Jonathan Davidson is the next guest on the podcast sharing poems from his latest book, A Common Place. It is a collection of Jonathan’s poetry and much more. There is a commentary, a selection of influential poems by other poets, a gazetteer with all the places mentioned in the book and footnotes – a lot of footnotes!
You can find out why Jonathan chose to publish in this unusual format on the podcast as well as hearing a few poems. He will also be offering valuable advice and inspiration from a writing career of more than 30 years.
I walked with my invisible father out into the fields on the edge of town. But they are gone now: new roads, new names, new people.
Dad, stay here for a while, I said, and I’ll go and find out what has happened to our lives. He sat on the newly installed bench.
And when I returned, furnished with stories of change, I found him utterly dead, his cold eyes on the cold world closed. So
many years he had lived here and then this: his roads re-named, his fields built over, his people now coming into view as strangers.
By Jonathan Davidson, from A Commonplace (Smith|Doorstop, 2020)
John McCullough discusses his poem Stationery from the Costa Award shortlisted collection Reckless Paper Birds. He talks about the various elements that influenced the poem: From his love life to social media posts. He invites listeners to write a poem using items of stationery as metaphors for life and relationships.
“Though the voice of ‘Stationery’ is quite anxious and manic, the poem is subtly structured not only through the jaunty, indented stanzas like steps but also through a series of images taken from the world of stationery. I’d like you to write a poem which uses one or more items of stationery as a metaphor for either a relationship or for society at large. What does it mean to be written in pencil rather than ink or to be stapled? There’s inevitably immediate potential for humour here but I’d also like you to think about how this strange perspective might be used to probe deeper territory, how adopting this unusual angle might allow you to investigate the different ways that people interact with each other.”
Pick up your pen and notebook and see what inspires you. Send your poems here and you could be featured on the blog or in a future podcast.
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.”
This podcast features a selection of poems sent in by listeners. We have heard many talented and accomplished poets in the last year. But Poetry Non-Stop was always intended to inspire everyone to write poetry and give new poets a platform.
This month Newport poet Angela Platt sadly passed away. I knew Angela through the local Poetry Society Stanza group she ran. She welcomed a small group of poets into her home each month where we would enjoy conversation and discuss each other’s latest work in relaxed, homely atmosphere.
Angela always lived life to the full and her wealth of life experience came through in her poems. She remained active right to the end publishing her final collection Crossing the Bloodline with Cinnamon Press this year. She had hoped to record a podcast for Poetry Non-Stop but unfortunately this wasn’t possible.
It is however a pleasure to share this reading from an event I held in Cardiff back in 2016.
Alexander Rhodes found his way into the poetry scene through a combination of chance, hard work and raw talent. He has performed up and down the country and taken his award-winning verse play One Foot in the Rave to the Edinburgh Fringe and on tour. It tells the story of how he was thrown out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and became a rave DJ.
In this podcast he talks about how he became a poet and performer in a conversation rich in anecdotes and great poetry.
For a writing prompt Alexander responded with:
Transhumanism for dummies
“I like the subtle inferences of those words, and also we are accelerating towards Superintelligent AI with very little discussion among the artistic community – so now would be a good time as any.”
You can hear how Patrick and Alexander responded to this topic, and it’s an area Alexander is researching for a forthcoming novel. Do share your own responses to the prompt here or in the comments for possible inclusion on a future podcast or on the blog.
Alexander will be touring One Foot in the Rave again when lockdown is lifted and has a new show due to start touring in 2021.
Next podcast guest is former Jehovah’s Witness and rave DJ Alexander Rhodes talking about how he discovered poetry and the story behind his award-winning verse play One Foot in the Rave which he has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and around the country.
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).
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.