Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Things That Can Happen On A Train

Writers do not hide themselves away in corners or secret rooms working on their novels and poems all the time. They sometimes go places. In fact, I’ve found that being a writer involves a lot of travel – and it’s not always possible to fly in my private jet, so I travel a lot on the train. I've had lots of train adventures.
Once, travelling from London Victoria to Brighton, as we approached the first stop, a lot of people stood up ready to get out. They got their coats on, hauled their bags down from the rack, shuffled about… but the train just kept on going.
Eventually the train pulled to a halt, but it had gone too far. The driver announced over the intercom that he was sorry he’d overshot the station but not to worry, he’d reverse back. We found out later that the train was being driven by a learner driver.
So the train started to go backwards. We were soon at the station again, but again the train didn’t stop. Instead it reversed, very slowly, straight past the playform. Eventually it stopped, the driver apologised again and we went forwards – and missed the station.
We went backwards and forwards for about half an hour until the driver got it right. When we finally came to a halt alongside the platform, all the passengers applauded and cheered.
The same thing happened at the next station, and the next. The journey took about three hours. It usually takes fifty minutes. But at each stop the learner train driver took fewer goes to get it right. By the time we reached Brighton, he had finally mastered the art of stopping a train in the right place. Which was just as well, as Brighton is at the end of the line. If the train had kept going there, it would have ended up in the ticket office.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Process of the Process

by Sue Hardy-Dawson

When I was seven or eight I was friendly with a girl who lived a couple of houses down from ours. All of the gardens ended where the railway embankment began and so a few of us used to congregate there to play, build dens, things like that. It was rarer to actually be invited into a house to play back then or at least it seemed so to me. That’s why we dreaded the kind of rain that confined you to the house and the company, if you were unlucky enough to have them, of irritating younger brothers.

Anyway, on this occasion I’d been invited to the house of my friend and she had the thing I most coverted in the world - a dressing up box! What’s more it contained wonderful beaded shoes and silver and gold ball gowns. In the days of black and white TV I had never even seen such things outside of a fairytale book. However my friend would not let me even touch them, never mind try them on. I, of Course, just sat there meekly, turning darker shades of green in my envy.

Recently, whilst participating in one of Roger Stevens’ workshops this memory came back to me and with it a poem. Initially it was just as I’ve told the story above. But then I began to think - what if the clothes really had come from a fairytale? And so, as in fairytales, I got my revenge.

The poem I wrote I’m still tweaking - but this is where I’ve got to. It started out as “Dressing Up” and changed to “The Box” because I thought it would be more mysterious. See what you think:

The Box

She has a box full
of taffeta and ermine
shoes made from petals
those of a rose. Satin ones
worn to a husk dancing
under copper trees. A

princess’s quilt, a bag
of dry peas, precious
stones, a gift from the
trolls, a diamond tiara
and a giant’s cold gold.

The queen of Persia’s
red, purplish robes
scarves made of spider
silk, a witch’s warm
cloak. These things

she showed me. Her box
and the tales that she told.
Forbidden to touch them
one day I stole, it’s ebony key
and some beans which I sold

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Let’s Write a Poem

Here’s what you do. There are eight lines.
Line 1 - Write down something that happened this morning. But make it an out and out downright lie.
Line 2 – In the spirit of 1 – write a sentence with a sound in it.
Line 3 – Write a sentence with a colour in it.
Line 4 – Write a sentence with a number in it.
Line 5 – Write a sentence with a character from a book in it
Line 6 – Write a sentence with an animal in it.
Line 7 – Write a sentence with an emotion in it.
Line 8 – Write a sentence to do with the past, present or future.
Write quickly! Go for the first things that come into your head. (But by all means do a little work on the finished result.) The result may not be great poetry - but hey, it should be fun. Here’s my attempt. Children, students, adults, fellow poets - why not send us yours?

This morning I looked in the mirror and saw a slice of toast peering over my shoulder.
This morning I heard the crack of thunder and the laugh of angels
This morning I picked up my pen and realised, for the first time, it was red
This morning I drank 5 coffees, ate 4 muffins, rang 3 friends, tried to connect to the internet  twice and had one regret
This morning dawned yellow. The yellow turned to green. The green to blue. The blue to despair.
This morning a balrog landed on the roof. It got bored. It went away.
This morning Judy, our dog, told me a very good joke.
This morning I woke up with the Blues. That’s right. The whole of Birmingham Football Club were in bed with me.
This morning I saw the future. And there were more laughs in it than I had any right to expect.