Tag Archives: poetry

20 Questions….. Deborah Alma, Emergency Poet

Continuing my occasional series with writers, actors, artists, choreographers, sculptors, and other creatives around process, I’m delighted to introduce Deborah Alma, Emergency Poet….

Deborah Alma is a UK poet, with an MA in Creative Writing, taught Writing Poetry at Worcester University and works with people with dementia and in hospice care. She is also Emergency Poet prescribing poetry from her vintage ambulance. She is editor of Emergency Poet-an anti-stress poetry anthology, The Everyday Poet- Poems to live by (both Michael O’Mara), and her True Tales of the Countryside is published by The Emma Press. She is the editor of #Me Too – rallying against sexual assault & harassment- a women’s poetry anthology (Fair Acre Press, March 2018). Her first full collection Dirty Laundry is published by Nine Arches Press (May 2018). She lives with her partner the poet James Sheard on a hillside in Powys, Wales. Her website is: https://emergencypoet.com/

What first drew you to poetry?

I remember loving it as a child, as I think most of us do, but it connects me very much to my much-loved grandmother Jess Alma; I lived with her until I was six or seven. We shared a love of poetry and some members of my family wrote it too…my Dad and my uncles. But I hold my grandmother as the source of a love of literature for all of us.

 What was your big breakthrough?

I don’t think there’s been a ‘breakthrough’. A writing life for me has been long and slow in coming; I was a bookseller, worked for a publisher, then I did a creative writing degree in my forties whilst a single parent and working; and a few years ago my MA, I worked with people with dementia using poetry…I suppose a moment of significance was setting up Emergency Poet and the success of that project meaning I could give up my paid job to become freelance in the world of writing. It was a brave step.

 What is the most challenging aspect of your work/process?

I have 2 strands to my writing life; that of my alter-ego Emergency Poet and then myself as a poet. The most challenging aspect of Emergency Poet has been that it is such demanding work, both physically in driving and setting up all over the country and in all weathers, and emotionally, in giving people in pain, or stress my undivided, good attention- this is exhausting.

In my own work as a poet, I am soon to have my first collection, Dirty Laundry published by Nine Arches Press (May 1st), and the challenge has been to take the writing properly seriously. I think this may be more common amongst women writers; that writing is the thing we do after all of the others jobs have been done. This means that I hardly give myself time to write or to submit. I am amazed and delighted to have had my collection accepted by Jane Commane, who has been such a supportive editor.

Is there a piece of art, or a book, or a play, which changed you?

I find that question really hard to answer, although I’m enjoying thinking about it! I was a short-sighted shy girl who escaped her noisy family and council estate in books. I think the thing that saved my life was the local library. It may be cheating but I consider that to be a piece of art!

 What’s more important: form or content?

 Another difficult question. Obviously both in perfect harmony is the best answer; but you know I have worked so long in primary schools and with people with dementia to make poetry that I am all about the process being the thing.

 How do you know when a project is finished?

 They are never finished, they merge and connect to the next one.

 What advice would you give a young writer/practitioner?

 Read. And read. And read. And after that, be very generous; enable and support others and in a hippy-karmic sort of way, it will come back to you. Have fun.

 What work of art would you most like to own?

I think your questions are agony! Ha…that’s the most impossible question! I think something by the US artist Gigi Mills, whose work I love at the moment and whose Nude with Poppies is the cover of my collection.

 What’s the biggest myth about writing/the creative process?

 That it’s hard. Obviously doing it well takes time, but I would always advocate having a go at something. We all are capable of being creative in some way in our lives.

 What are you working on now?

 Today I had a parcel of the new book I have just put together in response to the #MeToo campaign; ~MeToo- rallying against sexual assault & harassment- a women’s poetry anthology (Fair Acre Press). I’m working on the promotion and publicity for the book and putting together a series of readings/ performances/ panel discussions all over the country.

 What is the piece of art/novel/collection/ you wish you’d created?

 To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

 What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?

 That my own work was worth something. I’ve hidden it in corners.

 What’s your greatest ambition?

 I am in the process of buying an old iron-mongers shop and turning it into a poetry pharmacy/ cafe/ performance & workshop space, writing retreat. My ambition is that this might actually work and not just be a mad idea!

 How do you tackle lack of confidence, doubt, or insecurity?

I don’t know. I am riddled with it. I used to never finish/ edit my writing so that when it was unfinished it still had potential to be good. I have learnt that ‘good-enough’ is OK.

 What is the worst thing anyone said/wrote about your work?

 ‘That’s not a poem! I’m sorry, I just can’t see that it’s got any poetic quality whatsover!’Oh dear, that was a bad moment.

 And the best thing?

 This from Jane Commane at Nine Arches Press when she accepted my MS!

 I enjoyed these poems immensely, I knew after the first few pages I was going to. I found them immensely rewarding, funny, powerful and sexy. It just feels like exactly the right poems at the right moment, and they feel cohesive and engaging as a whole. These are powerful poems and I love the fact that they don’t hold back, they feel daring and exciting.

 If you were to create a conceit or metaphor about the creative process, what would it be?

 Building a sand-castle and trying to dig a long channel to the sea to flood the moat, which keeps back-filling!

 What is your philosophy or life motto?

 Be playful. Try to be your authentic self in all that you do.

What is the single most important thing you’ve learned about the creative life?

 It feels like being properly alive.

 What is the answer to the question I should have – but didn’t – ask?

Chocolate.

——-

Dirty Laundry is available from Nine Arches Press on 1st May 2018. Cover Nude With Poppies by Gigi Mills

#MeToo is available at Fair Acres Press A women’s poetry anthology
Edited by Deborah Alma. Introduced by Jess Phillips MP.

All profits to WOMEN’S AID

Publication Date: 8th March 2018 ~ International Women’s Day

Cover image and design by Sandra Salter
7 B&W illustrations by Jessamy Hawke

A Dynamism of Opposites: An hour with Li-Young Lee. Singapore Writer’s Festival 2017

 

Li-Young Lee at Singapore Writer’s Festival 2017. Photo: Kaite O’Reilly

 

 

Li-Young Lee is discombobulating.

“So what are we here for?” he asks in the opening moments of a masterclass at the Singapore Writers Festival in November 2017. “It isn’t a class or anything, is it?” Thirty heads nod in unison. “But I haven’t prepared anything,” he says, with disorientating frankness. “What’s it on?” From the front row I feed him the title: ‘”Creating the Poetic Mind.” He reflects, nodding. “Good title, but I didn’t write it. Perhaps whoever wrote the title should come and do the class, not me.”

I’m torn between irritation at this apparent disorganisation and disregard of the good souls paying good money to have an insight into ‘the poetic mind’ and a growing suspicion that that’s exactly what’s about to be revealed. “The guy’s either a jerk or a genius” an American voice whispers in the row behind me. My mind is circling on ‘maverick’.

After a few queries from the floor Li-Young Lee is beginning to warm up. He talks about the length of time required to create a poem, quoting one which took eight years from conception to completion. Suspicious of work that comes too easily, he says everything is in preparation for the future work: “I don’t like any of my work. I have a troubled relationship with my work,” he confesses disarmingly. “But there’s a good poem in me… I sense it lurking… I haven’t written it yet, and I don’t know how to reach it.” He shrugs, face and palms open towards the audience. “T’ai chi masters talk of dustless action and that’s what I strive for. Dustless action. Perfection. It is possible,” he nods vigorously, but then stalls, his face falling. “The trend now for popular poems are ones showing lots of dust.” He shakes his head, his disappointment shared by many in the room.

A lifelong t’ai chi practitioner, he believes everyone should practice, as it is “a dynamism of opposites which is at the centre of it all”.

“The ultimate polarities, the ultimate opposites is the definition of t’ai chi,” he says. “So making poetry you have a profound voice and silence – I’m not sure you have the differentials of this in prose. Let me talk about architecture,” he says as the room slides from distrust into a rapt attention. “The medium of architecture is of space. You inhabit space and you inhabit it differently – a bedroom, a shop, a temple – you’re using the same materials but how you inflect the space impacts on how a person inhabits it. Poetry is like this. You’re using the materiality of language in poetry and the opposite is silence.”

As an example, he speaks of a visit to Duke University Cathedral, and how when he was approaching the building he was walking in “vertical infinitude” but wasn’t aware of it until he went inside this gothic cathedral with “space inflected” and saw a little boy lying on his back looking up into the great dome, calling out to his mother ‘I’m falling upwards!’ “We live in vertical infinitude,” he smiles, “yet we forget this until we go into a cathedral and then we remember. Poetry is like this. Poetry is a revelation of reality.”

Born in Indonesia to Chinese political exiles, the family were, as he puts it “fugitives, on the run, changing names and identities” during his early years, finally receiving asylum in the US in 1964. An audience member asks about his childhood, and his acclaimed memoir, The Winged Seed: A Remembrance (1995), but Lee is reluctant to speak about it.

“I don’t want to remember any of that stuff,” he says. “The Ancient Greeks said the Great Muse is memory, but it is the kind Buddhists remember when they meditate – our original state.” He is warming to this new subject, expanding before our eyes. “I have a self I expose to the public world – a public self. My private self is disclosed to my family and friends, my secret self is disclosed when utterly in private, and my unknown self has a kind of personal memory I can’t account for. There’s an unknown self that is twenty thousand years old. This is what poets need to connect with – that intelligence we find in Emily Dickenson’s poetry – it’s an intelligence that’s older than America – this unknown intelligence which poets need to connect to.”

I can feel others in the room leaning forward into this surprising conversation. “Composite nature is in us,” he says suddenly, “like the number twelve – it’s a version of two, three, four, six. Then there’s a prime number like seven, which is just a version of itself. We’re versions of each other – our friends, mother, and so on – we’re composite – versions of Buddha, our teachers, etcetera – but we’re also prime. There’s a primacy in us. How do we access this primacy? We can only encounter it through the unknown self. You can’t will a poem into being – it isn’t up to you. When you’re in contact with the unknown self, the imagination – well, that’s when you’re really working, really making.”

Chimes from the Clock Tower across the way break into the silent room. Our hour is up. We wander out from the Old Parliament Building into the shrill brilliance of tropical sunshine, past the river-side statue of Raffles, ‘founder’ of modern Singapore, dazed. I sit at Raffle’s landing place and look out onto Boat Quay, light-headed from a masterclass with a poet, mystic, and trickster all rolled into one.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/li-young-lee

Talking with poets

Penglais woods, above Aberystwyth. Walking the bluebell trail with Chris Kinsey, April 2017. Photo: Kaite O’Reilly

For the past few years I have been undergoing a slow transformation, partly documented in this blog. It has been sedate but determined, rather like the growth of lichen on a tree,  so perhaps a better term might be evolution…

For years my performance texts and plays have been described by reviewers as ‘poetic’ and my writing as having a ‘lyrical’ quality. When I won the Ted Hughes Award for my version of Aeschylus’s Persians in 2011 I almost argued with the judges, asking how could I win such a prestigious award when I was a dramatist, not a poet? (Thankfully the judges were sage enough to ignore my protestations, insisting in their wisdom I was indeed a dramatist and a poet, despite my cries ‘But I don’t write poetry!’)

Many conversations on this subject have followed over the years, some referenced in this blog. I often wondered if my resistance was not towards poetry  per se – I have too many learnt by heart to be considered a poetry denier – but to the idea of me trying to write it. I also suffered from a rather limited definition of what poetry might be.

As my resistance (fear, perhaps?) weathered away, I became aware of how many of my new but close friends were practising poets. When I became seriously ill in 2015, I found what I wanted to read was, of course, poetry, perhaps because, as Robert Frost put it: ‘Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

My friend and poetry-whisperer Chris Kinsey has accompanied me along this journey, generously sharing reading platforms (at Oriel Davies where she was poet in residence) as well as work in progress. Interesting articles on form are sent my way, along with illuminating quotations on writing alongside her extraordinary engagement with the natural world in language. It was a masterclass in itself and a great privilege to witness the creation of her latest pamphlet, Muddy Foxpublished by Rack Press. We ruminate on process, often – to my huge pleasure – when walking along hidden tracks in different parts of Wales. As a former winner of the BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year, she is  attuned both to the natural world and ways to express it. We exchange work and encourage each other in our writing, but never once has she suggested I try writing poetry, not even covertly… (I am confident in asserting this, for as a playwright, I am skilled in detecting subtext and ‘what lies beneath’).

Aberystwyth from above the town. Walking the gorse trail with Chris Kinsey April 2017.

So it is she, alongside Samantha Wynne Rhydderch and Gillian Clarke who have and continue to patiently incubate my on-going evolution as someone who now experiments with poetic form. I have wonderfully stimulating lunches with Sam overlooking Cardigan Bay in a cafe which was previously the post office where Dylan Thomas sent his manuscripts to London – a detail we both find entertaining. The hours disappear in our varied and diverse conversations on live performance, poetry, writing, the voice. Gillian has recently become a more formal encourager, meeting me for ‘masterclass encounters’ as we coin them, part of my Creative Wales Award, granted by the far-sighted Arts Council of Wales (read about this incredible initiative here).

It is only now I am beginning to fully understand the power and influence of talking with poets. These conversations guide, stimulate, provoke, engage, and encourage growth and change. Talking to poets (particularly along the by-ways of our beautiful Ceredigion) should be available on the NHS.

 

Creative Wales Awards 2017

I’m delighted to announce I am one of the artists from Wales fortunate to be granted a Creative Wales Award.

The awards, presented at an event held at Cardiff’s contemporary art gallery G39 on Thursday 12 January, “recognise the very best talent and potential of individual Welsh artists applying for this development opportunity.

The annual Creative Wales Awards offer up to £25,000 to enable artists to take time to experiment, innovate, and take forward their work. The aim is to develop excellence by offering a period of research and development to some of Wales’s most interesting artists.”
Phil George, Chair of the Arts Council of Wales said:

“The Creative Wales Awards is the Arts Council of Wales’s opportunity to recognise some our country’s remarkable talents. They are awarded to the artists at significant stages in their careers and as they take the brave decision to explore new ways of developing and making their art. We look forward to seeing how these awards will impact on their work and to how their creativity flourishes in the future.”

I am immensely excited about this award, but also phenomenally grateful to be living in a country which recognises life-long learning and development in an artist. For me, just writing the application for the award was stimulating and useful – it encouraged me to perceive where I ‘am’ in my career, and possible new ways forward.

My Creative Wales is based on my love of words and the incredible joy I experienced when writing my new version of Aeschylus’s ‘Persians’, directed by Mike Pearson site-specifically on MOD land for National Theatre Wales in 2010. You can see a promotional video of the project here.

Apart from starting a love affair with the remarkable poet-playwright-soldier Aeschylus, it introduced me to composer John Hardy, long-term collaborator of Pearson and the brilliant Brith Gof. I knew John’s work intimately, but hadn’t had the opportunity to work with him, before. At the read-through of the first draft, he said to me: “Do you write for opera?” and I answered in the negative. “Well, perhaps you should think about doing so,” he replied – words that remained scorched into my mind for six years – until I started thinking about a Creative Wales Award. I am happy to say John Hardy was immensely generous in our conversations about form and process, dialogue which helped me shape a programme of learning when drafting my application. He, alongside David Pountney of Welsh National Opera, and Michael McCarthy of Music Theatre Wales, were incredibly encouraging as I stumbled in my ignorance through possible approaches. I hope dearly to have the opportunity of observing process with WNO and MTW, and developing material alongside John Hardy during my experimentation.

But my award is not solely about writing libretti. It is about exploring the performative power of language with music. The gift of a Creative Wales Award is remarkable – it is not product-based, but about process, learning, experimentation, creative exploration. I will spend months exploring different form and approaches – from underscored performance poetry and verse drama through to exploring contemporary libretti.

Perhaps this exploration was inevitable. I won the Ted Hughes Award for New Works in Poetry for the text of ‘Persians’. This extraordinary honour both humbled and bewildered me (“but I’m a playwright, not a poet!!”) and started me off questioning what the relationship might be between the poetic and the dramatic. It is perhaps no accident that new friends and collaborators are themselves accomplished poets – Samantha Wynne Rhydderch, Gillian Clarke, Sophie McKeand and especially Chris Kinsey, who has consistently nurtured my interest in poetry, and encouraged my own practice through inviting me to read alongside her at public performances. I’m excited about where my journeying into the poetic may take me, and I’m thrilled that Owen Sheers and Gillian Clarke will give me some masterclasses in poetry and verse drama in the first stage of my Creative Wales.

All I need now is to get through the next four months before my exploration commences. I’m trying to curate an experience which will stretch and challenge me, forcing me to grow as an artist perhaps into unexpected places. I am so grateful to all who assisted me in the application, and those who wrote supportive letters. My greatest thanks, of course, goes to the officers of the Arts Council of Wales and that sterling institution which has such vision and understanding about how to grow mature artists within Wales. I know my colleagues outside Wales are envious we have such opportunity – and it is one we must cherish and jealously protect in uncertain times in the future.

 

 

Disability Arts Cymru Poetry Competition 2016

Image from Disability Art Cymru. Image by Michele Brenton

Image from Disability Art Cymru. Image by Michele Brenton

As patron of the excellent Disability Arts Cymru, I’m delighted to publicise their call for submissions for the forthcoming Poetry Competition. What follows is from DAC. Please contact them, at the information below, with any queries and submissions:

Poetry Competition  Disability Arts Cymru – closing date July 31st 2016

       Prize money & Digital publication

  We invite you to submit work that is in response to the theme of Austerity and/or Extravagance
Two Prizes of £50 with digital & online publication
Closing date July 31st

We look forward to receiving your submissions of poetry, spread the word and share this with your friends and colleagues.

Theme of Austerity/Extravagance: In the light of recent governmental decisions, which affect many people throughout Wales, we want to reflect the feelings about this through our poetry by DAC members, many of whom have been affected by austerity measures. Contrary to this we are also asking for work in response to the theme of ‘Extravagance’.
Judges are Dominic Williams and Sian Northey

for the entry criterea you can CLICK HERE

or for more info call: 02920 551 040
or email: kate@dacymru.com

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20 Questions….. with poet Jim Ferris

For some years I have been running the series called ’20 Questions…’ when I ask a variety of creative human beings – from burlesque performers to theatre directors and novelists – the same twenty questions. Individuals are encouraged to respond to as many or as few as they like, in whatever form they choose. The answers are invariably fascinating and illuminating, even more so when compared to how other artists have responded. This time I’m delighted to introduce renowned poet Jim Ferris and his lyrical, honest, inspiring answers…..

Jim Ferris

Jim Ferris

What first drew you to your particular practice?

Words have always held power for me. I started speaking surprisingly young, I am told (and told further that I haven’t stopped yet – so much for my dream of being the strong silent type). I still recall the magical power of the ancient language of the Catholic Mass, the mystery and majesty as well as something to resist. Poets speak the world into being: in the beginning was the word, and the word was with god, and the word was god. No wonder Plato hated the poets – that’s power. I’m not particularly Christian anymore – yes, you are, my mother would say – but I recognize that language is not just how we communicate but how we perceive, how we come to what we think we know. This is why so many deaf people have been such a worry to so many hearies: they feared the deaf ones were beyond the creative and organizing discipline of the word. It takes nerve to mess with the language, man, and how can we help ourselves?

What was your big breakthrough?

There have been so many breakthroughs. One of the most important was discovering poetry as an alive and lively art form, discovering that poetry wasn’t just something in books. I had just moved to southern Illinois for graduate school, and some friends of friends had me over for dinner. Out on the coffee table was a poem that one of them had been working on. Neither of them claimed an identity as a poet, as far as I knew. The poem was about acting, it was smart and used language well, I liked it quite a bit, and suddenly it occurred to me that real live more-or-less regular people could write interesting and moving poems – and just maybe I could do that too. It really was a revelation.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work/process?

I think the most challenging aspect of my process is not so much finding the shape as it is finding the starting point. I’m reminded of the old line attributed to Archimedes: Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I will move the world. It’s not the most accessible of metaphors, but I think finding the lever and the place to stand are the most challenging aspects. And discerning not enough from just right from too much. And not telegraphing the punch line. And not explaining the joke, a very teacherly flaw. I should probably stop here.

Is there a piece of art, or a book or a play, which changed you?

There are many. Reading Hemingway and then Fitzgerald as a sophomore in college was transformative for me. Those two writers helped me know what I wanted to do with my life: live in Paris in the 1920s and make beautiful and moving things with words. I’ve let go of the Lost Generation Paris thing, but not the other.

I can’t claim to be great at this, but I do try to stay open to possibility in my encounters with poems and other works of art: maybe the next poem will be the one that changes everything, or at least cracks open this moment. Who knows where that might lead?

What’s more important: form or content?

Yes.

How do you know when a project is finished?

Paul Valery provides my answer: a poem is never finished, only abandoned. Or: when the surface glazes over, when it doesn’t belong to me anymore, when it’s not hot for me anymore. When I can’t find any way to make it better, when I am at the end of what I can do, or think, or feel. When my bag of tricks feels empty. Maybe this is when I know it’s time to put the thing down for a week or a month. I’d love to have Yeats’s “click like a closing box,” but I’m not often that lucky. Even though I’m a lucky man.

Do you read your reviews?

I think writers should approach reviews of their work employing the wisdom of those signs at hotel swimming pools: No Lifeguard on Duty; Read at Your Own Risk. I don’t read them; I fear I might not be able to let them go. I may read them eventually, hoping there will be some kernel of insight that I can use in the future. That unreasonable hope is, unsurprisingly, not often fulfilled. Sometimes my work is seriously misrepresented, and that is something I cannot afford to let in my head: if I write defensively, I’m almost certainly overwriting and probably not diving into the deepest pools. It’s an interesting challenge: staying open to influence, open to what comes up, while managing the kinds of influence and limiting those constricting and inhibiting influences.

What advice would you give a young writer/pracitioner?

Giving advice feels dangerous, but what the hell. Write the things you need to read; write what you love, do the work that fills you up; write for fun, enjoy the work even if it never sells, finds a big audience, even if it never gets you laid. If the joy of making isn’t the biggest and most important reward, find something else to do.

Always be a beginner; fresh, beginner mind is the place to be. At the same time, learn your craft, master your tools and keep them sharp. Write, and read, and keep doing both. Let the world influence you. Try to write like God. Especially if you don’t believe in God.

Love people and the world around you. And write through that.

What work of art would you most like to own?

There’s a reason I work with words rather than visual images, but I’d love to own Salvador Dali’s The Sacrament of the Last Supper. What it does with light is just stunning. If I did own it, I hope I’d do with it what collector Chester Dale did and give it immediately to the National Gallery so lots of people could see it.

What’s the biggest myth about writing/the creative process?

Inspiration. Writing is much more about preparation, application of butt to chair, and perspiration than the lightning bolt from the sky. I love a good lightning bolt, and it’s important to court the muses. But waiting for the God of Poetry to speak to you in a booming voice is to miss all the quiet ways the gods are speaking to us all the time. Pay attention, and keep your pen moving. The rest, including God, can take care of themselves.

Work I wish I’d created

This could be a long list: Peeling, The Great Gatsby, A Clean Well-Lighted Place, As I Lay Dying, anything and everything by Shakespeare, Holy Sonnet 14 by John Donne – what a set of verbs! John Belluso’s Pyretown. Just about any painting by Riva Lehrer or Vermeer. Lots of great contemporary poems.

What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?

I’m not sure I have much of an answer to this question. Everything. Nothing. I don’t think I was ready to know until I knew. That the principal joy is in the making. The importance of just writing, of putting pen to paper. And then doing it again.

What’s your greatest ambition?

To make things that are useful, that may help people feel and make sense of the world differently, better, that suggest language and categories to think with, ways of being and noticing and feeling and responding. I’d like to push the envelope, to expand the horizon a little bit. I want to change the world, that’s all. And have a damned good time in the process.

How do you tackle lack of confidence, doubt, insecurity?

W.S. Merwin has a wonderful poem about some of the things he learned from one of his teachers, the legendary John Berryman. The last two stanzas seem to particularly fit this question:

 

I had hardly begun to read

I asked how can you ever be sure

that what you write is really

any good at all and he said you can’t

 

you can’t you can never be sure

you die without knowing

whether anything you wrote was any good

if you have to be sure don’t write

 

In twenty or thirty or forty years, people will look back at us, shake their heads, and marvel at how misguided we were. Ten or twenty years after that, they’ll decide we did some good stuff after all. But whose work will make that future cut? [Big shrug.] If you have to be sure, don’t write.

I hope I have learned to be hip to my own shit. I hope I can take my work seriously without taking myself too seriously. If making stuff is fun, let’s just get out there and play, keep playing, anything written can be rewritten, anything you still hate a year later can be thrown away. Or burnt to make room for the new. Make it a goal to fill pages, not to write the World’s Greatest

Whatever. Just write. Posterity can take care of itself.

Single most important thing learned about creative life

Let the making of the work be your reward, take your joy there. That way you won’t be thrown by attention or its lack. If you’re in it for the fun of doing it, then the rest isn’t so important. One other thing: either be independently wealthy or be able to make a living. It’s good to be able to eat and pay the rent. And maybe put shoes on the kids from time to time.

Answer to the unasked question

Love – I think that’s the answer to the question not yet asked. Love doesn’t mean ignoring problems, making or accepting excuses. It means caring: caring enough to pay attention, enough to expend scarce cognitive and emotional resources, enough to observe and think and speak up. Caring enough to remember that everybody dies, that no one gets out of here alive. Caring enough to do something, no matter how small it might seem.

*

Further links to Jim Ferris:

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Ferris http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/jim-ferris https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoWtNBf1wJI http://www.valpo.edu/vpr/kuppersreviewferris.html

 

 

 

 

Free download: Disability Arts Cymru’s Inaugural Poetry Competition

As patron of Disability Arts Cymru, I’m delighted to introduce the fruits of their first Poetry competition, new work inspired by artwork in a DAC exhibition. You can download the poetry and the art which provoked it by using the link, below. Now over to DAC:

 

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This is Disability Arts Cymru’s first Poetry Competition. We gave the poets a brief to write in response to one of the artworks in our Annual Exhibition. Was this a narrow brief or a wide brief? You could see it either way. Many poetry competitions allow any poem, no matter when it was written or what the subject matter. Others ask people to write on a set subject. Our competition ensured that the poems entered would not be something dug out of the archives but would be freshly written. Looking at the exhibition it is clear that the subject choice was actually very diverse as the show featured photography, photorealistic drawing, abstract and figurative paintings, sculpture and a feast of food for the eyes. So it’s no surprise that the entries were also diverse and for a first competition, we are very pleased with the standard and absolutely delighted to have Menna Elfyn judge the competition and provide the foreword.

To download, free: http://www.disabilityartscymru.co.uk/about-us/projects/projects-2015/poetry-competition/