#Instaverse: Normal

‘It’s going to be SO AWESOME when we get back to normal,’ quoth the random Twitter user with 26 numbers after their name and an egg for a profile picture. Except, there is no Normal any more.

Here is a poem about that, with thanks to @ProfSunnySingh on Twitter who I first saw using the phrase ‘wilful unseeing’ last year, so that is hers, and I borrow it with thanks.

#Instaverse : April 2nd, 2021 : Normal

Change

It’s the UK’s @TimetoChange ‘Time to Talk’ Day in [FX: checks calendar] nine days and as this will be the last time that this event takes place under the auspice of the organization (who will cease to exist in March) it seems only right and proper to do something special. Therefore, I’ve decided to take my mental health journey, which is recorded in CURT; URBANE [click here for a link to purchase] and effectively present a virtual reading.

All 20 poems will be available here EXCLUSIVELY on Time to Talk Day, on a dedicated webpage. I’ll be sharing eight of those between 9am and 5pm on the 4th via my Twitter account too, with some extra bits and bobs along the way, and hope you’ll take a listen. In the end, all of this is about starting conversations, however small, about the things that worry or concern us. Talking about how you feel doesn’t just allow you the chance to explain what’s wrong, it can also help others understand and suggest where you can find help and support.

Time to Talk may be going away, but I fully intend to keep writing poetry about my mental health, and promoting conversations around it. I qualified as a Mental health First Aider late last year, and it’s only the start of a long-term commitment to help other people who might be struggling during the pandemic, and long after we’re back to whatever ‘normal’ ends up being. Poetry is a how I learnt to express feelings that previously I could not actually discuss, and my chapbook is an important metaphor in my continuing journey to enlightenment.

I hope you enjoy what I’ve made, and that you can take the time to listen to the poems when they appear next Thursday. Thank you for your support 😀

Nature Boy

If you don’t follow me as a Patron on Patreon (very easy, sign up now) you won’t know that right now, I’m in the middle of the first of four projects for 2021. That means that this week (and quite possibly for a significant portion of the weekend) I’m putting down the first draft of a 60 verse poetry narrative. The longest I’ve managed successfully thus far was 40, and that seemed to go down incredibly well. So, it’s time to put my creative skills to the test.

It’s also become something of an exercise in reassessment in the last couple of days: everything was beautifully planned and sensibly telegraphed, but when I sat down to write the characters had other ideas, and as a result we are in the land of unexpected diversion from the planned narrative. I take this as a good sign, that this means there’s enough depth to the story to allow me to let these voices point the direction to take and me to follow. There’s also some poems already that I am insanely proud of…

This also gives me the opportunity to look at what’s been previously produced in the last six months as a benchmark, and it’s apparent that this style is a definite evolution down the road from where I began. Finding my poetic ‘voice’ has been hugely complex during a pandemic, but undoubtedly this is evolution over the last twelve months. The next task is to see if any of that previous work can now be effectively recycled for other submissions, and I’m pretty sure at least one ‘collection’ can be resubmitted elsewhere.

These are exciting times I find myself within, and enthusiasm and energy with which to write, which has not existed for some time. A lot of that can be put down to being physically more active too, and the morning run I had today has undoubtedly made everything else that much easier to attain… let’s hope this is momentum on both fronts that can be sustained, and then capitalised upon.

Love’s Great Adventure

Following on from Tuesday’s reminder of things past, today is very much about what is to come. The Places of Poetry anthology launches on National Poetry Day, which is a week from now. I’ve got a couple of things ready to roll, and hope to have my first proper video complete by then. After that there’s the virtual launch with a bunch of people far better qualified at doing this stuff than I am. There will be lots of notes taken.

It’s what then happens next that now occupies my mind.

I’ve spent the last few days preparing what needs to be done. Now it’s just a matter of making my way through it, then organising myself appropriately. There’re calenders to print and possible new things to enter/submit to, and after that some time an effort should be given to make a new biography and headshot for the web page. As I picked up my inclusion to the anthology on spec, there is always the opportunity this will bring in interest.

Next week, we’ll start talking about my next potential project.

Same Time, Same Place

I may have mentioned that a poem of mine is going to be published in a hardback anthology on October 1st (now did it, stuff is forgotten so quickly of late…) and with this publication has come a flood of memories from that time last year when the ambitious plan was born. Twenty-four poems in a month seems like a lot, but as it transpires that was exactly the right amount. It was also at the same time that I went into counselling, at the time to investigate the possibility I might be autistic.

It’s amazing how things alter once someone else is there to shift focus. What seemed to matter most back then had pretty much consumed everything that I was. The obsession over a diagnosis had driven everything for close to a year… and then, it became apparent that this was the least of my problems. Looking back at that time, the poetry was what kept me from falling apart. It gave a focus away from all the emotional and mental pressure. My home town became the backdrop for a process of self-healing that is still going on today.

Everything that has followed from that point onwards has pushed me further into a Universe that’s been waiting for my arrival for some time. It was the process of being able to contribute to a project whose validation came not from other people, but purely from myself. What I considered as good enough was the resultant 24 poems and hundreds of photographs, and to then find one of those poems considered good enough to make it into the Anthology… there was a whole second level of belief added to the first.

Sometimes, we need the approval of our peers to move forward. I won’t lie, the increasingly common instances where I am complimented for work, out of the blue, is a gift that continues to keep giving long after the initial moment of brilliance. Its why such moments end up being printed from the Internet and kept. Whatever else may happen, to have positively affected someone’s life, if even for a moment, if a rare jewel of brilliance, and should never be underestimated or belittled.

Over a year on from Places of Poetry, validation now happens in many ways. The dopamine hit is different, my needs and desires altering on an almost daily basis. What remains is the reminder of how much of a debt of gratitude I will owe Andrew McRae and Paul Farley, whose project allowed me to become a better version of myself whist the rest of my existence as in turmoil. That generosity will never be forgotten, and the lessons learnt will shape me as a poet and artist for the rest of my life.

2020 Week 20 Poetry: Anger

In the past few weeks, strange things have begun to transpire in the poetic parts of my brain. It’s not a worry, far from it: daily practice and a new openness to moving words into different spaces that were previously unexplored is producing some fascinating new combinations. Undoubtedly this will continue to be actively influenced by the introduction of video content into the equation.

I have an idea for my first full collection.

There’s a new pamphlet in the works.

What a time to be creative, and lucky to be alive.


Anger

What began, only remains sacrificed with ungodly zeal, altered outlooks reveal disquiet,
unexpectedly adroit, passively regressive understanding, Zen demanding.

Insidious fuse, unconsciously lit, don’t think she’ll get away with it: scarlet womankind,
sexuality unwinds, leisurely descent, decent laments loss of splattered purity.

Anger explodes, abode decimated, consecrated ground shaking; liberties taking quickest
path, highest land abandoned, no longer sacrosanct.

As her lust settles, desired reanimates, immediate placation of destructive situation...
everything resisted; actively assisted returns to movement, circumstance.

Such drama, crisis cavitates creating pressure, tension’s taut suspension; what was end
begins renewed; gentlest caress quietly begins redress.

Strong

It’s time for your weekly update of The Poetry Experiment, which has now come to encompass not only a general reaction to Lockdown, but responses to specific COVID-related events. There’s a lot been done in the last week as well, which is reassuring when I’m not really in a particularly productive place right now. It can’t be helped: we’ve lost a family member this week, and there’s been some other drama to deal with.

It’s time to focus on positives.

Number of Poems Written: Eight.

monkey typing

I made myself last week sit down and plan how this ‘story’ is going to pan out, because that’s what this is. There’s a period of reflection before everything went mad, a focus on three days within that period, and a series of emotions I’ve felt as a result of the entire event. Poems are emerging quite organically as a result: of the eight we have thus far, there’s one at the start, five in the middle and two at the end, making a basic framework.

I’m pretty pleased with what’s been produced thus far too, and how things are fitting into the ‘play’ I’ve imagined this could end up becoming. The next stage will be to read through everything and start focussing on the feelings and descriptions I think are missing, that form part of my lockdown experience and should as a result be recorded. I’ve set myself the notional target of the end of this month to have all the pieces in place.

Emotional Investment: High.

goodmorning

We have not as yet reached the ‘everything sucks, I hate myself’ part of this project. That’s always a massive bonus, that if I can get the majority of the hard graft done before paranoia and anxiety set in, so much the better. It helps considerably having Patreon as a constantly running set of deadlines to hit going forward, so there’s always this background awareness of what needs to happen, and has to take place.

As a displacement activity today, in an attempt to see if I can get my brain to do anything else but mourn a loss and grieve over other things, I’ll be pulling poetry together for some online submissions. As these aren’t being specially aimed for, as is the case with this work, that should lessen the emotional impact of worry over whether my stuff was ‘good enough’ It is the recycling task I should do more of going forward.


You can expect an update on progress in the next week.

Give a Little Bit

The #SixFanfics project is going very well, with the last two decades of content scheduled to go to the polls tomorrow. I’ve had a massively productive day and caught up on a ton of outstanding stuff, and now it’s time to start contemplating where to be placing my attention going into the second half of the year. In an attempt to pick up more Patrons, I have again listened to feedback over appropriate stretch goals.

It’s been coming for a while, but today dawned the understanding I need a website to sell stuff on before I can start selling stuff. An account on Gumroad’s sat gathering dust for some months, and it is high time to start getting it ready for use. I’ll be programming time in June (can’t believe I just typed that) to start organising the levels of content we’ll need to accommodate a virtual poetry collection, plus physical output.

I’ve produced a number of unique commissions this year, for special occasions (a christening and two weddings, if I’m being honest) plus I made all my Christmas gifts this year as one-off, special poems for all my mates. This is a revenue stream that needs more promotion than is currently the case. Therefore, over the summer, there will be plenty of opportunity to make this all a reality.

WSE New

I had something rejected this week that was, in my mind, probably the best piece of poetry I’ve ever written. It was the final straw that has made brain grasp that if I want success, waiting for other people to notice me is not enough any more. It is time to make the noise and push buttons and generally become what I have always been afraid of: a better person. This me is more productive, more proactive and more capable of changing the world around me.

This me is about to make everything better.