Writing and motivation in a world crisis

I’m hearing a lot of people talking about new skills they are learning or using the time to write that novel that has been years in the making!

For me, and for many freelancers I imagine who work from home, work life is the same minus important social interaction. I still have crippling pain in my hands which makes writing and typing a constant negotiation on a daily basis. I still have work to do every day but unfortunately with next to no salary, as my main freelance contract has been put on hold for the next 4 to 6 months due to the current situation with COVID-19.

I have had excellent things happened during the crisis, such as being published were my dream publisher, Indigo Dreams Publishing, but of course celebrations have not taken place and excitement on my side is certainly low. It does bring joy when those close to me order a copy, but I do worry that myself and other authors published in this time will fall under the radar, in that our work just won’t reach the same number of people as it might have done if all were not worried about current income.

I’ve been taking part in workshops and spoken word events as part of the literary festival Stay at Home Festival which have been enjoyable and a good alternative but I worry that again, engagement with these events is low and is difficult to connect with people on a virtual basis. I like to hope that when this not-yet-in-law lockdown is over, we will support literary events fully, but I am concerned that this will require even more money from the government. Currently, I am entirely reliant on filling out funding bids and unsure whether I will need to go back to full or part-time employment (I have been in full-time self-employment since this March and before March, I have always had a part-time job to subsidise.)

It’s a worrying time for creatives and I can see why motivation is low. Certainly submissions to Fly on the Wall Press are extremely low, the lowest we have had in two years. I hope can stick together and be a supportive community.

Stay safe and sane all xx

Blog Tour: Birds Who Eat French Fries by Michael Maul

Today I am delighted to be sharing an excerpt for poet Michael Maul and his humorous and touching collection, ‘Birds Who Eat French Fries’.

First, let’s find out about the collection…

Birds Who Eat French Fries’ by Michael Maul

Michael Maul’s second collection is packed with humour and charismatic reflections on the puzzling nature of human existence, juxtaposed with the ingenuity of the animal kingdom!  Unafraid to tackle large topics such as hate speech and abusive relationships, Maul takes the reader on a journey which has all the complexities and wonders of modern life.

About the author

Michael Maul resides in Bradenton, Florida, living near Sarasota Bay. His poems have previously appeared in numerous literary publications and anthologies in the U.S. as well as in Ireland, Scotland, and Australia.

He is also a past winner of the Mercantile Library Prize for Fiction, for a short story set in Siesta Key, and his work was selected for inclusion in Intro 4, an anthology of new voices published by The University of Virginia Press.

Maul is a graduate of the Ohio University creative writing program, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He later held faculty and administrative positions at Ohio University (Athens, Ohio,) The Columbus College of Art and Design (Columbus, Ohio,) and Saint Louis University (St. Louis, Missouri.

Reviews:

“I received and am enjoying Birds Who Eat French Fries. Impressive!”

  • Ed Lathy, PhD. Former Dean, Liberal Arts, Columbus College of Art and Design

“I was blown away! I love almost every poem in this book. There are highs and lows, humor and pathos and poems that left me thinking for days. Honestly, this may be my favorite book of poetry ever. I hope to see more from this poet. A lot more. I know that taste in poetry is an individual thing, but I don’t think you will be disappointed if you give this a read.”

  • Tim Gibson on ‘ Dancing Naked In Front of Dogs’


Excerpt:

THINGS THAT CAN BECOME PROJECTILES


In times of emergency,
I have seen many things take flight:
pens and forks, butter knives,
shoes and keys and wedding rings
(one and two.)


What has been thrown my way
is really all the same:
love given back,
now taken other forms.


What I am confused by now,
is how one moves ahead
to rebuild a life
from broken flings,
or remembers
how to discern the useless
from the burn of precious things.

Enjoyed the poem? Make sure to follow the rest of the tour!

You can purchase SIGNED copies of the collection from Michael Maul here

Blog Tour Giveaway: Ghost in the Reflection/Letters to Erin by James F Miller

Today I conclude the Fly on the Wall Poetry Tour for James F Miller with full poetry collection ‘Ghost in the Reflection/Letters to Erin‘! A sneaky preview below and a giveaway below, read on to find out how to enter!

About the collection and author:

This collection, which addresses addiction, recovery and love in its many forms, reflects the poet’s observations about regression in societal morals. Although these are Miller’s personal viewpoints, his political thinking is relevant against the wider backdrop of the USA, whose divisions threaten to tear its citizens down the centre.

Miller was born in 1970s, in a small town in northern Indiana. His early life was spent between Indiana, Florida and the New York area. After his many years in college, he took to the road and travelled the country in a quest to find himself and some meaning or purpose in life. Poetry helped Miller articulate his emotions.

Giveaway: Answer the question: Where was Miller born?

Comment below or comment on the social media post (Twitter) announcing this giveaway with your answer. Winner will be drawn midnight GMT on Feb 17th. UK winner= paperback/international winner=ebook.

Ghost in the Reflection – Letters to Erin

16 | P a g e

The Phantom I Became

I awoke the other night inundated in my perspiration;

I saw her face where memory awakened,

walking away, her back towards the sun setting along the shoreline,

the golden-red tint of sunrays highlighted

her hair’s natural gold; I traced the silhouette of her face,

drunk in a love abandoned, once upon a distant day.

I cannot justify why still I refuse to remember;

I shake away the temptation,

that foolish urge to call out her name,

that taunting urge to scream, to call out for her.

I refuse to swallow the cyanide of decisions

as a sentence served in a prison of remorse.

A shot of bourbon swallowed to numb;

the other to ease the pain;

another shot for courage

and another, another, another…

wherein the darkness hides a ghost

& aches memory of decisions derived:

this life, that road, the many footsteps taken.

If apologies could bandage the scars

I have induced & the wreckage abandoned,

that she wears as a burden so beautifully flawed,

and could erase the scars embedded,

I would. but I cannot muster the courage

to master meaningless words,

words softly spoken sound so selfishly sincere,

words sadly spoken only so my suffering could dissipate,

evaporate like rain in a desert

to justify the decisions of a child: words that would do nothing

to bandage the wounds they helped create.

Even when reason remained dormant; unknown,

my every footstep made was destined,

delivering yesterday to today.

Still, it’s difficult to justify the emotions defied,

nor the costs or sacrifice.

I cannot fathom the means to forgive,

nor the reasons for the scared child I was

or for phantom I became.

2020: The year to focus?

Happy New Year (unless it is already too late to say that?)

I have actually made some resolutions this year to do with writing. It can be easy to wriggle out of working on my own work with currently 4 jobs and general exhaustion! I’m hoping this will help.

This year I am going to:

  • Submit more of my work to journals
  • Write at least once a month (I want my goals to be achievable!) Quality not quantity 🙂
  • Focus on going to more open mic sessions (I’m flat searching this year to move into the city of Manchester, or at least closer, which will definitely help. Currently I have to have the motivation to get a train and a bus or a willing driver!)

I’ve not started too badly out of the blocks – I’ve had 3 poems out with The Pangolin Review already (which I actually wrote 1 and a half years ago, so it is good to find a home for them) and you can read them here.

I’ve also applied for a Pamphlet Editing day with The Poetry Business – wish me luck!

Do you have any writing resolutions and are you sticking to them so far?

#Lovelikeblood Blog Tour by Sascha Aurora Akhtar

Delighted to be on the Blog Tour today of the excitingly experimental and personal collection, #LoveLikeBlood by Sascha Akhtar, sharing an excerpt and all the information you will need to know about this book!

Details:

Category: Poetry

ISBN:  9781912211524

Format: Paperback. Released November 2019. 76 pages.

Available to order from publisher, Knives, Forks and Spoons Press or author direct.

Price: £12.00

Blurb:

With #LoveLikeBlood, which is the title of a very famous song Love Like Blood by 80’s stalwarts Killing Joke, Sascha Akhtar takes her poetic journey back to her origins. The first poem in the book is called GirlChild of the 80’s to send the tone straight from the beginning. She IS in fact an 80’s child & wants others to know this, with the names of the Barbie dolls specifically from the 80’s mentioned in the poem. This collection of poems is meant to contain the poet’s life – a legacy of mental imbalance, undiagnosed aspergers for most of her life – through language. ‘I believe all of my life- from my father leaving when I was 4, to a legacy of abuse ( physical & emotional), a history of mental illness but striking out anyway on my own- leaving Pakistan, leaving America all of it alone – has been rupture and that is what this poetry collection contains: rupture, deep emotions & process but also alchemy & ‘becoming’ ( the poet is also a meditation guide & healer which was prompted through her own healing). The dedication reads: This book is dedicated to You, for there is no ‘I’ except in You & the same love runs through our veins. Like blood.

About Sascha Aurora Akhtar:

Sascha Aurora Akhtar feels deeply connected to her ancestral roots in Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Pakistan.

Her first poetry collection was The Grimoire of Grimalkin (Salt, 2007), followed by 199 Japanese Names for Japanese Trees (Shearsman, 2016) & the first of its kind a deck of Poetry cards with fine art Only Dying Sparkles (ZimZalla 2018). In 2019, she has published The Whimsy Of Dank Ju-Ju (Emma Press 2019) & #LoveLikeBlood (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press 2019).

Her fiction has appeared in BlazeVox, Tears In The Fence, The Learned Pig, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Storgy.

Sascha has performed internationally at festivals such as the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam, Avantgarde Festival in Hamburg, and Southbank Centre’s Meltdown festival in London, curated by Yoko Ono.

#SpringAspieRemix


little nature, guises off

Today, snowdrops
I got a message from, snowdrops
Asalamalaikum, snowdrops
Then someone else said, snowdrops

***

Two slow, lumbering animals
Facing each other
In the sky

One steps forward
One back

It’s so gentle some days

***


when your vibe starts jamming’ wth
your vibe starts jammin’ wth
your vibe starts jammin’ wid
your face
starts jammin’ wid your face
starts jamming wid your face!
your face !

your face
***

Today snowdrops tomorrow snowdrops
today snowdropstoday tomorrow
snowdrops todaysnowdrops today your
faceyourface
today snowdrops tomorrow your face.


Today snowdrops.

shout(ing)out snowdrops

I’ll secure my account later, bitch.

“your payment has been declined”



Blog Tour: Miles of Sky Above Us, Miles of Earth Below by Steve Denehan

Today I am on the Blog Tour for the lovely poet Steve Denehan, for his debut full poetry collection, Miles of Sky Above Us, Miles of Earth Below, published by Cajun Mutt Press. I will be sharing one of my favourite poems from the collection.

About ‘Miles of Sky Above Us, Miles of Earth Below’

Steve Denehan is an extraordinary poet. In this debut collection, his poetry brings unforgettable impact into small spaces, reveals the fabric of solitude in epic proportions, and tells stories of the moments where life truly exists. Touching and uplifting, Denehan brings to life the small things and turns them into the extraordinary. In family life and in love for his daughter, he finds poetry, taking the reader on a journey of love and discovery.

Touching and uplifting, Steve Denehan’s debut collection brings to life the small things and turns them into the extraordinary. In family life and the love for his daughter, he finds poetry, taking the reader on a journey of love and discovery.

Where can you buy it?

Cajun Mutt Press via Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/057855996X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=steve+denehan&qid=1566298037&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Find out more about Steve Denehan’s work via his website: https://stevedenehan.wixsite.com/website

The Extract:

Half Eaten Cookies and Carrots

Like a lot of things, the mint chocolate cheesecake flatters to

deceive

it lies in our stomachs, heavy, slowing us down

another Christmas dinner over with

that familiar anti-climactic lethargy

dark fingers tug at our eyelids with the temptation of an afternoon

sleep

a once-a-year decadence

but it is brushed aside by the bouncing, giddy thoughts of our

daughter

still drunk on the shimmering mystery of half eaten cookies and

carrots

we climb into the car

loaded with presents and carols and laughter

and drive into the ever-falling evening

marvelling at the empty streets, the quiet roads

we drive into my Christmas past

my parents just the same but older, smaller, wiser

with half smiles we exchange you-shouldn’t-haves

before her little eyes grow heavy

goodbyes are hugged and she sags against my chest

I look at her bundled into her car seat

fading with every passing streetlight

as we drive toward the Christmases to come

Hope you enjoyed the extract of Steve Denehan’s work! Do check out the rest of the tour dates which feature great reviews and insightful interviews with Steve himself.

FEATURE: Andy N and Amanda Steel’s exciting new collection!

When I heard the talented duo that is Andy N and Amanda Steel, had a new poetry collection out, I had to read and spread the word!

Originally inspired by what was intended to be a standalone seven-word poem on Instagram; “Run Away with Me in Seven Words” is the debut co-written collection by Manchester Poets and real-life couple, Amanda Steel and Andy N.

This book contains a sequence of poems taking the reader through a journey. Each piece is exactly seven words, where the two writers seem to play emotional tennis with each other using a pared down precision, redefining how sequences of poetry can be written. This collection takes its readers on a lyrical journey from the beginning, celebrating the textures of life and indeed love, between the desire to stand still and the necessity of not been afraid to run away with the flow.

I really enjoyed the combination of photography and poetry. A relaxing read to spend an evening with!

A feel good collection, currently available on Lulu here!