Reading for Al-Mutanabbi

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This Thursday, I’ll be reading at the Biscuit Tin Gallery, Warwick Street, taking part in an event to commemorate Al-Mutanabbi Street. We did a similar event last year at Gateshead Town Hall, but this year it’s gone bigger and better, including music, food and an art auction.

Come along! Doors at 1800-1830…

This is one of the pieces I’ll be reading.

Flatworm Tales
After Rose, S. (1964) Towards a theory of memory. Discovery.

If you sliced me in half,
would my legs
remember their way back?
Like Blackpool Rock,
do memories run through us,
bound within each cell?

That sea-salt air taste,
the sight of an old haunt –
could it really all fade
through biological quirk,
enemies of the state of mind,
calming the crashing waves,
peeling back fresh-cut grass
until nothing remained?

Open mic debut!


Anyone who knows me, knows that public speaking is not one of my favourite things, and that I’ve been pushing myself over the last year or two to take part in more poetry readings. With every reading, things are getting a little easier, and so on Wednesday day I decided to take the plunge, and take part in the Stanza’s open mic session. Having attended the first Stanza in January, I knew it was a lovely and lively crowd, and that all the open mic participants were given a great reception, so why not? And after some fantastic Facebook encouragement, down went my name.

So, thank you Stanza, for a really wonderful experience, and I hope you don’t mind, but I may be back next month!

Third Thursday in March, Chillingham Arms pub – hope you can make it!

Writers’ workout

So. Stretch, two, three and reach, two three.
Pens raised, two, three and down, two, three.
Pen to paper, two, three and write.
That’s it! Keep that ink flowing,
keep those ideas coming;
your brain can take the workout.
Now, add a twist, two, three
and another, two, three and stop.

Pick a card, any card, and go –
use it in your next sentence.
Drop and give me twenty
ways to say “I love you” –
show me, don’t just tell me,
make me feel the burn…

Regular workouts, remember,
get nice and warmed up first,
spare words flooding the page.
Work at your own pace, don’t rush:
it’s best to suit yourself –
this is not a competition.
Except, of course, when it is.

Found poetry

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In April, I am going to be trying my hand at ‘found’ poetry, following a daily poem challenge to explore the concept more, as it’s something I’ve always found interesting. The fact that I’m also hoping to do NaPoWriMo, as well as keeping up with Slant 2015 is neither here nor there. Poets don’t need sleep, right?

Last night, I went to a workshop as part of the Beyond the Western Front project, and the first challenge was to produce a found poem from a provided piece of writing. Mine was part of a report about the attack on the Salient, and I thought the process was fascinating – it really makes you look at the words, rather than the whole sense of the piece.

Bring on April – and plenty of caffeine!

Christmas is approaching on a sea
of mud, rain, frost, fogs, vermin –
and sudden death.

New Writing

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This series of workshops has really got me thinking about the First World War, a period of history I have to confess to having mostly ignored up to now! Hearing everyone’s work at the sessions has been really inspiring.

Originally posted on Beyond the Western Front:


Things have been going well in terms of creative workshops; getting interested people into see and respond to the different exhibitions that Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives have rolled out in support of World War 1, Wor Life.

Here we would like to share some of the creations. More can be read within the writings section of this website.

The first poem comes from Caroline Kemp.


Caroline writes: This poem is about my German grandmother, Mimi, who wrote a diary in August 1914 for 5 weeks. I have just translated it from German. Her husband, Louis, is having
to leave for the front and my father is only a few weeks old


The night is heavy
Bare essentials packed
Mimi cries all night
Will this be my last night
There is no comfort I can bring to her
I cannot stay
Gesund und munter I…

View original 572 more words


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Written on a train north a couple of weeks ago, and inspired by an article advising academic writers to write ‘unplugged’ to help keep the distractions the internet can bring. Ironically, an online article… Ho hum.

Write unplugged.
Live unplugged.
Go back to the days
when your days
weren’t spent in a daze,
staring at the screen
of your latest craze.

Laugh a little.
Laugh a lot.
Laugh for the sake
of laughing,
and love it.
Feel ridiculous,
but feel amazing,
and stay

One Free Place – Lighting Up The Landscape

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Having won this last year, I have to say, it is a fantastic opportunity… Good luck to everyone who enters!

Originally posted on Sagra delle Words:

We are inviting you to apply for this year’s free place on our retreat, Lighting Up The Landscape from 4 October to 11 October 2015.

The winner is entitled to an 8 day retreat including writing workshops, free accommodation, airport transfers, and all meals included.

This retreat is open to writers in all fields regardless of nationality or age.
The chosen candidate will have the opportunity to do a reading/ presentation of their work during the week.

The winning writer is responsible for all extra personal, living expenses, travel and insurance costs, telephone charges and any other expenses during their stay.

Deadline for application 31st March 2015

To apply please send:
1. Curriculum Vitae/Resume
2. Cover letter including a writer’s statement and what you hope to achieve through your attendance on this retreat.
3. 10 pages of recent work (i.e. completed prose, poetry, scripts etc.)

Please email applications to

View original 8 more words

Happy New Year!

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Better late than never? For a number of reasons, Christmas 2014 wasn’t quite the relaxing break any of my family had in mind, but there you go, life is full of lovely surprises…

It was a great time in one respect though – thanks to Sheree Mack, I decided to determine for myself a word for 2015. Following Susannah Conway’s free course on the subject, I’ve come up with ‘explore’ for 2015, and am determined to use it throughout the year. Physically, I’m going to be exploring new places, both home and abroad, but I’m going to try and take it in some other ways as well, exploring different bits of creativity for example, and seeing where the year takes me. It should be fun!

As you may have noticed, public declarations of intent are, for me, generally followed by failure to complete anything, but I will be aiming to finish NaPoWriMo again this year, and have also signed up for Slant 2015, a weekly poetry challenge, which I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into. I’ve already posted a poem for the first week in their Facebook group, so it’s off to a good start at least…

Here’s to a wonderful year of creativity!

Jen x

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