Guest Feature – Paul Brookes

Poet, Paul Brookes, is a great supporter to other poets and features them frequently on his website The Wombwell Rainbow. Therefore it gives me great pleasure to welcome him back to Patricia’s Pen.

Today Paul has come along to chat about his brand new pamphlet, As FolkTaleTeller, published by Impspired. I for one can’t wait to get hold of my signed copy. Without further ado, it’s over to Paul.

Othernesses of “As Folktaleteller”

Paul Brookes

I set myself writing challenges. Like a lot of folk I am fascinated by folklore. What fascinates me? The dark, mysterious, quirky and unusual. I plump all those together under the heading “Othernesses”. And I want to know what it is like to be that otherness. How would they speak? How would they see the world around them? So when I saw this hashtag #Folktober, I wanted to know more.

#Folktober is a monthly challenge for artworkers. They are challenged to create an artwork a day in October. Some folk on their create lists of folklore/mythological characters. I challenged myself to take one of these lists as a writing prompt.

Now I take a left swerve with this. For a forthcoming collection called “Othernesses”, which is out to possible publishers at the moment, I researched Les Murray’s zoopoetics. A fancy term basically meaning how he wrote “about” animals.  He didn’t write “about” them as that suggests a “looking at” as opposed to “looking from”. He wrote from their point of view. Out of their eyes, using their senses to explore the world. “Othernesses” takes the point of view of insects, arachnids and so on.

This is what I wanted to do with the characters in my collection “As FolkTaleTeller”. Dangerous territory. Like getting into the mind of paedophiles and serial killers. A point of view that could alienate a lot of readers. Getting into the minds of what folk call “monsters”.

How do you inhabit the mind of someone or something else? The fancy term for it is “personification”. Getting into another’s headspace, more than that. Their sense spaces. What would they touch, taste, hear, see, smell? How would they process it? I know this can get gross, but illuminating, too. I believe all have a unique perspective on the world. We love to know what makes folk act the way they do. Is it through reasoning, out of impulse, or a combination? It fascinates me.

What form would the writing take? Well, ever since Ian McMillan asked me to write an advent sonnet a few Christmases ago, I write a sonnet a day. See it, as like a five-finger exercise for a pianist. I settled into writing Shakesperean sonnets because that was the form I chose originally. The strict form of ten syllables per line, 14 lines, three quatrains and a couplet exercises my mind. I admit I am crap at metre. I read it aloud, and if it sounds right, I keep it. And it is useful to break the ten syllable lines into five syllable phrases. After a while some of the phrases in my head, automatically were ten syllables long. That was a surprise!

In a sense, writing first person is like an actor getting into character. I hope you, dear readers, can feel yourselves taken in by these figures, no matter how monstrous.

Thank you to wonderful Tricia for giving me this opportunity to spout about my latest collection.

~~~

It was a delight to feature you again, Paul, and I’m excited to read your brand new pamphlet. Writing in first person, as you know, is always my prime point of view. There’s nothing like stepping into character whether it be a person, tree or bird. Good luck with your new collection.

If readers fancy finding out more about Paul Brooke’s brand new pamphlet, and want to know how to order a copy, pop over to Amazon here.

About Paul Brookes

Paul Brookes is a shop asst. Lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. First play performed at The Gulbenkian Theatre, Hull.  His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). He is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews, book reviews and challenges. Had work broadcast on BBC Radio 3 The Verb and, videos of his Self Isolation sonnet sequence featured by Barnsley Museums and Hear My Voice Barnsley. He also does photography commissions. Most recent is a poetry collaboration with artworker Jane Cornwell: “Wonderland in Alice, plus other ways of seeing”, (JCStudio Press, 2021). Forthcoming: “These Random Acts of Wildness”, Glass Head Press, 2022.

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Link to Pre order The Keeper of Aeons

For those of you who read Matthew M C Smith’s blog earlier this week, I promised to keep you in touch as how to order a copy of his brand new pamphlet The Keeper of Aeons published by The Broken Spine. Well now you can pre order with an expected release date of 14th November 2022. Matthew has a special package which includes a handwritten poem and a bookmark but stocks for this are limited so hurry if you fancy grabbing yourself this extra surprise.

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If you didn’t catch Matthew M C Smith’s blog earlier this week then pop over HERE and read.

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Guest Feature – Matthew M C Smith

Welsh writer, Matthew M C Smith, is not only a poet, but runs a small press Black Bough Poetry – (Publisher of imagist micro and short poetry.) Matthew is also one of the biggest poetry supporters on Twitter, in particular running his weekly TopTweetTuesday.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to feature Matthew M C Smith on Patricia’s Pen. Without further ado it’s over to Matthew blogging about his forthcoming poetry book, The Keeper of Aeons. And check out the fabulous cover!

The Keeper of Aeons

Matthew M C Smith

Patricia, thanks for this opportunity to write about my forthcoming book The Keeper of Aeons and thanks also for all you to do support poets.

The Keeper of Aeons, which will be published by UK press Broken Spine Arts Collective, will be my second book after Origin: 21 Poems. It’s almost five years since publishing Origin and it feels like the right time to launch a second one after working over my poems and prose intensively over the last few years.

I submit most of my writing to literary presses as a process of creative discipline. The prompts and themes given by publishing houses get me focused on writing when life is hectic. If I’m sending work to editors, to anyone for that matter, I really focus, challenging myself to be inventive in the act of creation, to avoid recycling tired subjects in a cliched manner, and always make sure there is careful editing so that my work is hopefully readable and of a standard. How impactful or fresh the work is – well, that’s always up to readers to decide. It’s difficult to write anything truly new in the 21st century but it’s about striving to approaching it from an individual perspective and stretching myself.

The process of submitting feels pretty rigorous and when I get rejections, I always look over work to see how I can improve it, make it more engaging, imaginative, transporting, checking again for mistakes or opportunities to (hopefully) sock it to my ideal readers. I’m wary about using jargon like ‘growth mindset’ but that’s how I would describe my attitude to the craft. I rarely get down about rejections now – I just move on. I hope that my poems are well-crafted and provoke, move, inspire and challenge – that’s the goal.

The Keeper of Aeons takes us to points in human evolution, like instant time-travel (poetry/ prose/ storytelling can magically do that, can’t it?), with the intention of immersing the reader in the atmosphere and sense of place: the planes of the Rift Valley in Africa; Paviland Cave in Wales, site of the famous ‘Red Lady’ burial; a bronze age burial mound in Anglesey; the Venice of Marco Polo; a masked ball in the 18th century; personal reflections on my childhood in the Swansea Valley; snapshots of contemporary places and landscapes in Wales and beyond; astronauts orbiting earth on the Space Station; we also travel to futuristic, anthropocene cities and through the cosmos in more surreal, dream-poems.

I’m really excited about the book. Many of the poems are grounded in archaeology and history but there is a deliberate juxtaposition with the uncanny, the weird and the surreal. I hope people get the book, dip in and out of it and experience daydreams and reveries of different places and times. I also hope they have their own fantastical journeys as a result of reading it.

As for the title The Keeper of Aeons, this refers to humanity. As far as we know, we are the only sentient beings on planet Earth who have the capacity to attempt any sort of comprehension of the passage of time, or at least grasp at interpreting instances in time and strive to understand their own place in planetary evolution. What do we understand? What does ‘understanding’ actually mean? What do we know and what is knowable? What have we missed in our continual searching for knowledge and what will always be beyond us? What will we know in the future that will surprise and stagger us? Humanity holds so much knowledge but there is so much we are ignorant of. We are keepers of the world, the keepers of Time on our planet (it feels like that to me), but we have our own limitations – we’re amazing, capacious organisms but also woefully human. Hopefully readers will further ponder this enormous complexity when reading the book and feel a sense of awe at everything around and inside them.

Thank you Patricia!

*

Thank you Matthew, it was a treat to have you pop over. I for one can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of The Keeper of Aeons.

What Matthew hasn’t mentioned is that you can pop over to Black Bough Poetry and check out all Black Bough publications and find out how to order a copy. I highly recommend these books if you like imagistic poetry.


About Matthew M C Smith

Matthew M. C. Smith is a Welsh writer from Swansea. He is ‘Best of the Net’ nominated 3x and is published by presses such as Poetry Wales, Finished Creatures, Acropolis Journal, Icefloe Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, Atrium Poetry, Barren Magazine, Fevers of the Mind, Fly on the Wall and The Lonely Crowd. He has been a featured writer for Broken Spine Arts, Icefloe Press and The Storms Journal and won the R.S. Thomas poetry award at the Cybi festival in 2018.

Matthew is also the editor of Black Bough Poetry, the Silver Branch project and Top Tweet Tuesday on Twitter, platforms that promote imagist poetry.

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Guest Feature – Raine Geoghegan

Today on Patricia’s Pen is returning guest, a talented poet who I greatly admire, the lovely Raine Geoghegan. Raine has come along to chat about her brand new collection The Talking Stick. Without further ado, it’s over to Raine.

The Talking Stick: O Pookering Kosh

Raine Geoghegan

It’s such a wonderful feeling when you have a full collection published. The book becomes a sort of refuge or a home for all the work that you’ve produced over a long period of time. This is how I feel about my latest book, The Talking Stick: O Pookering Kosh. I remember the time that I sent my manuscript off to my publisher, Salmon Poetry Press, a fabulous Irish and International publishing house based in Ennistymon in Ireland. Jessie Lendennie, the founder and Chief Editor there knew my work and loved the fact that I was writing about my Romany heritage and the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community which has always been marginalised. She promotes the work of diverse voices from Ireland and the world. Signing the contract was a highlight of my writing career. My book was published in June and was launched in a beautiful art gallery, just opposite the Salmon Bookshop and Literary Centre in Ennistymon. There was poetry, music and song and I was joined by a fellow poet Fiona Bolger who was launching her full collection, Love in the Original Language. It was a great success and such an enjoyable event.

The title of the book came easily to me. I had written a poem called ‘O Pookering Kosh’. It’s told from the perspective of a young boy who is in a vardo, witnessing  an old Romanichal ritual.

A Note on the Talking Stick

Although it’s not practised anymore, it was once a custom in some Romany families that when an elder died, a ritual was performed using the blackthorn stick as a way to pass on wisdom and knowledge from that elder to a small child.

‘I’m crouching by the door when an ol’ mush comes in/ carryin’ a stick of blackthorn./ ‘ere’s the pookering kosh’, me granny says./ She picks up the youngest, our Emily and puts ‘er on the bed./ The ‘ole mush gives the kosh to me granda, who can barely ‘old it./ Me granny takes the chavies vast and squeezes the other end of the kosh into ‘er little fingers.

Mush – man; kosh – stick; chavies – child’s; vast – hand. (P. 30)

Jessie had the notion that the book was very much like the talking stick and could be passed around thus sharing the wisdom and knowledge of the Gypsy characters whose voices were captured in it. I loved this idea and it has brought me closer to my ancestors. I strongly believe in the power of storytelling as a way of healing our ancestral ties and connections. For me writing this book has been a wonderful way to re-connect with my, family, especially those I do not remember or didn’t know that well. I like to think that they would be proud of my work.

Thank you, Raine, that was so interesting, and your book sounds amazing.

If anyone fancies ordering a copy of The Talking Stick pop over to Salmon Press

About Raine Geoghegan

Raine Geoghegan, Poet, Prose Writer, Playwright and Tutor of Gypsy heritage, has an MA in Creative Writing from Chichester University. She is a Forward Prize, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Her three pamphlets are published with Hedgehog Poetry Press. Her full collection, ‘The Talking Stick: O Pookering Kosh’ is published with Salmon Poetry Press. She has performed in the UK and Ireland and her work has been published internationally in both print and online. He essay, ‘It’s Hopping Time’ was featured in the anthology ‘Gifts of Gravity and Light’ with Hodder & Stoughton.

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Guest Feature – Kate Rose

I’m delighted to feature Kate Rose on Patricia’s Pen. Kate has recently published her debut poetry collection, Brushstrokes. Without further ado, it’s over to Kate.

My Writing

Kate Rose

Not long ago I came across a small red hardbacked notebook amongst my late dad’s possessions. On opening the book, I found poems handwritten by me when I was about eight years old.  I was intrigued by the subjects, the power of the natural world, friendship, loneliness, and I wondered at the strength of such feelings in one so young. I cannot relate to my childhood self, yet through these poems, I found a connection that is universal to all humans. I marvel in what was started then is part of who I am now.

I often think I came to writing poetry late in life. Yet through this find, and a number of other false starts, I realise that the desire has always been there. I think it needed time to mature and the freedom to explore various themes without the hindrance of a day-job. I am lucky. I have that freedom; but I have spent years in a kind of wilderness, not being able to release my creativity.  Scratching words on old envelopes, or day-diaries. Yet something in me made me keep these writings.

Even now I have days when I cannot write.  I try to give myself time, somewhere quiet, to read other poets, familiar, household names, contemporary, unknown. Anything I can lay my hands on. I find reading helps me to discover my flow of thoughts and ideas.

I take my inspiration from my surroundings. I am fascinated by the changes in seasons in this part of south west France, where I live quietly in an old French farmhouse. Nature, both the natural world and human nature, has a fascination for me, and most of my poems are based around how one reflects on another.

My new project is around the theme of light. I am intrigued by it, the changes through the day, the months, its impact on mood, the way it is portrayed in literature and spiritualty. And so on!  I hope to start this new endeavour in the autumn. Initially with lots of reading, no doubt chasing different ideas around the theme.  For me this is an adventure and exploration, I don’t know where it will take me, but I am looking forward to all kinds of explosions, revelations, and new ideas to inform my poetry.

I am always looking for poets to work with. I take much inspiration from sharing ideas and thoughts. If you are reading this far, and would like to chat informally about poetry, writing poetry, writing poetry together, then please get in touch.

About Kate Rose

Kate Rose is a poet, author and festival organiser working from her home in the Creuse, France. Her collection, Brushstrokes, was published by Mosaique press in May 2022. Her work has been published in a range of anthologies and on-line publications. Her poetry has been translated into Italian and Romanian, in collaboration with students and staff at Salerno University and West University of Timisoara. She co-hosts poetry@treignac, an annual poetry festival in the Correze, France.

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Guest Feature – Damien B Donnelly

It gives me great delight to welcome the one and only Damien B Donnelly back to Patricia’s Pen. Damien is one of the most supportive poets I know and he’s come along to tell you all about his Parisian experience in his brand new collection Enough! published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. And that’s enough from me and over to Damien.

Enough!

Damien B Donnelly

Thanks Patricia for having me back. It’s a fantastic platform for writers to share news of their collections and I feel that my first full collection has been brewing for a very long time. Perhaps since that ordinary rainy night in October, at 22, arriving in Paris and considering, for the first time, the recklessness of moving to a country whose language I’d never studied, where I didn’t know a single person, didn’t have a job or even a place to live. However, back then, none of that seemed daunting. When you haven’t begun to discover who you are yourself, perhaps it doesn’t really matter where you are.

25 years later, now back living in Ireland, I’ve taken the time to consider this Parisian chapter, and, in the end, it’s rightly called Enough! Ça suffit, non?

The story unfolds throughout a collection of poems and photographs split into sections – the leaning in, the living, the loving, the moving, the leaning out and the leaving. An exploration of a connection to a city so determined not to change, that it forces those who dwell between its cut of concrete to either be crushed or be equally as creative – sometimes I sat in a musée on a Sunday wondering how the model felt when master moulded him into something else.

It was a haunting, from the very beginning, and, with no history of my own, I shivered often beneath the weight of its centuries that shimmered on every street when I came – to sleep, shit, smoke, slip, to bash my own knuckles against banal and back again, to seduce ideas of being a somebody having already left everybody. In Paris, in the early days, we were all prisoners to the poison that we couldn’t get enough of.

To be a foreigner in Paris, no matter how long you live there, is to know you will always be a foreigner and so you seek out the great shadows of fellow foreign predecessors- Wilde, Beckett, Mitchell, Hemingway, the brave ones who came before – to slip into currents others already caressed, and so I stared at these stars – curious as to whether someday someone would wonder where we sat, would wonder if we were the owners of all those brollies they wanted to grab hold of in the hope they’d feel the weight of a purpose.

Years later, under those brollies, I found myself – running along all those boulevards, as if they were battlefields and the droplets were bullets and I couldn’t remember how to say That’s Enough in French. And yet, I will return and others will follow, coming, like I did – as cattle into the chaos, munching our way from the farms of everywhere else to the stench of what we have come to identify as cult.

Love, life and all the lies we tell ourselves in between to make it bearable amid such beauty.

Sometimes, the endings are there to be seen, right at the very beginning.

And if you haven’t already pre ordered your copy then now’s the time as you don’t want to miss out on an awesome produced limited edition copy published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. And I’m sure Damien will sign the copy for you too.

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About Damien B Donnelly

Damien B. Donnelly is the author of the pamphlets Eat the Storms, Stickleback and In the Jitterfritz of Neon, co-written by Eilín de Paor, all published by Hedgehog Poetry Press. He’s the host / producer of Eat the Storms, the poetry podcast and the editor-in-chief of The Storms, a printed journal of poetry, prose and visual art. His work has appeared in various journals, online and in print. He’s lived in Paris, London and Amsterdam but is now back in Ireland. He was a pattern maker for 23 years before becoming a poet but has always made very good cakes.

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Today = No Guest Feature

Due to unforeseen circumstances, there is no guest feature today. However, I thought I’d take this opportunity to fill you in with some news.

Symbiosis and Spirit Mother are now both live and you can purchase limited edition copies from my website shop HERE scroll down for the relevant book and correct postage.

Damien B Donnelly along, with with sub-editor, Gaynor Kane, (for the inaugural issue), launched The Storms last Sunday. If you pop over HERE you can see how the launch went, along with some fantastic photos. The journal is a must to buy and I’m honoured to have my poem Squalls included in this fantastic issue. If you fancy buying a copy (worldwide) then go HERE.

Damien B Donnelly is my guest next week when he blogs about his brand new collection Enough. Make sure you don’t miss it! If you missed Gaynor Kane‘s feature about 8 Types of Love you can read that HERE

Another shout out must go to Steve Cawte at Impspired who has produced a wonderful book Love, Loss and Cardiac Issues. This book has been specifically designed to raise funds for cardiac research. I am honoured to have two of my poems included. Please consider purchasing to help raise funds for this worthy cause. Go HERE to order your copy.

This evening sees the launch of Lucy Heuschen’s, We Wear the Crown – If you didn’t get to read Lucy’s blog two weeks ago you can find it HERE

Finally I’d like to flag up an interview on poembypoem with special guest Matthew M C Smith. Not only is Matthew the editor of Black Bough Poetry, but also the founder of Top Tweet Tuesday, and he offers enormous support to fellow poets. Matthew will be my guest on Patricia’s PenOctober 4th 2022 when he will be blogging about his brand new collection. Don’t miss it.
Go HERE to read the interview on poembypoem.

Spirit Mother: Experience the Myth

Interview with Paul Brookes – The Wombwell Rainbow

Spirit Mother was launched on 6th August 2022 by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. My publication date was magical thanks to Paul Brookes who interviewed me throughout the day and publicised my answers on his website. Paul has now made it so the reader can read the collective interview in one place.

If you click HERE you’ll be able to read all Paul’s questions and my answers. I’m told it makes for interesting reading.

Thank you, Paul Brookes for making my day extra special.

Guest Feature – Lucy Heuschen

I’m honoured to feature a fellow Hedgehog Poetry Press poet, the lovely Lucy Heuschen, on Patricia’s Pen. Lucy bravely shares how she rediscovered her creative voice. Without further ado, it’s over to Lucy.

How I rediscovered my creative voice

Lucy Heuschen

In childhood, I was always writing stories. In my twenties and thirties, creativity took a back seat to my legal career, marriage and motherhood. Then in 2018 I was diagnosed with Stage 2(b) Grade 3 advanced breast cancer. I was 42, fairly fit and active; suddenly I was a cancer patient. I was on the floor.

During treatment, I read poetry: Emily Dickinson, Carol Ann Duffy, Ruth Stone. Sometimes I could only manage a single page. I listened to many podcasts. After treatment ended, I was lost. I attended a workshop led by poet / eco-activist Jason Conway, who helped me connect my writing skills with healing and processing the changes in my life. I discovered online workshops led by Anna Saunders of Cheltenham Poetry Festival and Alison Powell of Write Club. My greatest inspirations are the creative souls from around the world who attend these workshops.

I also founded The Rainbow Poems, an online community for anyone going through life change. Now in our third year, we have over a thousand regular readers. Our contributors range from Pushcart Nominees to an 84-year-old grandmother and first-time poet. All are welcome at The Rainbow Poems!

We Wear The Crown is my debut pamphlet, launching on 15 August 2022 with The Hedgehog Poetry Press.

It’s about my journey from the moment of diagnosis, when I wanted to smash everything, to the end of active treatment and beyond. This ‘afterwards’ is the part I find most important to discuss, because it often isn’t. The post-treatment void, when you’re let loose from the healthcare system that has supported you but also dictated your daily life. A person may still be dealing with symptoms and medications, yet perhaps understandably, some people just want to believe that you are ‘cured’, back to ‘the old you’.

Why is it called We Wear The Crown?

The title was inspired by a young friend who was diagnosed with cancer while I was writing the book, and a brilliant charity called the Little Princess Trust. The title poem is a fairy-tale for my friend as she embarks on her treatment plan. LPT collect donated hair to make wigs for young people suffering hair loss and I donated my hair before starting chemo. Hair is often associated with health and strength, so giving my hair to LPT was, for me, symbolic. The poem came out of that experience, the deep need to reclaim my self-image.

I also think of Shakespeare’s Henry IV: ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’. Because there are no easy answers with cancer. It is a heavy thing. I became insomniac, trying to bear it. It isn’t about being ‘brave’ or ‘strong’; I was often neither of those things. I wanted to honour the loss, the burden, the uncertainty that a cancer diagnosis brings, but also to say: we are beautiful and worth celebrating, completely so, with all our frailty and our scars.

About Lucy Heuschen

Lucy Heuschen is a British poet living in Germany with her family and rescue dog. She returned to writing poetry after a two-decade legal career and a life-changing cancer diagnosis. Lucy’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals and literary magazines and she has contributed to anthologies from Hedgehog Press, Dreich, Yaffle, Orchard Lea, New Contexts and Black Bough.

Lucy is the founder and editor of The Rainbow Poems (an online community for anyone experiencing life change or uncertainty) and the Sonnets for Shakespeare project. She leads the Poetry Society Stanza for Germany.

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Join Lucy in a double book launch with Cheltenham Poetry Festival on August 23rd 2022 at 7pm