Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Unwrapping Ideas: Johanna Boal on the excitement of writing

There is so much I can say about writing. One aspect is that moment of unwrapping something, that has been given to me and the excitement I feel. I write to show my mood, and my inspirations comes from all parts of life, I could be in the bank paying a bill, walking to my local tennis club or simply rubbing my fingers in-between the lavender flowers growing in our garden.   

 I also get ideas from other writers/poets, in workshops and books. In fact one book on how to write poetry by Matthew Sweeney set exercises and one exercise I did, called- ‘Fish Bones Dreaming’ I fell in love with. It is funny, charming and clever. Using his idea on the structure throughout the poem, with a chorus, I called mine- ‘Dinosaur Bones Dreaming’, actually I did two and I frequently go back to read them.

I find art galleries and museums useful for prompting ideas, I don’t necessarily feel I have to know the artist, the object could be enough. But when you get somebody like- Leonardo da Vinci and his pencil drawings coming to the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. I wrote down everything what was going on in his drawings and afterwards went away with my writing pad full. I then put all that information on the computer and I thought what can I do with this?  There was lots I could do, I could have taken the Oak Leaf he drew and wrote about oak trees around the country but I didn’t, I decided to write about the limits of his drawing materials, considering his time was the late 1400’s and early 1500c.

The language of the poem gives it structure and it is just as important whether you have written two lines or forty lines as it gives shape and style. That is where grammar and punctuation play a big role in writing. Reading out loud is just as important as reading it on paper.

 Up to now I make this all sound simple, ideas can come easily but not technique or vice a versa. Writing poetry is just as important as Leonardo tried getting his chalk correct and using enough light and shade. And the good thing about writing is I can of course at any time write about oak trees around the country.     

I have been writing for some years now, I’ve had some poetry published in anthologies, read over radio, I have read at the Beverley Folk Festival, at HMP’s and online. I have just recently just been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Competition. 

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