I Love You

30 THANK YOUS 2

I’ve been looking a way of thanking those people who have helped me get to this stage in my life: ultimately, my best work is with words. Therefore, I’ve spent the last year giving back to friends and RL people who I have a real and tangible bond. These gifts have taken several forms: hand -decorated letters, real-life statements of intent and poetry for those people without whom I would simply be less than I am. Then, I realised there are a bunch of people, many who have followed me for years, that I’ve never truly thanked for their contribution to my existence.

That’s when the #30ThankYous Project was born.

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Every day, starting on November 1st, someone will be gifted a Haiku. I’m very intentionally not going to release a list of recipients: this is not about anything other than surprise and genuine gratefulness. It’s not being done to make a point or impress an audience. These are 30 people without whom I would simply not be what I am. All of them give their words and time freely and without expectation of thanks too, and that is what matters the most to me. Everybody will get an image and a hand-penned poem, just for them.

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Someone, I can absolutely guarantee, will be annoyed they never made it on the list. This understanding was almost enough to derail the entire project before it began until I grasped that this project is an approximate metaphor for Social media itself.  Whatever I do, regardless of the intent, will eventually upset someone. I accept this and still feel the task is worth completing. In fact, looking back on what I’ve written, this is some of my best haiku in action. When they’re all done, I’ll archive them all on Flickr for posterity, so if people want a physical copy they can print off a high-definition version.

The first one will be published 9am GMT on Wednesday morning, on my @AlternativeChat Twitter feed. I’ll see you there.

 

#ThinkTober Week Three

Week Three of the Haiku project ended up as something of an experiment in different canvases. Some worked, others didn’t, but overall I learnt a great deal about organising myself more effectively. Needless to say, all of this is useful information to take going forward in the weeks to come.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober2017 @inktober prompts. Day 15: No Fate.

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One of the most significant changes will be that if I use myself as a canvas, I’ll need to get somebody else to take the pictures. This picture is a bit more blurry than I would like: had I been better organised, a far more professional picture could have been taken. Also, fountain pen ink is by far the best thing I’ve found to write onto my skin. This won’t be the last time that happens, I’ll wager.

#ThinkTober: 31 Haiku from #inktober2017 @inktober Prompts: Day 16. Tattooed Lady

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Welcome to the green space outside my house: one of the trees here fell down a few years ago and crushed my car. This one, however, appears to be made of sturdier stuff and became my backdrop: I did think about writing on the bark, but am pretty certain that would qualify as vandalism. Card and BluTack had to do instead.

#ThinkTober: 31 Hauku from #inktober2017 @inktober quotes. Day 17: I, Wood.

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In the interests of full disclosure: this spider was not killed in order to make the Haiku happen. I found a long-dead spider corpse (with an already detached leg) to play a stunt squashed arachnid. I still need to put this unit together, now I come to think of it… ^^

#ThinkTober: 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 18: Dead Legs.

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I need to make more use of custom card cutouts in the Christmas set of Haiku I’m planning. Hobby shops probably will be able to provide me with some festive shapes, and I’m smart enough to be able to design some of my own. There’s also the opportunity to print out my words and then place them against plainer backgrounds, which is an approach I’ve not utilised…

#ThinkTober: 31 Haiku from #inktober2017 @inktober prompts. Day 19: Look, in the Sky!

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This, of all the Haiku I’ve done, is my absolute favourite of all. It required me to have to write a poem only using the Scrabble letters and then finding a way to place them on the board where particular letters had to be duplicated. Okay, that’s not exactly how a game would work either, but you can’t have everything.

#ThinkTober: 31 Haiku from #inktober2017 @inktober prompts. Day 20: Score!

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Yes, I texted this one in because I was short for time.

I think it works regardless 😀

#ThinkTober: 31 Haiku from #inktober2017 @inktober prompts. Day 21: Instant Message…

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… and that is Week Three done. That leaves me another 10 days worth of Haiku to complete, which I’ll post as one complete post after the Project is finished. Many thanks for sticking with me thus far, and I look forward to seeing you for the last part of the journey.

#ThinkTober Week Two

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Week Two of my Haiku project pushed me outside: when I do this again (and that’s quite likely going to happen in December) there’ll be more planning to give a mix of interior and exterior locations. I found this space on a part of communal land in my hometown that forms part of a cycle path across various boroughs.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 8: Entropy.

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This week was mentally one of the toughest I’ve had for some time. Looking back now, I knew the problems were coming well before they arrived, and this image ended up being slightly more prophetic than had originally been the intent. Of everything produced thus far, this one remains the most personal.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober2017 @inktober prompts. Day 9 : Angry.

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Tuesdays are rubbish days in this parish: it made recycling the board for the Haiku a lot simpler than normal. On reflection, I could have shown more waste, as it is not really clear this is balanced on a ton of bags…

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober2017 @inktober prompts. Day 10: Rubbish.

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This one was a no-brainer: I’ve spoken at length on my personal site over the health benefits of exercise, not simply for the body but for my mind. Next time around I want to stop using squares of paper as my substrate for writing. Today came with the revelation that there need to be more interesting things written on, something I am going to fix going forward.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober2017 @inktober prompts. Day 11: Happy Feet

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As a result, this was the first day with a) a budget and b) a theme planned in advance. My daughter got the benefit of eating the chocolate hearts used: those wooden ones are now decorating my desk area. The paper plates will get used over Christmas.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 12: Romance is Dead.

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You won’t realise it but my back garden’s had a starring role in the composition process: this is the stump of a eucalyptus tree that despite having had most of its roots cut out is frankly refusing to die. It made a good basis for the haiku, and this proved my most popular Haiku of the week.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober2017 @inktober Prompts. Day 13: Life finds a Way.

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I’d planned an extravagant end to the week, using myself as canvas, but depression effectively ruined that party. So, I went simple and small, and on reflection, this is a far more powerful representation of the poetry. The more I think about it, the better this day’s work is at precisely describing exactly how I felt.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 14: What Fear Looks Like.

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That’s week two done, and with the success of the last 14 days I have decided to do this as a bi-monthly ‘project,’ beginning again in December with a visual Haiku Advent Calendar. For now, however, it is off to plan week Three’s content.

See you in seven days 😀

#ThinkTober Week One

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Most of the time, when I have an idea, there’s nearly always been a moment in the development process when I regret it. However, that has not yet happened with Think-Tober. In fact, between you and me, this is the most fun I’ve had with a project since I came up with the Patreon at the start of this year.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober prompts: Day One 😀

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I could, on reflection, have simply stuck all of these images on my better seen (and more widely read) personal Instagram account, but that would negate the point. It isn’t about the views. This is me, making art for myself. It is finding original ways to tell stories with words and pictures and is the best fun I’ve had for a very long time.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober Prompts: Day Two. Geometric Love Song.

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The plan is simple: look at the prompt word, then think of how the Haiku could be presented. Is it something I can do easily or will the process require a setup? How complex or otherwise do backgrounds need to be: would something too complicated detract from the point of the poetry?

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober prompts: Day Three. For Shores.

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There’s been some thinking too about the place in which I live, and how backgrounds and environments can be altered, constructed as frameworks onto which poetry can be inserted or placed. Every day is a new ‘scene’ to be created, built and then photographed. This is only my camera’s phone too: no manipulation save for the filters Instagram presents.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober quotes. Day Four: Drifting.

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Then came the revelation that there is video too, so with thought these words can move and become something more than simply static tableau. That’s a concept that still needs some thought, but the door opened, as a result, is significant.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 5: …and RELAX.

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There is acting, in every day’s work: pieces of myself revealed (sometimes with intent, others by accident) that is turning what began as something academic into a deeply personal experience. Looking back on the last week comes the realisation that there is so much more that could be done, and it inspires me to attempt next week’s selection with more flair and skill.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 6: Weapon of Choice.

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Then comes the understanding that simple is best, sometimes: of all the week’s ‘work’ I think this is my favourite Haiku of all. When simply reduced to writing implement and paper, all the stresses and strains of the world fall away, and everything is perfect. Everything else, in effect, is superfluous.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 7: Navel Contemplation

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I posed naked for this picture: of course, you can’t see that, only scars from surgery to the upper abdomen and belly button. I make myself part of the art but am never really comfortable with that process, so next week there’ll be more of the same, to push out of comfort zones and try to make statements. Each of the 31 days will be as different as possible: no repetition, and absolutely no compromise.

I hope you’ve enjoyed both poetry and art.

National Poetry Day Haiku and Micropoetry

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It seems somewhat disingenuous to have produced a week’s worth of poetry for a single day’s celebration, but I decided to use an existing format to advertise a worthy cause. In the end, my efforts were largely lost as individual works, so putting them together as complete entities a week on seems like a very sensible thing to do. Both of these sets of poems were written whilst I was in Birmingham, the first time that this has happened. I intend to do more location work as time goes on: it was glorious to sit, pencil in hand and write these sequences first in longhand.

My physical notes for the Haiku portion of last week’s #nationalpoetryday @PoetryDayUK output 😀

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I learnt an awful lot of useful stuff last week: not to overstretch, to rewrite (constantly) and to not be afraid to alter my perceptions of what is important. As a result, I feel these two sequences are the best produced by a long way in this process of poetic evolution.


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To sit, then write words
Chosen without concern, this
Is truly freedom.

To think without fear
Pure joy, earnest expression
Woman’s true freedom.

To laugh at the joke,
Criticising: no comeback
Their own true freedom.

To believe better,
Transformation, empathy
Our right; true freedom.

To exist, equal
Consideration, respect;
Life’s meaning, freedom.

To own all such things
Yet not to understand for
Some, they don’t exist.

Greatest injustice:
Belittle those without their
Deserved, true freedom.


Only when taken away, does
Freedom really matter:
Existence, shattered.

Grasping just how lucky we are,
Then liberation is gone:
Loss, horribly wrong.

Those lives that exist without rights,
Fighting for every breath
Nothing precious left.

Look to us with excess, and say:
‘Why don’t you understand?
Life is in your hands.’

Perhaps answer is to lose all:
No sitting on the fence,
Fatal consequence.

Finally, when all fear is gone,
Then truth can be revealed:
Divisions held, healed.

I control, both body and name
Not taken for granted:
Freedom, implanted.


One Day Like This

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This year, poetry for me became something more than dusty pages and old blokes in church halls. When terror ripped through the lives of people who never asked for a war, killing the truest, most innocent lives, poetry galvanised an entire Community. One bloke stood up and, for a moment, everybody listened to his words and were moved to tears.

Except the smart people know that poetry has never just been for books and schools, it’s for everybody. It is the blood that drives every song on the radio, from manufactured pop to the anthems of a generation. Revolution is everywhere, and in every syllable, even now. When I was young it was Pink Floyd and Bowie sewing the seeds of diversity, swinging at authority. Now there is a new generation of poets, whose words have such strength as to stop even this cynical old woman in her tracks. I defy anyone with a soul to really listen to Tunnel Vision and not think, at least for a second, of the legacy the actions of a few have wrought on our Planet.

The greatest agent of collective human advancement is not free markets, despite what our leaders might have us believe. It is the ability to express ourselves without fear of attack or reprisal, of thinking beyond ourselves and collective greed to something better, nobler than wealth as aspiration. It is the means by which the World exists together, side by side and stronger, living longer, place where nobody is persecuted for being different. Poetry has always given a voice to the darkest recesses of the human condition: that window on our souls is never more needed than now, this moment, every second.

Poetry is freedom, and expression to believe in ourselves.

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It is a persistence of memory, growing old and looking backwards, looking forward with optimism to what yet might be achievable. It groans with angst and moans with pleasure and without it, I realise now, I was less of a writer. This year, I started writing poetry not as a chore, but with tentative ardour, and now my love affair is in full, glorious flow. It gives metaphors chances to illuminate unexpected corners. It has allowed a woman who was afraid of her own voice to once more stand upright, inhale and then speak her words with pride. It has transformed my existence, and there will never be the right couplet to express how grateful that makes me.

Never believe you’re incapable of change. I’m almost 51 and my poetic journey has only just begun: maybe if I’d started earlier… but there is no time for regret anymore. It is time to live each day as it comes and realise that it is us that makes life better not just for ourselves but the people around us. This day has given me the opportunity to share what I think and feel about a concept I hated as a kid, tolerated in my teens and then ignored for decades because I’d forgotten how to listen. Now ears and mind are open again, I can’t get enough of it. Poetry has transformed the course of my writing, and I’m grateful for one day where I can proudly stand up and admit that it will always be a part of my life until I die.

Poetry is worth all the effort. Take the first step into a wider Universe, and you may yet be surprised at what you discover not only about the world, but within yourself.

Train in the Distance

ThinkTober

It may have escaped your notice that October starts on Sunday. A number of my art friends alerted me to a content prompt that takes place around this time: Inktober. This encourages artists to pick up a pen and paper and produce ‘traditional’ drawings… which one then reproduces virtually for promotion in an social media outlet of your choice. Understandably, there was a bit of fuss about this from those I know who are working exclusively in the medium of digital art… and it started me thinking. The thirty one prompts for the month are perfectly acceptable as words to use in… oh, let’s say Haiku.

Therefore, I’ve decided to produce my own version of Inktober, which starts on Sunday at 5pm BST.

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None of the prompt words here are longer than five syllables, so that’s perfect for the short form I’m now beginning to embrace like a long-lost sibling. However, instead of using digital as my medium, I will write these in (some form of) ink, on thirty one different types of media, before post the resultant poems on the new Internet of Words Instagram account. It shouldn’t need saying, but as I know how the Internet works it will be anyway: I’m not trying to rip off, disrespect or ridicule the original idea in any way, shape or form (I see the TM and respect that for what it means.) Instead, I am thinking outside the box that is presented, as to me it appears a tad restrictive to begin with.

This tends to produce my best ideas anyway.

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What this does is combine my poetry and make it… well, art (depending on the medium chosen) and provide a lovely project for me to do in what is my birthday month. I hope you’ll choose to follow this journey via Social media too. If anything it could be fun to see what I end up using as the media for my words… It also gives me the opportunity to flex creative muscles in a visual ‘environment’ and this is never going to be a bad thing.

Right now my daughter is spending a lot of time doing digital animation, and I appreciate the time and effort that goes into artwork far more than was ever the case. I spend too much time online to begin with, so making myself produce 31 different backgrounds for the haiku (and pushing myself to different locations as well as medium) is a challenge I am happy to grasp with both hands.

I look forward to hearing your feedback, and hopefully entertaining in the process.

All the Small Things

autumn schedule
Next week’s quite an exciting one for me as a poet, as the UK celebrates a National Poetry Day. Whilst lots of famous people are doing high profile stuff, I’ve decided to embrace the subject matter [Freedom] and produce a whole day’s worth of special pieces around that subject. Whilst the logo of the day is clearly considering the more high-profile aspects of the concept (doves do conjure up some very specific metaphors) I am making it a priority to examine and present some very personal interpretations. I’ve even gone so far as to register myself on the Official Website, which is a step into what might end up as a far larger Universe. You never know until you try.

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What this means therefore is that instead of a WiP Day (which is normally what happens on Thursdays) I’ll dedicate an entire day to writing ‘live’ and posting the results. There’ll also be a week’s worth of Haiku and Micropoetry on the subject, starting bright and early on the 25th. If you are a Patreon user/supporter, you’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled starting on Monday. In a desperate attempt to build tension and create mystery, I’ll say no more than that.

Because music is a very, VERY important part of my life (and lyrics are effectively poetry, right?) there’s also going to be a Freedom Playlist compiled and posted via YouTube. I’ve already got plenty of ideas for this, but if you want to add any suggestions in the comments, please feel free to do so.

So, until next week…

Once Upon a Time :: Haiku and Micropoetry

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Okay, so I have a confession to make: when this was published via Twitter, I forgot the last part of the micropoetry. It has now been replaced and is back in its rightful space. I’ve been following the compelling World War 2 as it happens Twitter feed and this was the direct inspiration for these pieces.

I hope you find these stimulating as well as enjoyable.


Once Upon a Time… Haiku Edition

A lifetime ago,
The World stood at War: now, we
Learn from these events.

Europe divided:
Tyrants annexing countries,
Destroyed existence.

The human cost, of
A few’s desire for power:
Destruction shatters.

Decades later, comes
Chance to reflect: grasping why
These things came to pass.

Never forget: those
Years of suffering; landmarks,
Inhumanity.


Once Upon a Time… Micropoetry Edition

History dictates
Heroes and villains:
Resistance rising,
Great battles defined.

Decades have passed, yet
The stories remain.
Eerie, similar;
Mirroring present.

With time to reflect:
We must not repeat
Ancestors mistakes,
Altered the future.

Eventually
Contemplation, can
Fundamentally
Change long-term outlooks.

It is up to us,
Next generation
To alter the course
Improvement for all.


Fear :: Haiku and Micropoetry

Haiku is going to become quite important over the next six weeks or so. I’ll be filling everybody this time on the 22nd on what happens to the form in October (THERE’S A PLAN) plus the schedule for National Poetry Day on the 28th. Don’t worry about the Micropoetry, that’s getting its own special treatment for October too. For now, here’s this week’s work, on a subject very close to my heart.

Fear

Fear :: Haiku Edition

These are dark times, friend:
We fight fear on every side,
Resist the panic.

Look inside yourself:
Understand what drives a mind
To create issues.

Some is external,
Yes, out of your remit: but
Scope exists for change.

Be prepared to fail:
Going backwards: part of life
To then move forwards.

Fear is your fuel, take
Every chance to consume, then
Beat demons with thought.


Fear :: Micropoetry Edition

I sit alone
My world, oppressed
Time to stand up;
Issues redress.

No longer right
This sanguine stance:
The moment’s come,
Truth to advance.

Consume my fear
Without remorse;
Let confidence
Now run its course.

The future can
Be mine to place
Redefining
This vital space.

Fearing nothing,
Grasping all:
A chance to rise
After the fall.