Wednesday, 27 January 2016


The poets of Stanza Mar Menor met again for the third time this month to discuss a plethora of writing which did include four that Douglas had written since last week.  He is prolific and that is something I need to be, but I (John) have been concentrating on other matters.

Douglas had previously paid tribute to Bowie, Mr Rickman and now we mourn Mr Glenn Frey.  I am sad that another person has left us having given the world so many lyrics that we can hang on to. Douglas was able to remind us in his lines of some of those titles.

He then introduced 'On Being Scottish'.  For me the one theme that came out clearly was the simple fact of 'him never leaving'.  He knows where his roots are.  There was one line that stood out ' We seem to be the artist's first macquette' and then he proclaimed in another line 'We are the nation that the world forgot'.  Well, how could we?

Then he was 'Dreaming' and back to the sixties with a nostalgic trip into a world that had never really been!  His words go deep and it has to be read line by line and picking one line, to quote here, is not effective.

Heather who read her poem Hello Dementia at TORREVIEJA WRITERS CIRCLE last  week had sent us a hard copy so that we were more able to give feedback.  We had a very full discussion on her work and sent her our comments.  It was poetic and we liked it.  What a subject to choose and she is to be congratulated on achieving some very beautiful lines.  She has a way with words.  We await her response from what we had to say about it and await her next offering.

Discussions have carried on from the early part of the month regarding what we see, as a group, those competitions that award prizes for something that we do not consider poetic.  It is an ongoing item for us and David has already sent a well worded article to the manager of the festival, Phillipa Slinger.  We had already examined Jane Satterfield's winning entry 'Forfeit' and decided that it was not poetic and was no more than words aligned in lines that contained no rhythm and had nothing to commend it.
We see that a single judge awards a fellow academic the kudos of winning and we note that almost  all of the winning entries are female.  What is going on, we ask?

Douglas had already written a unique response to Jane Satterfield's winning piece which goes to show what a good writer can achieve in only a few lines.  He knows his Hamlet too!  His last one 'Versifying' echoes in poetic form our contempt at writing masquerading as being poetic.  He says in there that ' I want to write my own true verse' and then his final line is 'But, sadly, I have landed out of time'.  He has not and when his writing is viewed it will stand the test of time unlike other much poorer offering.

Okay, now to examine a piece of writing by Deryn Rees-Jones who was the sole judge and we looked at her published 'poem', 'After You Died'.  We would prefer to be kind in our comments, but we cannot be. It left us wondering what it was really about.  We can accept the fact that a poem should linger on in the mind after the last line, but this one was not clear as to it's message.

If this sounds critical of what Ledbury is doing then we can say that we have listened to the recording of their Poetry Salons and this is a terrific idea.  We enjoyed listening to Adam  Horovitz reading his 'House built from Cloth' for it contained some wonderful pleasing lines.  What a difference. He is currently Herefordshire's poet in residence.

In attendance, apart from Douglas, was Margaret, Robin and myself.  Unfortunately Heather could not attend.

We recorded our event and it means that however scattered we are, we can remain in contact.  We have yet to set the date of the next meeting, but I intend that we should meet again in February.

Flash Fiction

At a previous meeting a member read a short piece of fiction.  This encouraged me to write a 55 word     Short Story on the theme of 'The Fondest Kiss', but I did err slightly!


'You will never see her again.
 You're a fucking bastard and
 you can kiss my arse' she screamed.
The neighbours heard. Curtains twitched.      
He left.                                                                    
Her foot kicked the door shut.                                
Shattering another pane.
Prejudice in the court room.
Two boxes of legal papers
held the pain and shattered hopes.
Now, a fatherless daughter.      

John Edwards.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016


We met again (18th)with only a week's break in between and we still had plenty to read, discuss and comment upon.  Feedback is essential.  However first things first.  We examined the offerings brought by Margaret, Douglas and an updated version of David's 'Fuming'.  Now that he has had time to digest our comments and to consider what should be amended he came up with a more rhythmic end product.  His lines contain a very good damnation of those that pollute the atmosphere having no regard to it, and to those who cannot escape the fumes.

Margaret brought two that she considered were work in progress.  'Alan' was given our scrutiny first.  It was one taken out of her early life where children were labeled and put into convenient compartments.  We liked it with its simple style and rhyming pattern.  Changes were suggested.
Her second one was entirely different.  It was entitled 'News from 2001 - 2016' and originated from the news items and her attitude to the horrors in our world.
This is part of the first verse.
.....Perhaps I will be desensitised, or sentimentalised,/But No, I find myself sickened, reeling/feeling hurt and angry for those terrorised. ........

Her final line hits out at the waste of human life.  
'Killing at a steady, effective, frightening pace'.
Says it all from 9/11, Charlie Hebdo to today.

Douglas had written 'Caliphate'.  This was his view of THEIR view of the 'war on terror'.  This piece is very thought provoking and chilling.  We are used to hearing the Western view and this swings it around the other way.  It expounds an external view, it being the very opposite of much of poetry that has an internalized version of life.  In my view the writing takes us to another place.  We discussed it and offered no suggestions.  It stands as it is and maybe should be submitted to a quality newspaper.

Death came several times last week with David Bowie and Alan Rickman departing this planet.  Both so well loved and now who can play the Sheriff of Nottingham?  Douglas wrote Valedictory for the former and a short Tribute to a great scary character actor.  I can now another sad note for Glenn Frey left us yesterday. No more standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona for any of us, but the memories are great and will live on.

John had reacted to a theme offered by TORREVIEJA WRITERS CIRCLE of ' The Fondest Kiss'. He had surprising comments from Margaret about the simple fact that she consider it poetry.  David is of the opinion that it is 'poetic, but not poetry.  A shock really as the three pieces were written as 55 word Flash Fiction. He will consider the thoughts offered and will probably read it for TWC this coming Wednesday.  There is no 'fondest' in his three versions, but I suppose that is what a warped mind does!

And now to something entirely different.  We are a small group and very enabled to spend time examining what is being offered by some in the poetry world.  Some of it we don't like and we have decided to say so.  This will involve much reading, digesting and the formulation of articulate replies - for we are writers after all!

We will look again at the winning entry at Ledbury, together with the TS Eliot Prizewinner, Sarah Howe and also Rachel McCarthy who has been labeled as 'the climate scientist poet unleashing elemental forces'.  Articles have appeared in The Guardian and so they are already in the public domain.  Ledbury Poetry Festival announced its competition winners and those can be accessed via their website.  We are going to see who has been examining and judging and who has decided and adjudicated upon what.   We will look at background and gender to see what prejudices ( if any) are in play.  This is not a 'witch hunt' - no sexism at all here - and having read some of the comments on social media I know that we are not alone in being skeptical about what is good and well written and what masquerades as poetry.  I believe that poetry is for every person and not for an elite group who evidently consider that they are the ones that know best.  It does not mean to say that everything must rhyme, but it must have rhythm and it must be poetic.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Why Write ?

From the moment many ages ago, when I saw my handprint on the cavern wall, I was inspired to write. It was my way to communicate; to record and to inform. I was the only one.
     As time passed I progressed from mud daubs with my fingers, to charcoal scratches of my world, then on to colours fashioned from the earth itself. Stone tablets followed as my brain developed, and languages were formed.  My tools were hewn from rock and slate: wood and feathers; bone and hair, all provided by our Mother.
      I wrote of everything I saw, to pass on my knowledge to my fellows, to educate through my hands and mind. As I experimented I brought forth new materials, parchment and ink in their crudest forms, later refined to paper and purer inks.
       I catalogued events as they happened, to be read to the eager to learn multitudes.   I had the power to influence my circumstances as others listened to my teachings, and they in turn spread my words. Yes, eventually my words became stronger than the weapons of my would be oppressors.
       It took centuries for most to understand my writings, and there are still many who have not received the gift of education I have strived for so long to provide. I battle every day to overcome ignorance with my new inventions. I have machines to mass produce world wide news, machines that now function without my original tool and obey my spoken word.
      The task goes on.
     I write because I can. I write because I am Man.
Tom F.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Hello Dementia

Thoughts after a care home visit
    Hello Dementia
There, there.  What else can I say?
It will get better, now, or later, or some other day.
Time and place have slipped from reality’s grasp.
It doesn’t matter when and where we are –
Peace is all I ask.
My peace, of course, my comfort, and you try in brighter moments to comply.
You try to soothe me, though you can only wonder why.

And I – well I am learning as I sit in this plain place
Empty space
Bare of possibilities for misinterpretation,
Shorn of objects which may one day
Whisper love and on another hate.
I am learning that nothing is fixed.
There is no stability, no reality
Only a reflection in the mind’s eye
Distorted by the light,
Most of all by the might of truth
Which pretends to stand firm and square
But sits as do we all on shifting ground,
On a merry-go-round’s chair
That constantly alters perspective.
Though life may jump off to stand still and stare back
At our progress with contemptuous indifference,
With no care.

And I reach out to take your hand and kiss your cheek.
There, there.

Heather Gingele

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Poets meet up


We met again on Monday 11th January 2016 and we intend to do the same again next Monday.
There were four of us assembled around the table with the IPad recording every word so that we can send our readings and comments to David in Murmansk.

Douglas had, with him, five sonnets and a five-verse-four-lined one entitled 'No Longer Daffodils' that referred back to Wordsworth and the Future Learn course that we had studied. It was not about daffodils, of course, but about something closer to our thinking.  That important subject of what or how good are a collection of assembled words.  Are they prose or are they 'real M'Coy' - Poetry.  He spells his view out eloquently and then we have one line 'that poetry can be sublime' summing it all up.  He and the rest of us are aware of what is being exhibited as poetry.  That's the modern form that lacks rhythm for one thing and masquerades as being poetic.  I do not blame the words for they are never at fault.  I blame the writers, the academics and the judges that proclaim and exalt this tedious stuff.  Poetry should be for everyone and not for some clique who think that they know what is best.  We don't concur, but still respecting their individual right.

Douglas's five sonnets were of personal thoughts and touched, delicately, on important things to all of us.  However, one of them, told of an old cure for sleeplessness.  Of course everyone should know that a peeled onion placed by the resting head of the insomniac will always succeed!  These last few months has seen his production rate soar and he has announced that his next book will be filled brimful with sonnets.  That's good as I think that I can find enough space for another signed copy.  Well done.

David sent one about the pollution he is experiencing up in frozen Murmansk.  I will give you a the first few words. - 'In this shitty city, power station chimneys/spew out plumes of filthy fumes'.  That sets the scene and he goes on to spell out the fact that the communities suffer while 'fat-cats' indulge themselves.  We commented that this rant was 'soft' unlike his previous sharp edged words.  It must be the temperatures!  Keep it up David.  Rant on for I do believe that there is ample space for poetics to protest.

He also sent to us more words on 'Tonka And The Shaman' which is a children's story that will be illustrated.  We will send him our  thoughts on this story.

Margaret read two 'stories' that she had heard in England that had been performed at an 'open-mic'.  She wanted to share them with us and to elicit our views.  Again we revert back to whether they were poetry or prose.  The verdict was that neither were poetic, but very good stories.

On exactly the same theme we looked at the product of a Poetry Society Stanza meeting that had been placed on the Society's Face Book Page.  It is all there for all to see and so we read and commented.  The theme picked upon was the original reason for the recipe for Bakewell Tart.  So we have a recipe 'poem' or several.  The one offered publicly contained some good words and lines.  We have to bear in mind that it was written in an evening, but we did suggest that things could be better.  For us, it was not poetic.  So be it.

Robin had joined us for only the second time and promised to write something again.  Margaret too hopes to get some more words into print.  John was not able to make a contribution of his own, but has several ideas to become more than work-in-progress.

We did also try to link up via Skype as well as record our meeting which was sent out by email.  It is all to do again next week.