NaPoWriMo Day Eight: Vanessa Lampert with Vicky Morris – Describe a Person

Vanessa Lampert

Vanessa Lampert introduces a poem and prompt from fellow poet Vicky Morris. Vicky will be on to share one of Vanessa’s poems tomorrow.

Here’s Vanessa’s prompt from Vicky’s poem:

Think of someone you know really well, perhaps someone you love.
Describe that person through their habits and appearance borne of their personal history as the poem below does.
Choose what is nuanced/ subtle rather than what is purely visual. As ever, show don’t tell
You could try beginning by writing “You’ll know x by…” (please credit the above poet if you choose to follow this trope).

Vicky Morris

Sending You to Meet Mum

I’ve told her to stay put, to just wait
until you see her and say Margaret

You’ll know her by her beige anorak,
by her rounded shoulders, hunched from years of stooping low
over sinks of holy water,
bleaching the everyday
out of kitchen cloths,
made from old vests and knickers,
over bathtubs, swirling together
the heavy fabric of three children
and an absent father. 

You’ll know Margaret
by her restless, disjointed shuffle,
forever trying to balance
in her own gravity.
And when you greet her
don’t mind if her smile is shy,
her teeth hidden – she doesn’t like to show
the gap her father left at just thirteen.
Don’t try to shake hands,
she’ll not want to. 

She’ll probably give you
a clumsy hug,
turning her face away
or clutch your arm,
with hands so callused,
as a child, I’d try to catch her still
for long enough
to touch the cracks
and marvel
at the toughness of human skin.

Vicky Morris

Since 2019 Vanessa Lampert has won the Café Writers, Edward Thomas and Sentinel prizes and the Ver prize twice. She has been runner up in the Fish, Yeovil, Oxford Brookes, Bedford and Kent & Sussex prizes with poems commended in the Bridport, Troubadour, Daily Telegraph and Newcastle prizes and the National Poetry Competition 2020. 

Vanessa’s works have been recently published in Magma, The Moth, The Oxford Times and Poetry Wales. She co-edits ‘The Alchemy Spoon’ and has run workshops for Hive, Learning With Leaders in India, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and Poetry School London. ‘On Long Loan’ is published by Live Canon. Vanessa is an acupuncturist. Her first full collection will be published in 2023.

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

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