5 Day Poetry Challenge

Ever since I was small, I have dabbled in poetry. To call it more than that would be to insult actual poets who have spent years working at their craft. It started when I was about eight. I was the princess of event poetry. Christmas? Got a poem for that. Bonfire Night. Yep, that too. Actually, these are the only two I can remember but I know for a fact that I had a whole ring binder (remember them, kids?) full of little seasonal and occasional poems, each one appropriately illustrated, by moi. Neither poem nor picture were any good, but I didn't care. I was writing them for the sheer bloody love of it.

 

And then I stopped. For about a decade. For stupid reasons. Until the arrival of what I like to refer to as the maudlin years, full of dreadful poems that I, in my kinder moments, suspect were attempts to come to terms with some personal problems. Problems I couldn't articulate, even to myself. There are also a couple about friendship and quite a few about boys who don't like me. Your average teenage stuff. I still have these in a book. Opening it is like opening a beehive without the appropriate safety equipment. It stings. Both for the badness of the writing and for what I can see now at a distance – a young girl struggling and no clue about how to tell anyone.

 

And then I stopped. Again. For years. And years. Until I went back to uni to take my writing more seriously. I concentrated on fiction, I wrote a whole book. And I dabbled a little more at some poetry.

 

Which brings me to the very recent past; specifically the last week of June 2019 and a stumble across a tweet about a challenge posed by Arvon, an organisation I love very much for helping me crack the 'am I writing this book or not?' nut. It was called the 5 Day Poetry Challenge and was designed to celebrate National Writing Day on 26 June. The challenge: commit at least 30 minutes of each day to writing poetry with the help of a series of exercises from poet Jen Hadfield.

 

So, I did. And it was amazing. Each exercise drew you a little deeper into the process and offered new ways of thinking about ideas, the act of writing, finding the breath in a poem and – my favourite bit – using alphabet pasta to find the poem's shape and interrogate every word choice. There was a moment about half way through the week when I started to beat myself up because I had misread Day 2's exercise and was worried I was going to fall behind, but I pushed on and did something I've always said is impossible for me - write in the evening. And, in the end, my 'misstep' helped me better understand what I was trying to do.  

 

Below I've posted some pictures of my experiences along the way, including my final poem, which I decided to turn into wall art to remind me that I want to do more than dabble. That I want to understand this craft and, more importantly, practise it. And also because there's something joyous about sticking pasta to card that also reminds me of being eight.

 

Cloud

 

Lungs

 

Pasta 1

 

Pasta 2 (1)

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