Katherine Stansfield talks about poetry and place and how language intersects the two. Her second collection, We Could Be Anywhere By Now, is inspired by her life in Wales after growing up in Cornwall. Katherine wrote the collection over seven years and it covers her experience of moving Wales, a country with its own official language, and memories of her childhood in Cornwall, an area with its own distinct history, geography and a language that is almost forgotten. From this starting point it moves to Italy and ends up in Vancouver.
For a writing exercise Katherine reads Klonjuze, a poem about a word her sister invented. She invites you to write about a family word, a word that has gained a new meaning or special significance or make up a word and write a poem to define it.
I’m putting together an ‘open mic’ episode featuring listeners’ poems and would particularly like to receive submissions inspired by this or any of the other writing prompts from previous episodes. Full details of how to submit here.
Katherine Stansfield grew up in Cornwall and now lives in Cardiff. Her poems have appeared in The North, Magma, Poetry Wales, The Interpreter’s House, And Other Poems, Butcher’s Dog, and as ‘Poem of the Week’ in The Guardian. Her debut collection, Playing House (2014), a pamphlet, All That Was Wood (2019) and her second full-length collection, We Could Be Anywhere By Now(2020), are all published by Seren. She teaches for the Open University and is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. Katherine is also a novelist. Her latest title are The Mermaid’s Call, and Widow’s Welcome (co-written with her partner and published under the name DK Fields).
Olly Watson is a thatcher not a poet so has absolutely no clue how he has managed to convince loads of people to put him on stage. He has gigged all over the country including four solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, often to crowds in the tens of people, runs his own poetry night in Norwich and was a 2017 National poetry slam finalist. It is true that he’s a much better thatcher than he is a poet, but he is a damn fine thatcher.
Olly Watson introduces himself in typically modest fashion but his poetry is worth hearing along with his philosophy on being creative and happy, and praise for the various people who have influenced him.
Olly’s writing exercise is to write a new version of an existing poem. He gives Philip Larkin’s poem Sad Steps a twist and Patrick rewrites Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art from a different angle. Please share your own efforts by email or in the comments.
Bristol-based poet David Hanlon began writing poetry after recovering from depression. He was inspired by previous podcast guest Christina Thatcher to explore past experiences through poetry. Christina became his mentor and he has been widely published.
On this podcast he discusses his debut publication The Spectrum of Flight. In it he explores themes such as sexuality, homophobia, bullying, toxic masculinity, depression, love, resilience and, ultimately, recovery. Delving into deeply personal terrain, Hanlon exhumes an adolescence pummelled by name-calling that grew a beast of shame inside him and rendered him silent. In revisiting these painful experiences, and a resulting adulthood charred by the fluctuating and precarious nature of his mental health, he battles to reclaim his voice and grasp self-acceptance; to prize open the metal bars of his caged body: ‘a moulting of the internalised’, to spread his wings and soar: unleashing, and finally embracing, the spectrum of his identity.
David’s writing exercise
As David’s collection is all about flight as a metaphor for rising above and overcoming hardship write a poem about flight. Try using personal experiences as inspiration. The flight could be literal or metaphorical. It may dominate the poem or be one detail. Try free writing until your imagination grows wings, then see where it takes you.
As always we’d love to hear what you come up with. Please share via email or online using #poetrynonstop.
David Hanlon is a confessional poet from Cardiff, Wales, now living in Bristol, England. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 40 online magazines. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press. You can follow him on twitter @DavidHanlon13
Cardiff-based poet Christina Thatcher discusses her second collection How to Carry Fire published by Parthian Books.
“How to Carry Fire was born from the ashes of family addiction. Beginning with the burning down of her childhood home, Thatcher explores how firecan both destroy and cleanse. Her work recognises embers everywhere: in farmhouses, heroin needles, poisonous salamanders.”
Christina share some poems and talks about the experiences that inspired this powerful collection.
Christina challenges you to write your own poem inspired by fire. This could be a literal fire (like a bonfire, campfire, home fire, wild fire, etc) or a metaphorical fire (like the fuel for passion, love, determination, etc). Whatever sparks your interest!
Please share you poems via email here or on social media using #poetrynonstop.
Christina Thatcher is a Creative Writing Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She keeps busy off campus too as the Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review, a tutor for The Poetry School, a member of the Literature Wales Management Board and as a freelance workshop facilitator across the UK. Her poetry and short stories have featured in over 50 publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, And Other Poems, Acumen and The Interpreter’s House and more. Her most recent poetry collection, How to Carry Fire, will launch in April 2020 with Parthian Books. To learn more about Christina’s work please visit her website: christinathatcher.com or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower.
This bonus podcast focuses on a single poem by Michał Choiński from his new pamphlet Gifts Without Wrapping. Michał discusses how observing a woman studying a sculpture in a Berlin museum inspired this poem which explores classic concepts of beauty and the body.
You can follow Michał on Twitter here and buy Gifts Without Wrapping from Hedgehog Press here
Michał Choiński teaches English and American literature at the Jagiellonian University (Kraków, Poland) He is the author of two academic books in which he studies the rhetorical aspects of early modern and modern literature: “Rhetoric of the Revival” (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2016) and “Southern Hyperboles” (LSU 2020). In 2020 Choiński was awarded with Senior Fulbright Fellowship at Yale University. Choiński’s first poetic pamphlet “Gifts Without Wrapping” came out with the Hedgehog Press in November 2019. It was a winner of White Label poetry competition. In his free time, Choiński works as a concert promoter in Poland, working mostly with alternative, folk and neofolk music scene.
Upcoming Norwich poet Piers Harrison-Reid talks about his roles as nurse and poet and how they have come together to produce poems that capture the joy, hope, grief and fragility of human life. He shares some of his poetry and talks about how he is giving a voice to others working for the NHS. He also shares an exercise on writing poems based on your experiences of healthcare.
On this episode poet and musician Pete Bearder talks about documenting the spoken word scene that he’s been part of for decades in his book Stage Invasion published by Outspoken Press. It has been described by Ian McMillan as “a manifesto, party invitation, learned tome, history of ideas and soundtrack for exciting and scary times”. Pete talks about his life as a spoken word artist and what he has learnt about the scene through documenting it.
He also challenges listeners to write a neologism poem – that is poetry using made up words. He shares a piece of his own and Patrick takes up the challenge by translating one of his poems into made up language.
As always do share your own neologism poems on social media using #poetrynonstop or by email.
You can find out more about Pete here and buy the book here.
Rob Auton talks about how he finds poetry in unexpected places. Writing about the everyday, finding beauty in the mundane keeps his fascination with the world alive. He talks about the shows he has written on subjects including water, the sky, sleep and yellow. He also offers an exercise on writing poetry inspired by everyday objects.
Rob is currently touring the Time show – his eighth consecutive Edinburgh Fringe show and is also developing this year’s Fringe show about crowds. On top of that he is releasing a daily podcast where you can hear poems, monologues and stories each day in his inimitable style.
Join Rob as he shares a few of his poems and offers the following exercise to help you find poetry somewhere you might not think of looking:
Go to Argos, open a catalogue and point to an item at random them write a poem about it. Try to write something however uninspiring it may seem. Free write, try word association think of memories, places, people and activities that the item makes you think of. Let your mind wonder and see where it takes you. Then share your poem on social media using #poetrynonstop or by email and lets see if between us we can create a complete Argos catalogue of poems. You can hear Patrick’s response in the form of a riddle on the podcast.
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.
Writing can be a lonely business but collaboration has always been at the heart of Wesley Freeman Smith’s practice. The Cambridge-based writer and artist began promoting events which brought together musicians, poets and visual artists in churches, basements and other grand and modest venues to perform, collaborate and share their creativity side-by-side. From promoting others work he has stepped up to the mic himself on his latest project Catching Shadows a collaboration between himself and musician Theresa Elflein. Their debut release Fuse features Wesley’s abstract poetry set to music provided by guest collaborator Anna Schuschu. Wesley talks about his latest project and working with artists across borders – artistic and geographical – to create art which is more than the sum of its parts.
Wesley also invites you to write a poem in response to one or more of these images he sourced for a ghost story writing project. You can hear a couple of his poems and one written by Patrick. Please share your own on social media using #poetrynonstop or via email here.
If you have enjoyed this podcast please help fund more episodes by donating via Patreon or Paypal. All contributions gratefully received.