Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Responding to a Poetry Challenge - Sue Sims

April was Poetry Month and a fellow poet suggested having a go at writing a poem a day for the whole of the month. I'd like to share one of these poems and its genesis with you.

When I am in need of inspiration I often find it helps to start with a random list of words. I find these in all sorts of ways, from newspaper articles, flicking through books etc. This time I flicked through a copy of a poetry title I have just acquired Dark Film by Paul Farley, itself a brilliant read. From this I gathered the following words:


I started by doing some notes:

Caught in a downpour, my ears filling with water, the allotments flooded, the chimneys shooting flames, I'm soaked, I'm boiling, I'm bitter. The floorboards creak as I cry.

Then another burst of rambling:

always a downpour
never an up pour
not possible, not unless time is moving backwards
and actions are being reversed
ears are aching, ears of corn in fields
swallowing smoke. soaked in a downpour

Pretty much nonsense and then something clicked and I moved on to thinking about taking refuge from the downpour and who I might be with with and what we might find.
This final poem uses most of the original list of words bar one. When you do this yourself it is important not to be totally rigid. If one or two words refuse to fit in respect that and go with what comes as I did here:

The Downpour

During the downpour,we take refuge
in your grandpa's allotment shed
and rummage for what we can find:
a jar of boiled sweets, a few
squares of bitter chocolate, 
a miniature bottle of rum.
We are thirteen. We consume it all
sitting on the warm floorboards. You say:
"We'll never have this day again"
and lean in for an awkward kiss."
I hear myself saying 
"You've got beautiful ears". Outside
the factory chimney belches smoke.

Copyright Susan Jane Sims 

When I sat down to write I had no idea what I would write, however the list of words, Paul Farley's lovely urban poems and my own memories led to the above poem which I am pleased with. The discipline of having to use particular words I think give it a quirky feel, particularly the beautiful ears.

If you have been inspired then do consider sending poems in to Poetry Space Competition 2013.