Performance poet and master of sonnets Andy Bennett discusses what sonnets are and why he loves them so much. He recites some of his own written for his annual writing challenge 28 Sonnets Later in which he and three other poets take turns writing a sonnet for each day of February. He also offers tips on writing sonnets and why the sonnet isn’t stuffy old-fashioned poetry but a diverse form which can unlock your creativity – just don’t be scared of iambic pentameter!
You can hear a sonnet Patrick wrote following this interview and hopefully you will be inspired to write one yourself. As always do share your work via email here or online using #poetrynonstop.
You can read all the sonnets for 28 Sonnets Later here and Ozymandias, the sonnet Andy opened with here.
Poetry Non-Stop will be back next week with Leanne Moden. Leanne is based in Nottingham but this month she is in Edinburgh performing her debut poetry show Skip Skip Skip from August 17th-25th at the Banshee Labyrinth. Tune in next week to hear her talking about how she became a goth in rural Norfolk in 2002 and used the experience to write a show about finding your identity through music and discovering your tribe.
I’m currently recording and editing more episodes which will be coming out soon. They will be going out every two weeks to allow people more time to listen to them and respond to the writing prompts. On the weeks in between I might post bonus podcasts. These will be shorter and may include additional material from the main podcasts or readings on poems sent in response to previous prompts. I’d also like to do some podcasts featuring poets talking about an individual poem and the story behind how they wrote it. If you have a poem that has an interesting story or writing process behind it then please email with a copy of the poem and up to 100 words on why it should be featured. The poem can be previously published as long as you have permission to share it on the blog and podcast.
Submissions are still open for poems written in response to prompts from the first series. Details here.
It’s been a great first series of Poetry Non-Stop and I’ve been proud to present a variety of poets discussing a range of topics and sharing some wonderful poems. But the podcast isn’t just a showcase for a few poets it’s an opportunity for everyone to be inspired which is why there is a writing prompt on each episode. Please have a go at these exercises whether you are an accomplished poet looking for inspiration or if you’ve never written a poem in your life. I will be sharing poems submitted on the blog and possibly in a special podcast before presenting more poets in the second series. To submit simply send poems via the submission form, share as a comment or post on social media using #poetrynonstop and tagging @poetrynonstop. Please submit by June 27th to be featured.
Here is a quick reminder of the exercises with links to each programme:
Jamie Osborn: Borders and intimacy Sue Burge: Describe a memory in black and white then in colour Martin Figura: Use metaphor to describe feelings associated with a life event or experience Jenny Pagdin: Write a gratitude poem (see post for instructions) Avouleance: Pick a page of a non-fiction book at random and use it to write about a character in a poem Alex Russell: Find an exploitable market and write a poem to exploit it
No one knows what it means for eyes to chime or how a song can spin.
Avouleance is a writer living in Norwich interested in exploring experiences with mental health difficulties through their writing. When not writing they’re studying for a masters in computational chemistry as a hobby.
In this episode Avouleance talks about living with autism and related mental health issues and how creative writing helps them express how they see the world. They also explain why they find Reddit a useful platform for exchanging ideas and sharing work.
Avouleance’s writing exercise Take a non-fiction book, open it at a random page and use whatever that page is about as a metaphor for what a character is going through and write a poem about it. You can hear Patrick’s response using a recipe for roast goose from a Hungarian cookbook.
Find out more about Avouleance on their Facebook page. More writing by Avouleance mentioned in the podcast:
This week’s guest is Avouleance who talks about creativity and living with autism. This is a poem they wrote in about 20 minutes during a writing group I run. If you’re a writer based in or near Norwich you can get details here. You can find out more about Avouleance here.
There’s a better me Full of energy That I’ve abandoned Not intentionally but automatically Now I’m less bright eyed Less blind But I’d leave all I’ve learnt behind To be a fraction as kind Or inclined to look up.
In this episode Jenny Pagdin talks about her experiences of post-natal psychosis which she explores in her pamphlet Caldbeck. She discusses how poetry can convey the inexpressible and reads a few poems. She also sets an exercise for writing a gratitude poem.
Jenny’s writing exercise
“Gratitude can come in many forms, some purer than others, including appreciation, relief, obligation, awe and intimacy. You may want to add to this list. The exercise I have set out below is designed to be taken slowly.”
1) For three days, keep a gratitude diary. Each day, list at least three things you feel grateful for. It doesn’t matter who you’re grateful to, this isn’t a religious practice and doesn’t require any beliefs. Research shows that noting down what we’re grateful for makes us happier and is not a bad habit to follow every now and then.
2) Read some odes (praise poems) like Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn or Pablo Neruda’s Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market.
3) Think of the last time something made you happy – can you feel grateful to anyone (or to the universe at large) for this? If possible, talk with a friend about what made you happy.
4) When you feel ready, start mapping out a gratitude map using pen and paper (think spider diagram). Drawing is fine too.
5) Wait until the moment takes you for this stage – I don’t think you can write a gratitude poem without being genuinely grateful. When you’re ready, use your map to develop a poem, letting the thing(s) you are grateful for lead the form you use. Some tricks that have helped me in the past are to think about odes, hymns and list poems – but you may have different ideas. Good luck!
When you have written a poem please share for the chance to be published on the website or featured on the podcast. You can send poems by email here, share them in the comments section of this post or share them on social media using #poetrynonstop.
Born in High Wycombe to a British-Lebanese family, Jenny Pagdin studied BA English at Oxford University and MA Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Her pamphlet Caldbeck, which tells the story of her postnatal psychosis, was published by Eyewear in 2017, shortlisted for the Mslexia pamphlet competition and listed by the Poetry Book Society. John Redmond said that “After reading these inward, psychologically acute poems, the reader is likely to be haunted for some time.” Pagdin won the Café Writers Norfolk prize 2017 (“lovely dark stuff!” – Liz Berry) and was longlisted for the Rebecca Swift Foundation Women’s Poetry Prize 2018. In addition to mental health, Pagdin is drawn to metaphysical, parenting and relationship themes. Her work is often concerned with extreme or indescribable states, Hopkins’ “no-man-fathomed” mountains in the mind. She is working on a new collection to include supernatural themes and has an interest in the meeting points between shared and other ‘realities’.
She is an active member of the Norwich Stanza and regularly gives readings locally and in London. As well as writing poetry, Pagdin is a fundraiser, mother, wife, Reiki student and occasional crafter.