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Read yourself as a stranger

Remember your reading voice, how you sound when you read your own work aloud (assuming that you read aloud as a test of your tone, meter and rhythm)? Well, that is your comfort zone, the place where you create and revise with a degree of tension, agony and exhilaration. You know when you are there. You can feel it, a certain quickening of the pulse and shallowness of breaths that keeps you at your desk. And it is a place where you forget time so that if you check a clock you are surprised by how fast the last hour passed by.

Now do the opposite of that comfortable rigour (not rigor mortis). Read yourself as a stranger. You do not know any of the above. Negate it as a deliberate act. This means you put the poem or prose into a strange font (goodbye Times New Roman and the tyranny of comfort thereof), take your name off it (welcome nameless selves) and read it as if someone else wrote it. The act of reading numerous personas as a stranger opens a critical space in you which allows you to be ruthless with the piece of life before your eyes in ways that provenance of authorship prevents you from doing by making you protective of the work.

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An Unwriting Exercise

In his essay ‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism’, Robert Crawford describes the page as a field, and verse the plough that turns…

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Reconsider the mundane

Think of a hobby or passion you have, outside of writing and literature. So perhaps baking, or dancing,…

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Word mapping

1. Choose a word or short phrase which is the subject of the poem you wish to explore….

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Word mapping

I’m interested in what happens when we alter or challenge the ‘conventional’ way of writing poetry – by…

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Trusting the power of gravity

As a competitive fellrunner (and avid cyclist, mountaineer, swimmer etc. etc. you get the idea) I’m fascinated by…

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Finding the right line

Write for three minutes without stopping, without thinking – beginning with the words ‘The moment I realised…’. Don’t…

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Starting to write

Have your clothes ready at the end of your bed for the next day. Do not waste a second…

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