New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

Escaping the dead hand of writer’s block 3 – More Writers’ Prompts

By Shirley Bell
Revisiting Endings
Last week I put  a piece from ‘Tom Thumb’ which appears in R. F Langley’s ‘Collected Poems’, published by CarcanetEach line ended with physics/ in/ it/ because/ are/ evening/and/fifty/any/end/shrieks/go/be/ beyond/left/galaxy – very challenging but I hope you got a poem out of this.
.But What about a formal poem?This time I have chosen rhyming poems for you to try to write your own poem with someone else’s rhymes as the end of each line.The first one is a chilling and mysterious piece, yet with lines 1, 2, 3 all aaa throughout the poem, and the b rhyme for every 3rd line, and the final 2 lines rhyming b then a it is also a tight and rhyming scheme..The Lie


As was my custom, I’d risen a full hour

before the house had woken to make sure

that everything was in order with The Lie,

his drip changed and his shackles all secure.


I was by then so practiced in this chore

I’d counted maybe thirteen years or more

since last I’d felt the urge to meet his eye.

Such, I liked to think, was our rapport.


I was at full stretch to test some ligature

when I must have caught a ragged thread, and tore

his gag away; though as he made no cry,

I kept on with my checking as before.


Why do you call me The Lie? he said. I swore:

it was a child’s voice. I looked up from the floor.

The dark had turned his eyes to milk and sky

and his arms and legs were all one scarlet sore.


He was a boy of maybe three or four.

His straps and chains were all the things he wore.

Knowing I could make him no reply

I took the gag before he could say more


and put it back as tight as it would tie

and locked the door and locked the door and locked the door


In “Timer”, the second one,  Tony Harrison has created a powerful 16 line sonnet which is completely modern and illustrates that though strict form can be a straitjacket, in this caseit  can also be an inspiration.


Timer (1981)

Tony Harrison

Gold survives the fire that’s hot enough
to make you ashes in a standard urn.
An envelope of course official buff
contains your wedding ring that wouldn’t burn.

Dad told me I’d to tell them at St. James’s
the ring should go in the incinerator.
That “eternity” inscribed with both their names is
his surety that they’d be together, “later”.

I signed for the parcelled clothing as the son,
the cardy, apron, pants, bra, dress-
The clerk phoned down, 6- 8- 8- 3- 1?
Has she still her ring on? (Slight pause) Yes!

It’s on my warm palm now, your burnished ring!
I feel your ashes, head, arms, breasts, womb, legs,
sift through its circle slowly, like that thing
you used to let me watch to time the eggs.

(As I said last week , it would be really  interesting for you to submit the result of some Endings in The Blue Nib and we could maybe have a section for a selection of your poems – these are obviously not publishable in the normal sense because of the element of plagiarism).


One poem into another…

There was a very interesting competition which I missed, but I was very interested in the challenge.

“The Colour of Saying creative writing competition was created by Anne Pelleschi (Haden) with the aim of encouraging new work to emerge in response to Dylan Thomas’ poem ‘The Hunchback in the Park’. “

The Colour of Saying – Dylan Down the Ups Project www.dylandowntheups.org.uk/

It  resulted in a 2014 anthology “Original responses to Dylan Thomas’ “The Hunchback in the Park,” in poetry, prose-poem, prose, diary, and letter forms. Translations of Thomas’ “The Hunchback in the Park” into other languages, including: Bulgarian, Catalan, Castilian, German, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Serbian, Sicilian, Slovakian, and Spanish.”


The Hunchback In The Park – by Dylan Thomas

The hunchback in the park
A solitary mister
Propped between trees and water
From the opening of the garden lock
That lets the trees and water enter
Until the Sunday sombre bell at dark

Eating bread from a newspaper
Drinking water from the chained cup
That the children filled with gravel
In the fountain basin where I sailed my ship
Slept at night in a dog kennel
But nobody chained him up.

Like the park birds he came early
Like the water he sat down
And Mister they called Hey mister
The truant boys from the town
Running when he had heard them clearly
On out of sound

Past lake and rockery
Laughing when he shook his paper
Hunchbacked in mockery
Through the loud zoo of the willow groves
Dodging the park keeper
With his stick that picked up leaves.

And the old dog sleeper
Alone between nurses and swans
While the boys among willows
Made the tigers jump out of their eyes
To roar on the rockery stones
And the groves were blue with sailors

Made all day until bell time
A woman figure without fault
Straight as a young elm
Straight and tall from his crooked bones
That she might stand in the night
After the locks and chains

All night in the unmade park
After the railings and shrubberies
The birds the grass the trees the lake
And the wild boys innocent as strawberries
Had followed the hunchback
To his kennel in the dark.


And finally the power of images – ambiguous and unsettling. It’s worth stockpiling a collection of intriguing images for inspiration in lean times. You will know from The Blue Nib covers that I spend a lot of time on image sites, all free! Like The British Library and pxhere.com. 
..I am also a pushover for the Dolce and Gabbana ads, OK they are  highly stylised advertising shots but  I do love the improbably beautiful and long-legged people in odd situations..




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