Archive for the ‘NaPoWriMo’ Category

So this is it. Day #30 and I have six words left from Read Write Word #15. I have more than thirty poems. I have made some wonderful new blogging buddies whose poems I will continue to read and the prompts have been amazing.japan-2009-293

Keep writing!

This lunacy must end

It was less like hardscrabble
more like a magical mystery tour.
Thirty shiny pennies jingle
in my piggy bank of poems.
The company was wicked.
I’ve travelled on different cadences
and I close these thirty days
with nascent aspiration.

And to update my Naisaiku:

today’s the last day
thirty blossoms are blooming
thirty poems are written
let’s have a party!


(Microsoft media clip)

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Day 29 and madness has set in. I have just spent three hours writing a sestina, a form which I abhor above all other forms. Surely tomorrow, I must use the remaining words, including lunacy, from Wordle #15. Carolee’s prompt at Read Write Poem was to spend five minutes writing a list starting with the words ‘I don’t think I can…’ My list included ‘I don’t think I can move house’. This is the resulting poem:

How not to move house

It snowed the day we moved here, in nineteen eighty-four,
At the start of the year of Orwell’s dystopian vision.
From garage loft and shed the junk of twenty five years,
Extends ropes, chains and padlocks to tether me to the past.
When all I want is to move where I can have a future,
I’m snared by the cast offs from my family’s other lives.

My eldest is a musician, he has a new life
Teaching in a school in Geneva, where he has no use for
Old music, a trumpet and a music stand. His future
Now lies with wife and son, there is no place in his vision
For the flotsam and jetsam of his past
But he left rubbish from his car when he visited this year.

My daughter is also a teacher. For the past year
She’s taught at Kanda University. Her new life
In Japan leaves behind less clutter from her past,
Stuff that she’s been hoarding since nineteen eighty-four –
Just books and clothes and a digital television
which she may need if she returns some time in the future.

My youngest is an artist. He now has a future
up north in Salford where his son turned one this year.
Now artists of all people are apt to have a vision
That floats unmoored to their day to day lives
Leaving a trail of items they just might find a use for.
He of the three has left behind most debris from the past

Ten years ago my mother moved south, brought another past
In addition to my children’s and mine. I put my future
On hold, just as I’ve been doing since nineteen eighty-four.
My mother’s bewilderment led to a hard choice last year:
She will now have other carers for the rest of her life.
Amongst the litter left behind – another television.

I’m still struggling to hold on to a vision
In which I’m no longer coupled to detritus of the past
And I’m the one moving forward to lead a new life
Without other pasts haunting my future
Maybe this year will be the year
I’ve been waiting for since nineteen eighty-four.

Since nineteen eighty-four, I’ve had a vision
Every year of breaking with the past
To build a future for my life

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Thank you Read Write Poem for mentioning that Carol Ann Duffy is joint favourite, with Simon Armitage, to be the next poet laureate here in the U.K. I used a phrase from her collection Rapture in my collage poem on day 22 of NaPoWri Mo. The present laureate, Andrew Motion, has done much to promote poetry with the Poetry Archive, but although there are some female poets, Duffy and Jackie Kay (also included in the betting) are not included. Both, however, can be found on the British Council site and Famous Poets and Poets, which also features American poets.

Today, I have written a list poem using Andy Sewina’s American Sandwich, which is based on Allen Ginsberg’s American sentence (17 syllables like the haiku). Andy lives in the Manchester area of the U.K., which is where I have my roots. The prompt at Read Write Poem is ‘seeing red’. I’ve given my American sandwich a British flavour by making it red white and blue. If I had more time, I would have worked at the rhythm more.

Red blooded, ruddy, robust, violent tempered, bolshie, leftie, Marxist
White skinned, Caucasian, bloodless, blanched, ashen, pure, clean, whitewash, coward
Blue blooded, patrician, profane, racy, risqué, dejected, down, sad.

P.S. I couldn’t make the ‘white’ white as you wouldn’t be able to read it.

And my Naisaiku, also with a red theme.

the last day of April
with thirty blossoms blooming
with thirty poems written
the last day a party


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Christine at read Write Poem is asking us to get metaphysical and the prompt at One Single Impression is ‘Word’.  Both of these seem to be right up my street. My interests, apart from poetry and literature, include science, philosophy and spirituality. I’ve chosen to concentrate on the macro world but the micro world inside the atom is just as awe inspiring and unknown. Even hard nosed academics like the novelist Martin Amis said recently  that in the face of the fact that 98% of the universe is dark material, which we know nothing about, it is irrational and counter intuitive to dismiss the possibility that there is a God. In a lecture delivered by Amis and James Wood, the Harvard Professor of Literature, the present was referred to not as post-Christian but as post-secular. People are hungry for spirituality and theology is being taken seriously here in the U.K. where religious practice has declined far more than in the U.S. Anyone who has been reading my blog for over a year will know of my hostility to Richard Dawkin’s campaign for atheism which has currently taken the form of an atheist bus. If I were to put a label on myself I am an agnostic Christian or maybe I’m a Christian agnostic.


Words are a lamp to the dark matter of the soul –
the chi, essence, life force – that no longer inhabits
a cadaver stretched out on a table.

Questions about the soul’s previous existence
and continuation after death rattle like dry bones
in an empty casket – without words.

If the universe were a fist, all that we know about it
would fit on the nail of my little finger. We still do not know
why we exist but we do have to be  in order to be not.

We do not know why the device that drives the universe
is speeding up, flinging stars further into space. We toss
a salad of words like ‘black holes’, ‘chaos’ and ‘entropy’.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God…

‘Your word is a lamp to my feet’ (Psalm 119: 105)

‘To be or not to be…’ (Shakespeare: Hamlet)

‘Hands that flung stars into space’ (Graham Kendrick)

‘In the beginning was the Word…’ (John 1:1))

Who was Jesus?

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Today is Day 25 of NaPoWriMo and I’m starting to crumble beneath the piles of unsorted clothes (easy enough to put them in the washing machine) papers on the table (including poem acceptance) and an unkempt, neglected house.  So today is also cleaning and tidying day. My time for poetry is severely restricted. I do have a certain level of tolerance but it has long been passed.

‘Using the recipe format, insert your own instructions for something completely different’, wrote Jill at Read Write Poem.  I wish I knew more about what was going on under the bonnet of my car but this is just bizarre…

How to Detox your Car

Place the engine, together with the spark plugs and fan,
in a very large saucepan.
Add some engine oil and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes until
the spark plugs are tender.
Season with laughter and freshly ground good humour.
Drizzle with green credentials.
Liquidise in a blender or food processor.

Follow this recipe carefully to do your bit
for the environment.

(Recipe taken from Carol Vorderman: Detox for Life)

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We move on tiny decks
past fraying cliffs of water;
me with lemonade for you
in a paper cup. As your
fingers braid with mine
behind me roars the other world
where one dream cuts another open.

Day 22 of NaPoWriMo with Read Write Poem. The above lines were obtained using phrases taken from poems by Philip Larkin, Derek Mahon (Ulster born and my favourite contemporary poet), Carol Ann Duffy, W H Auden and Jackie Kay.

I’ve deliberately chosen British, or I should say British born poets, as Wystan crossed the pond, became an American citizen and was  Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1954 to 1973).  Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay are contemporary British female poets.

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