I am a big fan of free writing, or timed writing. I am all for encouraging people to let go and let their conscious mind stop being in charge of the pen. My method (as people know who have attended my workshops) is adapted from both Natalie Goldberg’s rules from Writing Down the Bones (or rather anti rules) and Peter Sansom’s Bloody Machine Gun exercise.  I use a stimulus usually from a novel or poem and then provide five extra words, by my rules you can write from the stimulus and include all the words or ignore that entirely, its all fine by me as long as you write furiously for five minutes without stopping!

This process creates a few pages in a notebooks (for me anyway) and often there is a usable line or two or even a whole poem hiding. I found just such a passage in a notebook from from a few months ago when I ran a work shop for Shoestring magazine. I typed it up this evening and edited it into what I call a broken sonnet, as in it has fourteen lines and a volta of sorts but follows no other sonnet conventions. I will also provide the stimulus and the five words, I blame the stimulus  for the rather romantic tone although after all what better form is a romantic poem suited to than a sonnet?

From p.12 of the door in the air Margaret Mahy’s The Door In The Air : ‘’cross my palm with silver’’ . she held out her hand, and the prince took it and kissed her palm where he had  kissed it a silver star formed. ’’oh yes that’ll do’’.

Extra words: night, rosy, song, laugh, wild, strawberries.

The Door in the Air.

He smiled rosily, blushing in the light of her confidence

possible songs burst into his mind of wild strawberries

squashed jucily on each other’s lips

reclining on technicolour flick checked picnic rugs

near high skin scoring hedgerows in the summer to come.

Now in the early night of the year the dark consumes all his laughs,

giving him time to show her the constellations memorised:

that awkward summer of the voice breaking and thigh bones lengthening

before the damp and sudden flesh urges

he marvels now at the patience he had

under that colander sky,  Orion and

the moon, calmly observing him

with its’ scarred cataract surface,

the skeins of clouds like lashes fluttering.

p.s  STIRRED IS TOMORROW: I know myself and Jo Bell and my co host have all bee attempting NAPOWRIMO I am hoping some of the open micers have been as well so we can all share our efforts so far!


The Stirred quad is formed of Rebecca Audra Smith, Anna Percy, Jasmine Chatfield and Lenni Sanders.

Posted in Events, NAPOWRIMO Anna, Poetry Scrawls, Ramblings

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The Stirred team at Reclaim the Night Manchester 2015
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