Acropolis Journal

Acropolis Journal is a new online magazine with a focus on dark-themed poetry. I haven’t read all the content yet, everything I have looked at so far has trigger warnings. This is the case with the prose (poem?) that I sent that was accepted.

It’s a pretty old piece, originally written when I was in a very different place mentally. I used my state of mind at the time as a starting point to explore different difficult subject matters. Maybe it was cathartic. Whatever, I’ve tweaked it occasionally over the years, and finally sent it out, for the first time, to Acropolis.

I’m delighted it has found a home – I really wasn’t sure about submitting it anywhere in view of it’s unremitting bleakness and subject matter (suicide).

Well you have been warned.

If you want to read it you can find it here.

https://acropolisjournaluk.wixsite.com/acropolisjournal/richard-williams-nearly-forgetting

Green Ink Poetry

As previously mentioned, I have a new poem on the Green Ink Poetry website. It is now live.

You can find it, and lots of other poems on this month’s theme “pyres” via the following link.

It’s a nice clean website with some really good poetry on it – the first time I submitted they’d only had around 100 submissions, so if you are looking for a place to post your short / micro poems with an environmental / natural world theme then this is a good place to try

https://www.greeninkpoetry.co.uk/poetry-collections/pyres

South Downs Poetry Festival

A while back, just before lockdown, I was asked to get involved in the South Downs Poetry Festival (SDPF). The SDPF runs throughout the year, and I’ve been tasked with generating ideas and events to the west of the South Downs – think Portsmouth, Petersfield, Havant, Guildford, as far across as Alton (but not Winchester, which already has it’s own excellent festival).

The SDPF already has a strong presence in the East of the area, particularly around Chichester, Bognor Regis, Midhurst, Petworth, but needs more events and activity to the west.

I’ve not done much so far – Covid and other commitments have got in the way – though I did manage to set up a Shakespeare’s birthday event with Dempsey & Windle. I am now finally looking to put some of my own ideas into practice, but am also open, of course to other suggestions.

One thought I had was to run a sport themed poetry event at a location that has a particular resonance for sport – there are a few locations with a strong link historically to cricket and football in particular – but the locations I had in mind are not easy to get to without a car, and I wonder if the theme is too narrow.

I’m particularly interested in poetry associated with history and place – however am very open to any suggestions. So if anyone reading this has any ideas, whether in terms of workshops, readings, open mic events / walks, whatever, in the western part of the South Downs then let me know. As we hopefully open up over the coming months I am keen to see how we can develop the SDPF in this area.

For more information on the SDPF and to see events already scheduled for the year please go to;

www.sdpf.org.uk

What Do You Listen to When you Write?

I nearly always write to music. Quite often I’ll listen to the same track on loop whilst writing. Plenty of other writers I know don’t do this, preferring to work in silence.

But I struggle to write without having music on in the background.

The music doesn’t have to be related to the subject matter. Song for Zula by Phosphorescent is clearly a song about broken love, about something that wasn’t as it seemed, but I spent many hours listening to it whilst writing a poem about a pigeon! Not just any pigeon, mind you. This one;

Martha, the last living Passenger Pigeon, photographed in 1912

Tonally the song fitted the wistful melancholy of the poem itself (I’ll not share it here yet as it’s in a submission pile somewhere). Hopefully you’ll see Poem for Martha in print or online sometime soon. It almost got published in Butcher’s Dog magazine, so I think it has some merit. I’m just trying to find the right place for it. I digress.

You can hear Song for Zula here;

I usually write to music that doesn’t have any strong connection with a personal memory. As someone who is always looking out for and listening to new music, (when I say new, I mean new to me), this may not necessarily be significant, but I do think that too much familiarity, particularly if that familiarity is associated with a particular time of my life, would influence the creative process too much.

Looking back to my late teens and early twenties I used to listen to Talk Talk on repeat. This may have been a factor in my creating a whole folder of dire heart-on-my sleeve lost love poems that I threw away as they were so bad.

As it happens I was clueless then as to the real meanings of some of these songs – Such a Shame for example is actually inspired by a story of a psychiatrist who bases his actions/decisions on the cast of a dice: The Diceman, a novel published in 1971 by George Cockcroft (pen name Luke Rhinehart). It’s clearly suggested as such in the official video which you can see here: https://youtu.be/lLdvpFIPReA (Unlike the Song for Zula link I can’t seem to embed the video into this post).

Whatever, I couldn’t write poetry now whilst listening to It’s My Life, Such A Shame, Life’s What You Make It, or anything else by pre Spirit of Eden Talk Talk. The memories these songs drag up are too wince-inducing for me to want to revisit at the best of times, let alone when I am trying to create something new.

Over the last few weeks I have primarily been listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor whilst writing. Like the later iteration of Talk Talk, GYBE are a post – rock band. Unlike Talk Talk, with the exception of the occasional sample, their music doesn’t have any lyrics. Mladic , the track which I’m sharing below is apparently named after Ratko Mladic, responsible for organising the Srebrenica massacre and extradited to face trial in The Hague at around the time this song was recorded.

At 19 minutes 59 seconds long it has time to build different themes and motifs into the track. It’s one of GYBE’s heaviest tracks, and works particularly well when listened through headphones. Thematically, (rising darkness through despair, defiance and ending with hope for redemption), it fits the tone of what I am currently writing about, if not the exact subject matter.

I think the only times when I have written poetry whilst in silence was when on an Arvon course or in some other writing workshop. Maybe I’ll suggest sticking Mladic or The Dead Flag Blues, (which is equally expansive and apocalyptic, if more so), on full volume next time I’m in one and seeing how everyone else reacts!

I have experimented with this – trying to write poetry whilst listening to The Trammps’ Disco Inferno or Reach by S-Club 7 simply didn’t work. Maybe it’s just me, and the sort of subject matter that I am drawn to.

What about you? Do you write to music? If so, what works? Let me know!