The monthly Poetry Night in Brewery Lane Theatre has been running since January 2011 and it’s about to expand. Friday, 21st March 2014 will mark the start of Poetry Plus. What’s Poetry Plus? It means that in addition to poetry if you wish to read prose, tell a story or anything else related to words feel free to do that. Just keep it reasonably short! For anyone who recites a poem from memory there will be a ‘lucky dip’ prize 😉 So you might like to start memorizing your lines!
Venue: Brewery Lane Theatre, off Castle St., Carrick-on-Suir
Fee: None, but we do appreciate a Euro or two towards refreshments, heating & lighting
The theme for the night is ‘BATH’
What else? Tea, biscuits, chat …
It’s time to polish up your poems – the 2014 Brewery Lane Poetry Competition is now open for entries! The closing date is Friday, 14th March and results will be announced at the Brewery Lane Writers’ Weekend, which will be held in Carrick-on-Suir on the weekend of April 11th – 13th. This year’s judge is Richard Hayes, Head of the School of Humanities, Waterford Institute of Technology where he also teaches on the Institute’s English degree. In addition to the overall award there is also a category for Emerging Writers, those who haven’t previously won a prize or been published. We hope to encourage new writers through this category and also the rising generation of writers through the schools’ category, which is confined to secondary school students in Carrick-on-Suir schools.
Get in touch with me through the Contact Page here for an Entry Form and the Rules for Entry (see below) or email brewerylanepoetryATgmail.com and get ready to send in your best work!
‘… only two things can be said to be common defining characteristics of a poem: 1) the language is intensified, and 2) it gives the reader a complete experience.’ Pat Schneider
or as Emily Dickinson said, ‘If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.’
I hope that you’ve stored up lots of creative energy over the summer months because my autumn writing workshops in Brewery Lane Theatre are about to start. The workshops will be inspired, as always, by the writing wisdom of Pat Schneider. Each person will be encouraged to develop their own writing voice in whatever form they choose – fiction, poetry or creative nonfiction – through the writing of first drafts each week. Manuscript response will be a weekly feature, further addressing issues of craft and helping writers to bring their work to a new level.
Here are the details:
Start date: Saturday, 7th September 2013
Venue: Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir (tearoom)
Duration: 8 weeks
Time: 10.30am – 1pm
This will be my only writing workshop this autumn so if you wish to reserve a place please do get in touch with me, using the contact page, as soon as possible. I look forward to hearing from you.
If you have been absent from your writing for whatever reason remember that it is fine to just begin again. As the inimitable American cookery writer Julia Child said, ‘If you drop the lamb, just pick it up. Who’s going to know?’ No agonizing, no guilt. Just pick up your pen, open your notebook … who’s going to know?
Yes, I’ve been missing from my station here for a little while, caught up in other projects that are whisper secret for the moment. One project has meant spending some time in Waterford City Library, searching through microfilms of nineteenth century editions of the local newspaper The Munster Express, looking for specific information and being wonderfully sidetracked by all sorts of fascinating items. Most of which were, of course, entirely unrelated to my quest.
But I stayed with it, kept going and struck pay dirt on Monday last and, even though it’s not the done thing to holler and cheer in a library, I let out an excited, whispered ‘YES!!!’. And here’s three cheers for the local library service, ‘Hip, Hip, Hurrah!’, arguably one of the best uses of taxpayers’ money.
So, I haven’t been posting here for a couple of weeks, breaking all the rules of social media regarding keeping oneself visible and engaged with as many people as possible. But, as an introvert, a wee bit of quiet time in a place like a library is soul balm, refreshing, re-energizing. And I am also getting acquainted with a couple of amazing nineteenth century women!
Ted Hughes‘ book ‘Poetry in the Making’, first published in 1967, is a compilation of a series of BBC radio programmes that he wrote and presented for an intended audience of ten to fourteen year olds. It contains the following advice on how to ‘capture’ an animal in poetry which, to my mind, also captures the essence of how to get that first draft written and how to build up writing confidence whatever the writing genre or age of the writer.
Here is what Hughes says: “See it and live it. Do not think it up laboriously, as if you were working out mental arithmetic. Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself into it. When you do this, the words look after themselves, like magic. If you do this you do not have to bother about commas or full-stops or that sort of thing. You do not look at the words either. You keep your eyes, your ears, your nose, your taste, your touch, your whole being on the thing you are turning into words. The minute you flinch, and take your mind off this thing, and begin to look at the words and worry about them … then your worry goes into them and they set about killing each other. So you keep going as long as you can, then look back and see what you have written. After a bit of practice, and after telling yourself a few times that you do not care how other people have written about this thing, this is the way you find it; and after telling yourself you are going to use any old word that comes into your head so long as it seems right at the moment of writing it down, you will surprise yourself. You will read back through what you have written and you will get a shock. You will have captured a spirit, a creature.”
Ted Hughes’ poem ‘The Thought Fox’ is the first animal poem he wrote, and it is about a fox but it is also about the act of writing.
I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.
Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:
Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now
Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come
Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Coming about its own business
Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.
In the coming weeks, starting tomorrow in Brewery Lane Theatre, I will be encouraging writers (and myself) to keep their ‘whole being on the thing’ in my weekly workshops. I can hardly wait to see what we capture. Shocks? Surprises? Pretty much guaranteed.
I first came across the poem below in Celia Hunt & Fiona Sampson’s book, Writing: self & reflexivity
Something is stopping me
from writing this poem
It’s my mother
watching the page
judging my self-indulgence
or not wanting to see
the smooth surface.
It’s feeling that
Me and I
are such big words
to commit myself to
in proud print.
So I’m not going out there
on the page
I’ll just stay here instead.
The words ‘Something is stopping me from writing …’ indicate the nagging feeling that torments me when I circle the notebook, like a dog before getting into bed, over and over and do so many other things except put butt on seat and pen to paper. I know I’m writing this post right now, but otherwise here’s a list of what seems to be stopping me from writing today.
- it’s raining
- the plumber has left, the bathroom is in a mess and I don’t know when he will be back
- I need another cup of tea
- Twitter needs checking, just for a second
- the fridge needs cleaning
- I don’t know if I should tidy up the books on the floor
- I have a visitor coming tomorrow night
- should I order a book online or check my local library
- I’ve just heard that the plumber is definitely not coming back today
Dare I go to the page alone? And I know that when I start to write I find that I am not alone at all! The tricks that the mind plays on us all.
What is stopping you from writing today?
If you are reading this today you are still in time to book for the last place on my last public workshop for 2012. It’s on next Sunday, 25th November in Carrick-on-Suir and you will find the details here
And nothing will stop any of us from writing on that day. This is something I can guarantee!
Letter to a New Writer
I hope you notice that I addressed you above as ‘writer’. You have started your writing journey but it can sometimes feel strange to think of yourself as a writer. I know that from my own experience. But rest assured, once you start to put pen to paper in an exploratory fashion you are a writer. And you will never stop. There may be dormant times when it will seem to you that there are no ideas coming or that your writing lacks that certain spark or shimmer, but that’s ok. Nature always allows for a rest period. It usually means that there will be a tremendous energy and fresh growth in the very near future.
Have I ever told you about Fred?* What I would like you to do is to imagine Fred as your creative side, what some people refer to as the subconscious. Fred is friendly and wants to play with you and loves it when you notice and play back. Every so often Fred throws up an idea or two – you know when you get that ‘ping’ feeling – and sometimes you decide to follow it up but at other times you don’t. Maybe it came at an inconvenient time, not when you were at your desk with your notebook or screen, but when you were doing other ‘more important’ things. But Fred gets such encouragement when you acknowledge his activity, when you take notice. It spurs him on and gives him energy. Fred knows that you are taking him seriously even when all you do is jot down the idea or the sketch roughly in your notebook. He will then continue to play with you by happily sending you the most wonderful stuff and, I must warn you, he can get very lively. Of course, there will be times when you’re not sure where these ideas might lead you or indeed if they are of any use at all. But try to trust Fred. If you ignore Fred he gets unhappy and mopes about. He loses energy, he gets listless and stops trying. He sees no point in throwing ideas and creative notions in your direction if he senses no response or excitement coming from you. The secret is to keep Fred interested and playful by acknowledging what he sends and using it and I guarantee that you will fill your notebooks with precious seeds of future work.
One other thing. You must keep practising your writing. Any longer work is an accumulation of shorter bursts of writing practice. As a writer you will have the great gift of paying attention, of regarding everything in life as grist to your creative mill. It’s an exciting journey that you must undertake for its own sake. Forget about the marketplace, literary prizes and so on, especially now at the beginning. Of course they may come to you. But your first responsibility is to your writing. Do it for pleasure, do it for satisfaction, do it for the challenge of making good work better.
Writing will change your life.
All best wishes,
* with thanks to Damon Knight who first alerted me to Fred