04 March 2009

Taking exercise

Martin offered up a very good idea the other night: to gather all the literary exercises done for our writers workshop, and publish them. I quite like the idea and hope to see it come to something. Following on from this, there is going to be another "soirée" at Nigel and Stella's, and he thought we might read some of our exercises in that setting. Again, I like the idea (whether anyone else is going to use their exercises or not), but I am often a bit lame in the "lit ex" department, and I really wanted to read some poems. I haven't been writing much poetry, I haven't wanted to be distracted. I feel my poems are too much like cookies: yummy, good with coffee, but that's about it. No one's going to be saved through a dark night of their soul by a plate of my poems....

However (much like making cookies), writing poems makes me happy so, well, I always come back to it.

But then I got a bit stuck and felt like I was getting nowhere. I needed a shake-up but with 2 kids and no trust fund, the options are not enormous. I sulked about this for a while.... Questioned my own self-worth.... Despaired of any number of things. And then I remembered: exercises!

I've had good luck in the past doing writing exercises.... two published poems, in fact. One of them via the Guardian poetry workshop... Which I hadn't looked at lately...

And off I went. Now I have been happily immersed in several exercises, involving among other things, Leonard Cohen, Pablo Neruda, letters, elegies, and nature walks. I printed the instruction bits off the internet and took them with me on the bus. (Writing even just one or two lines on any given bus ride is very satisfying.) I think (thank god) I will have something edible to read for the soirée, and also a nice thematic point: that they are all exercises.

Finally, if you've a mind to it, check out the very good exercise by Kate Clanchy using Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat. I will consider "showing you mine if you show me yours"....


  1. good poetry links! just went to a friend's book-launch party. it's super-inspiring to see someone finally make it - took many years of work.

  2. Dearest Jeannette, you are far too modest - which is a quality and not a fault. I, for one, will be much looking forward to your poetry on Friday, 20th March!