Poetry and NYC Midnight

We’re almost halfway through June. How did that happen?

The month kicked off with a poetry at the Button Warehouse. (Normally hosted by Joy Winkler but covered this month by John Lindley). Angela Topping was guest poet, and gave fantastic readings at the start of each half from her various collections. Then the evening was turned over to the open mic, and I ended up closing the evening out with ‘Legs Eleven’ from my collection ‘It’s All In The Blood’. This was probably my favourite performance of the year so far as the atmosphere was fantastic, I made it through the poem without stumbling, and even sold a copy of my book. 

 The following evening I was one of the featured readers on the Shrewsbury Poetry zoom. Ten whole minutes to read poems and give a bit of detail on what the collection was about, and how it came into being. The chaos of 2020 and 2021 resulted in the book not seeing the light of day as much as I would have liked, so I’ve been trying to make up for lost opportunities.

While not technically a June achievement, as it fell into the last ten minutes of May, I managed to get the reworked version of my short story sent off to the Bridport Prize. What was originally a 1,500 words piece of fiction now closes off at almost 5,000. With ten minutes to go before the deadline struck, I had to sacrifice some of the edits I wanted to make in order to actually have something submitted. As with all the competitions I enter, I’m not holding out much hope of placing, but I feel as if I get a lot out of entering. Who knows, I didn’t think I would do very well in the London Independent Story Prize and my entry was a Selected Finalist. As many of my writing friends like to remind me, there’s a slim chance of winning whatever you enter, but no chance if you don’t send anything off. Write, edit, submit, and eventually something should stick. 

On the poetry submissions front, I’ve finally heard back on the last of my outstanding 2021 submissions. It was another rejection to add to the pile, but on the bright side, I can now mark last year’s spreadsheet as closed. June also appears to be the month of reading windows for poetry journals so I’m busy putting together a set of submissions to go out before the 30th. The biggest of those will be the manuscript for ‘Stone Tongued’ which I’m planning on sending to Fawn Press. Currently I have six poems out for consideration, with two different journals, so I’m in a good position to redraft my rejected pieces and get some new bits sent out. Friday was a relatively productive day when it came to reworking those poems that have bounced back to me time and time again. Eventually they will find homes, but until then I will keep working on them. 

Those poems might have to wait until tomorrow though, as this weekend it is the first challenge, in the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest! I’ve entered this particular challenge a few times. One year I places quite well in the first challenge, only to flop dramatically in the second. Another year I wrote my story for the first challenge, realised the location was wrong and it would get kicked for not following the prompt, and had to hammer out a second with a few hours to go. The second story got some really mixed feedback from the judges, and the first (which didn’t get sent off due to the location issue) ended up being my entry to the London Independent Story Prize. (So as I mentioned, there is more to entering competitions that just the competitions themselves.) 

This time around I’ve been given the genre, fairy-tale, the location of river rapids, and the item that must be included in the story is a scooter. Those first two I can work with, they even sort of make sense when mushed together in a 1,000 word story, but why? Why, oh why you cruel writing gods? Did you put scooter as the object?

I think I’ve made it work. I think… Either way, I now have a piece of flash fiction that’s just over a 1,000 words and I’ve got the rest of today to edit it into shape. (If you were wondering what task I’m using this blog post as procrastination for, then you’ve finally found it.)

I’m also in need of a title for my story, and I’m probably going to aim for something relatively fairy-tale-esq in case I end up getting the same feedback as I did on the last fairy-tale I tried to write. “Not quite fairy-tale enough”. 

*Grumbles quietly*. 

So before I wile away the remaining hours of my Sunday, moaning about not quite hitting the writing mark, I’m going to hit post on this blog, and go edit my story. Until the next time I want to avoid writing, I wish you all the best with whatever projects you have on this weekend. May the words flow, and someone else put the kettle on for you! Happy writing. 

Static Begins A Storm – #Poem By Carol J Forrester

This trail of fingerprints is simply browsing.
Palm pressed to the hollow of your spine
before you step out of the moment,
leave this touch behind you in that second
where electric ran your length
and cracked between your ribs
as something begins burning. 

I’ve combined by love of sketching and poetry to make some poem postcards for ‘The Muse Spits Blood’. They turned out rather nicely, so I think I might have to make some more postcards for the other quadrilles I have written over the past few years.

Speak No Evil – A #Poem By Carol J Forrester

Temper your tongue with candyfloss static.

Electric
the bite is enough to ward off words,
stop them before the starting gates
in the narrow space 
between crowded molars. 

Use teeth to smile
around calorie free pleasantries. 

Taste patience becoming poison.
Every syllable sharp.
Bitter.  

I’ve started recoding some of my poems and posting them to Tick-Tock. (@caroljforrester) Short and sweet work best, so I’m looking to a lot of my quadrilles as a starting point, and trying very hard not to self-sabotage with worries over how awful I feel I sound in recordings.

#NaPoWriMo2022 – Day Twenty-Six

My Body Is Like An Envelope

I have the watermarks
from when you steamed my secrets
loose from my skin. 
Boiling,
I felt every inch of you tremble,
kettle-like,
mouth a tight scream of a spout
shrilling for attention,
for answers. 
You left me unstuck, 
spilling words addressed to someone else. 
No one held your tongue accountable,
only mine,
here
see where I taped down the tears
the places that no longer seal. 

Perhaps surprisingly, I always find the harder prompts to be the ones where I’ve done something similar before. I have a poem ready to send out for submission that works an extended simile/metaphor of a shipwreck throughout the whole piece. It can be easy to almost write the same poem again if it fits to the prompt, and I had to go off for a little think before I found a way to work around the old poem still lurking in my head.

#NaPoWriMo2022 – Day Fifteen

I Could Not Care Less About The Light Switch - NaPoWriMo Day Fifteen Prompt

intermediate, mediate, or whatever,
I do not need its technical portrait 
imprinted on my retinas.
As if you scored those wires on my eyelids
instead of crumpled fists of paper
our bedroom littered, yes, yes, our bedroom
where I am so desperate to be sleeping,
duvet to forehead, clawed over the ears,
this unbidden seminar of light switch electronics
threatening to blow a fuse in our marriage--
I DO NOT CARE!
I do not need to know why 
the switches won't match when the lights are out.
And we have tried every combination
every puzzle box of on and off
to make them fall in to a uniformed march. 
It was never a why question, but a general annoyance
of a thing seeming out of place,
like unmatched salt and pepper pots!
Not purposeful, but one being oh-so-slightly shorter?
Thinner? More rounded on the corners?
Not a, "this is salt, and this is pepper difference"
just difference you can't quite pin down
or turn off,
like the bloody light switches 
you won't stop explaining,
or drawing 
at two a.m. 
when I mistakenly say 
'I'm still not getting it?'
Which I admit was really my fault
so I'll take the next round of circuitry analysis in stride
but gods above, will someone smite me,
and while you're at it, 
hit the lights.