Saturday, 9 April 2016

Random musings from the Leeds canal

My Saturday afternoons are usually spent ironing, working and pretending not to, and following the football on Twitter, usually accompanied by numerous cups of tea and coffee and moaning about the weather.  So it was a real delight to break from this norm and spend today on a barge in the company of poet Matt Abbott and several other writers, as part of Leeds Waterfront Festival.  Despite working in Leeds city centre for ten years I'd never been to the docks *whispers embarrassedly*.  I actually have no idea why because a) I love the water b) I grew up by one of the busiest docks in the world c) I've been just about everywhere else in Leeds.

Matt is a founder member of the very exciting A Firm of Poets and it was fantastic to hear some of his poetry and learn about the writers and lyricists that have inspired him (Bob Dylan, Charles Baudelaire, Charles Bukowski, John Cooper Clarke, and Hunter S Thompson amongst others).  I love the fact that poetry is no longer seen to be the preserve of the academic elite, and that we are gradually reclaiming the spoken word that uses our own accents and colloqialisms (will be writing something in Hampshire dialect very soon :)

During our afternoon on the water Matt introduced a number of writing techniques and ideas, which resulted in a number of random pieces of writing which I thought I would share here.  I'm hoping to keep working on these to sharpen them up in the near future.  Watch this space...

50 word poems

Structure is important in poetry, it goes without saying - and there is something very pleasing about working with the restrictions of form, even when it involves maths.  Here are two poems which I tried (and just managed) to keep under the word count.

On creativity

Greying path of the M62
Leeds concrete
and girls carrying their shoes in the multi-storey
The green of my apple
multi colours of the docks
I wait for the creative spark
that appears with my cigarette
and the surprise of water.


Density of clouds
Heavy as her heart
and full to burst
Reflected mood in the murk of water
Twenty feet down, made closer by the skies
She waits and watches
Til the light comes again
Grey turns to blue 
and the colours dance.

We also looked at alliteration and were challenged to write a poem using only one letter (mostly).  I seem to have a thing for W and here is my attempt:

Winding waterways work their way without waiting
We walk with wonder
while worlds whirl by
in wet wilderness.

When I look at the stuff I've written lately it is fairly clear that I need to think much more about form - so the next challenge of writing a sonnet was a welcome one.  It is proving tricky though, so more of that next time hopefully.  Many thanks again to Matt for an inspiring and productive day.