Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Poems

Happy Christmas to all Poetry Space Supporters and everyone who reads this today.

I don't want to die at Christmas

I don't want to die at Christmas
cheated of that warm turkey sandwich
on the eve of day.
I don't want to miss the glint in your eye
as you unwrap the surprise
of a hint remembered.
I don't want to rob Santa of his jolly jaunt
and leave a gift of tears instead
wrapping the day in melancholly
and the promise of earth to earth....
I don't want to eclipse the word made flesh
by flesh unmaking itself
in the denial of breath.
But if I die
near the day of days
wrap me in tinsel and coloured paper.
Leave me under a tree
and sing carols by lamplight:
'Joy to the world',
'Come and join the celebration',
'See amid the winter snow',
and dance,
let there be dancing.
And place the last advent candle
at my feet
to warm

© Keith Wallis

Christmas Turkey

We purchase the ginormous, scraped-out bird
and garage it until Ovening Eve.
It has to be outsized with so many two-day,
Christmas mouths to feed; Ten, including
the in-laws, my mum, the unmarried uncle
and his silent ‘friend’.  Takes two of us to cradle
the consecrated carcass, steam-screaming,
from sacristy to linen, carving altar.   

Usually, the kids religiously take turns to gnaw upon
the weekend legs; so we concoct another Yule-tide lie;
calling it Custom to offer limbs, wings and all things
bony to visiting elders with teeth enough to gnaw.
“I likes a bit of breast m’self,” I boast, winking at
Her spooning out the veg and trimmings and blushing;
while watching our three wince at even the tiniest helpings
of sprouts and parsnips, sage and stuffing.

After all this preparation, dressing, cooking, carving 
and flimsy, paper-hatted, out-of-character jollity   
I know our three would be more than Christmas happy
if only they served bread and cranberry sauce at K.F.C. 

© Mike Lee

The sun could not destroy
the cold season of winter nights
neither, could it conceal the Robin
from the blooming roses
and candle lights,
frosty flowers and singing birds.

The stars could not dim its flare
of shooting wishes and dancing array
nor the moon, dye its boon
in a natural sky, of Jesus’ birth.

Children find peace at the country-yard
dreaming morning Zebras with magical spice of Santa’s gifts
and shed every little joy ‘till eternity.

A scene in my head,
a Christmas ushered, in midnight blue.

© Michael Kwaku Kesse Somuah (Ghana)2011

Friday, 16 December 2011

My Style - Rosalind Adam

I love writing poetry but I do it in My Style. I’ve never been particularly knowledgeable about the theory of poetry. I can’t tell my terza rima from my quatrain, so recently I decided to do something about it. I bought a copy of Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled. I have to confess to being a Stephen Fry fan and this book is written as if he’s sitting there talking to me, so I happily launched myself into the first few chapters, and ploughed through his many and varied exercises that he kept insisting I complete. The annoying thing was that nothing inspiring fell onto the page. It was no good. I couldn’t write poetry to a formula and I put Stephen and his vast literary knowledge onto my bookshelf so that I could return to writing in My Style.

So what is My Style? It’s whatever sounds right. I count the metre but I don’t stick rigidly to it. A rhyme or half-rhyme makes it a more satisfying piece of work for me but I’m not obsessive about it. The interesting thing is that if I play around and change a line to improve the metre or rhyme, the altered version is always, without fail, a great improvement on the original. And as soon as I drop a precious phrase that’s holding me up I have a much stronger piece of writing. Sometimes the original idea for the poem disappears completely and I’m making statements that I didn’t expect to make.

This poem started out as a description of an old rotting door and ended up as:

Front Doors
Do you wonder what’s behind front doors
While wishing for a life that isn't yours?
Do you look at neighbours with regret?
You think you want to live their life and yet...

I bet those neighbours often look at you.
I bet they envy everything you do.
They’d love to have the life they think is yours.
So many things can hide behind front doors.
Rosalind Adam

The idea for Front Doors must have been in my head somewhere but I certainly hadn’t planned to write about that. I don’t know how or why this happens but for me it’s one of the most satisfying things about being a writer.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

On the "Outside"

These past few days have been exhausting as anyone who has been following the Poetry Space group may have gathered. I found myself faced with what I felt to be an inappropriate post and deleted it.Some people were pleased I had, others felt that they had a right to judge for themselves and in the end I came to the conclusion that they are right . Extreme views as one person put it are possibly best "out in the open where they can be challenged". This is true democracy in action. I have spent many hours examining what led to my decision to press that delete button and I think there were many factors to it. Fear was a big factor. I acted in self-protection .  I was worried about my good name, the reputation I have built up with Poetry Space Showcase and the printed publishing business.This is all to a large extent controllable. On these sites only I only publish material I am comfortable with and that  fit with my view of Poetry Space.

My discussions with family, friends and colleagues have all helped me to clarify my thinking on this and to realise that the forum I have created is not mine. It belongs to everyone who contributes to it and each and every one of us has a different idea of what that space is for. Like a mother who lets her child go out in the world I am now going to let this forum evolve as an entity apart from me and just use the ethical guidelines available to me - that I use all the time in my role as a counsellor. From now on I will rely on the group members themselves to monitor extreme postings and only press that button if I feel the posts breach UK Child Protection legislation and UK Anti Terrorist legislation and if I have to do that I will also record the posts in case they are needed as evidence.

It is hard being on the outside and it is hard being the one making the decisions. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

Being on the outside is the theme for a poem I wrote very recently for a competition organised by The Bardic Writer's Circle - a lovely group of writers in Caerphilly who set up this competition so that they could raise funds to produce an anthology of their own writing in 2012. I will be meeting them next week to receive my prize and I'll also get to meet Professor Chris Meredith who judged the competition.

This is the poem:


I am not sure

how  I came to be outside
rather than inside

how  I came to be
on a homemade sledge
gathering speed

how arms and hands
belonging to me could
own another child’s fat warmth

or how
in the bronze twilight
of a winter’s evening
my face
could burn
and freeze
and laugh

all at the same time.

© Susan Jane Sims

All the best for now,


Judge's comments on Bardic Writer's Circle website

Monday, 5 December 2011

Poetry Aid - Poetry Space out in the community

Whenever possible Poetry Space loves to help small charities or community projects to raise money and we do this through our book sales and by collaborating with other companies. In the summer of 2010 I was approached by 88 year old hicky (pen name) because he had a delightful collection of poems and cartoons that he had drawn himself using Microsoft paint programme. His idea was to benefit a charity that helped elderly people in some way. After an initial brush off from the biggest UK charity in this field we turned to small UK charity Contact the Elderly because though they are small they do have branches across the country. The core of these branches are volunteers who offer to host tea parties in their own homes on a Sunday for a group of isolated elderly people and volunteer drivers who take them there. The meetings are monthly and they have 75 group now all actively helping our older citizens to feel valued and cared for by offering, tea, cake and friendship.

In the cold winter weather some volunteers also called on elderly people with the group to see if they were okay although this is beyond their remit as volunteers.

In 2012 we shall be releasing a sparkling new edition of the book with a new cover drawn by young artist Toby Morgan, together with a CD of the poems put together with music by vibrant New York Theatre company, On the Square Productions. Many thanks to Rob Benson and Duane Tollison in NY who are currently working on the project for us.

It is early days but we are hoping that profits from the new edition and CD can also benefit a small community project in New York that works with senior citizens. They well deserve it. Our seniors may now have reached older age however they have much to offer us in terms of their wisdom and experience. Like all of us they want to feel valued and listened to.

Look out for the book in 2012.  Contact the Elderly have already received £250 from the first edition. This is likely to raise a lot more.