Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Poems for Boxing Day:

a song to christmas

time to don the hats and wrap around the scarves
the trees are decorated with the glow of balls and stars
the traffic is a bumping up with buses and with cars
            and it’s time to go shopping once again


oh it’s time to go shopping
and everyone’s dropping
yes it’s time to go shopping
once again

the trees are decorated with the glow of balls and stars
the carolers are knocking doors with sounds of la la la’s
the santa in his grotto is laughing (ha ha ha’s)
            and it’s time to go shopping once again

the traffic is a bumping up with buses and with cars
the toys wrapped up so quickly (and batteries for all parts?)
the drunks are getting drunker in the pubs and in the bars (hic)
            and it’s time to go shopping once again


Dave Wood

Chris Sims

Happy Christmas,

More poetry throughout today:

So much depends

a green wheelbarrow

freighted with 

beside the brown 

© Louise Green

© Paul Green

                                   ARCTIC TREES

                                    silver birch
                                    as Finns
                                    rows of iced
                                    Folies Bergeres
                                    ostrich feathers                       
                                    every breath
                                    on pause       


Poem and image - Margaret Eddershaw

Monday, 24 December 2012

Poetry Space Christmas poems and reflections

At this time of year busy as it is I like to find time for some personal reflection of all that is good about this time of year for a non- believer like myself.

I like the connecting side of Christmas, spending time with family and dear friends, closing the doors, sitting rather too close to the fire and sharing memories, anecdotes and the occasional poems with everyone. I know there will be laughter, probably some tears as we remember the people no longer with us to share the fun and the warmth. I like also to think of people who may be spending this time alone and when the doors of the shops and cafes close find themselves without anyone to talk to.

It has become a tradition of Poetry Space to invite poems from Poetry Space supporters and others who have not visited before to be shared on this blog and I hope that over the next few days you'll send some in if you haven't already to be featured here.

I'll start everyone off with one from Mike Lee and add to it as the Christmas period progresses:

Home or Away?

At Yule, like the Magi, we three travellers usually fly far away
to distant lands. This year, we journeyed north through spray
and murk along a grumbling seasonal motorway,
resolved to try out Scotland’s ski-side slopes. 

Like Mr Toad we headed for freedom on an open snowy Highland
road and didn’t see the ice. Felt helpless as we slid and ended upside
down in frozen bracken. Powerless and peckish, we dined on left-over
picnic-crusts until a farmer’s chugging antique tractor towed us out.
“Welcome to our Highland Christmas. Everything is on the ‘hoose’,”
he said. So, while the local garage fixed our car, some thirty miles
away, we helped out with farm-yard chores and discovered that
counting sheep’s a routine day-time task, for some,
©Chris Sims

and mucking-out and milking can be much better fun
than accruing bumps and bruises on the piste-runs.

Driving south, along a January-salted motorway, it dawned on all
of us: instead of finding Santa on his camel at the swimming pool,
we’d stumbled, quite by chance, upon the real story with some
worldly angels, a star, a shepherd-innkeeper and a whole array
of beasts - including a donkey and a flock of sheep. So, next time
we’ll choose to stay at home with friends for both Yule and Hogmanay.  

© Mike Lee

Thanks Mike, Happy Christmas.


And this year will it all be the same?
Grey rain. Slow, dark days.
Too much to eat and drink.
Too much, then too little, to do.
In this hiatus between manic cold wet December
and miserable colder wetter January
will I find the space to cast off weariness
and mark another year lived and learned from?
Will I be able to sleep deeply and dream contentedly?
Will I find fellow-feeling with friends and family
both near and far?
Will we be warm and welcoming;
will we sing and dance and celebrate?
Yes – for I know that I love
and am loved; and this is the light.
This is the light that we create for ourselves
in the darkest of times, however heavy the heart.
So yes, I answer myself. Yes!
This year, it will all be the same.

 © Jo Waterworth

Thanks Jo, for your poem
and good wishes.
Susan Jane Sims

Monday, 3 December 2012

Read a poem, write a poem - Moira Andrew

Well, it’s not as easy as all that – there’s a lot more to writing a poem, as I know to my cost.  The poet Wes Magee has said, Poetry is two four-letter words – HARD WORK!  But one thing is sure, the more a poet reads, the more successful the subsequent writing becomes. 

Photo by Kate Blair
It’s true that we poets have a compulsion to write, stimulated often by the most unlikely things – a flower lighting up the border in winter, a scrap of overheard dialogue, an unbidden memory that makes you catch your breath, the smell of cinnamon … you never know where a poem is lurking. 

And then there is the whole therapeutic reason for writing, words really can bring wellbeing.  Poets write of their loss when someone they love has died, exploring loneliness, grief, anger, uncertainty.  Some of our best and most direct work comes as a by-product of deepest grief.  To quote Michael Rosen, A poem is the best way of saying big things in small spaces.

But poets shouldn’t simply write – to develop our skills we need to read – and to read widely.  No use saying, I’ve done all that – I read Wordsworth and Shakespeare at school.  We’ve all been there.  We keep the work of the traditional poets under our belts, often unaware of the debt we owe them.

No, I’m talking about contemporary poets.  As writers living in today’s world, we need to speak and write in today’s language.  If you go on an Arvon course, the first questions you’re asked, even before the tutor has opened your folder, are What do you read?  Who is your favourite poet?  Why do you like his/her work?

The tutors recognise that poets need to be able to hear the rhythms in contemporary poetry, the way dialogue is used, the various patterns created on a page.  But what about traditional punctuation? I’m asked, when readers are initially floored by seeing verses in lower case or dialogue in italics.  That’s not a problem.  No poet is forced to drop capitals or formal poetic structures – it’s just that sometimes a modern poem reads better that way!

Keep a notebook, all you would-be poets.  Write down scraps of ideas, dreams, quotes … but more importantly, read as much as you can lay hands on of contemporary poetry.  You won’t like all you read, but you can begin to make comparisons and rate different poets in your own private ‘poetometer’.

Photo by Chris Sims

Then experiment by trying different subjects, new ways of placing your words on the page, rhyming and non-rhyming, circular poems, shape poems, riddles, conversations, narrative – your own version of a sonnet.

Explore, invent, cross out, reinvent – experiment with different styles, a different pace.  Occasionally you might see what happens if your try a ‘copycat’ poem, changing ‘Prayer to the sun’ to ‘Prayer to the moon’, adding your own take on the original.  Try using a phrase from an existing poem as a title of a new poem – and see where it takes you.

Photo by Susan Jane Sims

Above all, put down your pen, switch off the computer and spend time reading poetry collections, magazines, anthologies.  You will be surprised at the riches you’ll find – but more to the point, your own poetry will come on by leaps and bounds. Read a poem, write a poem that’s my motto!

Moira Andrew November 2012

Moira Andrew has been writing poetry for children and adults since the 1980's. In the past year she has had two collections published: Firebird (Indigo Dreams Publishing) and Wish a Wish, published by Poetry Space Ltd. 

Wish a Wish, Moira's collection for children, illustrated  by Anna Popescu is available in Poetry Space Online Shop at £5.99