical pain to joy – and whether or not anyone else ever sees them, I am glad I produced them because they are a record of how I got where I am.

I don’t tend to choose poetry subjects before the writing but this week I want to write more about what’s uppermost in my mind to clear the decks, so to speak. Once I have done that I will be ready to build up my portfolio a little more.

It feels great to have some output for the first time in ages, and even better to feel this is only the start.

Happy writing,



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