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Sheila 01823 67 28 46

Valerie 01884 84 04 22

Friday 25 May 2012

Death of the Neanderthal

Eons ago,
a windswept beach,
three strangers, enemies,
watched, in awe and dread,
as darkness fell at noon.

Beseeched restless spirits,
battle-lost, for light.

When light returned,
sliding across veined pebbles,
they linked arms and vowed a peace.
Sincere enough. 

Yet peace conceived in fear
can never last.

© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

Friday 18 May 2012


The midwife tells Father a new life has begun

A farm; a family; mystique and sun

A land interspersed with villages named Dorps

Vultures seen hovering over a dead Zebra’s corpse

‘Fireworks’ is the horse Father has bought

His purpose is to hunt Jackal… a popular sport

Lions feed before sleeping under a tree

Savannah stretches as far as an eye can see

At night the Crickets chirp; in the day the People sing

In the distance Church bells are heard to ring

The bush is alive with insects and wild game

There’s nothing in this Country that stays the same

The picture is Africa; the decade 1940s

Long before the fight with Mugabe’s forces

© Kenneth Campbell 2012
All rights reserved


The country folk gather in a barn

A stranger joins them to seek refuge from harm

A second stranger ensures wrongdoers swing

The way he conveys his message… is to sing

There’s an identity mistake; some are dismayed

The third Stranger’s hanging will be delayed

© Kenneth Campbell 2012
All rights reserved

Three Strangers

Three strangers watched the farm below. 

Nothing happened.

‘Remember the new barn? Horse circled for three days.’

 ‘Aye, but it were a fine do after she were finished.  The boy climbing up here and rolling into the hedge?’

‘Cider soaked. Didna find him ‘till the morn!’

Two buzzards, floating above, watched the ancient wraiths faded away

© Penny Smale May 2012
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Two Strangers

A blizzard pierced the dawn like a sword.  She’d left the train, knowing the man longed for total darkness.  He’d asked her to hold his hands.  There was a warning bell.  She was prone to blind trust.  Now she stood alone in the snow.  At least she was alive.

© Valerie Taylor, April 2012
All rights reserved

But no time

Work crowds out creative space
Rushing around at such a pace
Doing, but no time to BE
Strangely happy to be me

                              Waking tired once again
                              Fitful sleep, aching brain
                              Mind packed full of plans and schemes
                              But no time for healing dreams

                                                                           Fell asleep whilst writing this
                                                                           But no time for floating bliss
                                                                           Birdsong backdrop to the dawn
                                                                           Adrenaline rush jolts me on!

© Liz Redfern May 2012
All rights reserved

The Three Strangers: Rush Hour in Blackborough

Normally he liked hedge-flanked Devon lanes in which one could trace the year’s progression: snowdrops, daffodils, bluebells, red campion... 

Ahead, though, was a tanker delivering heating oil, the driver refusing eye contact; behind him a range-rover, occupied by a woman shrugging her don’t-expect-me-to-reverse gesture.

Late yet again: bugger bucolic bliss.

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved

Through the underpass, darkly

Wheeling home alone.
Pink-lit shadows of dusk
at my care-worn shoulder

three pissed Irishmen
spinning too fast,
yelling “The Girls Are So Pretty!”

You used to sing that
sending flat pebbles dancing

skimming over the water
impressing my daughters.

There should have been
light at the end of this tunnel.

© Sophia Roberts
All rights reserved

Saturday 5 May 2012

That first draft...

Writing seems to be an awful lot of re-learning things I should already know. I don’t know why I forget some of these basics, but I continually find myself saying, “Oh yeah… I knew that,” and wondering why yet again, I went down a road I should have known went nowhere.

My most recently forgotten guideline of writing is that first drafts don’t have to be perfect. This was the very first thing I ever learned about writing a novel, and I didn’t even realize I‘d been caught in that very counter-productive trap until last week. Initially, I was only aware that it seemed to be taking a lot longer than usual for me to get the story moving. It wasn’t till I asked myself what the holdup was that I acknowledged what was happening and began practicing something I already know: write first, edit later.

I’ve read the left-brain/right-brain theories which suggest that creative writing and technical revising require the use of opposite sides of the brain. Allegedly, to try to utilize both sides simultaneously results in a kind of cerebral squabble that ends up clogging the system and cancelling out both endeavors, like some kind of cognitive conflict of interest. Whether or not this is the truth, I don’t know. But I do know that for me, editing as I’m writing doesn't work.

In order for me to get to the story written, I need to drop my “good writing” pretenses, ignore the sentences that suck along the way, just keep moving, and save the spit-shining for the edits. I know this… yet until a few days ago, I was spending hours on paragraphs where no more than a few minutes were needed, at least in this stage of the game anyway.

I’ve given it some thought and have narrowed down the culprits which have triggered this first draft amnesia. The main offender is the new standard I’ve reflexively set for myself; entirely my fault, no surprise there. I’m working on my third novel, and with the previous two under my belt, my expectations of myself have been raised. I reason that by now, I should have a pretty firm grip on what I’m doing and shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time searching for the right words, or ransacking the corners of my mind trying to remember some grammatical technicality or another. That with enough practice we will eventually get good enough to throw gold on paper with the first flick of our wrists, requiring no second, third, or fourth drafts, unfortunately, is a myth. At least, I don’t think that will ever happen for me. I’m almost as dim-witted now as I was two years ago, and perhaps, even more so. The ordinances of the English language and the guidelines of good storytelling are vast. When you’re constantly learning new things, the new information can bury the previous knowledge, leaving you completely dumbfounded when you should be on the ball. This is perfectly okay. That’s what re-writes are for.

The second contributor to this roadblock is having an audience. It’s not a secret anymore that I’m writing. My prior novels have passed through the hands of many friends, agents, and fellow writers, and I’m all too aware that this same fate awaits my current manuscript. I have to remind myself that this is a good thing. When people are eager to read your next project, it’s a good sign you’re doing something right. Still, the pressure is unnerving and I have to pretend, on some level, that no one will ever see it, and try to go back to the days of hobbyist writing.

The final villain in this particular drama is my mentor. Oh yeah, I said it. She and I meet twice a week to do critique, and though we’ve been doing this for almost two years, things are different now than they were in the early days. For one thing, I’m no longer new enough at this to play the bright-eyed, ”God-Bless-Your-Ignorant-Heart” novice I was once able to pull off. I’ve spent two years under her tutorship and in that time, I’ve learned more than I ever thought there was to know about this craft. I don’t have the luxury of being uneducated anymore, and that kind of sucks.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my mentor. And it isn’t her Master’s degree in English that intimidates me. Nor is it her years of teaching, or even her owned published books. The problem is that the book she’s currently writing is really damned good. From premise to execution, from characterization to climax, this story casts its golden shadow down hard and heavy on my own project, making it difficult for me to bring her my weekly progress with any kind of pride. But this is good, and here is why: it’s forcing me to get better. Not that I need to feel that I’m a “better writer” than this guy or that girl, but the stakes are higher now, and for the sake of not embarrassing myself, I need to bring some pretty powerful stuff to the table.

There are no doubt thousands of reasons why we slip into bad habits and backslide into unfavorable territory in writing, but if you look at it from different angles, you’ll see that for each new barricade there’s a proportionate opportunity to improve your craft. I think of these stumbling blocks as Fate’s way of upping the ante and lighting the necessary fire under your ass that will get you back in the game with your head on straight and your determination resuscitated and revitalized.

As for forgetting even the basest principles of writing (such as allowing yourself to write bad first drafts), I say forget these things as often as you can, because each time you come back to the basics, you’ll be able to experience the pleasure of seeing your progress in other ways. Back at the very beginning of things is where we see the headway we’ve made. Also, as you “fail” more and more, your armor gets thicker and your tools sharper, so…

Published at

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Don`t look back

This is the 6 o’clock news


Tonight`s headlines


Édith Piaf publicly declares to the world on her death bed `Je regrette tous`


People who remember the past in a negative light are more likely to fall ill and die, researchers at the University of Life say.

© Liz Redfern April 2012
All rights reserved

Don't look back...

Footsteps pounding through the dark, coming closer, 
breathing hard, breathing fast, keep on going, 
going faster round the corner, home is nearer don't look 
back, coming closer padding softly running 
faster closer
 - dodge - 

knife flies falls slides glints stumbling falling 
swearing grabbing arms flailing feet kicking voices 
shouting screaming 

© Sheila Rogers
All rights reserved