Community Appreciation Day: Three Commended Poems

Following our submissions call for short poems exploring themes of appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness, and the publication of the communal cento (or quilt) poem earlier this week, we’re pleased to be sharing three of the poems that we felt really communicated the ethos of Appreciation Day as well as capturing some of the tender moments that have shaped experiences over the past year or so.

The first poem we’d like to share is ‘On my list’ by Wendy Allen. We love the sensory detail and tactility of this poem, its meditation on touch, its almost palpable sense of longing, of desire…

‘On my list’

ruby jewelled lipstick the colour of Mooncup,

29.3ml of sediment red which remains defiantly matte

when we kiss passionately on the Southbank.

Red Riding Hood lips against you against the yellow

façade of The Hayward Gallery, I want you.

An old cardigan pulled tight becomes a life vest, I want

your face traced between my thighs like cashmere.

My eyeliner is perfect, I take a photo. I want you to see.

I’m grateful you know me. The postcard I send to you is empty

but as always, says too much. I want to say too much.

Wendy Allen is an unpublished poet. She has been writing poetry since April 2020 and has spent the last 20 years as cabin crew.


The second poem we’d like to share is Samantha Ley’s entry which feels very much like a celebration of the exuberance and joy of girlhood and the immersivity of imaginative play…

The girls dance and shriek, trailing rainbow-colored kites
through the yard.

They are five. They find everything to do, and still need more:

A pretend tea party, a water table,

Chalk, soccer, toy rockets landing on the roof.

They need us to retrieve the trapped

Toy rockets. Ravenous, as always, they need

Food. Otherwise, they

Don’t need us. They are five. They exist

In this moment, to laugh with one another.

Samantha Ley lives near Albany, New York, where she works as a freelance writer and editor. Her fiction has appeared in a number of online publications. She can be reached at samjley AT gmail.com and @SaminBingo on Twitter.


And finally, we’re sharing ‘Irregular Jackdaw’ by Brunel alumna Anneka Hess. Gardens and public green spaces have been of increasing importance to many of us this past year, and a number of the entries took the form of odes to nature, the seasons, our fur-babies and feathered friends. What we love about this poem in particular is the way it beautifully centres the relationship between the human and non-human. We were also struck by how the work conveys a cautious optimism and sense of affirming resilience…

‘Irregular Jackdaw’

And as the blossom arrives again

So do you

Furious chatter against the cottage chimney

Feathers-inked and scissor-beaked

Ravenous for seed

And we meet in the awakening garden

Both more crumpled than last year

Both more relieved to be here

For one more spring

Anneka Hess spends too much of her time in a pile of books and cats, and too little writing. https://twitter.com/Inkybloomers

We would like to thank everyone who sent us submissions and shared what they are grateful for. Keep an eye out on our social media (@BrunelWriter) where we will post the commended entries so you can share them and spread the sentiment of appreciation, gratidute and thankfulness.

Appreciation Day Communal Poem

When Brunel Volunteers mentioned they were hosting an Appreciation Day on 11th May, the poetic form called the cento came to mind. This form was created as a way of celebrating the work of another poet that you appreciate by taking one-hundred individual lines from a variety of their poems and collaging them into a new poem – a bit like making a quilt.

We thought it would be great to invite people to write and send in short poems of appreciation, thankfulness and gratitude, from which we could compile a little communal celebratory cento – a  mutual ode of appreciation.

We received poems from Brunel students, staff, alumni, locals and from further afield including the USA and India. Looking through the poems, we were struck by the common themes that emerged, although perhaps these are not surprising given the year we’ve had. There were odes to nature, lots about bodies and touch, about longing and loneliness, about all the little things that have made all this bearable – a friendly text, a kind gesture, as well as portraits of family and friends, children playing, robins singing.

We then chose poignant, resonant, and striking lines or phrases from each of the entries and stitched them together into loosely themed stanzas to make the communal appreciation poem, which you can read below – enjoy!

Survival: A Cento

1.

For months we have gestated here,

our home a roomy womb, a cushioned nest.

An old cardigan pulled tight becomes a life vest.

Wrapped in warmth, a morning text,

a supportive word, chases pessimism away.

2.

Relax into a still, quiet focus – magic

or maybe scientific hypnosis:

the drip drip drip and hazelnutty hit

of freshly brewed coffee, the soft frivolity

of a brightly-coloured velvet scrunchie.

3.

The girls dance and shriek, trailing rainbow-coloured kites

through the yard. They are five. They exist

in this moment to laugh with one another.

At story time, five kisses. Brace yourself,

tiny creatures and grow a little more.

4.

I love you like our Hammersmith sky.

I much appreciate your sassy style,

eyes lit with remnants of cucumber peel.

I’m grateful you know me.

The postcard I send to you is empty.

5.

And we meet in the awakening garden,

both more crumpled than last year,

both more relieved to be here.

The whispers of the trees,

clear skies that never end…

6.

A red-breasted robin rests chest aflame.

Desolation snapped, vitality restored.

Notice this hug with shaky arms

around your oxbow curves –

you’re here, with me, for now.

Finally a big thank-you to everyone who sent in their poems to be a part of this project – we’ll be featuring commended entries on this blog and on social media via @BrunelWriter and @poetrycoterie soon, so keep your eyes peeled and do like and repost so we can share some appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness.

Contributors:

Anneka Hess | Emily Horton | Emma Filtness | Emma Mitchell | Fathima M | Hafsa | Kathryn Gynn | Keith Sterrow | Linda Hodgkinson | Marie-Teresa Hanna | Peter Eldrid | Ruth Sharma | Samantha Ley | Tania Bavarz | Wendy Allen | Wendy Rashed

Call for Poems on Appreciation

for Community Appreciation Day

DEADLINE: 16 APRIL 2021

Calling all Brunel students, staff and members of the local community – we want you to get creative & send us a short poem (maximum 10 lines) fitting the theme of appreciation, gratitude & thankfulness.

Brunel Writer, in collaboration with Brunel Volunteers, is celebrating Community Appreciation Day on 11th May 2021 by making a collaborative poem. 

Send your entries to brunelwriter@gmail.com by Friday 16th April with ‘Appreciation Day Submission’ in the subject line. Ideally poems will be attached to the email in either .doc format or as a PDF.

Shortlisted poems will feature on the Brunel Writer blog & social media, & may be shared as part of wider Appreciation Day communications. Please include a short third person bio & your social media handles so we can tag you, if you have them (anonymous entries are fine, too, just let us know).

Excerpts from a number of entries will be woven into a longer, collaborative community poem – think of it like a patchwork quilt made up of different colours & textures & lovingly pieced & stitched, patched & mended by many hands.

We’re also hoping to create some audio & video content of the final collaborative poem, so drop us an email if you’re keen to read/perform. We might also make a zine (a mini-book of the poem).

Here’s some inspiration to get you going:

Appreciation The act of recognising or understanding that something is valuable or important. Who are what is important to you? Why? Tell them.

Gratitude The feeling or quality of being grateful. You could try describe it.

Thankfulness The feeling of being happy or grateful because of something.

You could write a list poem of things you appreciate, value or are grateful for, or of things that you are thankful for, from the tiny and seemingly frivolous to the significant and poignant…

You could write an ode to a person, organisation or place that you appreciate…

You could capture a moment of kindness in a haiku…

Screen Love

by Benjamin Parameswaran 

Picture 1

Lines across space will find,
New means to spend some time,
If only for some peace of mind,
It uncorks a realm not quite sublime.

Heads of this hydra may bite one another,
Trying to express to others,
That they themselves are lovers.

Growing fonder, watch out for it
A pedestal, on which they now stand,
A looking-glass for the wistful hearted,
Always shatter-proof upon reflection.

These trees grown together need firm earth,
For wires without roots prevent disclosure,
There is no rain or sun inside this house,
Life travelling on with an electric hum.

Hold on, effort is without limits,
This garden is vast and you were born in it.

Screenshot 2020-06-07 at 16.36.17

When I was a small boy, my mother used to set me writing tasks. Sometimes I wrote about my day, other times I came up with fantasies taken from whatever I could find. She wanted me to read, read, read. But being half-stubborn mule, more concerned with games, I failed at this task. Now at the age of 25, I read at the pace of a snail and have found a love in writing that I once denied myself.

Guest Blogger – EMMA FILTNESS!: ‘Keeping it Local’ – Event

Hello fellow writers,

I am a Creative Writing PhD student, a part-time lecturer in English and Creative Writing, and Brunel’s Publications Officer. I came here originally to do the Creative Writing MA and loved every minute of it, so I stuck around for more.

It is shaping up to be a busy but fun start to the 2014 academic year, and I am here to tell you about some great community Creative Writing and Arts events that are happening at Brunel and in the surrounding area over the next month or so, with the hope that some of you might come along and maybe even take part! I have been working quite a bit lately with the wonderful Charlotte who is Arts Programming Officer for the local borough (Hillingdon), and she is keen to get Brunelians involved…but let’s start with me, me ME!

1. As well as teaching some of you for modules such as Introduction to Writing Fiction and Drama, I run a weekly Creative Writing class at Brunel’s Arts Centre. Classes consist of themed writing exercises, prompts and related activities suitable for all levels of experience. Classes are open to all Brunel students, staff and members of the local community. If you are an arts student at Brunel, you can come to the class for free (yes, FREE!). You may want to sign up soon, though, as places are limited (classes begin Tuesday 30 October, 6pm). These classes are ideal if you want somewhere to try out ideas and have the space to write without the pressure of looming deadlines and grades. I make a little anthology of work produced on the course each academic year, so these classes also give you the opportunity to see your work in print (I will even furnish you with a spare copy so you can give one to your mum). View the Arts Centre web pages to find out more, or email me (contact details below).

ArtsCentreAnthology

2. Charlotte is running Bigfest, a one-day festival in Uxbridge town centre on Sunday 28 September, 2014. There will be music, theatre, street performers, a food market and, most importantly, a live literature tent! Brunel writers and locals will be reading poetry or prose between 12 and 4pm. I will be reading a short story from my thesis (stories based on the life stories of little old ladies), Joe Norman who is an English PhD student, lecturer and Brunel’s Communications Officer will be reading a short story (once he manages to find one of his that is suitable to be heard by delicate, innocent ears and does not make people want to be sick) and Brunel Creative Writing MA alumna and local journalist Barbara Fischer will read to you from the memoir she is currently working on in which she recalls her time as a “hack”. Come along and listen (again, it is FREE!) or, if you are feeling brave, why not sign up to read a story or poem? If you would like to give this a go then email me soon so we can reserve you a slot (contact details below)

Bigfest2014

3. Charlotte has also set up an open mic evening at the newly-refurbished Uxbridge Library. The open mic sessions will run every other month or so, with the first one taking place on Friday 3 October at 7.30pm. You don’t need to book, just turn up, pay the teeny tiny £3.50 entry fee (it is free if you sign up to read/sing/strum), and listen to poetry, prose and other acoustic offerings from local writers and musicians. Again, if you are feeling brave and fancy reading, strumming or singing, then let me know and I will make sure there is a slot with your name on it. There will be some empty slots left for those of you that prefer just to rock up on the day and see how you feel…

Open Mic Poster

I should probably stop there before I wear out your eyeballs…if you want to know more about any of the above then please send me an email at E.Filtness@brunel.ac.uk

Please also keep an eye on the Brunel Library blog for information on the Brunel Author Series…thanks for “listening” and I hope to see some of you at one, some or all of these awesome local events!

Happy scribbling,

Emma

Poet in the City – Upcoming Events

bwlerhat_image

Poet in the City presents a series showcasing some of the most exciting new voices in poetry. Acclaimed International poets, rising stars, and some of the UK’s best new performance poets, will come together in a unique celebration of the power of words.

Come and experience poetry as you’ve never seen it before – inside London’s biggest bowler hat!

Living London – Monday 7th July 6.30pm – Living London is a celebration of some of London’s most exciting poets, writers and performance artists, in collaboration with Tilt. http://www.ontilt.org/

* Drawing on the unique Bowler Hat venue, the artists will explore London from all angles, from the surreal to the sublime! Living London will feature a live art performance by Stacy Makishi, flash fiction and wordplay by Femi Martin and poetry by Antosh Wojcik.

living_london

London Calling – Monday 14 July 6.30pm – Celebrating the publication of My Voice: A Decade of Poems from The Poetry Translation Centre, this event showcases the outstanding contemporary poetry written in three languages widely spoken in London: Arabic, Persian and Somali.
* Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi is widely regarded as one of the leading African poets writing in Arabic. His Collected Poems was published in 2010. A distinguished journalist, he was forced into exile in 2012 and now lives in London.
* Caasha Lul Mohamud Yusuf is one of the most exciting young poets of the Somali diaspora. She came to the UK in 1990 having fled the Somali Civil War and now lives in London.
* Reza Mohammadi was born in Kandahar in 1979. His three collections of poetry have gained him many awards, such as from the Afghan Ministry of Culture in 2004 and prizes for being Iran’s best young poet in 1996 and 1997.
* English translations will be read by Sarah Maguire (founder and director of the Poetry Translation Centre) and the poet Clare Pollard.

london_calling

How to Book:

Tickets for each event cost £8 and can be purchased via:

Living London

London Calling

For further information please contact Poet in the City on 0207 014 2812 or info@poetinthecity.co.uk

The Bowler Hat, Paternoster Square, London EC4M.
Nearest tube station is St Pauls.

BH_map

** Listen to Poet in the City’s informal Podcast with Antosh Wojcik – one of the youngest performers who will be at the Living London spoken word event – here: https://audioboo.fm/boos/2267780-living-london-interview-with-antosh-wojcik

** Follow Poet in the City’s Blog, Twitter account: @PoetintheCityUK, or Facebook page for more information about upcoming events.

** Follow @brunelwriter on Twitter for information about events, competitions and job opportunities in the world of writing!

Amy Key and Charlotte Runcie give poets food for thought.

Contemporary poets Amy Key and Charlotte Runcie clearly agreed with Mary Poppins, when she said a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. The two have reopened their pop-up poetry project, The Great British Bard Off. The blog celebrates contemporary poetry in conjunction with the BBC’s surprisingly popular TV series, or as the website puts it, “an affectionate poetic tribute to the baking series The Great British Bake Off“. Key and Runcie aim to produce and showcase poetry that all have one thing in common – baked goods; the most favourable of which being cakes.

Screen-Shot-2013-07-03-at-16.10.57
Charlotte Runcie

Amy-Key-250
Amy Key

The project, which was founded in 2012, invites poets to submit work centring on the theme of sugary treats. Having had a successful first year, the pair are reopening the blog for 2013, with some big names already throwing their hat into the ring for the coveted title of Star Baker. Like much of Amy Key’s poetry, this year’s offerings thus far – although all containing cake references – are very much not about cakes. The poetry is heavy with metaphorical value and hidden meaning.

Amy Key is due to release her sophomore collection, Luxe, later this year. Her poetry is layered with themes of female sexuality and vulnerability. This too shines through in her own submission to The Great British Bard Off:

Meanwhile, I am in love with blondes
in the newest way passion can exert itself. But,
it was blondes who I first edged my knee towards,
some hours before intolerable kisses.
Lips I’ve kissed crumble like meringue.
Hopes should recede with age, but this isn’t
a right-seeming present!
It seems that sugar-coated femininity is the perfect addition to poetry about cakes.
If you’d like to try your hand at Amy and Charlotte’s The Great British Bard Off, submissions may be sent to greatbritishbardoff@gmail.com.
Kirsty Capes