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Emily Blewitt’s ‘How I Write a Poem’

With April comes spring and so does an exciting poetry collection by a fresh new voice. Emily Blewitt shares her thoughts on how to write a poem with us.

‘The poem has to have time to settle before I edit. I have to trust that whatever cul-de-sacs or corners I’ve written myself into, I’ll be able to escape.’

I can write anywhere, more or less, but I must have space: head-space; space on the page. I like to write in notebooks, first. The notebook must be good, but not too good to spoil.

The initial idea niggles, humming in the background. Sometimes, a single line appears first. I take it for a walk, test its stamina. There are lines that haunt. There are texts I read that enable writing because their rhythm is infectious. I see something, or remember something, in a different way because of them. I notice the world and its potential. I witness – look at this, this. This here is true; this is important. It usually happens when I’m supposed to be doing something else.

I handwrite first and then move to the laptop to write through the initial draft. And it is through – there is no way but through. My ideas shift and transform; the trick is not to be disappointed. If I’m lucky, there’ll be a tipping point – a point at which the words take on a momentum of their own, quickly and surprisingly. The words become a poem, and this poem often has very little to do with the original intention of writing a poem. The stabilisers come off; we’re free-wheeling down the hill; it feels like flight. The poem sings. It almost – but not quite – writes itself. Perhaps it gives the impression of writing itself, but I have to run to catch up with it. I do catch up with it.

The poem has to have time to settle before I edit. I have to trust that whatever cul-de-sacs or corners I’ve written myself into, I’ll be able to escape. This calls for faith – though not the religious sort. I have to stop tinkering for a little while, to trust that the poem will find its shape. That I’ll find the balancing point again. It becomes intuitive, to know when to press the thing and when to leave it.

Emily Blewitt was born in Carmarthen, Wales. She studied at Oxford and York, and has a PhD from Cardiff University, where she specialised in poetic representations of pregnancy in nineteenth-century and contemporary women’s writing.  She has published poetry in The Rialto, Ambit, Poetry Wales, The Interpreter’s House, Furies, Hinterland, Brittle Star, and Cheval, and was Highly Commended for best individual poem in the 2016 Forward Prizes. Her debut poetry collection, This Is Not A Rescue, is published by Seren Books. Emily’s poetry featured in spring 2016 issue of Poetry Wales, 51.3.

TINAR cover_quicksand cover

Happy International Women’s Day!

‘Poems sometimes arrive during a daydream’

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day with March’s featured poet, Josephine Corcoran, on how she approaches the business of writing a poem.

I was at a Poetry Business Writing Day in Sheffield in January, and poet and tutor Ann Sansom told us not to be surprised if we wrote a finished, or near-finished, poem during the workshop. “You might have been carrying the idea for this poem in your head for weeks, months, or even years,” Ann said, explaining that a writing prompt can sometimes act as the trigger we’ve been missing. This is definitely true for me. I spend a lot of time thinking about poems before I start writing, and then, once I’ve begun a poem, I can spend years trapped inside it, not knowing how to reach the end. Often it’s reading other people’s poems which help me find the way. A lot of the Writing Day prompts were based on poems so this explains why they’re very helpful.

Ideas for my poems arrive via jokes, overheard remarks, dreams, memories, news items, films and radio programmes (I don’t watch much telly), images, and via other poems, of course.

I often work on several poems at once. I tinker with a poem until I’m stuck then move on to another one. In between, I try to keep all my channels open, reading, observing, listening, and jotting down phrases, words, lines in my notebook. It’s all a mystery, really. I wish I could follow the same formula every day and produce a manuscript of poems at the end of every week. The reality is, I’m a slow, daydreamy writer but poems sometimes arrive during a daydream.

Josephine Corcoran’s pamphlet The Misplaced House was published by tall-lighthouse in November 2014. She is the founder and editor of And Other Poems an online poetry journal.

book for header May 2015

Gelynion – Enemies Cymru


9th May – 5th June 2015 in Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Hay-on-Wye & London

Gelynion – Enemies Cymru – is a groundbreaking exploration of contemporary poetry in Wales through the potential of collaboration. It takes the international Enemies project into the multilingual context of Wales, aiming to create original collaborative work in both of Wales’s languages as well as integrating and cross-fertilising differing poetic communities.

Six poets – Enemies curator SJ Fowler plus five poets working in or from Wales: Poetry Wales’s Nia Davies, Joe Dunthorne, Zoë Skoulding, Eurig Salisbury and Rhys Trimble – will each collaborate with one another to create original poetic works. They will tour these pieces in rolling pairs around Wales at venues across the country, drawing in poets in each location, inviting them to create their own collaborations. Over 50 poets from Wales and beyond will perform collaborations at Gelynion events.

The tour begins in Newport on May 19th and visits Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Bangor before a culminating premiere performance at the Hay-on-Wye festival on May 29th. The project will close for 2015 with a reading at the Rich Mix Arts Centre in London on June 5th.

Gelynion is co-curated by Nia Davies & SJ Fowler, and generously supported by Arts Council Wales, Poetry Wales & the Hay-on-Wye festival.

Events schedule and poets


Gelynion Newport
May Tues 19th, 7pm FREE
Project Space, 147 Commercial Street, Newport, NP11 6EE

Featuring Joe Dunthorne & Eurig Salisbury / Rhys Trimble & SJ Fowler /  Zoë Skoulding & Nia Davies / Cris Paul & Samantha Walton / Kate North & Katrin Selina Lloyd / Rhian Edwards & Ranjit Hoskote / Josh Robinson & Mr&Mrs Clark / Andrés Andwandter & Suze M C de Lee, Jonathan Edwards & Tishani Doshi. With Patrick Rimes.
Join the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/806465429429811/


Gelynion Cardiff
May Wed 20th, 7pm FREE
The Abacus Rooms, 18-20 St David’s House, Wood St, Cardiff, CF10 1ER

Featuring Joe Dunthorne & Nia Davies / Eurig Salisbury & Rhys Trimble / SJ Fowler & Zoë Skoulding  / Wanda O’Connor & Peter Finch / Kevin Mills & Damian Walford Davies / Emily Blewitt & Rebecca Parfitt / David Greenslade & Richard Gwyn / Steven Hitchins & Camilla Nelson / Llyr Gwyn Lewis & clare e. potter.
Join the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/444052395769272/


Gelynion Swansea
May Fri 22nd, 7pm FREE
Volcano Theatre Iceland Building,  229 High Street Swansea, SA1 1NY

Featuring Nia Davies & Eurig Salisbury / Joe Dunthorne & SJ Fowler / Rhys Trimble & Zoë Skoulding / Robert Minhinnick & Frances Presley / Lyndon Davies & Graham Hartill / John Goodby & Calum Gardner / Natalie Ann Holborow & Richard James Jones / Aneirin Karadog & Meirion Jordan / Siân Melangell Dafydd & Sampurna Chattarji.
Join the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/466303020188870/ 


Gelynion Aberystwyth
May Mon 25th, 6pm FREE
Aberystwyth Arts Centre – Studio,  SY23 3DE

Featuring Joe Dunthorne & Zoë Skoulding / Nia Davies & Rhys Trimble / SJ Fowler & Eurig Salisbury / Nicky Arscott & Kath Stansfield / Mari Siôn & Elin Ap Hywel / Jemma King & Amy McCauley / John Barnie & Siân Melangell Dafydd.
Join the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/899518700128924/ 


Gelynion Bangor
May Tues 26th, 7pm FREE
Blue Sky Cafe,  236 High Street, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 1PA

Featuring Nia Davies & SJ Fowler / Zoë Skoulding & Eurig Salisbury / Joe Dunthorne & Rhys Trimble / Sophie McKeand & Fiona Cameron / Karen Owen & Sian Northey / Ifor Ap Glyn & Ghazal Mosateq / Alys Conran & Robert Sheppard.
Join the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/101418563525470/


Gelynion Hay-on-Wye
May Fri 29th – Hay Festival of the Arts, £7
Elmley Foundation Cube, Hay-on-Wye, 8.30pm

A showcase reading of excerpted collaborations between the core six touring poets – Nia Davies, Zoë Skoulding, Eurig Salisbury, Joe Dunthorne, SJ Fowler & Rhys Trimble. More details on the Hay Festival website.


Gelynion London
June Fri 5th, 7.30pm
Rich Mix Arts Centre,  35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA

http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/gelynion–the-enemies-project-wales/ A showcase reading of excerpted collaborations between the core six touring poets – Nia Davies, Zoë Skoulding, Eurig Salisbury, Joe Dunthorne, SJ Fowler & Rhys Trimble. Plus Amy Key & Wayne Holloway-Smith, Sharon Morris & Sampurna Chatterji, Steven Hitchins, Wanda O’Connor, Amy McCauley & Cris Paul

Prosiect Gelynion : Barddoniaeth gydweithredol gyfoes

Gelynion: prosiect Enemies yng Nghymru / Enemies Cymru – Mai 2015
19 Mai – 5 Mehefin 2015 yng Nghasnewydd, Caerdydd, Abertawe, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Y Gelli Gandryll a Llundain

Mae Gelynion – Enemies Cymru – yn gynllun arloesol sy’n rhoi llwyfan i farddoniaeth gyfoes yng Nghymru ar sail gydweithredol, ac yn rhoi prosiect rhyngwladol Enemies ar waith yng nghyd-destun amlieithog Cymru, gyda’r nod o greu barddoniaeth gydweithredol wreiddiol yn Gymraeg ac yn Saesneg, ynghyd â hwyluso integreiddio a chroesffrwythloni rhwng gwahanol gymunedau barddonol.

Bydd chwe bardd – curadur Enemies, SJ Fowler, a phum bardd Cymreig: golygydd Poetry Wales, Nia Davies, Joe Dunthorne, Zoë Skoulding, Eurig Salisbury a Rhys Trimble – yn creu barddoniaeth newydd ar y cyd. Byddant yn mynd ar daith drwy Gymru er mwyn cyflwyno’r gwaith newydd mewn parau cyfnewidiol, gan gwrdd â beirdd eraill o ardal i ardal a’u gwahodd i greu eu barddoniaeth gydweithredol eu hunain.

Mae’r daith yn dechrau yng Nghasnewydd ar 19 Mai, a bydd yn ymweld â Chaerdydd, Abertawe, Aberystwyth a Bangor cyn cyrraedd Gwyl y Gelli ar 29 Mai, lle bydd y gwaith yn cael ei gyflwyno mewn perfformiad arbennig. Bydd y prosiect yn 2015 yn dod i ben gyda darlleniad yn y Rich Mix Arts Centre yn Llundain ar 5 Mehefin. http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/gelynion–the-enemies-project-wales/

Cyd-lywir prosiect Gelynion gan Nia Davies ac SJ Fowler, ac fe’i ariennir yn hael gan Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru, Poetry Wales a Gwyl y Gelli.

Amserlen y daith a’r beirdd


Gelynion Casnewydd
Dydd Mawrth 19 Mai
Project space, Casnewydd, 7yh
147 Commercial Street, NP11 6EE 

Zoë Skoulding a Nia Davies / Joe Dunthorne ac Eurig Salisbury / Rhys Trimble ac SJ Fowler / Jonathan Edwards a Tishani Doshi / Rhian Edwards a Ranjit Hoskote / Cris Paul a Samantha Walton / Kate North a Katrin Selina Lloyd / Josh Robinson a Mr a Mrs Clark / Suze M C de Lee ac Andres Anwandter. Gyda Patrick Rimes.
https://www.facebook.com/events/806465429429811/

Gelynion Caerdydd
Dydd Mercher 20 Mai
The Abacus Rooms, Caerdydd, 7yh
18-20 St David’s House, Wood St, CF10 1ER 

Joe Dunthorne a Nia Davies / Eurig Salisbury a Rhys Trimble / SJ Fowler a Zoë Skoulding / Wanda O’Connor a Peter Finch / Kevin Mills a Damian Walford Davies / Emily Blewitt a Rebecca Parfitt / David Greenslade a Richard Gwyn / Steven Hitchins a Camilla Nelson / Llyr Gwyn Lewis a clare e. potter.
https://www.facebook.com/events/444052395769272/

Gelynion Abertawe
Dydd Gwener 22 Mai
Volcano Theatre, Abertawe, 7yh
229 High Street Swansea, SA1 1NY 

Nia Davies ac Eurig Salisbury / Joe Dunthorne ac SJ Fowler / Rhys Trimble a Zoë Skoulding / Lyndon Davies a Graham Hartill / Robert Minhinnick a Frances Presley / John Goodby a Calum Gardner / Richard James Jones a Natalie Ann Holborow / Meirion Jordan ac Aneirin Karadog / Siân Melangell Dafydd a Sampurna Chattarji.
https://www.facebook.com/events/466303020188870/ 


Gelynion Aberystwyth

Dydd Llun 25 Mai
Stiwdio Canolfan y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth, 6yh
SY23 3DE 

Joe Dunthorne a Zoë Skoulding / Nia Davies a Rhys Trimble / SJ Fowler ac Eurig Salisbury / Kath Stansfield a Nicky Arscott / Mari Siôn ac Elin ap Hywel / Siân Melangell Dafydd a John Barnie / Jemma King ac Amy McCauley
https://www.facebook.com/events/899518700128924/ 


Gelynion Bangor

Dydd Iau 26 Mai
Blue Sky Cafe, Bangor, 7yh
236 High Street, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 1PA 

Nia Davies ac SJ Fowler / Zoë Skoulding ac Eurig Salisbury / Joe Dunthorne a Rhys Trimble / Ifor ap Glyn a Ghazal Mosadeq / Karen Owen a Siân Northey / Alys Conran a Robert Sheppard / Fiona Cameron a Sophie McKeand.
https://www.facebook.com/events/101418563525470/


Gelynion Gwyl y Gelli

Dydd Gwener 29 Mai
Gwyl y Gelli, Elmley Foundation Cube, 8.30yh

Cyflwynir gwaith a grewyd ar y cyd gan y beirdd teithiol.

 

Gelynion Llundain
Dydd Gwener 5 Mehefin
Rich Mix Arts Centre, Llundain, 7.30yh
35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA 

Nia Davies, Zoë Skoulding, Eurig Salisbury, Joe Dunthorne, SJ Fowler a Rhys Trimble.  Amy Key a Wayne Holloway-Smith, Sharon Morris a Sampurna Chatterji, Steven Hitchins, Wanda O’Connor, Amy McCauley a Cris Paul

 

 

Summer 2014 Editorial

Poetry Wales in its 50th year

Perhaps the very first book of poetry I picked up and couldn’t stop reading was The Virago Book of Love Poetry. It belonged to my mother and still sits amongst an almost entirely dark green bookshelf – the result of nearly ten years she spent only reading books by women, previously overlooked and dismissed, and which thanks to presses like Virago were suddenly being made available to readers like her. This evening I picked it up again, wondering what it might contain. First of all a surprise – that despite the mass market appeal of this book it is full of the most diverse poetry from different countries, centuries and stylistic approaches; it ‘ignores boundaries’. If it was published today it would still be radical. That love poetry can be and was written by women all down the centuries, that a book can span the poetry ‘camps’ and easily accommodate works in translation and poems by women of all cultural backgrounds. That could still make news today. The book was edited by Wendy Mulford who I must commend twenty-four years later. Perhaps I’m a bit late?

But something I’ve learned of late is that whatever you’re trying to do, chances are someone has done something at least a bit similar before you. Why re-invent the wheel? Or perhaps the real question is: why do we forget the achievements gone before in a rush to be innovative, put our ideas out there? In taking on this editorship I was well aware of the achievements that have gone before – this is Poetry Wales’s 50th volume, its 50th year in the world. It has supported emerging poets like myself and helped bring much groundbreaking poetry to the fore, it has been outspoken politically, brought to light poetry from around the world and established Wales’s contemporary poets on the international scene.

I am delighted to include in this issue a poem from Jack Mapanje whose work was first featured in these pages in 1988 when he was a political prisoner in Malawi. And you will also find a comic panel on the back page from Chrissy Williams’s exploration of how poetry and comics can come together. This is a new generation for the magazine. But just how new is it? To be the new blood, to be the vanguard, to blaze a trail – this never happens in isolation. We are always linked to our influences, our contexts, our history. And as readers we all begin somewhere, vulnerable, uninterested. Something happens – in a library, in a mass market anthology, standing at someone else’s bookshelf. We are all linked by our different senses of home, our gwlad, our peers. In this context of intersecting generations, I have asked two poets from Wales – Steven Hitchins and Siân Melangell Dafydd – to write about their influences. Who or what got them writing, what sparked their interest in poetry? Do they believe in influence at all? It’s a series that will continue throughout the 50th volume with other new poets adding their pieces to a map of intergenerational relationships, camaraderie and poetic influence.

So Poetry Wales begins a new half-century, but it is not alone out there on the prom in the storm, we have a strong community and a history. In simple terms the magazine has celebrated intelligent critical debate and mind-blowing poetry in all its diversity and it’s this I hope to continue doing with my own newness, my own slant – coming as I do from the X/Y generation, generation me as we are sometimes called, we almost-digital-natives. Wherever home is, I feel gifted to be playing a part in continuing the Poetry Wales community. Long may it live and long may it include you, reader.

Nia Davies

Read more about Summer 2014 issue 50.1.

Nia Davies launching Poetry Wales's 50th Volume at Poetry International 2014

Nia Davies launching Poetry Wales’s 50th Volume at Poetry International, July 2014

Gerallt Lloyd Owen 1944–2014

Ddydd Mawrth 15 Gorffennaf eleni fe gollodd Cymru un o’i beirdd mwyaf unigryw a dylanwadol, Gerallt Lloyd Owen. Roedd Gerallt, fel y câi ei alw gan bawb, yn fardd diymhongar iawn, ond fe guddiai ei swildod cyhoeddus danbeidrwydd di-ymatal a losgai yn ei gerddi. Ysbrydolodd genedlaethau o feirdd a chynulleidfaoedd i ystyried o’r newydd eu perthynas â’r iaith Gymraeg ac â Chymru fel cenedl. Mewn cyfnod o ddirywiad yn hanes yr iaith ac o ganoli grym y tu allan i’r wlad, rhoddodd ei farddoniaeth lais i’r rheini a gredai bod gan Gymru o hyd le yn y byd.

Enillodd Gerallt Gadair Eisteddfod yr Urdd deirgwaith yn y chwedegau – yn fwyaf enwog yn 1969, pan ymosododd ar barodrwydd ei gyd-Gymry dof i ddathlu defod arwisgo’r Tywysog Charles yng Nghaernarfon – ac enillodd Gadair yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn 1975 ac 1982. Bu’n athro ac yn gyhoeddwr, a swynwyd y genedl gan ei lais dihafal fel y Meuryn ar Talwrn y Beirdd BBC Radio Cymru, rhaglen hynod boblogaidd a gyflwynodd am 32 o flynyddoedd.

Mae gan ei gerddi le yng nghalonnau pobl o bob oed – roedd Twitter yn orlawn o ddyfyniadau o’i waith yn ddiweddar – a bydd ei farddoniaeth yn parhau’n berthnasol fel modd i ysbrydoli’r genedl ar ei phrifiant.

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On Tuesday 15 July, Wales lost one of its most unique and influential poets, Gerallt Lloyd Owen. Gerallt, as everyone affectionately called him, was an unpretentious poet whose averseness to being in the public eye often seemed at odds with the uncompromising force of his poetry. He inspired generations of poets and audiences to re-evaluate their adherence to both the Welsh language and to Wales as a country. In an era of great language decline and very little devolution, his poetry became a standard-bearer for those who believed that Wales still had a place in the world.

Gerallt won the Chair of the Urdd Eisteddfod three times in the sixties – most notably in 1969, when he railed against the docile Welsh public’s jubilation at Prince Charles’s investiture in Caernarfon – and also won the Chair of the National Eisteddfod in 1975 and 1982. He worked as a teacher and as a publisher, and his inimitable voice became almost synonymous, after a period of 32 years as the Meuryn (adjudicator), with BBC Radio Cymru’s popular poetry programme, Talwrn y Beirdd.

His poems are treasured by people of all ages – Twitter has been awash with quotations recently – and continue to be inspirationally relevant in an ever-emerging Wales.

 

Eurig Salisbury

 

 

Volume 50

This summer Poetry Wales will enter its 50th year. The first issue of the historic 50th volume is also the first to be published by new editor Nia Davies. Meanwhile plans are also taking shape for a digital edition of the magazine for mobile devices and several live events in London (20th July), Cardiff (25th September), Bangor, Swansea and beyond. We’ll also be publishing exclusive new material on this website as well as a selection of poems and articles from the extensive Poetry Wales archive.

You can find out about some of these plans in recent interviews with Nia on the Planet podcast and in Wales Arts Review.

The first issue of the 50th volume – Summer 2014 – is out in early July 2014. Subscribe now and receive each edition upon publication.

And, you can keep in touch with the latest PW news on Twitter or Facebook.

Purple Moose Prize 2012

PM website logo 2011

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

The winner of the Poetry Wales Purple Moose Poetry Prize 2012 has now been chosen!

The judges have selected Maps and Love Song for Mina Loy by Joanne Ashcroft as the winner. Congratulations Joanne!

The winning pamphlet will be published in January 2013

The two runners-up are:
A Boat called Annalise by Lynne Hjelmgaard and
The Back of Things by Emma Danes

Congratulations to Lynne and Emma too!

Purple Moose Prize 2011

PM website logo 2011
Poetry Wales is delighted to be able to finally reveal the results of the 2011 Purple Moose Poetry Prize.

As always, it’s been a challenge for our judges, Zoe Skoulding and (judging the prize for the first time) John Barnie, but they have decided on a winner.

And the Winner is: Archimedes’ Principle by Rebecca Perry. Congratulations Rebecca!

In a slight break from the conventions of the last two competitions, the judges felt that, in addition to listing 3 or 4 highly commended entries, another collection warranted the recognition of being Runner-up: Facing Facts by Tim Love. Well done Tim.

Finally, the four Highly Commended collections are, in no particular order:
Personal Effect by Kate White
Capability Procedures by Ian McEwen
Yod by Cliff Forshaw
Braised Yello by Peter Gruffydd.

Well done to everyone who entered, and made this such an interesting competition. Keep writing, and keep reading Poetry Wales!


Competition details

Entries must comprise 20-24 original poems.

The winner’s work will be published by Seren
receive a 250 pound cash prize,
25 complimentary copies of the pamphlet
and royalties from sales.

Work will be showcased on the Poetry Wales website and be promoted to print, broadcast and internet media. A taster from the winning collection will be published in Poetry Wales magazine.

Deadline for entries: Last post, May 1st. *PLEASE NOTE* The deadline has now passed.

E-mail info@poetrywales.co.uk for more information.

Radical Landscape Poetry

Palas Print Pendref
Bangor High Street
March 17th 6.30pm

Launch of The Ground Aslant: Radical Landscape Poetry
A new anthology from Shearsman Books edited by Harriet Tarlo

With readings by:
Harriet Tarlo
Ian Davidson
Zoe Skoulding

In association with Poetry Wales

Free, all welcome.

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