This week I’ve been clutter-clearing. Most clutter in my house is made of paper. But not all paper is clutter. My parents were great hoarders and I discovered that they had kept every copy of my childhood creation: Morning Magazine. As I have mentioned on this site before now, it was a magazine that I produced over a period of seven years. It also confirms that there was never a time in my life when I didn’t love poetry. Almost every issue of my home-made magazine included a poetry page.
How appropriate that today – Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night – I came across a poem that I illustrated when I was about 12. Its title references the old rhyme “Please to Remember” (5th November, the gunpowder, treason and plot …) and is by Walter de la Mare. He was my favourite poet when I was a child, although I also loved John Masefield’s and Charles Causley’s poems, among many others. It seems that these poets have influenced my own writing, even though I wasn’t aware of it.
None of us writes in isolation, and what we read will affect how we write. The more poets we read, from different eras and continents, and using different forms and styles, the easier it will be for us as writers to develop our art and find our own unique voice. This is why I advise young writers to keep their early work. That way you will see how your writing style grows and develops.
As for clutter clearing: my old Morning Magazines are how heading for the bonfire. Why? Because we now live in the electronic age. I have scanned the covers and pages that I liked. Otherwise, I’ve kept just a handful of the originals for Posterity. (Whoever he is!?) But I thought I’d share with you my copy of Walter de la Mare’s Please to Remember as well as one of my early poems that I called The Old House, and wrote when I was 12. It is not a brilliant poem, but it shows how I was beginning to develop a lyrical voice, using rhyme and repetition to some effect.
I love the digital age. We don’t need to drown in paper as my kind parents did as they hung on to their daughter’s early efforts. I thank them. Make sure, if you are a budding poet or author, that you keep some of your early efforts. And keep writing!
Here is a brand new poem for Halloween …
There are ghostly goings on along the coastline:
see-through ships are sailing on the waves.
The lifeboat’s been alerted, but the crew is disconcerted
for fear a phantom sailor misbehaves.
“No-one out there’s drowning,” says the skipper.
“And we shouldn’t cause avoidable commotion.”
So each glassy silver boat, still haunts the sea, afloat
in spectral shapes amid the midnight ocean.
© Celia Warren 2015
Three years ago, I wrote a post describing how photographs can sometimes inspire poems. You can read it here.
Well, that still happens for me, but as well as taking photographs, I also like playing with images. I use digital photo programs, such as the widely-used Photoshop Elements. It is great for enhancing photographs or creating illustrations.
Here’s my newest image and poem. The holly was growing in our garden and I held the ornament in front of the leafy bush to take the original photo. I then copied, tweaked and pasted individual holly leaves to create a wreath around the fairy figurine. Finally, I used my imagination to add a poem to complement the image. Here they are:
High in the Holly
High in the holly, with prickly wings,
a small autumn fairy contentedly swings.
When sweet peas and swallows of summer are gone
this evergreen fairy will still swing along.
The sun and a smile on her little round face
show holly, for her, is a wonderful place.
Where we’d prick our fingers, our elbows and knees,
this leafy green fairy is easy to please:
In fine, spiky leaves she will always be jolly,
swinging on high in the bright, shiny holly.
© Celia Warren 2015
What a fabulous theme for this year’s National Poetry Day on Thursday 8th October! At the time of year when the nights are drawing in and the mornings are often foggy, LIGHT is very important to us. It’s also very beautiful is so many ways and guises – from candlelight to fireworks. It’s helpful in hundreds of ways, such as warnings and signals, from the blue flashing lights of emergency vehicles to the red–amber–green changes of traffic lights. Most of us now enjoy light evenings at the click of a switch. No longer must we rise with the sun and go to bed by the moon and stars – our planet’s lovely natural lights.
If your school is planning an assembly to celebrate LIGHT on National Poetry Day – or perhaps your Brownies, Guides or Scout Group – CLICK HERE to find a fun way to introduce poetry about Light. Find how poets have written about light and write your own poems.
Here’s a Mesostic* poem that I’ve written especially for National Poetry Day. I took the photo, too, looking out from Start Point Lighthouse in Devon at the sea and hazardous rocks.
*Can you see the word LIGHT in capital letters, reading down the middle of the lines of the poem? You might try writing one of these, or an Acrostic poem, where each line begins with the letters of a light-related word, such as C-A-N-D-L-E.
Enjoy a lovely sunny day, whatever the weather!
Our Queen’s overtaken Victoria,
Hence the media’s sudden euphoria.
For 63 years,
Seven months she’s heard cheers:
In excelsis, Elizabeth, Gloria!
poem © Celia Warren 2015
Today, Queen Elizabeth II breaks the record, formerly held by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, as the longest reigning monarch in British history. This beautiful counted-thread embroidery my mother sewed in celebration of the queen’s coronation.
Spider, you’ve too many legs,
be they eight or eighty –
I do not like you running fast
towards me, being matey.
I do not like you hanging there,
just above my head,
prepared, at any minute,
to drop on quick-spun thread.
I’m fond of dogs and guinea-pigs,
I’m happy with a mouse,
but I do object to spiders
when they come inside my house.
They’re all right in the garden
at a distance – just a few –
and their silver webs are pretty
when they sparkle, wet with dew.
Today inside the compost,
I saw no scary legs,
but, left behind, a tiny nest,
cocooning spider’s eggs.
It looked so warm and cosy
and innocent and still,
it almost stopped me thinking
of what, one day, would spill:
so many baby spiders!
Be they eight or eighty –
long may they stay far from me
avoiding being matey!
poem © Celia Warren 2015
SAVE THE DATE: Next month – 8th October 2015 – is National Poetry Day, when this year’s theme is LIGHT.
TEACHERS and GROUP LEADERS, you can download a pdf assembly plan on the theme of light, and including some of Celia’s poems, from the Forward Press site. Click here for the resource that is written on behalf of publisher Schofield and Sims, especially for the Poetry Society’s educational resources.
I hope you’re having a lovely summer. There’s lots to see as you walk out and about. I’ve been taking my camera with me. It makes me look harder* and see more. It also inspires poems. These are both limericks. They’re quick and fun to write and make nice postcard poems to go with my pictures.
*Though if I took a Rottweiler with me I might look harder still! ;-)