Clichés, Drafts and Caroline Bird

31 May

My drafting process is a bit of a doozy. One piece of writing I may whizz through and after a couple of revisions chalk it off to a job well done, while others I’ll struggle over and struggle over and struggle over again and again trying to write my way into an idea. Writing a poem for Say Sum Thin 9 is proving to be a case of the latter form of drafting. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get anywhere with it. I have the idea, but I can’t find the medium in which to express it. It’ll come, but it’ll take time.

If the other Mouthy Poets are having similar problems they’re doing a cracking job of keeping it under wraps, particularly if Friday’s workshop with Caroline Bird is anything to go by. Caroline promised to get us all writing, said that we’d be all well tuckered out by the end of the workshop and I’ve got to admit she wasn’t wrong there. I was worn out by the end of the session, but the amount of work everyone produced was staggering. I write at about 4 wph (words per hour) and I think that’s fast; I’ve got nothing on the rest of Mouthy. Pages of the stuff straight onto the page, but with Caroline in the room we all really kicked it up a notch. She even said at one point she wanted the session to feel like six hours’ worth of workshop in three. It was jam-packed, and it was great.

We looked at a number of poems and used these as springboards for exercises. One such exercise was to try and get to the heart of clichés, trying to find ‘the danger’ in them again. Caroline used the examples of ‘head in the clouds’ and asked us questions like ‘What does that feel like? Is it cold? Is it hard to breathe? Where’s your neck and how does it feel: is it thin, long, what?’ I tried to write around the phrase ‘cat got your tongue’ – taking it quite literally is a painful thing to imagine when you really think about it! When I read what I’d written Caroline suggested I remove the last line to give it a punchier feel, and this is something I find myself often doing or being recommended to do. I think it’d be a useful way to think about your own poetry too: how does deleting the last line or stanza change your poem? Is it better? Worse? What does it offer or change? It’s good practice to play with your drafts in such a way.

And speaking of drafts, midnight tonight marks the deadline for first draft of our poems for SST9. If you’re anything like me, you’re bricking it. If you’re not anything like me, teach me your ways. With that said, I guess it’s time to get to the drafting.

I guess I’m going to cheat here a little because I’m going to bung on my idea and first draft to this post! How cheeky of me. So here goes:

My idea revolves around a fisherman trying to catch carp the day after a carnival in his village but all he can catch are goldfish children released the day before. Behind him the carnival is being packed away. I have this very strong image of him sat there trying to get a decent carp on a bank holiday Monday after he’d not been able to fish all weekend because of the carnival. I’m wanting to play around with the poetic form, but I think the specific way I play about with it will come later when I settle on the backbone of the poem.

And so here’s the first draft while we’re at it. I’m sure it’ll be one of the shortest first drafts you’ve ever seen!



Blp. Floating dog biscuit.



I told you I write at 4wph! I can’t seem to get beyond this. The problem is I’m trying to write a character and I don’t know anything about him. For this to work, I need to figure out what makes him tick. Or to step away from the idea of performing as him. With the midnight deadline looming, reckon that may be a hard one to pull off! I’ve taken the mickey a bit there, but ah well! I’ll sign off here…


One Response to “Clichés, Drafts and Caroline Bird”

  1. Mrs Fiona Linday May 31, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    I went on Friday as a visitor by kind invitation of IdeasTap. Thanks for having me, I really enjoyed the workshop. Caroline was a generous tutor to us, you are correct. With all those fine examples of poems she brought along we had oodles to spark our writing.

    Can you please pass on my heartfelt thanks to all involved in the organisation of the tremendous inspirational workshop and to Caroline herself?
    Best, Fiona

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