Archive for the ‘Creative writing by Ruth’ Category

A couple of years ago I searched the Library catalogue for a (hard copy) book on how to write poetry, but this one didn’t come up.   I’ve just checked the catalogue and they do have this, but only as an e-book or a talking book.  I’ve learned that the subject I should have searched for is ‘Poetry – Authorship’.

I’ve been doing a course on formal poetry with Joanna Preston, and this book was on her recommended reading list.  A friend kindly lent me her copy.  I loved Stephen Fry’s gentle introduction to writing poetry, although I couldn’t bring myself to follow his suggestion of marking the stresses in a book which belongs to a friend.  An early exercise suggested writing random lines in iambic pentameter – very useful when my course homework was a sonnet.

Stephen Fry has an attractive chatty style with witty asides, and his personally written examples of various types of poems are enjoyable and impressive.  I’m pleased this book lacks the scatological comments which put me off his autobiography.

This is an erudite book, sometimes with more information than I want, but it would be an indispensable reference book.  My course is now finished and I probably won’t read more of this book, but I may well return to Diane Lockward’s “The Crafty Poet – A Portable Workshop” which I bought two years ago.

“Stephen Fry is just the thing
to help the muse when you’re writing.”


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American Dream

In October I shared with my poetry group a piece I’d written about the Dreamers.  None of the group had heard of these immigrants.  They’ll be more aware now the issue of the Dreamers shut down the U.S. Government for several days.

American Dream

Infant immigrants
taken to the U.S.
without legal documents
didn’t know they didn’t belong
until they applied for college
or a driver’s licence.

Obama called them The Dreamers
said their hearts were American
protected them from deportation.

Trump cancelled that
he’s sending them back
to a place they’ve never known
far from the land
where Mister King
once had a Dream


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At a seminar yesterday we were invited to create some different explanations for common terms.  Some of mine were:

Supermarket:  a place where a special offer to save money leads you to spend more

Politician:  a person who promises the earth until they come down to earth after votes are counted

Credit card:  where you can pay by waving but eventual payment is not waived

What others can you think of?

“It’s fun creating different sense
let inspiration now commence.”

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Eight weeks of writing classes have taught me heaps, and stimulated all kinds of writing.  Fiction writing is a challenge for me, but we were given good questions to trigger this.  I found I love the Tanka format.

Tanka are similar to Haiku, but written from a subjective viewpoint, with a syllable count that goes 5,7,5,7,7.  The first two lines are an introduction.  The third changes the tone, gives a twist.  The last two lines should have a profound meaning and/or prompt reflection, and the whole should be able to be read as one sentence.   We were also introduced to Haiga, where the poem (which could be a Tanka) is combined with a picture.  I enjoyed being given a picture and asked to write an accompanying Tanka within ten minutes.  Here are a couple I wrote (sorry I don’t have the pictures they were intended to go with).

Your concentration
is focussed on one pathway
let your mind wander
there are other points of view
that may give a fresh outlook


Together apart
each of us on our own path
there is unity
with an agreed objective
reached by diff’rent processes


Have you come across Tanka poems before?  And do you know whether the plural of Tanka should have an ‘s’?

“After this course I now hanker
to be writing many Tanka.”



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I’m not a fiction writer, and short stories have never attracted me.  I read one occasionally in a magazine, but rarely choose a whole book of them.  My feeling is that they tend to engage my head, whereas a novel is more likely to engage my heart as well.  Having said that I enjoy articles about real people.  I was moved by one in last weekend’s ‘Press’ about procedures around stillbirth in the 1970s.  Not sure whether that qualifies as a short story?

My creative writing has lately been lacking in inspiration, and I enrolled in a writing course for encouragement and stimulation.  This week we were given the first two pages of a short story, and asked to write an ending as our homework.  It’s a ‘coming of age’ story and the instruction was to draw on our own experiences, and use them in our writing.  I have experiences I can recall, but I find it hard to rewrite them in the first person to fit with the rest of the story.  Usually when I write about my experiences, e.g. in this blog, I am completely truthful.  The blending of imagination and authenticity offends my values of openness and honesty.  I would find it easier to write this exercise in the third person.  It seems to be writing imaginatively in the first person that’s difficult.  It seems I have a lot to learn about creative writing.

“If I’m to write words about me
then I need authenticity.”

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Presents I’ve been given reflect the support of my family and friends for my writing ambitions.


I’ve received a new rhyming dictionary (my 1947 version is falling to pieces), and an inspiring book with ‘642 things to write about’.  Plus pads, a blank book with a ribbon marker (!), and some sticky page markers.   Lots of inspiration for new writing in the New Year.  Today I might just put my feet up and enjoy what others have written.

“Today’s a day when I may choose
to grant a day off to my muse.”



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A beast that’s sensitive and shy
was rarely seen by human eye
its home the Congo far away
discovered in Victorian day
by Stanley, the explorer whom
said ‘Dr Livingstone I presume’.

The Okapi was found to be
part of the giraffe family
long neck, large ears that help it hear
whenever predators are near.
It is distinguished you will find
by stripes on its legs and behind.

A plant-based diet every day
plus salt and minerals from clay
all gathered with prehensile tongue
this mammal also feeds its young
but each one tends to live solo
except at breeding time, you know.

There’s some resemblance to a deer
But deer cannot lick its own ear
the Okapi’s the only one
by whom this behaviour is done.
How do I know all this is true?
I saw one in the London Zoo.

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