When? – Will Ingrams

Gaia by Luke Jerram at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich

Here’s an abracadabra poem by Will Ingrams. Hopefully it will conjure up a bit of green magic as Cop 26 begins.

You can learn more about the abracadabra form on the recent podcast with Ken Cumberlidge here.

When?

And when should we panic? The countries that mine
coal and strangle the planet want time to
‘adjust’, while our leaders decline to
fund wider replacement of gas
burning boilers, so how can
we maintain the hope that
a granddaughter’s child
might find himself
blessed with a
world like
this?

Will Ingrams

Episode 37: Ken Cumberlidge – Abracadabra

Many budding poets are put off by forms with complicated rules restricting what they want to say and how they can say it. In this episode Ken Cumberlidge explains that working within rules and limitations can give your creativity a boost and help you find new ideas and original ways of expressing yourself. The more restrictions you have the better!

Ken also talks about how he discovered poetry at a young age with the help of a wonderful English teacher. Performing at poetry nights in Liverpool in his teens helped him overcome a stammer and he went on to have a long career as an actor. It’s an inspiring story for anyone interested in writing or performing.

Ken’s abracadabra and bibliomancy exercise

While listening to the podcast and doing the exercise you will find it useful to refer to Ken’s poem here.

The abracadabra form was created by another former podcast guest Fay Roberts. It is based on the abracadabra sigel with the first line having 11 syllables (one for each letter) then going down by one each time to end with a single syllable on the last line.

But this restriction alone is not enough for Ken who combines it with with another technique for generating material to work with – bibliomancy. This involves randomly selecting passages from two different books (non-fiction works best) and using them as a starting point for a poem. As a further restriction Ken limits himself only to the words in the two passages to construct his poem with all its syllable restrictions.

Try to write an abracadabra poem. You can use as many of the other limitations as you want. It is certainly a good idea to give yourself a few rules for the first draft or two. If, as the poem develops, you feel it would work better with other words or a different form that’s OK. The rules are there to inspire and challenge, not hold you back.

The link above includes Ken’s poem and the source texts with the words and phrases highlighted that were used in the poem.

As always please send in your poems. It would be great to share them on the podcast or blog. You can submit poems here. Thanks to everyone who submitted great supermarket poems in response to John Osborne’s prompt on the last podcast.

You can find more of Ken’s poetry on Soundcloud and Youtube via the links here. His final poem in the podcast “Contactless” was first published in June 2021, in Issue 7 of “As Above So Below”, edited by Bethany Rivers. You can read it here.

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Ken Cumberlidge – To Whom it May Concern

The next guest on Poetry Non-Stop is Ken Cumberlidge. Ken is a former actor with a lifelong love of poetry and the performing arts. This video showcases his brilliant writing, skilful stage craft and unshakeable opinions on poetry. Be sure to tune into the podcast later this week, when Ken shares more of his poems and wisdom from his lifetime as a poet and performer.

This video is also introduced by another former podcast guest Fay Roberts.

Service Announcement – Roger Hare

Here’s another poem written in response to John Osborne’s supermarket poetry exercise. It’s great to see the variety of responses to this exercise and all the places that poems end up from the seemingly mundane starting point of the supermarket.

Service Announcement

Could Jane take a pan and brush
and bucket and cloth 
to aisle two please. A jar of strawberry
jam has been dropped. I thought
you would be best as I know you have
a youngster prone to vomiting so
are good at cleaning up.

Your little one is three now, isn’t that
right? Four-&-a-half years on
from when we were an item, tho’ I had
quickly realised we wouldn’t be right
for each other
really. 

But I was surprised when James moved
in 
so soon after and more so 
when I found out you were to have 
a baby together straight away;
it was one of the things we crossed 
words about.

Could someone please go to aisle 4
before I give up the mic – and stop me
from buying any more
if I try to.

Roger Hare

Supermarket Sweep – Roger Waldron

Here’s a poem by Roger Waldron written in response to John Osborne’s writing exercise. We welcome submissions of poems written in response to any of the writing prompts or exercises on Poetry Non-Stop. You can submit poems here.

Supermarket Sweep

I met my love in the supermarket carpark.
She was reversing her vintage Hillman Minx
with such confidence I had to stand and applaud
She locked it and threw me a glance asked if I’d seen
enough or would I like to see her do her weekly shop
and make comment on the cleaning products she’s considering
before she made her final purchase I asked if I could push
her trolley She asked if I’d got a pound She smiled as I adjusted
my pockets held my hand and led me down the bright lights of the toiletry aisle

Roger Waldron