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Finding Your Inner Poet

March 10th, 2017

Julia-Thorley--blogI’m tempted to say poetry isn’t really my thing; but while that used to be true, recently my attitude has changed and I’ve been become more open not just to reading it, but also writing it.

Of course, I did the usual stuff at school and several quotes are forever engraved on my mind: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (Owen); Know then thyself, presume not God to scan, The proper study of mankind is Man (Pope); and, a particular favourite, Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and thin partitions do their bounds divide (Dryden). (When I get round to writing my best-selling novel about a tortured genius I shall call it ‘Thin Partitions’.) And then there’s this chilling morsel: This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together (Browning). Read the rest of this entry »




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Show Don’t Tell

October 7th, 2016

the-japanese-lover-blogYesterday was National Poetry Day – if you took part in any way I hope you enjoyed yourself. To mark the event we’ve been offering £25 off our Art of Writing Poetry course and this offer will be available until 16th October.  So if you fancy brushing up your poetry skills, now’s the time to do it.

I live in Rochdale, near Manchester. It doesn’t often get good press. Some parts come very high on the list of most deprived areas in the UK, there was the grooming scandal involving young girls and who could miss the allegations against Cyril Smith the former Liberal MP.

But it’s a town that’s set amidst beautiful  Pennine countryside,  it has some truly outstanding Victorian buildings and it’s really trying to put all that behind it and move on.  One of the many ways it’s doing this is by holding an annual literary festival later in the month. Read the rest of this entry »




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To begin at the ending…

August 25th, 2016

MikeGHeadshot-blogThe limerick can be a nifty vehicle for delivering a single, amusing idea (pun, quirky or satirical observation, etc.).  Writing one is at least a good poetic exercise.  Though much disparaged, in many specific cases rightly so, it is a poem in microcosm, and needs many of the standard features of a more ‘serious’ piece.

Economy, vital in both poetry and humour, is doubly important here.  If you start with ‘there was a young lady from . . .’, that’s nearly 20% of your word count squandered already, with nothing original said.  Such open-ended openings often fizzle out in a bland or contrived finish.  Edward Lear’s pioneering pieces seem to suffer this fate, although some are redeemed by those lovely illustrations. Read the rest of this entry »




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Meter In Poems Or A Poem About Meters?

July 14th, 2016

water-babes-2.blogThis week really is going to be a miscellany! A few days ago I received a letter from Scottish Power asking me to contact them to arrange to have a Smart meter fitted. I can’t say I’m particularly excited by the prospect as I’m already pretty thrifty with my power consumption (just ask my long-suffering husband as he sits shivering in his thermals and three pullovers). And my idea of entertainment isn’t watching what happens to the meter when I turn on the kitchen light and the kettle at the same time.

I’ll go along with it, though, as it means no more taking readings from our very inaccessible electric meter or getting an estimated bill. But I’m certainly not as enamoured of the old system as Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. She’s been writing a poem in praise of traditional meters as she feels that memories of them should be preserved as they are phased out over the next few years.  At least even she admits that it may be one of her more unusual projects!  I’ll keep you posted. Read the rest of this entry »




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Bored With Football?

June 17th, 2016

football-blogLove it or hate it, the football is with us until 10th July! For some of you out there it will be the perfect excuse to put your writing to one side and not think about it again until the final penalties (if it goes to penalties) have been taken. For others, it’s the perfect opportunity to read more and write more. Let’s be honest,  there’s not much on the other TV channels to grab your interest – especially if you’re old-fashioned like me and don’t have Sky, Now TV, Netflix or any of the other subscription packages.

So, I’ve stocked up with lots of great books, bought myself some new gardening gloves and plenty of insect repellent for when I’m working outside in the evening. I’ve also got one or two ‘outings’ planned – without my husband, who’ll be glued to the TV. And it’s this ‘me time’ that I hope will provide some inspiration. Often it’s getting away from the normal routine and trying something different (even if it’s only a local trip) that gives you the inspiration you need to move forward with your writing. If you’re a football widow (or widower) for the next couple of weeks, why not try it? Read the rest of this entry »




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