Cambridge-based poet Michael Brown discusses ekphrastic poetry. He reads poems inspired by various pictures and other artworks particularly the work of Francis Bacon. Michael explains how he translates pictures into words and invites listeners to write an ekphrastic poem:
Go to a gallery or find a piece of artwork that really speaks volumes to you in an art book. Perhaps wonder in the gallery first then read what you can about the piece and have it visually present when you write. The traditional way would be to recreate the image or imagery through the written word. However whatever the piece inspires let the poem take you to where it needs to.
Patrick responds to the prompt with a poem inspired by Melancholy III by Edvard Munch.
Please share your ekphrastic poems via email or on social media using #poetrynonstop. Please also use the same hash tag to share pictures which would be good for ekphrastic poems. Who knows what poems they might inspire.
Michael also reads poems from his upcoming collection Meet Me at the Harbour which evoke memorable images with a few well chosen words.
Michael Brown was born in Manchester in 1983. He completed Meet Me at the Harbour whilst staying in his favourite place in the world, Charlestown, Cornwall, and in lighthouses owned by Trinity House. He lives in Cambridge with his husband and their adopted son. Michael is currently working on his short novel on climate change The Cage.
The biographical and surreal meet in Julia Webb’s second collection Threat. She shares a few poems and discusses the experiences which inspired them.
She also sets a writing exercise on memories:
Joe Brainard wrote a book length poem called ‘I Remember’ (you can read an extract here) where each line starts with “I remember”. This has been copied a lot but is a good way to free you up and get memories flowing. Start each line with “I remember” and just keep going – thoughts that come up can be from any time in your life and don’t have to be related to one another.
In the second part of the exercise take a memory and expand on it – don’t be precious about the actual details – it is OK to change things if it makes the poem better. Sometimes you might have to have two or three goes at writing about the same subject. One way to be more detached from your subject matter is to use the titles of people you are writing about rather than their names – for example: my mother, your mother, father, brother, uncle etc.
Please send your responses in here or share on social media using #poetrynonstop.
Julia Webb grew up in Thetford, a small town in rural Norfolk. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Norwich University College of the Arts and an MA (poetry) from the University of East Anglia. She lives in Norwich where she teaches creative writing and is a poetry editor for Lighthouse, a journal for new writing. In 2011 she won the Poetry Society’s Stanza competition. Her poem ‘Sisters’ was highly commended in the 2016 Forward Prize. In 2016 she was writer in residence on Norwich Market. Her first collection, Bird Sisters, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.
Threat and Julia’s first collection Bird Sisters are available here.
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Leanne Moden felt like she’d finally found her place in the world when she accidentally became a teenage goth in rural Norfolk in 2002. In 2019 this became the starting point of her debut show spoken word Skip Skip Skip about finding your identity through music and discovering your tribe. She talks about developing the show and preparing to take it to the Edinburgh Fringe as well as sharing a few poems.
Leanne also offers this prompt for writing about your hometown:
In my show, I write about my home town, talking about how I imagined it when I was growing up there, fifteen years ago. One of the most interesting ways of talking about place is by using personification to articulate character. In this prompt, I want you to imagine the city, town or village you live in, and think about how you would describe it if it were a person. What would the person look like, sound like, and what would their relationship be with you? (This place is my sister. This place is a stranger.) Think about personality, how they dress, how they talk, how they walk. Remember to be really specific. Take fifteen minutes to write around this topic, then refine your writing into a poem.
Good luck with writing your own poems. Please share them via email or on social media using #poetrynonstop. Tune in to hear Patrick conjure up a poem that personifies Norwich.
Leanne is performing Skip Skip Skip at the at the Banshee Labyrinth in Edinburgh every day from 17 to 25th August at 7pm. For details of this and other events see her Facebook page.
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
In this first series we have heard many wise words about the craft of writing poetry but all that anyone really needs to know is: How does it make you money? Alex Russell is a poet, performer and creative entrepreneur. In this final episode in the first series of Poetry Non-Stop he talks about some of his innovations in poetry including poems for TV ads, automatically generating poetry with a predictive text bot, looking for love in the lonely hearts ad section of Craigslist and selling poems sealed in jars as poetry preserves.
Alex’s writing prompt is to identify and exploitable market and exploit it through poetry using one of Alex’s ideas or one of your own. Patrick responds with an advert for a popular soft drink in the form of a villanelle.
Please submit your poems here or share on social media using #poetrynonstop. You can submit poems for any of the prompts from the first series and those received before June 27 might be published on the blog and possibly featured in a future podcast.
To learn more about Alex check out his Facebook page. You can get his chapbook (name your own price) here. Write predictive text poems here.
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: