Do you like prompt-based workshops? Or do you think they only result in heartless, prompt-based workshop poems? For my part I like them because they chivvy me along to get over myself and just write. I can say that almost never do I get a fully-fledged poem from the process (though one of the few that did hit the ground running came second in the Magma Editors’ Prize in 2019, so you never know), and I rarely get something that develops into a poem on the theme it started with, the prompt. But I often get nudged along a path which might meander very far off course ending up somewhere entirely other but interesting some time later.
Mimi Khalvati suggests that the process of free writing from prompts subverts authorial intention, allowing poems to emerge rather than be forced into being by the author's desire to SAY SOMETHING pre-known. She's a big fan of 'writing into the dark' and so am I. Perhaps it’s different if you're someone who writes out of a passionate need to express personal themes. I don’t do that really. I’m more of a noodler, worrying away at things that snag and won’t go away – memories, phrases, stories. Prompts can serve to remind me of something, which then dominoes until it finds its true subject. The Poetry Business has been offering this sort of workshop via Zoom for the last few months – led by some excellent poets, well-organised, well-prepared and very good value for money. I recommend them.
My good news this month is that I've made it onto the Live Canon Poetry Competition's shortlist of 20 poems and have a poem forthcoming in the very classy Finished Creatures magazine – theme of ‘Stranger’. I've also just signed the contract for my first full collection but as that's not scheduled for publication until spring 2022, I'll spare you the details for now (while beside myself with excitement inside).
Clare Pollard's The Lives of the Female Poets (Bad Betty Press); Maria Taylor's Dressing for the Afterlife (Nine Arches); Staying Human (ed. Neil Astley. Bloodaxe); and The Rialto