Today my guest, Gaynor Kane, is a poet who I have met virtually through Hedgehog Poetry Press. Gaynor has come along to talk about Inspiration for her poems. So without further ado, it’s over to Gaynor.
Thanks to Patricia for the opportunity to talk a little bit about how and where I find inspiration for poems.
Inspiration and Poetry
In August 2018, I co-curated and took part in a collaboration between Women Aloud NI and the EastSide Choir, a community choir based in East Belfast, my home ground. The premise for the event was that authors would write new work inspired by the songs which the choir would sing. I was given a very quirky song called Lightning! by Greg Gilpin.
I was interested in the early aviatrixes at the time, having bought a book about them for the bargain basement price of 99p. During some research, I discovered the story of Maude Bonney whose plane had been struck down by lightning, as she attempted her first transatlantic flight. So, literally, inspiration struck me like lightning, and I put myself into her shoes and wrote a poem about her flight. The event took place in a beautiful deconsecrated church and I read it to a full-house from the pulpit.
Several more poems were inspired by the women pilots, whose stories I read in the book. These then found a home at Hedgehog Poetry Press, when editor Mark Davidson, very kindly, asked if I would like to publish a Stickleback. Sticklebacks are a series of micro-pamphlets. In November 2018 I launched my Stickleback, Circling the Sun, in Holywood Library.
2016 saw my Dad celebrating his eightieth birthday. In the run up to it, I asked him how he wanted to celebrate it. He replied that he wanted to have his wake, that he would like to be there and hear the stories people told about him. We didn’t have his wake but we did have a great party!
That conversation inspired me to write a poem called I want to be Awake for my Wake and I included a few lyrics from a song that my Dad often sings. I had already had a conversation with my parents about what they wanted at their funerals. I’m an only child and felt I had to be prepared. It struck me as we sat around my kitchen table, discussing hymns and joking, that these conversations do not have to be difficult.
That gave me the idea of putting together a collection of poems about last wishes and burial rituals. I spoke to friends and family, conducted research on rites across the globe and drafted poems. These went on to form my pamphlet Memory Forest, also published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in December 2019.
I often find inspiration in pictures and news stories. For example, in 2017, I read this article in the local paper and was inspired to write a poem about it. It sat as a draft after several failed attempts at editing, until last year when I went to a workshop on prose poems. It struck me that it worked as a prose poem and if I justified it, it could look like a newspaper clipping. I was delighted when it was longlisted for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing this year.
This poem will be in my debut full collection, due out soon, from Hedgehog Poetry Press. I am so grateful for Mark Davidson having such confidence in my writing and giving me so many opportunities to share my poetry with readers. I have found a home at Hedgehog Press as a member of the subscription group, affectionally called, The Cult of the Spiny Hog.
As part of the ‘cult’ you get a monthly challenge in the form of a writing prompt. I like prompts, particularly if there is a deadline to motivate me. Sometimes the winners will have their poems published in a pamphlet. Often the prompts are pictures to inspire ekphrastic poems. One challenge example is the ‘Who lives in a house like this?’
You can see the picture and read the winning poems here.
Who knows it might inspire you to write your own response!
Thank you, Gaynor, I’m sure our readers will find the above very interesting. Let’s find out a little more about you.
Gaynor Kane lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She came to writing late in life, after finishing an Open University BA (Hons) degree with a creative writing module in 2015/6. Mainly a writer of poetry, she has had work published in journals and anthologies in the UK, Ireland and America. In 2018, Hedgehog Poetry Press launched their Stickleback series with her micro-collection Circling the Sun. Gaynor released her chapbook, Memory Forest, also from Hedgehog Press, in December 2019. She is currently putting the finishing touches to her debut full collection, Venus in pink marble, after receiving an Arts Council NI grant in 2019, which allowed her writing time and mentoring and editing services. It will be released in the Summer of 2020.
Gaynor is a member of Holywood Writers’ Group, The Irish Writers Centre and Women Aloud NI. She also volunteers for EastSide Arts during their summer festival and the CS Lewis festival in November. Gaynor is a keen amateur photographer and has had some of her photography published in journals and anthologies, also.
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