Today Vicky Morris introduces a poem by yesterday’s guest Vanessa Lampert and a prompt to get you thinking about places.
The poetry exercise I’ve chosen takes inspiration from a poem called Not Like This Park by the fantastic Vanessa Lampert. It’s from her debut pamphlet On Long Loan out with Live Canon, which I highly recommend. The poem brilliantly uses two writing exercise areas that I find really effective particularly for new poets. And that’s the list format, and it’s also a poem that allows a world to be created through exploring concrete detail where the poet is the director of what they want and what they don’t want. Both are present in the description, and this allows the poem to spit in two directions.
My exercise for you is to choose a place. It could be a city, a garden, a hall, a library, anywhere at all, and this could also work for objects and items of clothing, anything really – and to think about what you don’t want it to be like and how you want to reinvent it or invent it through the imagery you use. You might use that repetition of no, no this, no that, I want this instead. What I love about this poem is what’s going on under the surface and what the park really represents. It’s a very moving poem. While forming and reinventing/inventing your place or thing, you might uncover something the poem wants to be about, or something that connects you to the thing you are reforming through the descriptions you use, and of course, find a way to lace that in. Where does the poem take you and us with this in mind? Enjoy!
Not Like This Park
My park will be a bowl to hold sunlight,
the sky dropped on long loan. Shade
no one would need to call the shadows.
No crouching spikes of glass in grass by rusty swings,
no busted drinking fountain left for years,
no Fuck off gouged on a bench by an angry hand, no harm,
no drinking, no bargaining, or pleading with God for out.
My park will be the out, with a café painted yellow,
where we’ll watch a woman in an apron
fill a cake with raspberries and whipped cream.
No dogs bred for menace, routinely whipped,
their owners beaten or broken. No men staring at Betfair on iPhones,
no polystyrene takeaway trays, no greasy paper
blowing over the grass like fallen cloud.
No bags of shit dangling from branches like baubles,
no man hanging, no police car, no yellow plastic tape pulled taut.
No note in a freezer bag tied to a tree, saying babe oh why, the boys?
No flowers left there cheap and dying, and drying
or already dead. My park will have great beds of roses, white roses,
their stems unbroken and no one to break them,
no one in my park but us. The warm weight of your hand
in my hand. High up there, fistfuls of stars, all hidden,
and us not needing to wait until dark
to know they’ll keep coming back.
Vicky Morris is a British/Welsh poet and creative educator based in Sheffield. Her debut pamphlet If All This Never Happened was a winner of the Fool For Poetry international chapbook competition in 2021. She’s been published in places like The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House, Under the Radar, Brittle Star, and Verse Matters anthology (Valley Press). She won first place in the Prole Laureate Competition 2019 and the Aurora Prize 2020. Vicky received a Sarah Nulty Award for Creativity for her years developing young and emerging writers in 2019. She is a recent Arvon/Jerwood mentee. www.vickymorris.co.uk
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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