Archives for posts with tag: life advice
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The illustration is from Our Little Book for Little Folks, a school reader published in 1896 and courtesy of olddesignshop.com, a vintage image treasury.

From the archive, a poem with useful instructions.

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Image courtesy of Norfolk-based artist, Nicola Slattery. View her enchanting work at www.nicolaslattery.com

“Taken Care Of” courtesy of Norfolk-based artist, Nicola Slattery. View her enchanting work at www.nicolaslattery.com

The 2×52 project developed in April 2013 when I committed to posting two poems a week for a year. I completed my self-made creative challenge this April when I revealed the 104th poem. Next month (June 2014), all the poems will be available in a book at my Blurb bookstore. In the meantime, here are the 104=2×52 poems listed in all their glory! And for your convenience, so that you can click on the titles that pique your interest. Enjoy!

  1. On a rock amongst rocks
  2. Things of the Heart, Told in Quiet #1
  3. £299 from Strand
  4. A Thousand Scientific Facts about the Sea
  5. Nice Words #1
  6. Benefactor of the Blind
  7. On the Way to Westminster
  8. Solutrean Hypothesis
  9. I don’t work for you (or Modern Frustrations)
  10. red herring
  11. Tarantella (two versions)
  12. Conversation
  13. Pakistan’s Gold
  14. 29oC
  15. An arrangement of strangers
  16. Recycled
  17. Packed Lunches
  18. Tightly Sealed
  19. Another Summer’s Day
  20. Look At
  21. Hairpin (a short poem)
  22. A definition, notably for the cloud-dwelling artists
  23. Instructions
  24. Scherzo: Allegro before the Finale
  25. Impatience
  26. Screens
  27. Leo’s Entries
  28. From a Stone
  29. Autumn’s ripened harvest store
  30. The Character Building
  31. An autumn evening in
  32. Preceding seafaring that was not to transpire
  33. The Home Commute
  34. On the declaration of the first day of the Year of Our Light
  35. What we were all thinking
  36. Emulation
  37. Genuine
  38. Stuck
  39. An address from a lectern
  40. Her magical box
  41. Sun Doves
  42. At the right age
  43. Just Punishment
  44. Every morning, because it’s wonderful
  45. Is it worth it?
  46. A Bequest of Wonder
  47. The Benefits of 320 Kicks
  48. I do. Do you?
  49. Five Consequences of Repeated Actions
  50. To the Valleys
  51. supreme ultimate
  52. Operations Meeting, El Dorado
  53. Without realising it, the postman leaves a poem
  54. Another drop in this week before Christmas
  55. A quiet night preludes
  56. Let them eat
  57. I learnt
  58. A New Room
  59. Philip’s Log: Entries about my moonlit sylph
  60. Pairings
  61. Conscripted
  62. Bursting Art
  63. Afloat
  64. Would you ever live in Heather Green?
  65. London’s Molten Hour
  66. Two poems about grey
  67. My friend Ellen
  68. Nice words of the moment (from autumn)
  69. Today
  70. Outpourings
  71. She’d read it in books
  72. Tube sketch (one of a few)
  73. St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
  74. Near Liverpool Street, under scaffolding
  75. On the occasion of a dinner party in Kennington
  76. Tunnel Days
  77. London. Is it worth it?
  78. At the moment: £2
  79. the currency of sugar
  80. High-end Liquids
  81. Glomerulonephritis
  82. Dying is probably easier than this
  83. The Age Show
  84. Nice words #2
  85. How do you make a dream come true?
  86. Do engineers dream?
  87. Appropriate Recompense
  88. It’s complicated
  89. Every Sign of the Zodiac
  90. Saying it plainly
  91. The Brothers Three
  92. This morning’s request
  93. Recipe
  94. Kindly exit
  95. In the ocean one night
  96. Degas’s Business Card
  97. A small heart panics
  98. Interior holdings
  99. Reviewing the pursuit
  100. Absorbed
  101. Nearing the End
  102. Different Rides
  103. Spring Wants
  104. Escucha
1.
Wake up.
Work hard.
Plan and strategise.
Talk to someone who
     has done it before.
Find a mentor.

2. 
Protect its pollen from the wind.
Blow on the quills when they
   erupt.
Wrap it in this moment
and suspend it from but what if?

It might rest its weary hope 
in a chest of velvet lined

for the unsplit bean alone 
is the treasure


During a very happy and productive year of my professional life, I used to spend Sunday evenings assessing the week that had passed, plan the week ahead and review my life, especially in terms of where I was in achieving my goals. I felt so wonderfully smug and on top of things. Yes! I was making things happen in my life. Yes! Through strategy, persistence and application I was helping my dreams to come true.

Life, they say, is what happens when you make other plans. I left that particular field, moved from the town and no longer pursue many activities with which I was then involved. Half a decade later there are only three outputs that I hold dear from that organised and hyper-functional period of my life: 1. a couple of special, enduring friendships; 2. a few poems and some essays of interest; 3. that I wrote regular letters to my Dad, who was ill at the time.

I mull much over society’s sanctioned notions of success and achievement. The product-driven pressure that a dream must be brought to fruition follows me like a shadow. If I dream of being A Writer then I must schedule writing time, move towards products and a business plan, target a definable readership, join one of the professional writers’ associations and ideally land a contract or an agent, and if not claim a stake in the indie market. This is The Way to Make a Dream Come True.

See how easily I can write about that? I have been avoiding the business plan for nearly a year. Instead, I have been writing poems, drinking coffee at my laptop and watching Bachata videos on YouTube. (Bachata is a style of dance from the Dominican Republic in which one steps to beats 1, 2 and 3 and adds a tap on beat 4.)

So now I have these additional, distracting dreams. One is of simply writing and writing and writing. The result may be endless waffle. Another is to spend time in my local indie coffee shop up the road, as an out-of-jail option when I’m feeling cabin fever. And then there is the dream of dancing like this – so much happiness on such a small square of stage above the earth. That would be treasure indeed.

Follow me @BeadedQuill on Twitter where I get carried away with YouTube forays into Argentine tango, Systema, Krav Maga and, most recently, Bachata.
Or, if you prefer, follow BeadedQuill on Facebook.
My two creative ‘babies’, my published books, are my successes of 2013. Preview them at Blurb.co.uk by clicking on the links:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys 
Shining in Brightness 

A climb up Kili
Only it’s Archway Hill.
Destination: Highgate
King prawns in chilli butter
at Café Rouge –

At the end of last year I was searching for this poem amongst my papers. Although distressed at the loss of the original gem (Where is it? I kept asking on Twitter.), I attempted an alternative take on the subject.

But good news! While typing up the handwritten drafts for this bumper month of 2×52 poems, I found my five-line treasure. I was so pleased – and am delighted to now share it with you as the penultimate verse in this week of London poems.

This micro-poem was written in reply to a friend’s question, posed when we met for a catch-up lunch. At the time I was volunteering at Lauderdale House, a community arts centre in Highgate.

Next month I will be one of four poets reading at Lauderdale in support of a fundraising campaign towards renovating the house. The reading will be at 8pm on Wednesday, 26th February. Tickets are £5/£3 concessions. Further details are available on Lauderdale House’s events page. If you are in London, it would be fun to meet you.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill

Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys 
Shining in Brightness

What do you believe?
I believe	
	to see truth lived quietly and consistently 
	is powerful. My father died like that.
In trees we find tall truths
	deeper rooted than human folly.
I believe in stakes
	that make us choose a path
right, or left or denial.
	Denial comes back to 
	haunt us in choice, again.
I believe in money and class
and opportunity because we pretend
these things don’t matter.
	I must be Marxist. In part they do.
At sunrise, I believe in God.
Under stars, I breathe an awesome Universe.
In front of a computer’s glare, as I click the news,
	I believe there is no benevolence, no God.
What you sow, you reap. I like this as a concept.
Also Qi.
In the end, I believe I’m just little me.

9/12/12


A friend posed the question – and of course, I couldn’t resist fiddling some thoughts into poem.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness 

Yonder far o’er vale and glen
whereto grooms return
and bread is leaven.
This is another country.

Today, outside, is a new room
in which five builders,
tiered upon scaffolding,
cannot hear All Blues.

This is no time 
for saxophone wails.
Stand at the window
and look out

on the fresh planks.
The backdrop:
bared trees and
blue-skied bright.


All Blues” is a track from the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue (1959).

The books, available for preview:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys 
Shining in Brightness

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill

This month I once again
neglect to pay into a pension,
fertilize a good egg at ovulation
or further my career. Untoward

outcomes will result! In twenty years
it will not matter 
that I didn’t 
write this poem today.

Not to fear. Come the end of next week, I plan to be on a waiting-list to freeze some of my good eggs. Plus the poetry writing continues.

I now have two volumes for sale. The latest book, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys, offers insights on life, work and love for the youthful gentlemen of our contemporary times. Shining in Brightness chronicles a twelve-year journey set across three continents and explores the themes of connection, loss and growing up.

Both titles are available for preview and purchase at blurb.co.uk

Please follow me on Twitter as @BeadedQuill. I tweet about writing and whatever else is happening in my life. At the moment this is a cold and listening to Chopin Ballades.

Grass grows to an unruly height.

It makes the lawn untidy.

Restore order, with its low rumble.

First it breaks a Saturday lie-in.

It leaves clippings to be swept up.

Give it a few weeks,

once more green blades will jiggle

their blue, sun applause.

Over a year ago I was asked for my advice on something. The question posed was, “Is it worth it?” At the time I wrote a poem about walking up a hill and eating prawns, but those four lines are lost amongst my usually well filed, carefully dated papers.  I’ve pondered the question occasionally since and recently find it much on my mind. Here then is a freshly cut poem on the theme.

Preview more of my poems in Shining in Brightness, my first book.

You can also add Shining in Brightness as a book on your Facebook profile. Please do so!

My second book, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys, has received preliminary readings from a few discerning modern boys and some modern girls. Their commentary appears favourable. One reader notes of the poems, “I liked the ones I read.” Another notes, “Emily is kind. Emily is patient… Emily asks for us to pay attention for a short while.” This second volume is due out by the end of this month.

I also tweet as @BeadedQuill. I’d be delighted if you would follow me.

Little Knowing, a lonely desert bird,
was small and light of wing.
Along the road he saw a woman.
She smelled of cinnamon.

“My bed,” she said, “smells of more – 
of myrrh and desert aloes.
It is richly covered, soft – and ours –
in colourful Egyptian linen.” 

Little knowing saw the tent
to which he now was bidden:
a desert plain in bloom and blush,
a-sighing after winter’s hold,
in lighter joy  ‘fore summer’s ambush.

The lady then held out her hand.
“Little Knowing,” she whispered, “come – ”

He hopped into her painted palm.
Her veils fanned him with her scent.
Her eyes cupped his restless wings
and said, “Little Knowing, be not afraid.
Tonight we drink deep of love.”

Next morning Little Knowing shared
his bursting heart with all. 
“My love,” he sang in sweetest tune,
“has brought me joy. Let all rejoice!”

This called the people to the tent
and there, the woman now found out
was dragged to meet deservéd death
and Little Knowing – stupid, foolish bird 
to be seduced by scent and desert blooms,
those kindly eyes and gentle words –
was placed correctly in the noose.
Little Knowing – stupid, foolish bird –
darted into that snare 
and such it did cost him life.

The moral of this tale is thus,
young man and maid forget it not:
your lusts will take you far from god
and with them reap all death, damnation, loss.

I don’t want to write too much about this poem at this stage. I sincerely hope that it does not offend, but I do hope it stirs some mulling. You may find a reading of Proverbs 7 will add a layer to engaging with today’s piece. In tone the above is actually similar to this poem about success, which I wrote in August.

For more of my poetry, see my first published book, “Shining in Brightness“.

You can also add “Shining in Brightness”  as a  “Like” on your list of Facebook reads. Simply search the title in the Facebook search box. Your support would be much appreciated.

I tweet as @BeadedQuill. Please follow me.

Your greatest treasures

in actions and thoughts

are how much, how gently

and how gracefully

you let silent persimmons

fall into your lap.

I’ve written about fruit again. (During the summer I wrote “Summermelon” and “Pakistan’s Gold” – An Ode to a Golden Mango.) I’ve once again also turned to life instructions and direction. When I sat down to write the poem for this blog post, I didn’t deliberately decide on these themes. Initially I was writing about a photocopier technician, then a wedding that didn’t happen and finally I was grappling with a poem about ordinary people and chocolate cake. All these poems remain works in progress. They may yet make it onto the blog.

Preview Shining in Brightness my first book of poems here. Two essays on my writing process are also included. 

My book’s cover features the work of Norfolk-based artist Nicola Slattery. Nicola has generously provided the cover for my forthcoming volume, “Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys”. Watch this space for a sneak preview of the first print! (Sign up via the “Follow” option on the tab in the far right corner of the screen.)

I tweet as @BeadedQuill. Please follow me.