Archive for the ‘Guest Bloggers’ Category:

Visual Poetry

Written on February 26th, 2010 by admin2 shouts

Peter Ciccariello’s “Credible report III”

Image by [Peter Ciccariello’s](http://invisiblenotes.blogspot.com/) “Credible report III”

Visual Poetry

Visual poetry (also called VisPo and concrete poetry) is poetry in which the visual element is as important—or sometimes more important—than the verbal one. It’s meant to be seen. All poetry has a visual component, but visual poetry self-consciously emphasizes and exploits images in the creation of meaning. To many, these poems are not just literary works, but works of art.

While some claim that visual poetry has existed since humanity’s first use of writing, many see its modern Western beginnings either in 1896 with Mallarmé’s Un Coup de Dés or around 1914 with the work of Guillaume Apollinaire and Italian Futurist F.T. Marinetti.

Visual poetry experienced a renaissance in the 1950s and 1960s on the European continent and in Brazil with the movement known as concrete poetry.

Eugen Gomringer, “Wind”

Haroldo de Campos, “Nasce Morre”

Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s—and afterwards—people also created poetry incorporating more complex pictures. Some labeled it “visual poetry” as a category distinct from concrete poetry. How concrete and visual poetry are classified and related to each other is still open to debate.

Carol Stetser, “Hierogram”

K.S. Ernst and Sheila Murphy, “Vortextique”

Peter Ciccariello, “Proposed monument to the language of rupture”

Today many visual poets have incorporated sound and motion in their poetry:

http://vispo.com/

Visual poetry takes a variety of forms. The genre has an elasticity that leads to ever-widening avenues for creation of meaning. The links to the poets here give are just a tiny taste of its rich world.

……..

Guest blogger Melissa D. Johnston

Her own visual poetry and art work can be seen on Artwalk

Learn more about her at Windspirit Girl (also includes flash fiction and essays)

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Silent Voice – Mental Health and Creativity

Written on February 24th, 2010 by adminno shouts

Silent Voice

There are many advantages to expressing yourself creatively. Have you ever wondered why for example poetry and art is so expressive, why it brings about such strong feelings in the person reading/seeing it? When you’re angry, upset, frustrated – or happy for that matter – do you ever grab a pen and just write it all down? A letter to a friend, a journal entry, a poem…

We were asked by WoPoWriMo to write something about the advantages of using poetry to express creatively some of the struggles faced by those suffering from mental health problems. Many of those reading this will already be poets – experienced or budding – so you will already be aware of the advantages writing creatively can bring to your own mental wellbeing, whether you suffer from mental ill health or not.

There are many studies highlighting the positive effects of writing or expressing oneself creatively to overcome difficult times – and indeed art therapy seems to be increasingly popular. That creative outlets are so encouraged in many branches of care speaks volumes to its effectiveness. An example of such a study is Mcardle, S. & R. Byrt (2001) “Fiction, poetry and mental health: expressive and therapeutic uses of literature” in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Volume 8 Issue 6, Pages 517 – 524; however there is an abundance of literature out there supporting these advantages.

The National Self Harm Network’s ‘Silent Voice’ poetry book is an anthology of poems written by members of the charity’s support forum. It is a collection of works, written by those with personal experience of self harm, exploring a variety of topics and feelings. It is a collection, which encompasses both the positive and negative emotions which may be felt, exploring both the despair of darker days, as well as hope for the future. As stated in the foreword, it’s a book in which ‘the reader is invited to follow a journey from the darkest time through recovery from self harm – through times of sadness and happy moments, with humour and compassion.

“Self-harm happens when we can’t communicate our feelings, when words fail us, and pain is written out instead upon the body. But words don’t fail these young writers; they deal honestly with the pain, frustration and anger that lie behind such desperate acts. I hope the writing itself has helped them come to terms with their feelings; I’m sure it can go on to help others, whether self-harmers themselves, or the people who love them.” – Jo Baker, author of ‘Offcomer’,’ The Mermaid’s Child’ and ‘The Telling’, and lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University

The idea for the book was conceived from the support forum’s Creativity board, a place in which people are encouraged to find alternative outlets for emotions, through the use of poetry, words and art. Self harm is complex and an individual’s relationship with self harm will vary greatly. However the charity takes a pro-active stance in trying to help members find an alternative form of expression and outlet for emotions and believe that activities like poetry can be an effective aid in helping a person move towards recovery and help reduce the incidences of self harm.

We have seen from many of our online members how writing – in general, although poetry seems to be the most popular way of expressing oneself on our Creativity board – has helped them express some of the thoughts and feelings they never dared talk about elsewhere. It’s helped many come out of their shell and eventually express themselves (through poetry or otherwise) to family, friends or health professionals which has meant they have been able to get the help they need and deserve.

It is hoped that Silent Voice will highlight the link between creativity and mental health, in a positive way, highlighting a productive outlet for emotions as well as raising awareness and understanding around the subject of self harm.

You can purchase the book for £5.99 including free postage and packaging within the UK. Please contact us for details of postage and packaging outside of the UK.

Cheques and postal orders can be sent to PO Box 7264, Nottingham NG1 6WJ, made payable to National Self Harm Network. You can also pay via PayPal: if paying by PayPal please note that you are required to also send an email to info@nshn.co.uk to inform us that you have made a payment.

Adam Horovitz – Guest Blogger

Written on February 22nd, 2010 by adminno shouts

Adam Horovitz

The mantle of ‘Poet’ is a strange and heavy garment, one that can really only be conferred on a person by others. I tell people I write poetry but I am still wary of openly calling myself a poet; afraid, I think, that such boldness may drive the urge to write away. The only place I have ever brazenly admitted to being a poet was in the job centre, during the years after college that I spent signing on – it unnerved them and gave me time to look for work I wanted to do.

I have been writing since childhood. I was brought up by two poet parents, so I have been exposed to poetry and its cadences, rhythms and subtle changes for years. Both my parents put poetry in my way as a child and – as many children do – I wrote earnestly and eagerly. Unlike most children, I continued to do so. It was a line of communication with my parents. Certainly they both talked to me about my writing and, later, criticized it. When I was 21, I told my father I wanted to write for a living. He asked me – joking, I’m sure – why didn’t I become an accountant instead and keep him in the style he’d like to become accustomed to. It was, by that time, a little too late – I’d got the taste for writing.

I was subsumed in poetry, art and landscape, so I was shown the best side of bohemia as a child. I grew up in Cider with Rosie country rather than London. Robert Graves described my father as “incorrigibly urban”, but he and my mother raised me to be incorrigibly rural – “piping down the valleys wild”. I had a very Blakean, innocent childhood between birth and the age of nine.

I’m lucky, then, that I can tap into that and into the rhythms of verse that I was unavoidably in contact with as a child, as I rely heavily on Damascene inspiration to write. I am not at all keen on sitting down and deciding to write ‘a Poem’. There has to be a spark of life in the capturing of art – exercise and escape are required. This can mean that many months will go by without a thing worth speaking about leaving my pen.

That’s not to say that I don’t write every day. I do. Every day I sit for ten to thirty minutes and write a stream of consciousness. Sometimes my morning stream of consciousness pen-and-head clearences get stored in the old tea box I keep writings in, more often they are disposed of. I will, at some point, dispose of all drafts, abortive poems and notes. If I’m ever studied in schools or Universities, I have no wish leave too many signposts for students. The best path into a poem’s deeper structure is the one you find for yourself, not the one you’re dragged to by the nose.

I believe it’s essential to keep the pen and the subconscious oiled – this is why I agreed to write this piece for WOPOWRIMO. You may not get more than one lasting poem out of the process of writing something every day, but the practice will more than likely make it easier to write a great poem when the inspiration comes in the future. Sometimes commissions can open the floodgates – I had one of my most productive years of writing last year after someone commissioned me to respond in verse to her exhibition and it turned out to be on a subject I had been considering already. That happy confluence lead to all sort of new rivulets of ideas. Since November, the spring has dried up. So, like a nomad, I move on and live and hope I find another spring.

I know I can be better at this poetry-writing lark, that each poem has to be better than the last. If one relies on inspiration alone, one becomes lazy. If one writes purely for the sake of writing, one can become stale. It’s a hard slog getting oneself into the position where one might be able to write poetry that is powerful, accessible and which packs a hell of a punch. But it’s worth trying. It’s always worth trying.

Adam Horovitz

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A poet out of water

Written on February 20th, 2010 by adminno shouts

Angie Belcher on the joys and japes of producing a stand-up poetry gig.

Angie Belcher

Running a stand -up poetry night always seems so easy on paper. Select poets, invite punters. Mix. Yet I always shudder a little when asked to run a Stand-up poetry night because of my unflinching obsession with creating the best possible variables to encourage the most investment, inclusion and permission. This while sounding like a banking equation is basically the creation of ways to allow your audience to shut up and laugh, each in the right place. I imagine that most people think that this is a given, yet I spend a shockingly large amount of time worrying that this wont happen. When I run Music events this is never quite as important as I don’t need an audience to pay perfect attention to the band, yet with comedy and poetry it’s integral. Investment is a person’s belief that they have given up something so that they believe they will miss out if they don’t pay attention to the performer. This is often pseudo-controlled by over zealous compers but one of the simplest ways of doing this is to charge a nominal fee on the door, this creates a feeling that they have invested in the show and therefore they will want to pay attention. The same effect however can be achieved by having a burly bloke on the door who looks like he eats Jack Russels for breakfast.

I have often found my self in free gigs where the audience roams in and out not quite registering that the lady in the corner is doing her bestest poetry, whereby I compete for attention with the fruit machine. I wonder what the pubs intention was in having invited stand –ups in the first place. It’s difficult to feel confident on stage while the land lord of the pub makes it quite clear that you’re not quite as important as the football score he loudly announces to his punters while you’re on stage. Therefore at my gigs it’s essential that I make my acts feel welcome, often to the point of psychosis. When I started running nights I was just so grateful that my acts had turned up and that I didn’t have to fill 2 hours with me that I would practically force my tongue down their throat on arrival.

Secondly, I have a Tetris like obsession for creating the perfect physical space so that absolutely no-one can sit at the bar, or sneak off and have (god forbid) a private chat. This means that everyone gets crammed into the front in a vice- like system which means that everyone feels like they are in the front row, thus confusing all the people that promise themselves never to sit in the front row at a comedy night.

I must say though that recently I have been broadening my stand-up poetry environment. Last year I performed in a run down area of Bristol in the middle of a traffic roundabout on a Sunday morning at 9 am in the pouring rain while the only audience was a collection of local heroin addicts who were most amused that a bunch of poets had come to entertain them. Strangely enough though I found the whole thing quite liberating. I couldn’t control the variables, my mascara had run down my face and the threat of violence loomed large in my shaky stanzas. It was a hoot however and funnily enough got asked to do a really good gig in the warmth and in a proper building and that off the back of it. The moral there is never turn down a gig, unless you think you can compete with stoke beating man city 2-0.

Angie Belcher

To book Angie go to http://www.dragon-pm.com/

To learn more about Angie’s day job go to www.angiebelcher.com

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Peter Wyton – Guest Poetry Blogger

Written on February 10th, 2010 by adminone shout

Peter Wyton

I don’t remember when I began writing poetry, but when I’m asked why I write it, I generally say that it’s an itch I feel periodically obliged to scratch. Certainly I started in what must be a fairly standard manner, inflicting my efforts firstly on my family, then in the magazine of Friends School, Lisburn, in Ireland. From about the age of 12 I appeared periodically on BBC Radio Children’s Hour, broadcast from Belfast. There was no payment, but for each performance you received a book token for seven shillings and sixpence.

At 15 years old, I joined the Royal Air Force and served in it until I reversed the numbers and left at the age of 51. During the majority of my service career, my poetry output was limited to ‘crew-room verse’, very parochial and purely for the amusement of my colleagues, who liked their verse (a) to rhyme (b) to be about them (c) to be funny and, for preference, rude.

However, in the early ‘90s, I discovered the small poetry press and began to subscribe and submit to a variety of periodicals such as Iota, Smiths Knoll, Orbis, Envoi, etc. At first, I imagine like many others, I fired off poems, machine-gun fashion, in all directions, gradually discovering which magazines seemed most inclined to accept my work and which wouldn’t. I also began to send work off to written competitions and found that I could gain some success in that field as well.

The notion of performing in public never occurred to me at that time. You can’t blithely tell a promoter that you’ll appear at such and such a venue on such and such a date in the future, only to find that Her Majesty would prefer you to be in some remote part of the world instead.

However, four days after leaving the R.A.F., in April 1996, I hopped onto the stage at the Gloucster Guildhall, took part in my first Performance Poetry Slam and discovered a competitive and exhibitionist streak I didn’t know I possessed. There is something particularly appealing to me about Slams. A lot of it lies in the total unpredictably of what’s going to happen, what you’re going to hear and who you’re going to meet. I never tire of them, although though they rarely earn you any money on the night. But right from the beginning I found that a good performance might (and did) earn me support slots with established figures such as Brian Patten, John Hegley and Attila the Stockbroker, or invitations to appear as a featured artist at a poetry evening, or even, in one memorable instance, to be presented with an expensive sex toy donated by the Ann Summers company (which I contrived to sell to an appreciative audience member before I left the stage!).

More conventionally, within a couple of years, I began to acquire a smattering of invitations to appear, not only at literary festivals, but at an eye-watering variety of disparate events, ranging from the W.I. to jails, from an Air Guitar Championship to a classical music festival. I’ve performed poetry from the back of a flat-bed truck in a Welsh field, a ferry boat bobbing around Bristol harbour, a knitting convention,a couple of comedy clubs, several schools and goodness knows how many pubs and clubs between Devon and Yorkshire.

Particularly pleasing has been a stint as the Poet Laureate for the Gloucestershire1000 project, a brace of nominations for the National Poetry Prize and reaching the final of Radio Four’s first ever broadcast Slam. I’ve produced eight slim volumes of my work, the latest of which, ‘Not All Men are from Mars’ I sell in support of the charity Women’s Aid. Poems of mine have found their way onto the BBCs Poetry Please and Something Understood, into national papers like the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph.

A decade and a half since I first climbed onto a stage, I’ve enjoyed and am continuing to enjoy, innumerable evenings in good company all over the place. I’ve indulged in poetic collaborations with a number of talented individuals including Emily Wills, Jo Bell, Paul Eccentric and Alison Brumfitt. I’ve met a fair proportion of the great and good on the contemporary poetry scene and have every intention of carrying on for as long as I can put pen to paper, or stagger up to a microphone.

Lately I’ve started to pay more attention to poetry on-line. I’ve contrived to inveigle myself into some very good company appearing on webzines such as Chimaera, The Flea and the wonderfully named Shit Creek Review, thereby putting my work before audiences in America, Australia and beyond.

If you’re interested in knowing more about what I do and where I do it, try www.myspace.com/peterwytonpoet

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