Creative Writing

Autumn’s Poetic Joy

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Summer is officially over in the UK.

Writing this blog and looking out of the poetry den window, the leaves and vines on the trees are beginning to lose their summer green and turn yellow. The lavender bushes are in their final bloom and bees are collecting the last remnants of pollen.

Autumn is a wonderful season, cushioning the warmth of summer into the cold of winter. It has influenced many poets and poems. Some of my favourite Autumn poems include, To Autumn by John Keats; Matsuo Basho’s Haiku – Autumn Moonlight and Autumn Journal by Louis MacNeice.

In 2000 I spent three weeks in New England during The Fall. Driving through the woods and forests of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, shrouded in red, brown, yellow and gold is an experience still vivid in my memory. There is something magical about the energy in the autumn transformation that makes you want to pick up a pen and get musing.

Gold and brown leaves fall.
Shadows at dusk lengthen as
A winter sleep nears.

If you want to read more poetry about Autumn, then the site at Famous Poets and Poems has a good selection.

What inspires your poetry in the Autumn months? Do you have a favourite poem describing Autumn?

I would be pleased to read your thoughts.

Maniacal MasterChef

chef-1318790-639x711I love cooking.

Following a recipe and producing something resembling food helps my creative side. I get great ideas for characters and plots whilst cooking. I think it is something to do with sharp knives.

A recent exercise on the Creative Writing course asked to write notes whilst preparing a meal or baking. The aim was to produce a character and prose to include the five senses and emotions evoked during the process.

This is the most recent draft of the piece.

Cooking created a quandary for Dave. He enjoyed the process of collecting ingredients and following a recipe but the bouts of disorganisation and collective clutter, as the recipe came together, disturbed him.

Selecting a recipe raised Dave’s mood and he felt a tingle of excitement as he went through the cupboards getting together the ingredients. Butter, flour, cinnamon and honey looked ordered in their factory packaging sat next to the bananas, sultanas and eggs. The smell of sultanas provided particular appeal.

The start of the recipe involved mashing bananas. Dave wanted to get his hands into the bananas, in the mixing bowl, but his aversion to mess prevented this and he opted for a fork.

The Happy Monday’s, Hallelujah, played on the radio and soon he was mashing in time to the music.

Mixing the butter and sugar provided a short physical workout. He whisked the mixture until it became a soft cream and his hand ached. The white flour sifting through his hands and fingers, into the mix, provided some pleasure as nothing stuck to him. He battled to keep the egg shell out of bowl as he cracked the eggs, and after more whisking something resembling wet concrete sat in the bottom of the bowl.

The bananas were added and, after a final whisk, the mix was poured into the baking tin. The smell of the bananas, sultanas and honey made Dave’s mouth water.

A blast of heat hit his face as he opened the oven door and placed the cake tin on the shelf. He felt satisfied as the oven light illuminated the efforts of the last half hour.

Satisfaction was quickly replaced by mild terror.

Here Comes The Mirror Man

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How many times a day do you look in the mirror?

If you’re like me, it must go into double figures.

It’s the first thing I do in the morning, checking for vital signs to make sure I have made it through the night. Then regular looks throughout the day for shaving, tooth brushing and ensuring that things haven’t moved or dropped off.

All this practice came in useful recently for one of the Creative Writing exercises which asked to sit with a notebook in front of a mirror and write a personal description. The following was the carnage that ensued.

“My hairline races to see how quickly it can reach the back of my head. A few flushes of brown break through the vastness of grey with the odd stray hair, evidence of a time when it actually lived there. Although the hair, now trying to manifest itself through my nostrils and ears, suggests that it is just on the move.

Central Park and The Power of Now

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Taking a walk in New York’s Central Park was on my bucket list. Having never visited New York I’m not sure where the urge came from. Maybe it was a childhood spent watching Kojak and Cagney and Lacey, or the magical scenes of the park portrayed in Elf and Home Alone 2. Whatever the reason, a recent trip to New York provided me with the ideal opportunity.

My first visit to Central Park came on a hot summer’s morning. The walk from the hotel, on Upper East Side, caused the humid air to stick to my face. Skyscrapers shadowed traffic jams. Yellow New York taxis fought against a wall of sirens and car horns. Carbon Monoxide hung in my nostrils.

Walking through the entrance, the first view of the park is understated. Iron railings stand in front of small bushes and trees where street artists ply their trade. I could have been in any park in London. As you walk along there is a point when something mystical happens, a point where you are transported into another world.

The Night Pig

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Dark eyes and snout appear
from the rustling undergrowth.
The slick backed spinal wig
illuminated by the garden light.

She emerges centimetre by centimetre.
Legs purposeful, but without rhythm,
slowly advancing on a prey
not designed for resistance.

Frantically she snuffles the cat food.
Each mouthful broken by a
glance for enemies,
occasionally hoovering surrounding debris.

The sprint into darkness,
indicating meal over.
A final rustle bids goodbye
and thank you.

The Man in Costa

cup-of-coffee-1328582-639x852Over the past month I have been immersing myself in the OCA Creative Writing course and working on a number of exercises designed to improve the skill of writing as seeing.

The process takes the student from observation and freewriting notes of what is seen, to carrying out a series of drafts to produce a poem.

An opportunity to try this presented itself one day whilst I was having a cup of tea in Costa.

In amongst the usual mid-morning commotion my attention was drawn to a man, sat opposite, reading a hard back book. The book appeared to have turned him to stone and provided a complete contrast to the chaos going on around him. I decided to
watch him for a while and discreetly take notes.

The observation provided four A5 pages of freewriting, and a series of drafts and re-drafts produced the following passage of prose.

 

It was his stillness that first attracted me, allied to the fact that he was reading a hard back book, not a laptop, or Ipad or Iphone.  A statue, immersed in the aromas of pastry and coffee and the sounds of clanking china and conversational din.

On the next table a young man shouts into his mobile, another man in a suit types frantically. Their table strewn with files and pieces of loose paper.

Help! I’ve Got Social Media Brain Freeze.

The Scream

How did I get into this state?

It was simple at the outset. Decide to learn and improve my writing. Keep a blog that would document my progress towards a degree in Creative Writing. Share it with the world and get some feedback. Maybe make some new friends and gain some new experiences.

Then it happened. I entered into this world called Social Media. I am now