Slave to the Rhythm


This latest poetry challenge set by our Alan is as the title suggests: all about rhythm. Here it is all about  prosody, how we create a pulse in our poetry. There is no hiding away in free verse this week, it’s time to meet the metre. Do I hear iambic pentameter? Well it is how we are introduced to prosody at school, by studying the sonnets of Shakespeare. The drone of da-Dum, da-Dum, da-Dum, da-Dum, da-Dum echoing around classrooms.

Being an amateur musician as well as trainee poet, there is one particular form that appealed straight away and that is the ballad. The ballad has been with us since the 13th Century and is indeed a marriage of verse and music. It can take many forms, but the most popular is as “Poetry for Dummies” succinctly defines:

“Ballads take many forms. A popular one is the four-line stanza in which the first and third lines are written in iambic tetrameter (four iambs) and the second and fourth are written in iambic trimeter (three iambs), with a rhyme scheme of ABXB (the third line, X, need not rhyme or may rhyme with A).”

Here is an example of a ballad with six-lines in each of the stanzas written by the Welsh poet Robert Minhinnick. It is composed of the observations from the poet visiting Baghdad in the late 1990’s still under the terrible regime of Saddam Hussein.



With my initial experimentation with ballad form, I found the the quatrain to be a little bit limiting. So I have drawn inspiration from this poem and also used six lines to my stanzas and have six stanzas forming my ballad. The similarities end there as Minhinnick uses an ABABAB rhyming pattern as can be observed in the first stanza with the words: pass, glass, gas.

My ballad rhymes on lines 1, 3 & 5 with lines 4 and 6 having a different rhyme. I did experiment with the rhymes on lines 2, 4 and 6  but opted to choose a different approach. As usual here is the reveal of my poem.



That is only part of the process, I have also written music to fit with the ballad, which I will perform to my group on Tuesday, They do not know this unless they read this post. I’m sure it will be an experience we will all regret when I let myself loose with my far from dulcet tones. But as the saying goes ‘In for a penny…’ wait that was last weeks topic!



Gagging Order


This blog post is on the topic of censorship. We either had to write a blog about censorship or a poem with censorship as a theme. I chose to write a poem. What I did not know when I set out, was that I would write a poem that would actually be 3 separate poems. The process was not unlike a ‘mirror’ poem that I had written before, where you have to keep checking that the lines will work forwards and in reverse.

My starting point carrying on from the blackout and erasure poems from my previous post, was to draw inspiration from letters that have been censored before onward delivery from prisons and P.O.W. camps. I like the idea of writing a poem about censoring, and then censoring the poem to create a new poem. Then I had the idea could the words I had censored out stand alone as a separate poem also? Well I spoilt the suspense by already mentioning that I could, but for reasons of maintaining sanity I do not recommend you write too many of these poems in a short space of time! To say they are a bit tricky is a massive understatement. Let’s have a look at these poems then.

No more truth


Above is the first poem which is the text written in entirety. The next poem is with the text ‘censored’. I enjoyed experimenting with this poem and was very pleased that I was able to create an anti-censorship poem out of a censored poem. This poem references different ways people can communicate without others reading their messages. The examples I have used are hand signals, song and directional morse code using light.



The final poem is the words that were previously censored, now creating a new poem.



I found that the last poem was the weaker of the 3-in-1 poems. It did not scan correctly without adding a touch of formatting.





ASoP A4 AW(27.05.03)

For this poetry exercise we were tasked with writing a poem that uses the white space in a way that we haven’t used before. The first idea that sprung to mind was using ‘found poetry’, words, phrases or passages being reframed and reused as a poem. One popular method of achieving this is called ‘blackout poetry’. It is a process by taking a black marker pen and blocking out sections of text, leaving only the words you wish to create your poem. Examples of this can be found on the site of the writer and artist Austin Kleon at this address


For my starting point I wanted to take a very banal (to me anyway) section of text and challenge myself to compose a poem that had something to say. The image above is the front cover of the text I chose entitled ‘Understanding  the characteristics of power lines’. Well, if that doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what else will!! I apologise to all pylon connoisseurs that may be reading this blog.

This next image is the original text.





After a little touch of formatting in Word, just so that I had a chunk of text to work with I set about attacking it with my big black marker. (I now also know the pen was permanent and bleeds through paper which has left black marks on my white desk!)

This was the result.IMG_0071

One similar approach to this is ‘Erasure poetry’ which disappointingly has nothing to do with the music of Andy Bell & Vince Clarke. But more to do with erasing all surplus words leaving you with the words necessary for your composition. Here is the poem again slightly different from the version above, but again using the same original text.

pylon erasure


Finally here is the poem formatted as a more traditional poem.





Let’s Start

keir-hardieCollege of Arts & Humanities, Swansea University.

Photo Credits | Antoniya Gerimpapazi


I have returned back to education after a little over fourteen years since I graduated with my BA in Art & Design. In that time I have been a father to my 2 children Joseph (14) and Bella (10) and roles in management and HR within the retail sector. I never did carry on with sculpture, but I did with music, teaching myself how to play Rhythm Guitar to complement my Bass Guitar skills. It was through music and friendship that I was introduced to spoken word performances, and that it is where my poetry started. Whizz on a few more years and here I am, having just started my MA in Creative writing at Swansea University. What follows from this re-introduction, is my showing of poems in draft form that are written over the course of the MA, often along with my thoughts on what inspired and/or motivated the poem. What other influences shaped the poem, whether that was the feedback from friends, family, fellow poets and scholars or other factors. Anyhow enough rambling on from me, as Fela Kuti once introduced a song from his set with Ginger Baker:

“Let’s start what we have come into the room to do.”


Penfold – by Mab Jones

Algebra Of Owls

Too short, too slow, with skin digging to mud
next to Danger’s ion shine, he’s a pent-up
fold of failed intention. His shrill voice signals
him as second, his size as less important: myopic,

he’s the sidekick who was slyly kicked in school;
mistaken for a mole, he grew used to the prick
of toe tips, the hammering of fists from more
confident critters. Now, he’s trapped in persona’s wheel:

stumbling during getaways; cracking crap asides
to invisible viewers; sweating himself slick
inside his shirt with its comic, wing-like collars, while
his spectacles magnify his tiny eyes to moons.

Child-like, yet prematurely bald, he’s a small brown
ball holding the most hated aspects of us all,
in particular, his consistent niceness, which won’t
ever overstep his bumbling rodent role.

Mab Jones has read her work all over the UK, in the US, Ireland, France, and Japan. She is the author…

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The Day the World got Smaller

Root poem

The first passenger railway journey in the world was between Liverpool and Manchester

Don’t let anyone tell you anything else – Think about that for a minute – How we changed the world – It was a colossal journey as well

I worked with a group of  10 year old kids in Liverpool and wrote a poem about the journey – Have a listen and share

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Happiness Is: A Trip To Carmarthen

It was brilliant performing alongside these two wonders last month 🙂


So, many of you may already know that I have been following this guy around the country. He doesn’t know it, but I have. Backstory: A few months ago I noticed that an old friend of mine had released a book. I bought it from Amazon, more as a seamless segue into a channel of conversation than much else. I soon become engrossed in Billy and the Devil but the best part was, this friend and mentor that I hadn’t seen for years, was suddenly in my head. Dean Lilleyman’s voice echoed through the tunnels of my brain, and that could only be a good thing. A quick tweet of the book to Dean and suddenly we were talking again. Stardust. This lead to a conversation of a new book being released, ‘The Gospel According to Johnny Bender‘.  There is a song that resonates through the book ‘If…

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Anarchy & Absinthe

I have had to brush the cobwebs off this blog and my poetry book as I have a gig tomorrow night. I love gigs that have live music as well as spoken word, I mean I love poetry but I struggle to concentrate if there is a whole evening of it. I have gigged as a guitarist in the Parrot and really enjoyed the night and the venue, so it will be a treat to get some words out across the mic.  I will update the blog after tomorrow night and tell you all how it went.


Top Tips for Writers

The Comma Press Blog

The prospect of submitting a manuscript to an agent or editor can be a daunting process. But as the first National Creative Writing Graduate Fair (#NCWGradFair) showed, it’s really just about knowing how to go about it, and who to approach. As many of you couldn’t make it to this year’s fair, we created audio, which can be both downloaded and streamed.

The track gives you advice on pitching, on what publishers and agents of different genres look for, top tips for recent Creative Writing Graduates, current trends in the current UK book market, as well as much more!

Here are some of the top tips from the professionals at the National Creative Writing Graduate Fair this year…

Daniel Hahn

Chair of The Society of Authors

Top Tip:Be flexible and collaborate.

daniel hahnPeople need to learn how they can be flexible and collaborative; they need to learn how to work…

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