Account Login

Blog Archives

An Unwriting Exercise

In his essay ‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism’, Robert Crawford describes the page as a field, and verse the plough that turns it over, furrow by furrow; he talks about the intrusion of ‘firths’ of white space between couplets. Look over your poems, attending to the white space of the page – the margins, the gulfs between stanzas, what W.S. Graham called the ‘literature of the snow’? Is it really blank? Is it empty? Ask yourself what the white space of the page means to you. Is it breath? Deep space? A span of moorland owned by birds? How does the white space/silence move? How do the words move within the white space/silence? What changes there? What kind of dreaming occurs when we are allowed to suspend our attention, perhaps in an end-stopped line-break, between stanzas; or in the black hole of a repeated word?

Print a poem that you’ve never been quite satisfied with. Cut each line into a strip and then clip out each word. Get yourself a lovely piece of blank paper. Now abandon all attachment to the way the poem was before. Scatter the words on the new sheet. Move them around. Lose some: it doesn’t matter if you huff them onto the floor by mistake. When your new mash-up poem has some degree of coherence, some electricity, some magnetism, scoot the lines around, exploring all four margins, every different line-break permutation. Cluster, scatter. Treat each version as a musical score. Say it. Bigger spaces mean deeper breaths or longer silences. As you do, attend to the signs. Did your hair stand on end? Did something make you begin to cry? Did you want to say a line over and over and over? If so, it may be that in one of the spaces you have made, silent words have begun to grow.

Find out more

A poem is made of words and silent words

When I was a child, what I believed to be the power of silent thought terrified me. I…

Find out more

Freedom in Fabrication

The Japanese writer Tanizaki complained that he could not read his contemporaries. Every time he picked up a…

Find out more

Radical Reinvention

One way to think about writing is as a tool of curiosity. A way of finding out about…

Find out more

Write towards the discomfort

A very simple act of reversal: conventionally we might begin a writing exercise with a prompt given to…

Find out more

The Gap Between

I’d like you to do something very simple. Sit back, close your eyes, and try to remember an…

Find out more

Veiling the Narrative

Stories are one of the ways we have to make sense of the world.  I’m interested not just…

Find out more

Read As If Your Life Depended On It

In What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics the great American poet Adrienne Rich says “You…

Find out more

Magic in the Mundane

A comic is a string of sequential panels that are both literary and visual in their storytelling. Striking the balance between what is said with words and shown with pictures is essential to creating an immersive reading experience. Write a short script for a one-page comic. A practical starting point is to think about a small event that happened to you, for example…

Find out more

Strongest Foot Forward

Making a comic involves a host of skills. Remember that when we make comics, we are combining words and images to be read simultaneously. So broadly speaking we need to do at least two things; to write and to draw.

Find out more

Finding your Antagonistic Antagonist

Thrillers need to be page-turners with cracking plots, plenty of twists and great characters (particularly in psychological thrillers)….

Find out more

Creating an Antagonistic Antagonist

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s third law of motion could equally apply…

Find out more

Archive

This website uses cookies to give you the best experience. Agree by clicking the 'Accept' button.