Friday, July 31, 2009

Prompts 31 July

There was an old woman who

She woke too soon

There is little grass, dust rises off the playing fields

How wide this bed has become

I am dreaming of simple things, china teacups

There is a pale blue light

I was wondering about Moscow. What do you think?

We could keep chickens

Should I scream or just sigh?

They are cancelling trains everywhere

What about Formica?

Old, bitter, her face at a wet window


I hear the torturer loves his little cat

Cut me a hole

Summer Soup

I like it on my allotment. Spuds, Carrots, Beans

Gonna go to town

I would like to be in a book, page 28, the suicide


The occasional festival

Something about paper but I didn't really understand

The thirteenth hour

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Prompts 30 July

Where he thought he was dying, he suddenly grows

I have lost the ability to articulate


I will be so very alone

What I mean is, what I am trying to say is, light

They do nothing but sit together in a car, in the rain. How beautiful is that?

A uniformed man is opening and closing gates


Its all the same as I left it, including my body

The ground beneath them turns to water

His daughter is different, toast is different

The dog is limping

Every day, he doesn't know how, he is a little taller


Was a Chapel, now a Church

The placement of a judicious comma

A list of wonderful books

I have been bleeding

I am happy to sign the warrants, just get rid

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Prompts 28 July

The sun in scorpio

First there is a forest, naturally trees, but the thing is forest

Maybe my sight is getting worse

Let me put it this way, there weren't six foot posters of him on student walls

Shivering, but it is internal, hands steady as a rock

I will lie down

This is one possible way, raise our heads, walk

If candle-flame took the light

Perhaps there is a way we can recover

What do you think of the hat?

They're only bombs, Mrs Tavistock, bombs don't decide

All this is is a table, these are people

Listen, beneath our breaths, listen

There were many of us, now there are few

It's hard to imagine love in Thatcham

Quietly, it must have been a weekend, they took us from the map

What kind of effigy?

All I am is at the window, all you are is not

My grey suit, my grey suit, my grey suit, my pink.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Prompts 27 July

A cupboard full of dead man's clothes


What was in his tin

The Top Nine

The sky today, these cars, it all looks dirty

Brown Paper

The Book that Came From the Sky

Robert Jones, Higgler

How the fields so neat are shaven

I do not begin to explain, but death has dropped away

House on Stilts, Girls Exploding

Only in one way am I exhausted

And then I realised I hadn't heard

I could be a minor diplomat but I'd be kidnapped and die with a dirty beard

Magnificent men smelling of oil

There are always warnings in newspapers

Finding Ronnie

Nothing will grow in here, nothing outside

From the back, my neighbour, broader than I thought

I dreamt an old lover moved in next door

Weather, a rumour, but not necessarily untrue

A few of us wept, but we didn't know why

Friday, July 17, 2009

Prompts 17 July 01

A wooden spoon
Dancing in the light between trees
Look at me, Ma!
The house is bleeding
I dream of sun and feel the rain
Uncle Arthur’s Slice
I am walking on a path beside a river
This is about who hears
Why not be a surgeon?
In the cobwebbed hut, four shiny bikes
There are noises in the kitchen
The chapel waits and will rest later
The ping of a microwave
Anagrams of Poets’ Names
I intend to rise earlier
Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday
The thing is, Mam…
In the moment after the bang
Mad Men
The view from here is different, silent
A Penny for the Black Babies
They bottle water in a factory in Wales
Exactly as we left it

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Prompts 16 July 01


The things I fear
Domestos and other occasional drinks
Green Glass
How clouds coagulate and darken
Lack of Moral Fibre
We could go to Derbyshire
This hole in my head is unfortunate
Fingerless mitts
My cat refuses to talk
All the lost eyes, the empty nights
Not About Her Father
Which side is behind the wall?
I have taken out my heart to let it cool a little
Oral Examination
My girlfriend whispering in the mortuary.
Playing Arlies.
Consider these things

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Capel Bethel

Some of our readers may know that 5/6 writers have been using the chapel in Wales (Capel Bethel) as a retreat this week. Here is a message from them.

A message from the team at the half way point of the retreat:

We are now six, having met Pauline (from Co Kerry via London) off the tiny train at the tiny station. We are currently (5.00 pm) all writing in the huge living area. Three on the farmhouse table, three sprawled on the deep leather settees.

Every day we have worked quietly, systematically, stopping for lunch in the cafe across the road, or for a cuppa, a walk. Then work again in the afternoons. We haven't counted the new stories and flashes that have been born here in the chapel. And add to that the flashes, stories, novel and poems that are being made better - it feels good.

The chapel is a fabulous space for writers. It is geared, and very inspirational. The rooms are not just comfortable, they are very comfortable, and we are sleeping the sleep of long distance writers. Martin has been a real gent and has given up his room for Pauline, and is sleeping in the living room tonight, on a bed settee.

This week is going too fast.

J, P, M, C, V and V

Prompts 15 July 01


This is the third time, the fourth, the fifth

When you love, words appear on skin

If you like we can talk. Or we can BE

There are angels in Borders

Make of this what you will. It will still be true.

I would like not to want

You could volunteer. Dying isn't necessarily bad.

Opening a difficult jar

Listen to a river. I mean LISTEN to a river.

All the women, all the men, hands, silent.

We are creeping, the dampness kisses feet

Sailing, tin-trays, yellow grass, incredible, inhuman

By noon something will be dead

I once shot a crow, filled it with pellets. It fell like a sin.

Mud is easier to eat than straw

For example, music doesn't exist

Dogs think about religion. Cats KNOW.

Look, and I mean LOOK, at your feet.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14 Prompts 01

Two old horses

The house shines, picked out by early light

I am trying to remember, your hair

How I might die while gardening, bending for peas

He only said fuck off the once

She wants to find a man who dances, straight, and tall

We are what we abandon

Allegedly, we are mammals, our brains are split

What else is there to say? We tried

Projectile vomiting Newcastle Brown

A mother digs a hole in a garden

I turn my collar up, shrug on

Mere ugliness is no excuse. It needs more

When does a mother stop to become pretty?

Money on wires, buzzing

We are building a fence, but is it strong enough?

A grandfather, a quiet kitchen, an open razor

They put the dead baby on a newspaper

We could hang

Monday, July 13, 2009

Prompts 13 July 01

I have been wondering
There is a certain light that moves, swells, before rain
In the morning my child was cooler and slept
I would love ice
Peas, beans, various kinds of potatoes
I'm trying to get this right and left thing
I used to wait on the low church roof
Old shops with wood and whirring canisters
From the hill I saw a snaking tenement
It's something not in her eyes
Kitchen of Sand
Do they make statues of the living
There is a grey building full of bad men, or misunderstood
On the piss with Judas
What do we watch if the space is not empty?
I knew a man who had a hole in his head
Mittens on string, push-pull, incredible
I find it strange, me, never was
He loved a fat woman, she loved a little man
A cold door

Friday, July 10, 2009

Prompts 10 July (01)

When the freeze started it was just cold

They work side by side, opposite, strangers

I ride the wind

My bed is far too large now


He punches in numbers, listens for the buzz

I’ve heard about your hair issues, the SAS

We will take the children


These are not clouds, this is something wrapping

Purrs, coughs, stumbles

A nest of snakes, how it rolls, slides

It’s late but still people come

You know it, you can feel it, rising through you

We were black raincoats and black shoes

This is a story you should not hear

Picnic on a bomb site

I am writing to the council

I need to say something but it takes more than words

With luck, whatever that is

Call me Simple Simon, the others do

I could be out in a year

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Prompts 07 July (1)

A mockery of insects
There is a love which checks the alarm is on
The enemy fries bacon and it smells like ours
I ask you to picture waves as an army
If possible I would like to be born
We build walls but never higher than they need be
It’s unlikely but crying is not impossible
I’m focussing on the quaint idea of love
This Helen, is she a looker?
Slut is fine
When policeman look younger, old people differentiate
Like sheep upon the fold
Nothing more than a wooden table, slightly bloody
Certain lights are angry
We need more ways to waste our time
The last time I counted, there was just me
Listen to a white van grumbling
Today we have the naming of ports, beginning Le Havre
I think of the word “Honfleur”
Age ten, today we choose parents
As she leaves in soft darkness
The difference between perfume and Eau de Toilette
I don’t even make “minor”

Sunday, July 05, 2009

More Course Feedback

• Lovely accommodation that offers both comfort and functionality
• Hard work but great fun!
• Variety of different tasks to enable exploration of mood, tone and character
• Variety of tasks to stimulate and manipulate ideas
• Plethora of books and magazines to inspire and provoke discussion
• Entertaining anecdotes and honest appraisals
• Numerous handouts that offer clear explanations and examples of what not to do
• Plenty of time to write and attempt implementation of the skills explored through texts and handouts
• Well researched theories on the craft of writing
• Different teaching methods employed and an ability to be flexible with the tasks set
• Intense and enthusiastic approach to writing
• Value for money.
• Lovely accommodation, full days of work and tasks (but the opportunity to opt out if it’s too much), convenient café for brunch and dinner just ten metres from the front door, lots of resources, handouts to take away afterwards, debates and humorous anecdotes, numerous computers available to work on and time to write and relax with other like-minded people.

Course Feedback

I recently returned, exhausted but happy, from one of Alex Keegan's face-to-face writing courses. For three days we wrote, and discussed craft and all sorts of other things, into the early hours. There is nothing nine to five about these courses. Alex is ready to work until the last person says enough. Generous with his energy and writing expertise, he never instructs then sits back. He writes alongside the group, usually with enviable ease but sometimes, reassuringly, he struggles like anyone else.

I was apprehensive beforehand, thought I wouldn't be good enough, but needn't have worried. The ethos is one of respect for anyone who's serious about improving, whatever their current level. I got lucky when Alex used one of my stories to illustrate the editing process. His blue pen slashed through words, sentences, paragraphs - highlighting my particular weaknesses, and showing us all how we can strengthen our writing.

There's flexibility in what's looked at (Openings, Dialogue, etc) but also in how much writing is done. One evening I was too tired, my mind a blank, so while the others wrote I sat on a sofa in the corner, browsing through books of photographs.

The spaces within the Chapel have been created to allow withdrawal from the group whilst still being able to listen in to any interesting chat. There's the large table, great for laptop users or anyone who prefers sitting upright to lounging, and then there are several comfy seating areas with low coffee tables. The Chapel is well-supplied with all mod-cons, beds, computers and showers, a great place for any writing course, retreat or holiday. Just across the road is the very reasonably-priced café in which we ate most of our meals. Down the road is the sea and behind the village are hills and mountains, including Cader Idris.

I left on Sunday afternoon having learned a huge amount about writing, and sorry to have to say goodbye to new friends. I will definitely be back, just as soon as I've done enough writing to deserve another great weekend away.

Margot Taylor, Somerset

July 05 Prompts (01)

Unshoed, I was travelling, but steadily

Yes, I was hungry

We are in little houses

The way blood flows in the bath, whatever else it’s beautiful


I am dancing. Not for money, for the music

Where clocks stop

Boxers once practised on me

Swimming to America

I have my toothbrush, one or two condoms

Out of the blue, could they owe me five hundred?

How cluttered an office gets

We’re all going swimming, apart from the kids and me

I was tricked into living and I regret it

An awful lot of jellyfish

The puff of a flash gun, no other sound like it

The signals come. Only the mad are tuned in

Most of us smile at the machine-gunners; it’s so personal.

Sobbing like a widow over spilt milk

Imagine yourself as my Kryptonite

You haven’t heard the first of this, what you have is impure

Friday, July 03, 2009

July 03 Prompts 1

When the day comes, and it will


Balancing his work, his lover, his writing

We woke up face to face like lovers

A small dark dot, someone is waving

We are waiting for the drowned man

Stand still a moment, listen carefully

The endless emptiness when they are gone

Something has come to our attention

Facing backwards on the escalator

Full of professors and so-o-o-o American

An Orang-Utan, his dog

A stitch of want below the throat


In a filthy alley just below

It’s small things, the unreturned email, the pauses

Belching out the Devil

When I am blind I will feel sunsets

I am glass; you shimmer, you are light

The history in a single grain

I am not much looking forward

I look at this scar, long, incredible. I was wide open once.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

July 02 Prompts (2)

I place my hope on the water


Put in mind of my father and moved to tears


What knots my belly now is hope


I am an old, beaten dog


I am a woman, middle-aged invisible


Touch my lips with your spirit


They have found a way to crack the sky


So perfect it's ugly


A girl with her back to me, a girl on fire


This is one way to remember


When all this is over, I will try to write


Second hand, second-class, grey


He wears boots, a dress, drives a shopping trolley, eats in the caff.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

July 02 Prompts (1)

The way she walks, The way she talks

She showed me a picture of a man in a hat

Twenty-Five Airmail Envelopes

Vauxhall Victor 101

Why do dark stories illuminate?

Remembering Tom

I looked up the meaning of your name. It means shit-head

I am a fish, desperately coming up for water

When I think of you, I see flickers

I'm in bed and you're in bed

A bowl can't but a tin can.

It's an interesting ward

I have never been happy

Wild Horses, muddy water

The Devil's Blog

A secret full of houses

It's set in Miami. And Nantwich

Let me know if you want to continue

I need a better name, something Polish or Romanian

I could try joining it up?

PROMPTS 2 (11:36 Wednesday 1st July)

In another room
When Daddy came home
And it’s too, darn, hot.
Like Wolves Upon the Fold
Among the Dead Cities
I am trying not to be here
The light of an almost morning
All the fun is in how you say a thing
What I think about when I’m making love
Red Brick
An end to running
Perhaps, if I don’t try so hard
Smoke in the valley
The Girl of My Best Friend
A small airfield in North Africa
How we pretend
You were here before me