Poetry Workshop - Writing the Moment with Lorraine Mariner

14 December 2017

Lorraine Mariner

In this workshop we will look at poems that have captured moments - from life changing news and instances of danger, to something of beauty glimpsed briefly or a passing emotion. We will examine the techniques that poets have used to recreate these moments in words and try to capture significant events from our own lives. Please bring along a personal photograph of a moment that you would like to turn into a poem.

Lorraine Mariner's pamphlet 'Bye For Now' was published by The Rialto in 2005 and in 2007 her poem ‘Thursday’, about the London Bombings on 7 July 2005, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. Her first collection 'Furniture' was published by Picador in 2009 and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize. Her second collection 'There Will Be No More Nonsense' came out with Picador in 2014. She lives in London and works at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre.




Review of the Meeting

We had an enjoyable time with Lorraine Mariner. She read out JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION. It is a poem about the John Spencer Blues Band. Although it is written without punctuation, the line endings and stanzas give it shape. The first challenge was for us to write a similar poem about something we ‘saw today’ that expressed how we were feeling/or not. Next, we read What the Doctor Said, a Raymond Carver (RC) poem. Even with no punctuation the two voices are distinct. He uses humour even though the doctor is telling RC bad news. Lorraine continued by reading Thursday, her own poem about her personal experience of the day of the seven/seven bombings. She thought of her office as a place of safety that she had to get to. Later she said that getting home was traumatic too. She wrote the poem, then made just a few tweaks. It was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. The next challenge was to write about one moment in your personal life. Paul read a touching poem about the day he rushed to hospital, delayed in traffic after a call at work. He was too late and had to say goodbye to the person on the gurney. We went on to to writing from photos, after some touching poems from the floor. The next was Poem for a Wedding Photograph by Angela Carter and A Self Portrait Before Me by Hannah Lowe. It was time for us to write a poem after the photo we had brought. Some great poems were read out, including Lynn Jennings poem about her emotions of seeing her son holding his own baby son.

Thanks to Alison Hawes for the tea/coffee and cakes throughout the year.

After the break, Richard launched the WSW Poetry Competition. The theme is Writing in the Moment.
Poems can be up to forty lines long. Members can put in up to three entries. The closing date is 21st January 2018, with a chance to win the Poetry Cup.

Flash Fiction Competition

Richard Buxton, Competitions Secretary, told us that he had received fourteen entries for the Flash Fiction Competition. Tracy Fells, the Flash Judge, said that they were all of an excellent standard. She was impressed by the variety of work with lots of experimentation. All entries were complete, well structured stories. Some of the humour made her laugh out loud. A general point was to tighten your title to make it work for your specific story. God and creation came up a couple of times. Some pieces had a surreal edge. She reminded us that her feedback ‘is only my personal opinion’, so don’t act on it if you done want to. Tracy awarded the prizes and certificates next.

Thanks to Alex Medwell for producing the certificates.

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Genesis, by Andrew Taylor, who did not come to the meeting.

HIGHLY COMMENDED - The Silver Queen, an upbeat story by Rhona Gorringe, ‘starred’ Miss Duckworth. Tracy had commented that she couldn’t help thinking of Vera Duckworth of Coronation Street. Rhona doesn’t watch TV, so the name was a coincidence.
SECOND PLACE - Finding her Peace, a very emotional well-constructed story by Rose Bray, had some great flashbacks and ‘a lot in story’ for three hundred words.

FIRST PLACE - In the Beginning, a God story, by Paul Coleman was ‘almost perfect’. Paul Witham read the story out, with his usual excellent dramatization of prose. We find God doodling in a bar and lots of humour. The opening lines: ‘God wobbles on a bar stool …’. It was funny and touching.

We very much enjoyed listening to Rhona and Rose reading their own stories out.