Slow down, breathe easy, make a poem of your life. Don't let life rush by; reflect. Look for beauty and rejuvenate your soul.

Friday, 25 February 2011


Painting an underwater mermaid face had me trying some greener, yellower skin tones which I liked:


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Running on Empty

I've put off coming here this week (not because I don't love it - I do. And I am getting more and more fond of you who join me here), but because sometimes I feel empty. Not drained or depressed empty - just I-don't-know-what-to share empty. No wise thoughts, no beautiful ideas. So I hesitate, with a little worry in the back of my mind that maybe that's it, nothing will come at all.
So I've come here anyway and am writing about the emptiness. And in so doing I find words in the emptiness. They may not be my best, but they counteract the worrying silence. Minutes ago I despaired of having a blog post - now I have one, even if this is all it is.
So now I find the lesson. When we get stuck it's up to us to unstick ourselves. Not to worry that the end result may not be brilliant. Just take a few small steps and we will end up somewhere a little different. And sometimes that is enough.
The rest of my life hasn't been empty so I can also share with you my first profile portrait - my blue girl.

Keep moving won't you.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Taking my own advice!

Do you ever find there are times when you really ought to take your own advice? Today I have decided that is what I ought to do. What is the tagline at the top of my blog?

Slow down, breathe easy, make a poem of your life. Don't let life rush by; reflect. Look for beauty and rejuvenate your soul.

This week, and particularly today, I seem to be living by the exact opposite principles to these. I am rushing everything because I feel there is too much to do and I am so desperate to move onto the next thing that I am doing each thing badly and certainly not enjoying what I am doing.
I have actually had a good week. When not working I have picked up some decorative and useful charity-shop bargains for my kitchen, found some new gold pens for my artwork, read some poetry, made a white bean salad with a mustard dressing, sipped green tea and eaten cake. I have met with a friend and experimented with my first collage work.
Wow! When I list it like that I realise I have been blessed with a wonderful week. But I also realise I have not enjoyed it!

I feel stressed and over-stretched. I have failed to be in the moment during any of these precious moments. I have spent each of them worried about the next moment. I have missed the beauty in all of them. My life has not been a poem; it has been a mass of scribblings and crossing outs. What a waste of a wonderful week!
So as of now I am going to take my own advice. I am going to slow down and breathe easy. I am going to rejuvenate my soul by looking back over the list of things I have done above and I am going to take the time in retrospect to appreciate them for all their worth and the joy they should have brought me.

What have been the joy-bringers so far in your week? Did you enjoy them in the moment?
If not remember them now and appreciate them in retrospect. If you did enjoy them as you experienced them, remember them again and go on and treat yourself - appreciate them again!


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Return of the Poetry Workshop

Back in October I wrote a post about how disappointed I was that my daughter's inter-school poetry workshop had been cancelled due to a lack of participants. I am thrilled to be able to tell you now that last week another day was held, this time with full support. So I take back everything I said last year about how our schools are letting young poets down!

I attended the day with my 10 year-old daughter, ostensibly to help the children, but really to gate-crash the workshop and get a few poem-writing tips.
The highly entertaining children's writer Valerie Bloom was our guiding light and she soon had a full classroom of unfamiliar primary children from six different schools confidently joining her in games and the creation of poetry.
Over the course of the day she taught the children to write three different types of poem.

  •  The Kenning - which describes an object by linking related nouns and verbs in rhyming couplets. The ending should reveal the creature, but I will leave you to guess what is described here:

Sky flyer
Song cryer
Dawn singer
Joy bringer

  • The List Poem - rhyming couplets of 4 words per line in which each word must be related to the words (only) either side of it. The final line should return us to the beginning:

Claw, creature, dragon, flight
Sky, sea, monster, fright,
Dark, cold, shiver, skin,
Bones, white, ghost, jinn,
Angel, blessing, joy, sadness,
Tears, rivers, drowning, madness,
Asylum, patient, anger, fight,
Claw, creature, dragon, flight.

  • A dream sequence poem - Valerie described a dream for the children to base their poem on, but ideally one would write of an actual dream. These poems have the freedom of following an unpredicatble dream-like narrative.

Interestingly I have written several poems in the past in response to waking from a dream. I remember very few of my dreams these days, but those I do recall often carry emotions or memories that I feel compelled to save in poetry. I will find you an example for another day.
My daughter enjoyed the day and was particularly taken with the list poems, beginning her second last night. These are not the type of poems I would usually write, but I found both the Kenning and the List poem excellent as exercises to play with words and make creative connections: vital practice for the poet.
Why don't you try your hand at one or both of them, as we did?