Poetica Botanica

I submitted a poem to the Poetica Botanica page of the Ledbury Poetry Festival.  It’s a lovely idea, inspired by the Physic Garden at Hellens Manor, and anyone can join in. It’s not a competition. Just pick a plant from their list, write a poem, and they will display it on their page.

Here’s the link:
Poetica Botanica

And here’s a screenshot of my poem about Plantago, along with some of the other entries,  on the Poetica Botanica site:

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Poetry and poetical things

Honoured to get a good review from Nimue Brown on her blog, Druid Life.

Druid Life

After my recent rant about bad poetry, here are three poetic titles I’ve read in the last week or so that I can heartily recommend. All are accessible, and offer rich, rewarding reading experiences that draw you in rather than leaving you confused and/or alienated.

See With Heart – Janey Colbourne. This is a small collection of poems and photographs reflecting a deep love affair with the natural world. Clarity, simplicity and soul – this is a lovesong to life, joyful and reflective in tone.

More about the book here – https://heartseer.wordpress.com/publications/

And do potter around Janey’s blog and read some of her writing – there’s a great deal of poetry there freely available.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers, by Max Porter

A bit mainstream by my usual book hipster standards, but at the same time, this book gives me hope for the publishing industry because it is…

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Referendum

Feeling a touch sarcastic today, the day the British people voted to leave the EU.

Referendum

Brexit
gonna fix it.
No tricks, we’ll kick
it into touch.
We’ll hold
onto our country.
We can mold it
how we want it.

So says Boris
Mr Bold.
Not really cold
or cruel.
We’re sick
of it,
we’ll kick
them out.

Let’s stoke it
cos they broke it.
It’s not us
that’s sick, no tricks
on us.
We’re not molded.
We’re not sold
or sick.

Brexit
won’t break it,
Will it?

© Janey Colbourne 2016

Autistic

I hear you,
but I hear not what you say.
I see you,
but my eyes see thoughts elsewhere.
I look at you,
but your soul burns into me.
I feel you,
but your soft touch is too strong.
I hold onto you,
but I squeeze you too hard.
I want to speak,
but the words will not come.
I speak to you,
but my words make no sense.
I reach out,
then I retreat.
I live this life
of intensity,
sensitivity.
Please,
be patient with me.

© Janey Colbourne 2016

Writer’s Block: are you procrastinating, or is it a necessary fallow period?

Some successful writers subscribe to the view that we should sit down and write every day, no matter what, even when inspiration is absent. There is of course value in this, and it may stimulate the flow. After all, as they say, “you can’t edit a blank page”. However, personally I’m not going to sit down and write hours of bullshit, just to throw it away. I know when I have something to say. When I haven’t, then I have a number of options. It may be a good day for editing. When the mind is not in ‘the zone’ it may instead be in a suitably critical state for proof reading and editing. Other days may be reading days. The life of a writer is not spent solely in writing. Ideas have to come from somewhere. To be a writer requires being comfortable with hours of solitude, and although our imaginations may be extremely fertile, at some point if we never come out of the house, and never see people, we have nothing to feed our work. When I have a fallow period, it may signify a need to broaden my perspective, to get out of the inside of my own head, to stimulate my mind through engaging with the world. It is important, however, to recognise when really we are procrastinating and making excuses to ourselves. If we have not written for a while, then a bit of self-discipline and courage to get started with some writing of whatever quality, may break through the inertia. Writing a journal is a good way to maintain regular writing without pressure, and may yield a few gems. Other forms of creativity can also awaken the muse. Self-care is as important as it is in any career. Personally, meditation and walking in nature are my sources of sustenance and sanity, and at times, direct inspiration. Whatever you need to do, do it. Let’s call it a ‘research day’.

© Janey Colbourne 2016

Book review: The Mindful Writer by Dinty W. Moore

‘The Mindful Writer’ is written by Dinty Moore, a well established author and writing teacher. Moore is a Buddhist, but it is certainly not necessary to be a Buddhist to find inspiration from these widely applicable words of wisdom from successful writers. The author was already discovering Buddhist truths in his process of writing before he became a Buddhist. He says that his work is not so much influenced by his Buddhism, as that his writing process is confirmed by Buddhist philosophy. There is very little direct mention of Buddhism and his warm, compassionate writing style is very appealing.

This is a mindfully written book about mindfulness. As a writer myself, who writes from the heart, I was very interested to read it, and I was not disappointed. I would highly recommend this book for any aspiring writer, for those looking for fresh inspiration, or for those times of stagnation and ‘writer’s block’. It is also nice to read confirmation of your own process. I like the format; in the main section of the book each chapter begins with a quote by a famous writer, followed by discussion. The book ends with a chapter of prompts for mindful writing, which are useful for getting started or shifting blocks. The style is easy to read and digest.

What made this book stand out for me was that Moore focuses on the deeper meanings and inner process of being a writer, the heart of it, rather than the technical skills. On the qualities needed to be a writer he says, “Are you still insatiably curious…Are you feeling as well as thinking…to be so open that it actually does hurt?” Moore writes on finding your authentic voice, freedom, opening the heart and writing for the love of it, but points out, “Write with your passionate heart, but edit with your calm brain”.

There are also practical suggestions, such as the quote from William Faulkner, “kill your darlings”, meaning that there may be times you have to find the courage to cut even writing that you love, if it does not fit. Sometimes being too precious about certain passages or phrases may actually hold us up from moving forward.

You know it’s a worthwhile book when you want to highlight almost every sentence. There are many humorous metaphors and clever analogies that ring true. For example, “It helps me to think that I have a certain number of bad sentences stacked up inside of me…and they have to come out, like the dried glue often found at the tip of the tube; dried glue that has to be squeezed through the hole before you can access the good glue necessary to finish your current project.”

I would say much of the philosophy and advice in this book is relevant to most forms of creative endeavour, not just writing. Overall a great read and would make a good gift for the writer in your life.

Janey Colbourne 2016