Episode 43: Nathan Nicolau – Mindfulness for poets

Nathan Nicolau was jobless and battling depression. He came close to taking his life, but then he began to fight back. During his recovery he discovered poetry, and started getting work accepted in journals and winning competitions. In this interview Nathan’s passion for poetry is evident as he offers advice and encouragement for anyone who writes or is going through hard times. Drawing on Buddhist philosophy, he shares practices which are great for writing and living.

Nathan’s mindfulness writing exercise

Take a walk somewhere, be it outside or just in your home. Observe objects for what they are, not what you think they are. For example, instead of seeing a couch as something you sit on, see the couch as it is. Perhaps how much it has sunken in overtime or how many people have sat on it appeals to you. Start writing a poem both describing that object and then reframe it to how it makes you feel.

Listen to the podcast to hear Nathan discuss this exercise and share examples of his work.

As always, please share your responses for possible inclusion on future podcasts or the blog. You can send poems here.

Nathan Nicolau is a writer/poet based in Charlotte, NC. Since his published debut in 2019, his poetry, essays, and fiction have been featured on multiple websites and magazines. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of New Note Poetry, an online poetry magazine. Find out more about him at nathannicolau.com

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Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Episode 42: Alan Parry – Life’s Poetic Moments

Merseyside poet, playwright and poetry editor Alan Parry joins us to read from his new collection Echoes from Rare Swan Press. He talks about how we can explore our lives and find stories and poems from our experiences and memories. He also talks about his many other projects including the growth of his poetry and arts collective The Broken Spine.

Alan’s writing exercise

My day job is a Lecturer in English, I work with students who struggle to tell their own stories and one of my favourite promts is to encourage free writing in response to a favourite photograph of their youth. What can you tell me is going on in that image? Who took it? Who is there? Where is it? I ask them to make zero attempt to be poetic, or factual, just get the story out and on paper. Time yourself I say, give yourself fifteen minutes to get down what you can, then spend as long as you need tidying it up. I can help my students edit their work and I’m prepared to read your work and offer advice on Twitter to anybody who has a go at responding to this prompt. Tell me your story! Dan Kitson once said that we spend our lives being told that the world does not revolve around us, but from our individual perspectives it kind of does. We see everything from our own eyes. I think that this is so true and can be harnessed effectively.

Please send your poems here for feedback from Alan and to feature on future episodes.

Alan Parry is a poet, playwright and poetry editor from Merseyside, England. He is an English Literature graduate and English teacher. Alan enjoys gritty realism, open ends, miniature schnauzers and 60s girl groups. He has previously had work published by Dream Noir, Streetcake Magazine, Black Bough Poetry, Porridge, Ghost City Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, and others. He cites Alan Bennett, Jack Kerouac, and James Joyce as inspiration. His debut collection, Neon Ghosts, is available from The Broken Spine website. In 2021, Alan
formed the collective The Southport Poets with Paul Robert Mullen, Mary Earnshaw, and David Walshe and their debut, Belisima, was released by Dreich in autumn 2021.

Last month’s NaPoWriMo series provided a wealth of prompts with some fantastic responses. We finish this episode with a poem from Will Ingrams who not only contributed a prompt but submitted a poem every day. He shares his Ode to a Flying Fish from Daisy Thurston Gent’s prompt.

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Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Alan Parry – Long-Tailed Tit

Merseyside poet, playwright and poetry editor Alan Parry is the next podcast guest. He will be reading poems from his latest collection Echoes as well as offering advice from his experiences as a writer and publisher at the helm of literary collective The Broken Spine.

Alan is brilliant at capturing scenes and characters in short poems with a few sharp and well chosen details as you can hear in this poem.

Send us your NaPoWriMo poems

That’s it for NaPoWriMo 2022. Thank you to the 30 poets who have offered such a variety of poems and prompts over the month which I know have inspired many fantastic poems already. Thanks also to everyone who has shared poems during the month. It has been a pleasure to read them.

NaPoWriMo may have finished but in a way this is just the beginning. You’ll hopefully have lots of ideas and first drafts that you can develop over the coming months. I would love to feature them on the podcast so please send text and recordings of up to three poems from NaPoWriMo before May 31. If you don’t want to record you can send the text and I’ll do my best to read it. Please send submissions here.

If you haven’t heard all the podcasts you can still catch up with the playlist below, and make sure you subscribe to catch all future podcasts.

NaPoWriMo Day 30: Pete Goodrum – Poetry

It’s the final day of NaPoWriMo. Congratulations if you’ve been keeping up every day but hopefully you’ve at least enjoyed writing and listening to some great poems – and there’s one more to go. Pete Goodrum returns to share a prompt you will definitely have something to say about after the last month…

I’d like you to write a poem about… Poetry. If you’re interested in poetry, take some time to think about what you think about poetry.

Think about poetry itself. Think about how to construct a poem about poetry. Will it rhyme? Will it be in particular poetic form. What message are you trying to convey?

I wrote this poem after I witnessed some unexpected and very sceptical visitors to a poetry night be completely won over by an open mic session.

Let’s be honest.

Let’s at last be honest.
You never really liked me, let alone loved me.

Yes, there were moments, in your teens
when you thought it good to have me around.
You showed off about knowing me,
even sometimes used my words to impress others,
but it soon faded.

In fact, and I hate to raise it,
but you rubbished me, told the world,
or your world at least,
that I had no place, no use,
and that you had no need of me.

Except of course, now and then,
with women more than men
you’d try not to hide
your sensitive side
and you’d touch some hearts
with the romantic parts
because after all
that’s all you recall.
The easy bits
the cheesey bits.

And then I was forgotten again.
Until you needed me.
You’d call on me at weddings of course.
Yes, I was useful for those.
Even at christenings you’d search me out
to add a touching note.

Oh, and funerals. Yes, you wanted me then.
You’ve summonsed me to attend,
to be there, at the end,
to play my part
to help you explain your breaking heart.

But in all the years in between
as I’ve changed and grown,
when I’ve ranted and excited,
inspired and delighted
loved and detested
expressed and protested –

Through all of that, you’ve ignored me.

But I’ve never gone away.

I’m here.
Remember me now?
Yes, that’s right.
Whisper it.

I’m poetry.

Pete Goodrum

You can find out more about Pete’s work and various publications here.

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Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 29: Christina Thatcher – Journeys

It’s nearly the end of the month and what a journey it has been. And that is today’s prompt with Christina Thatcher making a welcome return to Poetry Non-Stop for NaPoWriMo.

Write a poem which includes a bus or train journey. You may want to consider what is passing by outside the window, the sounds or conversations happening inside or even the memories that this journey invokes.

Interweaving 

On the bus from Pontypridd to Cardiff, a
woman braids her hair, an apple’s breadth

from the rattling window where ffordd and
farmland meet. How strange to see this here,  

after so many years: my mother’s mane in
this faraway place—her flyaways breaking  

loose, her split end static darting faster than
spooked sheep. How strange this electric  

urge to release my own locks from their stale
ponytail and mimic these braids:

the same weave as these horses,
the same soft as these women.

Christina Thatcher

First published in A470 anthology (Arachne Press, 2022)

Christina Thatcher is a Creative Writing Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She keeps busy off campus as 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 Ambit, Magma, North American Review, Poetry Wales, The London Magazine and more. She has published two poetry collections with Parthian Books: More than you were (2017) and How to Carry Fire (2020). To learn more about Christina’s work please visit her website: christinathatcher.com or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 28: Gabrielle O’Donovan – Give voice to nature

Connect with the natural world for today’s NaPoWriMo prompt from Gabrielle O’Donovan.

Be the voice of something in the natural world

My prompt is to write a poem in the first person from the point of view of something in the natural world that is not a bird or animal – for instance a tree, a river, a cloud. It’s a chance to observe, free associate, have fun. If you can, go outside for inspiration, and spend some time with whatever you are giving a voice to.
I wrote some short poems about trees a few years ago when I was working with Roselle Angwin and recommend her book ‘A Spell in the Forest – Book One. Tongues in Trees’. For more inspiration, you could read Don Patterson’s wonderful sonnet, ‘The Wave’, or Louise Gluck’s ‘The Wild Iris’.
My two short poems are on Willows, and it is worth noting that it is currently Willow month in the Ogham tree calendar.

Salix Babylonica
I am diva of the riverside
I am Monet’s moody blue
I am star-crossed lovers
I am Salome’s seductive dance
I am a coloratura trill
I am the shiver in your spine
the risk of letting go

Crack Willow
I am the hawk’s eye view
I am the blackbird’s call
I am cricket’s straight bat
I am the arch of the harp
I am the song of the wind
I am weaving the earth
flickering your dreams

Gabrielle O’Donovan

Gabrielle O’Donovan is an Australian living on the Cheshire edge of Manchester. She is a member of Second Light women poets’ network and has been published in anthologies, journals, and alongside art exhibitions in the UK, France, and Australia.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 27: Peter Wallis – Sevenling

Peter Wallis introduces us to a short form the sevenling for today’s NaPoWriMo prompt. He says:

a Sevenling – a seven line
poem consisting of two three-line stanzas and a single final line.
It is a form devised by Roddy Lumsden. I was lucky enough to be taught about it at a workshop
of his.
He took the idea from a poem by Anna Akhmatova (here translated by D. M. Thomas)


He loved three things alone:
White peacocks, evensong,
Old maps of America.

He hated crying children,
And raspberry jam with his tea,
And womanish hysteria.

. . . And he married me.

The first three lines should contain an element of three – three connected or contrasting
statements, or a list of three details, names or possibilities. This can take up all of the three lines
or be contained anywhere within them.
Then, lines four to six should similarly contain an element of three, connected directly or
indirectly or not at all.
The seventh line should act as a narrative summary or punchline or as an unusual juxtaposition.
There are no set metrical rules, but being such a short form, some rhythm, metre or rhyme is
desirable.
To give the form a recognizable shape, it should be set out in two stanzas of three lines, with a
solitary seventh, last line.
Titles are not required. A sevenling should be titled Sevenling followed by the first few words in
parenthesis.
The tone of the sevenling should be mysterious, offbeat or disturbing, giving a feeling that only
part of the story is being told. The poem should have a certain ambience which invites
guesswork from the reader.

Lists of three and the number seven are magical things.
I find this exercise best if you can approach it lightly. Aim to jot down several attempts and then
go back to the one that you feel most drawn to.
Don’t overcomplicate things – Akhmatova’s poem has just seven end-stopped lines.
Start with three of anything – the last three novel you read, three favourite holiday destinations,
favourite foods or drinks, three ways to sign off emails, three schoolfriends, three wishes . . .
I find that the first two stanzas are relatively easy to come up with.
What takes the time is the final line which cuts across expectations. You might find yourself
redrafting this in the back of your mind throughout the day.
In the original workshop, as I was a teacher, I used “Reading, Writing and Arithmetic” (The
three Rs).


Back to basics.
Reading, Writing and Arithmetic,
the curriculum says.

Then I jumped to my father questioning me after school. He wanted signs of academic progress.

What did you do at school today?
Was it good? Tell me
your best thing.

and finally
Miss Crowther’s dress had seven petticoats.

The one thing I gloried in was the teacher’s full skirt, not having twigged what my father thought
school was for.
More recently, as part of a project about allotments, I wrote:

SEVENLING (He set to work) 
  
He set to work and planted 
three rows of radishes, 
two of lettuce, one of peas. 
 
The home he left was cheerless. 
Home welcomed his return. 
He changed his clothes. 
 
Anniversaries can be made of such afternoons.

Peter Wallis is a U.K. based poet and Hawthornden Fellow. He won publication of a pamphlet, Articles of Twinship, in the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition 2015 (copies available via the Contact Page at peterwallis.co.uk). His poems have been widely published and have both shortlisted and longlisted in the National Poetry Competition. He is Submissions Editor for the U.K. charity “Poems in the Waiting Room”.

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 26: Alex Russell – Urban legends

A welcome return by one of the first guests on Poetry Non-Stop Alex Russell. They invite us to look at urban legends from today’s NaPoWriMo poem.

Retell an urban legend in an everyday, mundane way.

Take that in any direction which feels right, but if you;re stuck and need a starting point: How would it be different if it was told from another point of view or focus? If the supernatural element was a metaphor or misunderstanding? With a different amount or placement of sympathy?

The Largest Man in Arkansas

I wish I had a better answer, but I’ve wracked
my brain all I can, and I really think my favourite
place is The Bait Shack – that dive bar that draws in
all the conspiracy theorists. No idea how you get
a reputation for this sorta thing, but they got it.
Last night I talked to a salt and pepper preacher
about mosquitoes for an hour. Big, messy tales
of two huge skeeters eating a lumberjack’s horse
in two bites, leaving nothing but a shredded saddle
‘til they spat out the shoes. Last time he told it
the lumberjack was the same but they ate a cow
and used the horns as toothpicks. When people
find out this is my favourite way to spend a Friday
night, they figure I’m mocking the clientele. Nobody’s
ever assumed I believe it. I mean, I don’t, but still.
Truth is, I like being around the passion. I want to see
someone wave their arms around with their story,
doubly so if they’re so excited to tell it they don’t know
you’ve heard it from them before, because what are
the odds? People don’t come back. You get one time
and Lord best believe you’re gonna make it count.
But I love to hear it. I want that fire in their eyes to
melt me, I don’t care what it’s about as long as it’s
not hurting anybody. When’s the last time you saw
someone enthused about something that didn’t have
a body count? I only get that here, and it makes me think
I could find it too. One time I got asked to guess the size
of a creature’s claws and I held my hands out about
a foot apart. He put down his drink hard, took them firm
and moved them for me, spread them out twice that, showed
me forcefulness without cruelty for the first time. My hands
moved in his so quick and I’ve been searching for the right
word for it every night since. If “grab” were a little more tender,
I’d be close. Anyway, this evening he told me about Bill
Jenkins, the largest man in Arkansas, carried away into
the night by a pair of skeets. I think I’m jealous.

Alex Russell

Alex Russell is a nonbinary poet and editor at Placeholder Press. Their pamphlet ‘stories in which’ is forthcoming from Really Serious Literature, and their micro-chapbook of poems inspired by cryptozoology (which this prompt is based on) is available for free from Ghost City Press

Placeholder Press is coming back from a hiatus, and will start doing free workshops, open mics and writing support sessions from May. Alex would love to see you there. 

If you’d like to be involved, details will be announced on their social media at @readplaceholder and on www.placeholderpress.co.uk, where you can also find wonderful poems to enjoy and use as inspiration for your poetry month practice.

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 25: Michelle Marie Jacquot – Humour in dark times

Michelle Marie Jacquot makes a welcome return for today’s NaPoWriMo podcast.

This prompt is one all about finding the humour in life. In the harder times, in the happy, and in the ordinary. I would prompt you to think of a time that made you laugh or smile, simple as that. The last few years have been challenging, and I think finding joy and lightness anywhere we can is an essential part of being human, in good times, and especially in darker ones. In my opinion, it’s vital to getting through them. “Joy as an act of resistance” is something I think about often, almost as a modus operandi. It can be a relief to look back on what might have seemed like the end of the world at the time (and may well have been), and finding something to laugh about in hindsight— finding the brighter side to life when at all possible, even in small ways. We may not be able to solve all of life’s problems, but we can make some jokes out of them to help us get through them and onto the other side.

Your poem doesn’t have to be about anything recent, just something that will add some lightness and laughter to your day. Try the first thing that comes to mind. Perhaps even start free writing it as a story, as if you were telling it to a friend. From there, you can pick and choose certain words or phrases that pop out as a jumping off point to craft the poem from. Happy writing!

PARTY OF ONE

I had my birthday party
indoors this year
So did everyone else
in the entire world, I hear

Maybe I’m not as depressingly special as I thought

Maybe we’ve all been secretly eating cake
alone in the dark all along

Michelle Marie Jacquot

Michelle Marie Jacquot is a writer and performer from Los Angeles, California. Her debut poetry collection Death of a Good Girl was released in 2019, becoming a Barnes & Noble bestseller in the genre. Her latest pamphlet, DETERIORATE, critiques and contemplates the effects of the digital age on humanity, and is available worldwide. Her next collection is set to be published in the summer of 2022.

www.michellemariejacquot.com

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.