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“Begin with something in your range. Then write it as a secret. I’d be paralyzed if I thought I had…”

“Begin with something in your range. Then write it as a secret. I’d be paralyzed if I thought I had to write a great novel, and no matter how good I think a book is on one day, I know now that a time will come when I will look upon it as a failure. The gratification has to come from the effort itself. I try not to look back. I approach the work as though, in truth, I’m nothing and the words are everything. Then I write to save my life. If you are a writer, that will be true. Writing has saved my life.”

- Louise Erdrich, via http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6055/the-art-of-fiction-no-208-louise-erdrich
Apr 25

“The hours between 12am and 6am have a funny habit of making you feel like you’re either on top of…”

“The hours between 12am and 6am have a funny habit of making you feel like you’re either on top of the world, or under it.”

- Beau Taplin || the hours between.   (via exoticwild)
Apr 18

“I do believe in poetry. I believe that there are creatures endowed with the power to put things…”

“I do believe in poetry. I believe that there are creatures endowed with the power to put things together and bring them back to life”

- Helene Cixous, The Book of Promethea (via stealingintolanguage)
Apr 17

“you have chosen a profession in which you put communication out into the world. In effect, you are…”

“you have chosen a profession in which you put communication out into the world. In effect, you are taking part in the public space that we all share, and you’re intruding on it. At the highest level of responsibility you do not intrude on the world with things that are untrue, crappy, dumb, or don’t deserve the space you’re devoting to them. And if you’re really doing it right, you avoid all of that and ask, “How can I do this in a way that will make people’s lives better?” That doesn’t mean only doing non-profit work. It means focusing on how you can take every single project—no matter the size, purpose, client, audience, or context—and and use it to make the world a slightly better place.”

- Michael Bierut on The Great Discontent (TGD)
Apr 16

“Is there another form of communication besides email where the acknowledged goal is to hide all of…”

“Is there another form of communication besides email where the acknowledged goal is to hide all of the communication? Email has evolved into a weird medium of communication where the best thing you can do is destroy it quickly, as if every email were a rabid bat attacking your face. Yet even the tragically email-burdened still have a weird love for this particular rabid, face-attacking bat. People love to tweet about how overwhelming it all is. They write articles about email bankruptcy and proclaim their inbox zero status. Email is broken, everyone agrees, but it’s the devil we know. Besides, we’re just one app away from happiness.”

- Doomed to Repeat It — The Message — Medium
Apr 10

“In the last couple of years, I’ve been going through a process of un-education: removing all the bad…”

In the last couple of years, I’ve been going through a process of un-education: removing all the bad habits that school somehow implanted in me:

  • Being afraid of failure or embarrassment
  • Going after prizes and prestigious awards
  • Avoiding stuff I didn’t know how to do
  • Trying to get answers before fully considering the problem
  • Being uncomfortable with not knowing

One of the signal qualities of children at play is their fearlessness. They’ll experiment. Falling over is fine.

Our system should be producing more adults with this same fearlessness, who go after what they really want from the start in rational, systematic ways. Right now, we tend to produce ‘answer-centred’ people who are terrified of doing things wrong.



- Things I Despised About My Education— Nabeel Qureshi
Apr 8

“Altschmerz n. weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and…”

“Altschmerz n. weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years, which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.”

- The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: Altschmerz 
Apr 2

“The filídh were a professional caste of poets in early Ireland who were often credited with the…”

“The filídh were a professional caste of poets in early Ireland who were often credited with the supernatural power of prophecy. The words fili and filídh are etymologically connected to ‘seer.’ These poets, who were the successors of the druids and could practice divination, were magicians and lawgivers.”

- Edward Hirsch on this week’s Poets Glossary term. (via poetsorg)
Apr 1

“Among writers, there’s a cultural trope of love-hate for the starving artist/ adjunct existence – we…”

Among writers, there’s a cultural trope of love-hate for the starving artist/ adjunct existence – we talk about creative writing pedagogy and the naïve but lovable things our students say, and in our way we love the fringes of the great universities on which we develop as teachers and draw our paychecks. But just because we’ve made the choice to be artists doesn’t mean that we have to take whatever the world gives us. In a world where nothing is what we, or our teachers, could have expected, we must be unsentimental. “Kill your darlings,” goes the old saw. This must apply to the careers that keep us afloat as well as to our writing.

Whether we like it or not, today’s academic job market will create a huge cohort of professional-quality writers and artists who cannot enter that market. In fifty years, this generation of artists could be remembered as the artists who created the 21st century “blended career” – not the New York Times bestsellers or the art market’s 1%, nor merely hobbyists, but rather people who found fulfilling ways to feed themselves while reminding the world that art is not a joke.



-

Via MFA Day Job.

Note to self: when you get a spare minute, continue to revise that document on paths of progression and career development for poets and writers…

Mar 29

Currently hosting #pbhfinals2015 this year’s Poetry by…



Currently hosting #pbhfinals2015 this year’s Poetry by Heart finals. Ebony just read my poem ‘A Life in Dreams’. Still haven’t got used to hearing one of my poems presented in a national recitation competition. Good job, Ebony!

Mar 20

London (abstract edition, 06:25 remix)



London (abstract edition, 06:25 remix)

Mar 19

“Throughout my years as student and professor, I have been most inspired by those teachers who have…”

“Throughout my years as student and professor, I have been most inspired by those teachers who have had the courage to transgress those boundaries that would confine each pupil to a rote, assembly-line approach to learning. Such teachers approach students with the will and desire to respond to our unique beings, even if the situation does not allow the full emergence of a relationship based on mutual recognition. Yet the possibility of such recognition is always present.”

- bell hooks; Teaching To Transgress
Mar 17

On Love.

I’m currently in the middle of a manic period. A residential creative writing week at Arvon with a group of Year 6 students, followed by a day in Birmingham offering teachers tools and techniques for working with poetry (via the Princes Teaching institute), back to London to lead my Spoken Word Education seminar at Goldsmiths, then off to Amsterdam to support Poetry Circle Nowhere in constructing a development programme for their poet-educators, then back to London for another Princes Teaching Institute training day. And all the while, staying on top of the todo list, the email inbox, fielding phone calls, chasing up open loops, putting out fires, liasing with doctors on my mother’s behalf, talking people down from summits of stress, keeping everything moving forward, holding it all together…

Yesterday, two milestones. A showcase and anthology launch at the lead training centre (Cardinal Pole School) for the Spoken Word Education Programme, and a showcase/launch to celebrate the end of another year of Barbican Young Poets. If you’re a creative freelancer, you’ll know that our work often moves through emotional peaks and troughs. While you’re making/managing, the work often draws on you. But when you hit a milestone, when you can look back and see what it is that you’ve done; you can appreciate the balance.

It occurs to me that one of the key indicators of success in most (if not all) of my projects is love. Sometimes that love has to be nurtured from a small spark. But when it’s there, and it’s true, beautiful things happen. Love, and all its constituent parts: mutual respect, communication, interdependence, responsibility, forgiveness, care for each other’s well-being… So many of the poets I work with engage with the darker aspects of experience through their writing. But that darkness is transformed through love, even if only of the craft. And that love is manifest in the spaces we make and share.

Perhaps we can say our best work comes from love. And this is the kind of work I’m happiest doing.

More love.

Mar 12

“Meditate, padawan. Make mind like empty seat. People come,…



"Meditate, padawan. Make mind like empty seat. People come, people go, the seat remains. The seat is not troubled by the bodies which sit in it. The seat is only concerned with being the seat."

Channelling my inner voice of wisdom on the train to Poole. Out of London for the day to extract poems from the minds of students at Corfe Hills School in Broadstone. BRB.

Mar 10

“Climate change sucks.” @PeteTheTemp hosts a climate change…



"Climate change sucks." @PeteTheTemp hosts a climate change demonstration/rally in front of the Houses of Parliament. Pete just happens to be one of the Spoken Word Educators (one of the programmes I’m currently responsible for). I just happened to be passing through the area. Serendipity is a beautiful thing.

Mar 7

Back in London. Just spent my afternoon talking about tools for…



Back in London. Just spent my afternoon talking about tools for working with poetry for teachers through the Princes Teaching Institute. Also just got asked to record a thank you to a teacher who inspired me. Mrs Jaekyll— you got your due.

Mar 7

Post-it notes. What did the world do before they were invented?



Post-it notes. What did the world do before they were invented?

Mar 5

Analog thinking…



Analog thinking…

Mar 5

Currently working with Poetry Circle Nowhere. Nowhere is a…



Currently working with Poetry Circle Nowhere. Nowhere is a cultural institution and development agency based in Amsterdam. We’re talking about ways of developing coaches who work with satellite Poetry Circles— communities of writer-performers…

Mar 5

02:30— wake up (thank you, body clock). 03:30— cab to…



02:30— wake up (thank you, body clock). 03:30— cab to Heathrow.
06:30— flight to Amsterdam.
11:00— meetings.
?— pass out?

En route to Amsterdam to work with Poetry Circle Nowhere. BRB.

Mar 4