October 7th, 2016
Yesterday 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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September 9th, 2013
Our poetry competition is now open! So, use these ten top tips to make your entry a real contender. Read the rest of this entry »
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April 1st, 2011
First, thanks to Iain for last week’s blog. Could you be one of the people to put a smile on his face in this year’s competition? It’s certainly worth a try – but, as he says, successful comedy can be difficult to carry off successfully! So careful crafting is needed. Read the rest of this entry »
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April 1st, 2010
Last weekend I was in Hull. I don’t really know what I expected, as in the past I’d only driven though to the ferry terminal. But what a pleasant surprise – a vibrant old town and museum quarter; ‘The Deep’ a designer aquarium that looks proudly out to sea like a ship’s prow; beautiful villages and coast only half an hour’s drive away and, of course, the iconic Humber Bridge. It may not be the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world any more, but it’s still pretty impressive!
But I should imagine that Hull was a far bleaker place to live when Philip Larkin was University Librarian there. During the war Hull suffered the worst bombing raids outside London with 95% of its houses either damaged or destroyed.
Larkin’s poems – often bleak and disconcerting, though always technically brilliant – appeal to me. And I’m obviously not alone – in 2008 The Times named him as Britain’s greatest post-war poet. Many people are only familiar with ‘This be the verse’ – or a parody of it! But one of my favourites is currently Poem of the Month on the Larkin Society website. Try it and see what you think.
And if you fancy yourself as the next Larkin (though perhaps with a slightly less dysfunction love life) why not try The Writers Bureau Art of Writing Poetry Course. If you don’t know the difference between a Sestina and a Sonnet, a Rubai and a Rondel and you think iambic pentameters are something you feed to the cat, perhaps it’s just what you need. Or, if such technicalities aren’t for you, there’s plenty of useful information on crafting free verse, presenting your poetry to an audience and polishing your work to competition standard.
At least we get a couple of extra days over the weekend. If the weather warms up there’s lots of gardening on the cards for me. But whatever you do, enjoy your Easter break!
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November 13th, 2009
I’m not a shopaholic – I don’t have a love affair with handbags and I’m not the Imelda Marcos of shoes. But food is another matter. Upmarket food halls are my idea of heaven on earth and although I probably shouldn’t admit this, I actually enjoy my weekly trip to the local supermarket.
Not being the faithful type, I go wherever the mood takes me but Morrisons caught my attention this week. Apparently, they’ve appointed three “Food Laureates”! Yes, you can visit their website and see rhyming recipes written by poets Ian McMillan, John Mole and Peter Sansom. The standard of verse won’t put Carol Ann Duffy on her mettle but it’s a quirky idea set up in conjunction with the Poetry Society. I can’t really imagine myself reciting an ode at the same time as making a chicken tikka masala (that’s taking multi-tasking too far) but anything that gets people thinking more about either poetry or cooking can’t be a completely bad idea!
Next – your views on Oxfam Bookshops. There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether they are just another group undermining small independents and traditional second-hand booksellers. It’s possibly true but the choice is usually excellent, good pricing makes the books accessible to everyone and the money they raise for a worthy cause is not to be sniffed at. And if they don’t take their share of the market… then the big supermarkets certainly will.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m all in favour – but what do you think?
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