Tag Archives: NaPoWriMO

Sin É / An interview with poet Jayne Stanton

Sin É

by Jayne Stanton

We steam on barstools
read between slogans on a plastered ceiling
tune to the cuts and grace notes in banter
binge on ambience, high on E minor.

Coburg Street, past midnight, soaks
in sodium light.  Rain beats time
on bodhran umbrellas, my spine
a river of running quavers that stick
to the soles of my sensible shoes
so I high-step the home stretch.

Framed in doorways on Wellington Road
crinoline ghosts wear mirrored skirts
that flirt with moonlight.
Guest house stairs are in rising fifths.
My top floor room’s a tall ship, exploring
the lilt in the Lee’s liquid fingers.

First appeared in Southword 2013. (Highly Commended in the 2013 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition.)

Jayne Stanton

Jayne Stanton lives in Leicestershire, UK.  Her poems have appeared in various print and online magazines and anthologies including Best British & Irish Poets 2017 (Eyewear Publishing).  She has written commissions for a county museum, University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing and a city residency.  A pamphlet, Beyond the Tune, is published by Soundswrite Press (2014).

“Lyrical free verse best describes my style,” Jayne says. “ I’m also a musician, so I’m continually striving for musicality in my writing.  It’s what I instinctively tune into at poetry readings; my default, when reading silently, is to sub-vocalise.  I tend to favour brevity over narrative; my work often has a dark under-layer.”

Jayne and Bekah connected via The 2018 Poet Bloggers Revival Tour. We wanted to know more about her and her writing, so here is our interview with her.

Q~Tell us a little aboutSin É.”  Is there a back story you want to share?

A~The inspiration for the poem was a traditional music session in a bar in Cork, Ireland (I was on a poetry exchange as part of O’Bheal’s Twin Cities project, at the time).  As a fiddle player in a ceilidh band I’m more accustomed to performing than being on the receiving end, so the experience was a change to my usual perspective.

Q~Did it come easily to you or was it hard to write?

 A~The first draft of this poem was written around five months later.  I think the time lapse was beneficial in that it allowed the experience to percolate until the rain, the city streets, and my accommodation overlooking the river also took on a musicality of their own.  There were fewer re-drafts than usual so, although the poem didn’t write itself, it wasn’t an arduous process. The poem was Highly Commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition, 2013, and published online in Southword issue 23A.  The poem, together with the judge’s comment and my report on O’Bheal’s Twin Cities project can be found here.

Q~What’s one piece of advice you want to share on writing?

A~Writing is a solitary act, but it’s equally important to actively seek, and maintain, an outward focus in order to inspire and inform one’s writing.  Connect with other writers, both face-to-face and online (it’s never been easier); be an active participant in your local writing scene; attend writing workshops, poetry readings, literary events, festivals; support the work of others (it’s not a one-way street); live life (it’s the richest writing material I know).  And, read far more poetry than you can ever write.

Q~You mentioned on your blog having signed up for some writing workshops recently.  Why do you value this?

A~I look on writing workshops as part of my ongoing poetry education.  I value the learning to be gained from more experienced poets in order to explore, for example, the use of writing constraints, set forms and routes into writing that I tend to shy away from, ordinarily.  Writing outside of one’s comfort zone often produces surprising results.  For me, it’s the main benefit of joining a NaPoWriMo group, too; I’m prompted into writing what I’d never otherwise have written, in terms of subject, form, choice of language etc.  April becomes a break-out from my writing rut.

Q~Are you involved with your local poetry scene?  What’s it like?

A~There’s a lot happening on the poetry front in my local area.  Many local writing communities overlap and there are a growing number of regular open mic poetry and spoken word events, so there’s something for everyone, whatever their style or preference.  Leicester’s two universities also organise literary and independent small press events. I’m involved in running  a women’s poetry group, Soundswrite, which meets twice monthly to read and discuss published poetry by others and to workshop each others’ poem drafts.  I also attend the South Leicestershire Stanza, which is affiliated to The Poetry Society.  And I regularly read at poetry open mics across the UK Midlands as I think it’s healthy to step outside of one’s poetry locality.

Q~How does having a women’s only space like Soundswrite enable creativity for you and the group?

A~Soundswrite was set up in 2005, by Karin Coller and Pat Corina, as an open group for women in the UK East Midlands enthusiastic about all aspects of poetry.  In my experience there exists a difference in group dynamics between the women-only and mixed gender poetry groups I attend.  I think it’s fair to say that, while most of the active members of Soundswrite also attend other (mixed) groups, Soundswrite’s longevity is due, in part, to the need for a women-only space within the wider poetry community.  I continue to value our robust discuss of all forms of poetry, and insightful and impartial feedback on work-in-progress.  Soundswrite Press provides a showcase for our writing, having published, to date, several anthologies, and single-author pamphlets and short collections of poetry.

Q~Do you find yourself returning to themes or subjects in your work?  What are they and why do they resonate with you?

A~Many of my poems are slants on memories (or misrememberings), grains of truth or pure fiction.  In writing about the people who made me, I explore love in its various forms and guises, including the darker side; ageing and longevity are offshoots from the theme.  I’ve recently begun to explore superstition, old wives’ tales and folklore for a new writing project.

Q~Which poet first made you fall in love with poetry?

A~After years of studying the Classics and the English Romantic poets, it was Wilfred Owen’s WW1 poetry that leapt off the page and introduced me to a very different world: shocking images and vivid detail wrought from first-hand experience; poetry as protest and honest reportage.

Q~Who are you reading now?

A~I’ve been reading Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds; it was an honour to hear his T S Eliot prize reading in London in January.  Helen Dunmore’s final (and Costa prize-winning) collection, Inside the Wave also had a profound effect on me, especially its end-of-life poems.  Next on my TBR pile is Wislawa Szymborska’s Here, translated from the Polish by Clare Kavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak.

Q~There are lots of publications out there.  What is a literary gem you feel deserves more attention?  Why will we love them?

A~I consider Magma Poetry to be one of the best windows on the breadth of contemporary poetry; it publishes work by new or little-known writers to the more established, accepting international submissions.  With reviews of current publications and thought-provoking articles, it is as informative as it is inspirational.  With three themed issues annually and a rolling editorship, Magma maintains a fresh approach to the publishing of poetry and comment.

Q~Where can readers go if they are interested in reading more of your work?

A~More of my work can be found in London Grip New Poetry, Ink, Sweat & TearsAntiphon, and The Lampeter ReviewYou can also check out my blog and follow me on Twitter.




Escape / An interview with poet Veronica Hosking


by Veronica Hosking

Escape within
living with cerebral palsy
Escape within
writing poetry I begin
to lose constraints my mind is free
words give me possibility
Escape within

Poem first appeared in Bare It All Expo at 9 the Gallery 2016.

14462837_1424559687557409_8780963575393812659_nVeronica Hosking is a wife, mother and poet. She lives in the desert southwest with her husband and two daughters. She was the poetry editor for MaMaZina magazine 2006-2011. “Spikier Spongier” appeared in Stone Crowns magazine November 2013. “Desperate Poet” was posted on the Narrator International website and reprinted in Poetry Nook February 2014. Silver Birch Press published several of her poems.

When asked to describe her style, Veronica says, “In 3rd grade I read Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, and she said, write what you know; many of my poems are autobiographical. Quite a few years ago I became a member of gather.com (which no longer exists), and the people I connected with on the site gave me a lot of great feedback on my poetry. I think it is the place I became comfortable calling myself a poet.”

Bekah and Veronica connected this year via the 2018 Poet Bloggers Revival Tour and realized they had also been published together in the Silver Birch Press “My Mane Memories” series back in March 2016. We wanted to know more about Veronica and her poetry, so here is our interview with her.

Q~Tell us a little about your poem, “Escape.” Is there a backstory you want to share?

A~“Escape” is a poem I wanted to share because it is autobiographical. I was born with cerebral palsy and have escaped within my writing from a young age — I also use reading as an escape. You know the old adage, you can’t write if you don’t read. “Escape” appeared in an art exhibition in Phoenix, AZ Bare It All (pictured above).  It was an expo where women talked about self-love, learning to love our bodies flaws and all. Then in 2017 the rondelet was made into a 5 line poem and published in the anthology, The Colour of Poetry.  This poem was not an easy one to write, because it was the first one I wrote focusing on my CP.

Q~Why do you write poetry?

A~The big reason is it’s short. The cerebral palsy affects my right side; I type everything out with only one hand. I love writing. I began writing short stories because I knew I’d never be a novelist, and I didn’t have confidence in my poetry, nor did I think poetry would be lucrative. But, once I met some writers online and started getting some great constructive criticism, I grew more confident in my poetry. I participated in my first NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month in April) in 2010.

Q~You seem to enjoy writing challenges and prompts. Why is that?

A~I do enjoy writing for challenges just to see if I can. Remember a challenge is just to get words on paper. You can always go back and edit and polish later. Not everything one writes for a challenge/prompt is gold, but it’s a great way to get your creativity flowing. Speaking of NaPoWriMo check out poets.org you can request your own poster for the month.

Q~What are your poetry highs/lows of the last year?

A~At the start of 2017, I had a poem published on Silver Birch Press – “Me at 17” series. Later on, Melanie (the editor) announced she was going on hiatus, and then she closed the website indefinitely. In April, I completed another NaPoWriMo; however, most of 2017 my poetry muse was quiet. At the beginning of 2018, I was excited to read that poets have decided to work on sharing their writing process and poetry in the 2018 Poet Blog Revival. This February, I learned the month has been dedicated to writing haiku – shortest month, short poetry form. I’ve been writing at least one haiku a day on Twitter with the @baffled #haikuchallenge word. 

Q~Will you share a favorite haiku or two you’ve written for February’s challenge?

A~Here are some favorite haiku from NaHaiWriMo

I see my breath fog
brisk February morning
Canada geese honk

Despite growing up in Buffalo, NY, I’ve acclimated to desert weather, and when it only gets into 60s for a high, I’m cold. Also, Buffalo is very close to Canada and has many Canada Geese. I love hearing their honk when they migrate in the spring and fall.

Sunday has arrived
do laundry over again
cycle never ends

I like this one because it depicts my life as a mom and the never-ending work.

Q~Are you involved in your local poetry scene? What’s it like?

A~As for the Phoenix poetry scene, I’d say I’m passively involved. I’ve attended several poetry readings, but I have not gotten in front of the poets to read my own work. I’m more than happy to cheer on the speakers while sitting in the audience. The poetry scene in Phoenix is active. I follow the Phoenix poetry events page on Facebook. They post several readings a month. It’s easier for me to participate on the Internet because it doesn’t involve transportation issues. Right now, I’d say I’m involved in the Poet Blog Revival online. What I enjoy most about the Poet Blog Revival really isn’t being a part of it myself, though it does give my muse something to aim for once a week. My creativity was somewhat lacking last year. What I really enjoy is the insight into the lives of fellow poets and seeing I’m not alone in this struggle to express myself in words.

Q~Is there an online resource you would like to recommend?

A~My go to place to submit poetry is Submittable They recently opened a discover page where you can peruse submission calls by genre, deadlines and probably even specific magazine/publisher names. I signed up for it because I submitted a few pieces to markets that used the website, but I love the new discover feature and have used it a few times already to submit to new places.

Q~Where can readers go if they are interested in reading more of your work?

A~My Twitter id is @HoskingPoet, and you can follow my poetry and life babbling on my blog.