My kind of poetry: Char March

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This will be the third, and for a time, the last of my northwords poetry posts. It comes with a kind of synergy or symmetry, in that while last week’s poet, David Underdown, travelled north from Manchester to Arran, and latterly south to Hebden Bridge, this week’s guest poet, Char March, began life in Scotland, lived all over everywhere, settled in Hebden Bridge, but recently moved away and now li...

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My kind of poetry: David Underdown

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Last week I decided not to comment much on the poems Bob Beagrie shared with us; I wanted to them to be heard, and work on the reader, for their music, the texture of the language. I’m just hoping that it persuaded at least some of you to go back and listen to what they said, as well as the way they...

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My kind of poetry: Bob Beagrie

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I like to toy with a notion that I came across years ago. I don’t know the source. I have a suspicion it could have been David Crystal; basically, it’s that if the accidents of history had taken a dif...

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My kind of poetry: Carole Bromley

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I was trying to decide between three possible posts for this Sunday, when my mind was made up for me by two things. On Wednesday I had a great time as a support reader at Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton...

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Let me count the ways: the things that lists can do

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I shall start a tad self-indulgently. Last Monday I was running an open mic at the Puzzle Poets Live in Sowerby Bridge. It was a special night with a guest poet of rare talent ... Peter Riley, the fir...

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My kind of poetry: Gaia Holmes

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Gaia Holmes's third collection was recently longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje prize. That’s all the prompt I need to revisit things I’ve written about her in the past, and to urge you to rush out and bu...

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Poetry workshops, the ins and outs: line breaks

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This will be a slightly edited version of a post I wrote some time ago. I hope it’ll be useful.

There should be a reason why every line ends where it does.

Think about this handwritten letter, b...

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My kind of poetry: Yvonne Reddick

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We can get used to all sorts of fashions and default settings in poetry, getting comfortable with psalms, and sestinas, and free verse, and minimalism, and stanzaic bits of ekphrasis and sonnets, and ...

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Blank notebook pages and first-line nerves

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A sort of mea culpa to start with on this ridiculously lovely Easter Sunday. I’m pretty sure I promised you a guest poet today, and I have her poems and her back-stories all lined up. But the fact is ...

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Poetry workshops: asking for advice about your poems

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Just to be clear; in this context, it’s not one where you write new work from prompts or whatever. I mean workshops where you take a poem that’s unfinished or unsatisfying in some way, in the hope tha...

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Poetry, place and identity: Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

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Some politicians are inescapably linked to things they said, often without thinking, or because they were poorly advised. Or plain stupid. JFK could never shake off the ‘ich bin ein Berliner’ thing, h...

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The ins and outs of poetry workshops: residential courses

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Over the last three or four years I’ve shared various thoughts about writers’ workshops of various shapes and sizes: from groups of like-minded friends who meet regularly in pubs to listen to and advi...

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The company of poets: why listening and learning provides that buzz

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I came back to Ted Hughes’ Season songs today, as I do on a day like this, with

 

     the earth invalid, dropsied, bruised, wheeled

  out into the sun,

  after the frightful operation

...

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Staying alive: me and Mr MacCaig

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There’s a sequence in one of Eddie Izzard’s shows where he’s riffing on supermarket shopping. At some point he remarks that if an old lady bumps you with her shopping trolley (which, by the way, will ...

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Readings and open mics: a beginner's guide

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Extraordinary to be sitting in the sun, in a T-shirt, watching blackbirds nest-building in the hawthorn. This time last year it was snowing. A poet friend of mine, Zoe Walkington, says poetry is a win...

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In it to win it: a guide to success in poetry competitions

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Let’s get something out of the way right from the beginning. The odds of your winning a poetry competition are dramatically increased if you enter. Simultaneously, so are the chances of losing, but no...

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A northern voice: accent, rhythm, and texture

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Sometimes I think I like the names of the northern Dales as much as the hills and the valleys themselves. Wharfedale, Ribblesdale, Nidderdale, Swaledale, Langstrothdale, and this one, Arkengarthdale, ...

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Ted Hughes, eco-criticism and the common reader

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“What do I want in a critic of poetry? I am a slow and basic reader: clarity, first of all. Everything else, the enthusiasm, the insight, even little bits of esoteric knowledge, can all come later. I ...

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Whose life is it, anyway? Writing poetry about real people

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A couple of years ago, I was writing in my own blog, the great fogginzo’s cobweb, about the way I had found myself conflicted about learning things about my granddad’s life that that didn’t fit with p...

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Knowing your place: locating the poetry of landscape

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Poetry and ‘landscape’. This lodged in my mind last week, probably because I’ve just finished an essay/review/guest blog post which has taken me, one way or another, more than nine months to write. It...

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Overlooked poets, open mics ... and how a blog got its name

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I started blogging around the same time as my friend and co-organiser of Puzzle Poets Live, Bob Horne, set up his poetry publishing venture Calder Valley Poetry. We both support the same poetry events...

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