Come to St Matthew’s Fun Day!
I’ll be running a poetry workshop on behalf of Stockport Writers;
it’s okay if you pretend not to see me.
I promised to tell you about the poetry reading I gave. It was an interesting experience. I learned how to ignore people, and that’s always good; I’ll try doing it to the Hub.
There is a place called Walthew House here in Stockport, It supports people with sight and hearing problems. They asked me to do a reading at one of their lunch groups. After some discussion over the phone with Ben, the group organiser, we decided to go with my Apartheid collection. I spent an evening preparing for the reading and a month worrying about it.
I shouldn’t have. The group was lovely: warm, friendly, inquiring.
It was the Others…
The lunch group sat at the front of the hall; the Others sat at the back. And talked. And talked and talked and talked. They talked over light poems, dark poems, black and white poems, poems about witchdoctors’ penises and poems about death, murder, bombs and violence (a lot of those).
Fortunately, I had a microphone. Unfortunately, I also had a folder and needed to turn pages regularly. Ben had provided a table but I like to stand when I read, to project. After some serious folder wobbles I had to put it on the table and look down at what I was reading. Looking down while reading aloud is a dreadful way to perform, but I figured the one bunch couldn’t see me and the Others didn’t care to. I tuned the Others out and earned my free lunch over the fifty minutes I wittered on about me and my life and the male genitalia I have met.
I invited questions and there were quite a few from the lunch group. We talked more over lunch. The Others did not eat. I think they may have been the people who brought the lunch group to Walthew House. Their attitude appeared to be, if poetry be the food of driving, talk on.
Despite my complaints, I enjoyed the experience. The group was warm and welcoming and the microphone was on full volume. I’m going back in October.
Now I have to prepare for Saturday: I’m running two poetry workshops at my church Fun Day. No microphones; no lunch; and an open gazebo. I must be mad.
The Hub is in bed because he’s unwell.
Spud is in bed because he’s a teenager.
I thought I’d take advantage of the peace and update my poem folders. I had a list of roughly 1500 poems which needed to be categorised. I did that with the hard copies months ago but never got around to updating it on the computer. The title of this post will tell you why.
I moved all the As last week; then the Bs to Rs. I still have the Ss to Zs to move and I can’t put it off any longer.
Once that’s complete, I’ll avoid matching the hard copy folders to the computer folders for as long as I can, but it will have to be done eventually.
Go here for more Six Word Saturdays. I recommend that you do – they’ve got to be more interesting than this post.
It has been almost four months since I last updated you on my 101 tasks in 1001 days challenge, mostly because it takes almost four months to write out the name of the challenge.
I did do NaNoWriMo, sort of i.e. I got bored and gave up half way through. I suspect than means I won’t complete the next challenge on the list:
Ride my bike twenty out of thirty days
We are at Day 708 of the 1001 days and I have ridden my bike a total of zero times.
On the plus side, I have told 708 jokes.
Expose myself to twenty new experiences (12/20)
Only had one new experience in sixteen weeks: wore a granny outfit and then shared the look with the world. My post on the velour track suit refers.
Hit 250,000 visitors on my blog (289,099/250,000)
I completed this challenge and posted a photograph to prove it. Things have slowed down since then: WordPress made it possible to comment on blogs via email, without having to visit.
Nice, WordPress – find a way to reduce everyone’s stats; I’m sure we all love you for it.
I need to set a new target; what do you think it should be? There are 43 weeks left so please make it realistic, given WordPress’s propensity for scaring away actual visitors.
Write 1001 new poems
I have written 688 so I am only 20 poems behind. I usually catch up in April, which is National Poetry Writing Month.
This is the one challenge above all others which I am determined to complete.
Make thirty submissions to competitions or publishers (29/30)
I have submitted five times in the last sixteen weeks, counting multiple poems to the same publisher/competition as one. If I have had success, you’ve heard about it. I’m not one to hide my light under a bushel; I’m more likely to set the bushel on fire in my enthusiasm to share.
Films & Books
I reached my target and then some to watch 101 new films (114/101), but I am only halfway to my target of reading new books (51/101). I have done lots of reading, but it tends to be of books that I love. If I want to reach my target, I have to read 1.15 books a week between now and the end of the challenge. It’s doable, but I’ll have to give up movies.
I feel terrible.* Janet’s birthday was on 12/12/12. She mentioned it on her blog and in my comments but I didn’t read either in time to respond.
I am quite literal: because Janet is too polite to say, Oi! I want a poem! I didn’t write a poem for her birthday. Remember, if you want a nonsense birthday poem, you must tell me in the comments or via email. Maybe I need to set up a separate page.
Fortunately, Janet got over her politeness to demand, Oi! Where’s my poem?
I first met Janet when she emailed me out of the blue to tell me that my gravatar was not linked to my blog. We’ve been firm friends ever since.
Janet’s first language is Chinese but you’d think it was English. She has a lovely, clever son of twelve, called Ben, who has his own rather impressive blog. He could teach us all a thing or two about history. Janet is sweet and kind and well worth a visit.
A Birthday Apology To Janet Williams
On her birthday that’s not good
I’d time travel if I could
I know she’d understood
Battling with my tenses
This poem is nonsens-
ical’s my consensus
The kindest girl on the planet
is my dear, sweet Janet
whose name rhymes with ‘pomegranate’
Umm, one more thing, chum:
you are a great mum
I mean it, by gum!
Happy birthday, Janet. You have the honour of receiving my most nonsensical poem yet.
*Don’t worry: I can assure you that Janet will assure me that I have nothing to feel terrible about. She’s that kind of person: kind.
There sure are a lot of birthdays in December. I guess we know what bloggers’ parents like to do in March.
This is Rosie the Riveter. In America, she’s a famous World War II icon.
My friend Janie Jones, who has a birthday today, is not really called Janie Jones; it’s a pseudonym. She uses Rosie the Riveter’s picture, sort of: it’s a facsimile she drew to make sure the nasty SOPA people (remember them?) can’t lock her up:
I can see her building planes and munitions because she’s tough, after the things life has thrown at her; though she’d rather tell a joke – usually dreadful, and therefore hilarious to me.
I have always liked her blog but I liked it even more way back when I was awarding Cowabungers (remember them?) for the blogger who left the best comment of the week in here. To stay clear of the SOPA police (you must remember them), she didn’t use the image that was her award which I had stolen from elsewhere on the internet; instead, she drew another facsimile:
Janie put it in her sidebar and gave it the title:
See that? COVETED.
I like Janie Jones a lot.
I Like Janie Jones A Lot: A Birthday Poem
I like Janie Jones a lot.
Of plenty she’s not got.
She works real hard
though it be ard
uous to raise alone a tot.
Dedicated parents are scarce
in this selfish universe,
but selfish she is not.
I like Janie Jones a bunch.
One day I’ll buy her lunch.
I might even tease her
with a single Malteser
she won’t be allowed to munch.
Dedicated poems can be ard
uous to write but not hard
this time. This line is the punch.
Sorry for the weak ending, Janie.
I know it’s kind of lamey.
Happy birthday, Janie Jones. I hope the future’s rosy.
Benzeknees left this comment a while back:
Since hubby forgot my birthday last year, maybe I can at least get a birthday poem. December 4 is my birthday.
To ensure he doesn’t forget again, I have written a cautionary tale.
A poem sung to the tune of, When Santa got stuck up the chimney
When hubby forgot her birthday she began to shout:
You naughty boy won’t get any toys when your day comes about!
My birthday’s flat
My mood is black
My fist is itching, too
Because you forgot my birthday:
Yes you, yes you, yes you!
It was on the night of her Big Day
When Benzeknees began to sway
Into the chimney she pushed her bloke
He felt smothered, began to choke
Oh, what a terrible plight, no joke
She left him there all day
Her hubby she pushed up the chimney
He began to yell
I’m so sorry
But don’t you worry
I promise I’ll behave well!
My head was up there in the other where
I know it made you blue
I’ll no more forget your birthday
Love you, Love you, Love you!
Happy birthday, Benzeknees! Hope it does the trick.
If you would like a nonsense poem for your birthday, leave a comment with some details.
Bluebee lives Down Under. I’m not smart enough to be able to turn this text upside down so she’ll have to make do with being backwards instead:
Eebeulb ,Yadhtrib Yppah
Bluebee, Birthday Happies
That last one came out like this at first:
It was an easy mistake to make – there are a lot of open spaces in the outback…
Happy Birthday, Bluebee. Here’s your Birthday Poem
Happy Birthday to you
Bluebee don’t be blue
Be Smilebee, be Laughbee,
Be Grinbee, not sad
You’re older, you’ll moulder,
Be bolder, be glad.
Happy Birthday to you
Dear Bluebee, woo-hoo!
(Hey, if you want great poetry, you’ll have to write your own)
PS I couldn’t use your image because you are obviously an evil genius who won’t allow anyone to lift your picture.
If you would like a birthday poem written in your honour, leave your date in the comment section. Please write the month because different countries have different ways of writing dates (are you listening, America?).
This is a first for me: an epitaph about someone who is not yet dead, nor likely to be (stray buses permitting).
She arrived. Survived. Made those around her smile.
Whatever age she was when she died,
it was too young.
Her many friends mourned.
She tried; she often succeeded.
Sometimes not: she made mistakes, like anyone.
But none her friends – so many friends -
ever needed to forgive.
She tried it if it was new,
if it was interesting, if it was fun,
if it was challenging.
If it was necessary.
She made things: beautiful things,
lots of things – quilts and poems
and children and devoted friends,
so many friends.
She was never mediocre.
Tart, upon occasion; and also kind, generous, warm.
Valuable and valued. More will remember than will
ever forget, this great loss to so many friends.
Viv is my next interview subject and I include this poem to give you a flavour of her before we start. Viv wrote her own epitaph in response to a prompt and I felt she was too hard on herself. I took her various statements and put my spin on them.
Viv and I met through the Open University. In 2007, the year we both took the OU’s Creative Writing course, another OUer set up an online critiquing forum. Which means the first thing Viv and I probably said to each other was, That doesn’t work; try this.
Viv writes lovely poetry. She excels at traditional forms, forms that I’m afraid to attempt myself. They often come almost perfect from her pen and don’t need much tweaking. She has been published quite a bit. And she only took up poetry in her late sixties.
Viv makes the most sumptuous quilts. My family owns three of them and covet more.
She has a real joie de vivre, which I knew online for four years; and finally enjoyed in person, when we met last year: Viv and her charming husband Jock invited us to visit their lovely home in France. We laughed the whole time and it was as if we had never not known each other.
I apologise that I don’t have a photo of Viv by herself. I don’t know how that happened; I probably couldn’t bear to be away from her.
Let’s find out a bit more about Viv:
How many colours has your hair been?
Brown, pepper and salt, reddish, blondish, white = 5, of which all but two came naturally.
Who is the most annoying celebrity? Why?
Does that twirly-moustached idiot on the Go-Compare ads count? We have to mute the TV when he comes on.
How do you cook eggs?
Let me count the ways! Boiled, poached, scrambled, fried, omelettes, French toast, in Scotch Eggs, baked in cakes and meringues, broken into a well in a sausage pie and… and… Or were you after a teach-in?
[See what I mean about tart?]
Karaoke: with or without alcohol?
Never been, so I’ve no idea
Can you do a foreign accent?
Yes, I’m like a sponge for picking up ambient accents.
Will you share an embarrassing moment?
Off the top of my head? Lost in Somerset, leaning out of the car to ask a passing pedestrian the way, IN FRENCH.
Tell us something about yourself you haven’t yet shared in your blog.
Could there be such a thing? It’s all there for the world to see. Ummm, I used to smoke. Any use to you?
What would you give up rather than your computer?
Alcohol – but I hardly drink at all these days, so that would be easy. Is that cheating?
How do you feel about misplaced apostrophes?
Rabid, and I blush down to my toenails if I find I’ve done one inadvertently.
[See why I love her?]
Tell us why we should read your blog.
I don’t know. It’s a mystery to me how I get so many readers. I do my best, but it’s not funny, there’s nothing special about my poetry and it’s a bit of a mish-mash of: (mostly) poetry prose, pictures, fiction, food and (I hope) some fun.
For those of you interested in history, Viv’s war memoir is worth a look.
Go visit Viv at her blog, Vivinfrance, and then come back and thank me. I nagged her into starting a blog so I deserve all the credit for unleashing this lovely woman onto the world.
On the Park
park the dogs will bark big dogs slim dogs
fat dogs lap dogs dogs you want to pat dogs
brown dogs black dogs blonde dogs pack dogs dogs dogs
try to chase a cat dogs chase another dog dogs
chasing off the birds dogs dog poo dog wee
try to chase chase where
chase me on me on the dogs
me the the will
dogs park park bark
I said I’d tell you about the time I had a poem turned into a piece of art work.
I entered a writing competition called Wherefore Art Thou? It was run by Stockport Art Gallery. There were no prizes as such, but the winning entries had their work converted into a piece of conceptual art by the artist Nicola Dale.
There was some confusion over the notification email and I wasn’t convinced I was a winner; but my friend emailed to ask them on my behalf and they told her I was, so I went along to the exhibition launch. The worst that could happen was that I would be there to support four members of my writing group who were also winners. We were rather proud of our tally: one-third of the winning entries.
By the way, don’t think I was being dozy about the email: one poor girl had been notified that she was a winner but there was no art work for her poem. She was mortified.
I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the gallery but I had an unexpected WOW! moment when I turned the corner: Nicola had made physical what I had tried to do on the page. I loved it instantly.
Here is a pic for scale:
Each piece of art work had some, many or all of the words of the original texts in some form: a poem called Entwined had every word on a label attached to a long thread of wool and the whole entwined on its plinth; my friend’s poem about Guernsey evacuees to Stockport had key words on a Scrabble board. Another piece was words on t-shirts. There were also audio and video works.
I’m not a fan of conceptual art – I always think of Tracey Emin: too lazy to clean but smart enough to get others to admire her detritus and pay her a fortune for the privilege. Or Damien Hurst: pickled cow? Please! But it was interesting to see how text can be interpreted by an artist.
Another interesting facet of the exhibition was that many of the texts were inspired by art works in the gallery; then they were turned into art works themselves: full circle.
I had a pleasant surprise: the winning entries were included in a glossy brochure that accompanies the exhibition and, although only one was turned into a piece of art, all six of my submissions were printed in the brochure. But…I wasn’t happy:
Judges beware! Don’t select my poem/s if you can’t do it right. If I say I’m a little precious about how my writing appears on the page, that’s like saying a hurricane is a little squall.
However, I was satisfied with the sixth poem, which was laid out perfectly in the brochure.
We stayed a couple of hours at the launch and I had a glass of wine to insert spine so that I was able to read out On The Park to a bunch of strangers. It got a decent reception, thank goodness. It is a poem intended for children and needs to be read aloud for effect. It came from a workshop at the art gallery last year about rhythm, run by the Scouse poet Terry Caffrey.
Here are some of the other installations*:
*See! Right there! That’s exactly what I’m talking about – you can install toilets or light fittings or new kitchens, but art?
We asked the gallery if they would sell my piece but they said ‘no’. This is where the Hub comes in. Never let it be said that he can’t make happen that which his wife desires to happen.
No, really; never let it be said: that last sentence was execrable.
The Hub and Tory Boy put their heads together: the Hub arranged for one of his photos to be enlarged and put onto canvas; and Tory Boy paid for it. Don’t I have the sweetest family in the world?
And clever: they put the picture up in the kitchen, as a means of forcing me into it upon occasion.
I have neglected you all this week. I’m sorry. I never call; I never write comments…it’s as if I’ve been busy with something other than blogging.
Ridiculous, I know. But true.
I have been working on…I blush to admit it…I don’t know quite how to say it – if I say it, it has to be true and I have to do something with it other than work on it and talk about working on it and not read other blogs or answer comments because I’m working on it…
I have written a book.
There! I said it! Now I have to do something with it.
I am doing something with it. This week, I have been working on my first re-draft. I’m a thirteenth or fourteenth re-draft before I’m satisfied kinda girl, so it may take a while. Each morning, when I should be visiting you and replying to you, I have been editing me.
I sort of wrote it two years ago, on my short-lived blog about living in South Africa during and after Apartheid; some of it was written before that, over many years. It is in part a collection of poems (stop yawning at the back), but also a memoir (wake up, the rest of you). I lived during an exciting period of history and it left me well-balanced and not a stress head and if you believe that, you haven’t been reading this blog for long. The book is a catharsis. Should be fun!
I intend to go down the e-publishing route because, if I’m honest, I can’t imagine a publisher wanting to buy it; why would they? Apartheid is long dead and there’s no money in poetry.
However, I have this story in me that wants to be told.
I know many of you don’t read poetry, but I will share one you might enjoy; it may or may not make it into the final draft, but it will give you a flavour of the book’s tone. Background: in 1994, just before the first free and fair South African election, a new flag was unveiled:
The Old Flag
The New Flag
Let’s Hear It For The Bunting
For the boxer generation – these are y-fronts:
I haven’t been around the blogosphere much these last few days. I haven’t visited many blogs, or even my own – comments have been left unanswered, unapproved, unspammed. Having a life outside of blogging is really irritating sometimes because it gets in the way of my real world.
…on 12 May it was the 200th anniversary of Edward Lear’s birth. I adore his poems and he has been an influence on my writing [...] I have decided to hold my own event to celebrate, and you can expect a nonsense poem a day for the next week, written by me, not Mr Lear.
And here’s a snippet from yesterday’s post, when I wound up the celebration:
I have a confession to make and I’ve been putting it off.
You know how I’ve been celebrating Edward Lear and his nonsense poems all week, by posting nonsense poems of my own? I made the first post on Monday and then I had one of those middle-of-the-night moments when you sit up in bed and shout, ‘Oh no!’
I had suddenly realised that when I read it was Edward Lear’s 200th birthday, what my brain heard was ‘Hillaire Belloc’, who wrote those wonderful cautionary tales of naughty children and was the actual influence on my own writing, not Edward Lear.
What a delicious irony: my posts have all been nonsense, because I have been celebrating the wrong poet.
Once the shame fades, I will try to catch up with your blogs and comments, but please accept my apology if I don’t get to you straight away: I am going to work backwards down my email inbox because I tend to miss things otherwise.
I found a great typo this morning in an article I read; the author was discussing slugs in her garden:
…I saw a trail of slim…
Wish I could get me some of that.
She must have found the spare ‘e’ because she stuck it on the word ‘mar’ later on:
It will mare one’s character.
A horse! A horse! My slimdom for a horse!
I shouldn’t laugh; I bet she knows her poet from her pot.
I heard about another Tilly Bud from Siggi of Maine. No relation, although she is also in the Manchester area. There’s nothing to tell and I wouldn’t have mentioned it except that I discovered yet another Tilly Bud this morning. Actually, Tilly and Bud.
Videos still won’t work on this blog – WordPress Unhappiness Engineers please take note – so you’ll have to check them out yourself, here.
I’m a little afraid to send you over there, because I think you will prefer that Tilly and Bud to me. In fact, I guarantee it.
Over on my shockingly neglected poetry blog, I was delighted to read this comment from a new visitor:
Its like you browse my mind!
Every poet hopes to touch their readers in some way, to speak a universal truth. Then I went to return my perceptive reader’s visit: at genitalwarts.
Spam. To misquote Tom Arnold in True Lies (he was referring to women):
Spammers! Can’t live with ‘em; can’t kill ‘em.
At least it gives me a laugh now and then.
*The spammers; not the genital warts. Thought I’d better clarify that.
Artist Martin Waters is creating a drifting field of poppies through Holy Trinity Parish Church, Hull, during November Remembrance 2011. He wanted poems to support the installation. The Hub and I submitted. I heard nothing but the Hub’s poem was selected.
I’m thrilled for him.
The proud wife:
And (28), (27) & (26).
I have neglected my challenge duties for a month. My excuse is procrastination: we now have 25 101/1001ers and I had to add their links to my blogroll: admin time always comes second to writing time. Today, however, I got on my behind and caught up where I was behind.
If you are interested in taking part or simply prefer to read about people with more get up and go than you (the list below refers), check out the list on the right.
What have I been doing these past four weeks? Not much, as it happens. Instead, I will tell you how my ongoing challenges are going on:
I added one challenge:
Leave my poems in 101 locations. (0/101).
This was inspired by a post of Viv’s, who told us to stick our poems on bumpers/under windscreen wipers/on supermarket shelves/blue-tacked to park benches/slipped between novels in the library.
I’m going to do it. Watch this space.
Learning the way of Christ
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8
By Tom Merriman
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