Cambridge-based poet Fay Roberts was recently appointed poet in residence at Peterborough Market for the Syntax Poetry Festival. They became intimately acquainted with the people and history of this place they came to see as still being at the heart of the city if sometimes undervalued. The experience has spurred them on to bring poetry to a wider audience and to places it doesn’t usually belong especially in Cambridge where they have been the driving force behind a thriving poetry and spoken word scene for many years.
Fay talks about their experiences of the residency and shares some of the poems they wrote. They also offer a writing exercise to get anyone writing a poem about anything – or lemons in the first instance.
- Set a timer for two minutes and write as many words and phrases you associate with the word Lemons. There are no “correct” associations! And if your mind springs off into other associations from those associated words and phrases, write those down as well.
- Review your list/ paragraph/ three words/ scrawl. Anything else to add to your toolkit? Take one minute maximum to do that.
- Set a timer for ten minutes and start writing, using the words and phrases in your toolkit. Let yourself write freely, just as you did during the toolkit section – this is your poem, and there’s no “correct” way for it to be. Be sure to check your timer occasionally so that you know when it’s time to start rounding off what you’re writing
- Review your poem/ microfiction/ anecdote/ epic ode to citrus. Does it need anything to finish it off, or is it done now? Take two minutes maximum to roughly polish, chop, and round it off.
- Congratulations! You have written a new piece. It took you fifteen minutes and it’s pretty damned good, if you say so yourself. And you now have a simple technique to get you started when you have something specific that you want/ need to write about.
So, when life gives you lemons write poetry! You can hear how Patrick got on at the end of the podcast and as always please share your own responses by email here or on social media using #poetrynonstop.