Beth Hartley shares a poem from her debut collection What if Stars published by Allographic. Former podcast guest Leanne Moden calls it “a gorgeous, lyrical collection, exploring the intersection between our physical and emotional landscapes.”
Look out for Beth on the podcast talking about the collection and sharing more poems.
Do not come at me and say “Barren featureless landscape; no merit in this earth.” I urge you to look further, for I have seen it roll in the dark and swallow people up whole leaving only cellophane to mark places where you can slip over the edge so easily. Where even slowed to a horse walk it can claim you: wet fingers crawling, grasping.
I urge you to look further, for where the land meets the water they have become one. Driving in the dark you are surrounded by waves of earth. Navigating the causeway, listening to the wash and drag of wind in wheat and potatoes. Where the blaze of oil seed rape will blind you; A rough sown patchwork laid rippling upon the land.
I urge you to look further than the flat that you suppose, to see the gentle undulation, a tide not even Vermuyden could abate. The flow of village ridge and sweeping fall away. Under this wide sky, you will see swan and diver where the rain gets in. Winter wise and wonder from the border to the gate.
More than a building plot. Far better than bare. Why don’t you watch what grows when you leave the land alone? We are your veg box and your farm assured: it feeds a family, it feeds a soul. I urge you to look further than convention would dictate.
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.
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?
John McCullough is the next guest on the podcast talking his Costa Book Awards shortlisted poetry collection, Reckless Paper Birds published by Penned in the Margins. Here’s one of the poems you can hear him read and discuss.
It’s true: there is a light at the centre of my body. If I could, I would lift aside a curtain of this flesh and demonstrate, but for now it is my private neon. It is closest to the air at certain moments, like when buttercups repair a morning’s jagged edge. Other times, a flock of days descends and my soul flickers, goes to ground. Without light, I’m all membrane; each part becomes a gate. I pour across each margin and nothing has enough hands to catch me, my teeth knocking so fast I daren’t hold any piece of myself near in case I start a banquet. I’m only eased by accident. On the drenched path, I pick up snails and transport them to safer earth then feel a stirring. I watch as rain streams from lopped-back elms, my face teeming with water and―hello stranger―my soul glides to my surface like it, too, belongs there; like a bright fish rising to feed.
John McCullough lives in Hove. His first collection of poems, The Frost Fairs (Salt), won the Polari First Book Prize in 2012 and was a Book of the Year for The Independent. This was followed by Spacecraft (Penned in the Margins, 2016) which was a summer read in The Guardian and shortlisted for the Ledbury-Forte prize. His latest book of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins, 2019) was recently shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. The judges said “This collection – hilarious, harrowing and hyper-modern – offers a startlingly fresh insight into vulnerability and suffering.”
Cardiff-based poet and novelist Katherine Stansfield reads a poem from her second poetry collection We Could Be Anywhere By Now, recently published by Seren Books. You can hear her on the next podcast. She talks about how moving to Wales after growing up in Cornwall inspired the collection and her interest in poetry and place and how language intersects this.
Submissions are now open for a listeners’ edition of the podcast. Please submit your poems according to the guidelines below. I’d particularly like to feature poems inspired by the writing exercises on previous podcasts. You can find details of these here.
Please submit an audio recording up to five minutes long, including any introduction to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you can send up to two poems in a Word document and I’ll record them. Please also include a short self-introduction. You can include a website and any social media handles you’d like to share. Also let me know which exercise(s), if any, you were inspired by.
Tips for recording:
You can produce an adequate recording using any laptop, smartphone or tablet device. Try to avoid any background noise and make sure your voice is audible but not distorted. Adjust the distance between you and the microphone if necessary. Beyond that don’t worry too much about quality as long as you can hear the words clearly. If you prefer you can send the poems as text.
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: