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A Little Light Poetry

A Little Light Poetry

This week has been a busy one for me. It was the first Zoom discussion of The Literary Consultancy’s Write Club Plus. It’s a program that lasts the whole year, and it includes discussion groups, masterclasses, writing roadmaps, “ask anything” (about writing and publishing) email advice, and early-morning writing hours. I am hoping it will give me the nudge I need to get my novel-in-progress towards a completed first draft.

On Friday I drafted an email to an organisation called Unseen Tours that uses formerly-homeless people to give tours of London that let people learn about the city from a homeless person’s perspective. My novel features a homeless character, so a tour or discussion of this kind would be very helpful. On Saturday I was researching suicide bombings, also for my novel.

The most helpful part of the Wednesday Zoom session, the part that speared me into doing the things I did on Friday and Saturday was the prompts that asked us what we wanted to achieve from the Write Club Plus group. Specifically, what did we want to achieve by the end of the year, but also what did we want to achieve tomorrow. The first question was fairly unanimously responded to with completed first drafts, publications, or confidence writing in a particular genre. Thinking about an achievement for the next day was far harder! I didn’t want to set a word-count target because I always fail at those! I decided that I’d draft the email to the Unseen Tours people. I am happy to find myself not just thinking about what I want to do to push my novel forward each day, but actively doing something to progress it.

So let’s move on to the next two poems in my pamphlet, Dressing Up. This week I will share Antipasti, and Somebody Said I Looked Hot.


Take the sights and the sounds
of the world, infuse
like a tea bag;
I tip myself up
and words fall out,
like tortillas and snails
from my pockets.
A dinner party person
I am not,
mixing food and small talk
into something more complicated than hot.
Under the table
your foot touches mine;
it’s a sign
in secret, we rehearsed.

I am very fond of the idea of imbibing the sights and the sounds of the world as if the result was a cup of tea. And I love the word slurp, it’s so onomatopoeic!

In the second stanza, I also like the idea of words falling out of my mouth if I were tipped upside down! Originally the simile that I used was, “like lose change and fluff / from my pockets”, but then I decided to stick with oddments that might be found in antipasti at a dinner party. If I were revamping that line now, I’d probably change it to sausage rolls and cocktail sticks, but that could be the sort of on-the-hoof adjustment I might make if I were reading the poem at an open mic event.

The awkwardness of not knowing what to do with the tortillas and snails is confirmed in the next stanza, when I share that I am not a dinner party person! I feel ill-at-ease trying to force polite conversation in socially-engineered circumstances. It’s not that I struggle with conversation, but if the situation feels uneasy, then I usually find the conversation is as well.

But I like the notion of a couple having a secret signal held in reserve to silently suggest that enough is enough πŸ™‚

Somebody Said I Looked Hot

(But of course, it is summer)
I wasn’t made for heat such as this
searing herbaceous borders
like parchment
with cauterised scent;
pale bathers uncurling
from rainy retreat
into sanguine seekers of heat.
I was not meant
to languish under these naked skies;
July bleaching into August,
with fiery footprints
laid heel to toe
across beaches
and back to parasols,
while afternoon flagging strikes
the streets quiet, and on the wires
birds muster their faint energy for song.
The world and its everything
split to factions.
it’s a war shepherding change
and all along
and in all the actions
its back is against the wall;
were it as simple to mend
as changing a fuse
or calling the medics
or putting down the guns
turning off the machines
and playing ball.

I am quite fond of this poem too. It is less structured than most of the other poems in the pamphlet in terms of lines per stanza. I like the way that it starts with a jovial countenance about the hot weather and yet quickly shifts into much more serious matter; this is my climate change poem.

I chose the image of July bleaching into August to portray the heat, with the fiery footprints being a memory I have of being barefoot on hot beaches.

It’s at this point that the seriousness comes to the fore. It is a war. There are people who deny that climate change is happening, and there are others who don’t. My personal view is that there would be less uncertainty about it if we hadn’t started calling it global warming. It is not, to my mind, purely about how hot the summer is … it’s also how warm the winter is, and how long or short the different seasons are. World leaders seem to agree that climate change does need attention, but I find it bonkers that I remember talking about this at high school in the 1980s, and here we are forty years later and we’ve still done bugger-all about it! We are at war with ourselves and indeed with rising temperatures and sea levels.

If only it were as simple, as this poem desires, as calling the medics, or putting down the guns and playing ball, the way that some First World War soldiers did in no man’s land on Christmas Day 1914.

Published inPoetry


  1. Nell Nelson Nell Nelson

    A homeless character and suicide bombings…. This novel sounds like a thriller!

    • Giles Giles

      Initially the terrorism aspect was a minor sub-plot … until I did two terms of Cardiff Uni’s online Crime Fiction course, and it has indeed turned more thriller-like πŸ™‚ xx

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