Episode 40: John Hegley – Odes to John Keats and Fishy Acrostics

Picture: Polly Hancock

It’s a pleasure to welcome John Hegley, a poet who never fails to entertain with his words, wit, music and audience participation. In a career spanning over 40 years John has appeared on Radio 4 and Radio 1, been a regular at the Edinburgh Festival and been an inspirational tutor running creative writing classes and activities up and down the country.

He has recently published a collection of poems inspired by the life and work of John Keats with Caldew Press called A Scarcity of Biscuit. On the podcast he talks about how he came to know and appreciate Keats’ life and work starting with a residency at Keats’ house. He has continued to explore and write about the great romantic poet using his playful style of writing to reveal a lighter side to the tragic bard’s life.

John’s fish acrostics exercise

Make a paper fish and write an a poem on it with each line beginning with the letters of the word FISH and/or POISSON. See the video above for a demonstration and a couple of examples by Patrick below.

Please share your work as always. It would be great to see pictures of your fish on social media. Please post and tag @poetrynonstop. You can also send them by email here. Let’s create a shoal of poetic paper fish!

Handfish acrostic by Patrick Widdess
Poisson acrostic by Patrick Widdess

You can purchase A Scarcity of Biscuit from Caldew Press here. For John’s other work and activities, see his website: www.johnhegley.co.uk

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 39: Pete Goodrum – A Point of View

Pete Goodrum, poet and lifelong resident of Norwich, reads poems inspired by his city and invites listeners to write about places in their neighbourhood or hometown. 
He also talks about his long and varied writing career and what he has learnt along the way.

Pete’s writing from a different angle exercise

Pete says: “There’s the old adage that you should ‘write what know’ but I’m saying try to write a poem about somewhere you know but looked at in a different way. From a different angle. My ‘Market’ has everyday details amplified and the awnings become a duvet as it sleeps. My ‘City Hall’ is literally looking at the place from a different angle – the back – and in doing so allows the rear view to become not only a new look at the place but a metaphor for the gap between civic ceremony and governance, and the grim realities of ordinary life. It’s not a poem of dissatisfaction or rebellion – it’s observation.

“So, go to a place you know and  create a poem about it viewed  from a different angle, seen in another perspective. Lift it out of its setting to make a point beyond pure description.”

You can hear how Patrick used Google Maps to write an original poem about his neighbourhood on the podcast, along with Pete’s poems for inspiration.

Please send your poems here for the chance to be featured on the blog or podcast. We look forward to seeing what you’ve written.

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

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 38: Beth Hartley – Make Space for Poetry

Picture: Ken Cumberlidge

Beth Hartley shares poems from her debut collection, What if Stars, published by Allographic. She discusses the role poetry has had in her life and the joys of bringing her first book into the world. She also shows us how we can find poetry in our most familiar surroundings.

Beth’s Writing at Home exercise

Go into a room in your house or garden if you have one. Be still in it and allow it to talk to you. What is it giving your different senses? What is it telling you? Is it telling you about something that it likes or that needs doing? Hold yourself open to the influences of your place – even and especially as these places are the things you see every day. We tend to neglect what we see most often. Set a timer for a free write – then afterward, go back into that free write and work from that.

Beth shares her poem Before on the podcast, written using this technique. She says: “Before” is something I wrote about being up earlier than the rest of my household, a time I often use for writing, or planning, to be still. Senses also heighten memory and experiences and it’s good to explore those things in our work. I often use poetry to process experiences – like this, or sometimes dreams or performances. It helps my brain to make sense of all the things and also to remember things.

As always please share what you come up with for a chance to feature on the blog or podcast. You can submit poems here.

For more information on Beth Hartley and to buy her book visit: linktr.ee/PoetryBees

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.

When? – Will Ingrams

Gaia by Luke Jerram at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich

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.

When?

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?

Will Ingrams

Episode 37: Ken Cumberlidge – Abracadabra

Many budding poets are put off by forms with complicated rules restricting what they want to say and how they can say it. In this episode Ken Cumberlidge explains that working within rules and limitations can give your creativity a boost and help you find new ideas and original ways of expressing yourself. The more restrictions you have the better!

Ken also talks about how he discovered poetry at a young age with the help of a wonderful English teacher. Performing at poetry nights in Liverpool in his teens helped him overcome a stammer and he went on to have a long career as an actor. It’s an inspiring story for anyone interested in writing or performing.

Ken’s abracadabra and bibliomancy exercise

While listening to the podcast and doing the exercise you will find it useful to refer to Ken’s poem here.

The abracadabra form was created by another former podcast guest Fay Roberts. It is based on the abracadabra sigel with the first line having 11 syllables (one for each letter) then going down by one each time to end with a single syllable on the last line.

But this restriction alone is not enough for Ken who combines it with with another technique for generating material to work with – bibliomancy. This involves randomly selecting passages from two different books (non-fiction works best) and using them as a starting point for a poem. As a further restriction Ken limits himself only to the words in the two passages to construct his poem with all its syllable restrictions.

Try to write an abracadabra poem. You can use as many of the other limitations as you want. It is certainly a good idea to give yourself a few rules for the first draft or two. If, as the poem develops, you feel it would work better with other words or a different form that’s OK. The rules are there to inspire and challenge, not hold you back.

The link above includes Ken’s poem and the source texts with the words and phrases highlighted that were used in the poem.

As always please send in your poems. It would be great to share them on the podcast or blog. You can submit poems here. Thanks to everyone who submitted great supermarket poems in response to John Osborne’s prompt on the last podcast.

You can find more of Ken’s poetry on Soundcloud and Youtube via the links here. His final poem in the podcast “Contactless” was first published in June 2021, in Issue 7 of “As Above So Below”, edited by Bethany Rivers. You can read it here.

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.

Supermarket Sweep – Roger Waldron

Here’s a poem by Roger Waldron written in response to John Osborne’s writing exercise. We welcome submissions of poems written in response to any of the writing prompts or exercises on Poetry Non-Stop. You can submit poems here.

Supermarket Sweep

I met my love in the supermarket carpark.
She was reversing her vintage Hillman Minx
with such confidence I had to stand and applaud
She locked it and threw me a glance asked if I’d seen
enough or would I like to see her do her weekly shop
and make comment on the cleaning products she’s considering
before she made her final purchase I asked if I could push
her trolley She asked if I’d got a pound She smiled as I adjusted
my pockets held my hand and led me down the bright lights of the toiletry aisle

Roger Waldron

Episode 36: John Osborne – Poetry in the supermarket

Picture: Katie Pope

Everything’s in the supermarket so you can write about death and sadness and love and romance.

John Osborne

Norwich-based poet John Osborne reads from his latest collection A Supermarket Love Story and discusses the potential for poetry in the setting of the stores we take for granted.

John’s supermarket writing prompt

Choose an aisle in a supermarket and write a poem about it OR write a poem with the title ‘A Supermarket Just Before Closing’.

Tips:

  • Visit a supermarket you don’t usually go to or go at an unusual time
  • Make a list of words associated with supermarkets
  • Write down memories, observations and other experiences associated with supermarkets
  • Think about how these experiences relate to other parts of your life

We’d love to read any poems you write so please send them in here for a chance to be featured on the blog or podcast.

John Osborne writes stories, poems and scripts. His poetry has been broadcast on Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC 6Music, XFM and Soho Radio. You can purchase A Supermarket Love Story here with illustrations by Katie Pope

http://www.johnosbornewriter.com

Episode 35: Wendy Hind – Tiny Poems

Wendy Hind from Lincoln, Nebraska, turned to poetry when her son was born with critical health problems. As her interest developed in poetry as narrative medicine for the soul she started the Tiny Poetry project, writing and sharing poems that deliver small but potent doses of hope, resilience, compassion and empathy. She shares some of the poems and talks about how the power of poetry is being increasingly recognised in the medical world.

Wendy also shares a poem written in response to Abbie Neale‘s writing exercise on clothing.

Wendy’s tiny poetry exercise

1. Think of a time when you or a loved one was ill. Take a few moments to write down five to 10 words that come into your mind when you think about that experience.
2. Next write a corresponding word next to each of the words you have just written. Maybe it is a descriptive word, maybe an action word, maybe a metaphor.  
3. Now read through the group of words circle those pairs that resonate the loudest with you. Add one more brutally honest word to each pair.
4. Take these words and attempt to compose a poem. The poem may be long at first. Often tiny poems are the result of paring down a longer poem – much like taking your initial list of words and taking out those words that are the least powerful. 
5. As concise brevity is the point of a tiny poem, every word must work towards the meaning of your poem.

Notes for a tiny poem

This is a great exercise for focusing the mind and writing about experiences that might be difficult to address. As you can see from the notes above, the initial list of does not have to be particularly creative or original. The words may or may not end up in the final poem but can help to pinpoint the one concise thing you want to say about the subject you’re writing about.

As always, submissions are encouraged. Please send you poems here to be featured on the blog or podcast.

You can find out more about Wendy and the Tiny Poetry project at www.tinypoetryproject.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.

Wendy Hind – White Flag

Coming up on the podcast Wendy Hind from Lincoln, Nebraska, shares poems from her Tiny Poetry project and talks about how it was inspired by her son who was born with critical health issues. You can find more poems on her website.

White Flag
If you think I am going
to wave the white flag
you are mistaken.
If you think I am going
to retreat
you are wrong.
I may have to refortify,
I may have to bandage my wounds,
but I am not done fighting,
and I intend to win this war.
I will not surrender
to my pain,
nor to you.

Wendy Hind

Episode 34: Michelle Marie Jacquot – Poetry in the Digital World

LA-based poet Michelle Marie Jacquot’s new pamphlet DETERIORATE, which criticizes and questions the digital age and the effects our modern world has had on humanity. She reads from this and her other collections and discusses her no-nonsense DIY approach to publishing and promotion.

Michelle’s predictive text poetry writing exercise

Has technology ever corrected something you meant to write into something completely different? What did it change? How did you react, feel? Maybe not even a word, perhaps a name? Someone you love to someone you hate? Did it make you angry? Make you laugh? Or was it a silly word? One you never use? Did it change the meaning entirely? Maybe it just made you annoyed at your phone? Who knows. Think on one time autocorrect has changed your words without permission. If it hasn’t, congratulate yourself and write about being precise or lucky, or both.

Please share whatever poems the exercise inspires. Submissions can be sent here for possible inclusion on the blog or future episodes.

For more information about Michelle Marie Jacquot and to buy her books visit www.michellemariejacquot.com

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