Workshop Blog 29/01/24

Hi everyone.

An interesting and varied ZOOM session yesterday. With nine people on the call we had nine readings from eight members. This remarkable situation was achieved by Jeff reading twice.

But first up was Stephanie, as she had to leave early. Her poem – Being – had great imagery and used in-line rhymes as well as other literary devices. A great work about water as a commodity, with people fighting over it. Excellent.

Jeff then gave us a poem about how the UK educates its children. This was also excellent, with great impact and was almost a plea for change.

Bruce then surprised us by not reading an essay, but a series of short poems he wrote some years ago, called Hymns For Her. Written for his wife, they are based on the seven daytime canoeical (or canonical) monastic hours, as laid down by Benedict of Nursia. In short they are; Lauds (dawn), Prime (sunrise), Terce (mid-morning), Sext (midday), none (mid-afternoon), Vespers (sunset), Compline (retiring), and of course the eighth or night-time canonical hour of Vigil or Matins. But then you all knew that. Bruce only covered the first seven and after what we heard I imagine he would have needed a good eight hours sleep and a bowl of weetabix afterward. It was not rude but extremely sensual, with fabulous poetry in every one. You can read them all by looking up SnakeSkin via this link, and they are really worth a look:

Ruth was next up with another section of her Runic Singer tale. This is different to the rest of Ruth’s travails around Western and northern Europe folk lore and traditions, because she has not pulled an actual character from an ethnic or national repertoire but instead invented a character as the vehicle for a tale of Estonian runic singing. This was really good and I especially loved ‘…a sacred lake born in a wave of fire…’ (hope I got that right Ruth). This is the final tale of her collection but Ruth is uncertain about the order of appearance for all the characters. We can hardly wait for publication.

Sarah then gave us what she called a ‘rough’ poem, but which I would call bordering on genius. We had in-line rhymes and alliteration galore, with the beat or rhythm of the piece changing gears like a mark two Cortina on a winding country road. The important and/or rhyming words always landed on the right beats. I loved ‘…colourful clutter…’ and ‘…claws and paws rapping at the doors…’. and we can all obtain our very own copy when it is published (yes, published) by Connecticut University (yes that one) hopefully in February, in digital format. Title to be announced closer to release.

Ian was then called upon and he gave us yet another first. His comical tales of Lloyd the aspiring boy chef are known to all, but here he gave us a poem about Lloyd, which didn’t contain a single recipe. It bounced along with speed and jocularity. The only thing some of us were unsure about was the title. Cook Me Up didn’t ring quite true for this and it was suggested that one of the lines from it – Late-Again-Lloyd – might be a better fit. Ian will consider.

Ian was followed by Matt, with another section of his story about Pebs, a possibly goblin-girl or perhaps something else, who is ill-equipped to deal with befriending real people or creatures, but who really wants to try. Most of her attempts result in her interlocutors meeting grisly and even unintended ends. But she keeps trying. She’s down to two now, and this week we heard of how Beryl the Dwarf (great name), who is pugalistically gifted, can tell the depth and complexity of a cave by the sound of it. We also found out that Beryl likes nothing more than a good fight with a clan of gagwyrs, who are themselves extremely violent and unpleasant creatures. I especially liked ‘…Pebs scratched her head and something scratched back…’ and ‘…Beryl was getting grumpy about not punching someone in the face…’ Brilliant.

Sharif was up next with more from his tale of Edmund and Nafa, and whilst we are still in 1856, we stepped back a little in the story, to hear about an art piece Nafa is making. Great Arabic saying ‘Love alone cuts arguments short). Lovely. We also heard that ‘…jazz can be learnt but it cannot be taught…’ another great statement. We are in a time before ‘Teddy-boys’ but we are into Rock’n’Roll, so there was some debate about ‘Beatnics’, but to my astonishment there was no mention of skiffle. (One of humanity’s worst moments.) But the story is extremely engaging, well researched, and the plotting is really good. We have unlikely and uncommon characters, but no one is two-dimensional. Excellent SG. Please keep it up.

To round off the evening Jeff gave us another poem which I believe was called Crisp Blue Sky. Again Jeff has thrown us a complex yet engaging tale, with excellent detail. Jeff also read one he has read previously – Awareness. These two worked very well together and Jeff may wish to include them as a pair in a competition or collection. Thank you sir.

And thank you all. Such talent and such beauty. Next week is another ZOOM call and the fabulous Marcelle Newbold, who has agreed to be our poetry adjudicator (closing date for entries 12th Feb) this year, is going to give a quick insight as to what she will be looking for in the entries and some associated stuff. Any questions please send to me so that I can prep MN and she can give full-on answers there and then.


Meeting ID:  836 2067 4224

Passcode:  019874

Bestest, P.

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