The Song it Sings
You are the conductor to my orchestra of pain,
Each note, each sound, created just for me.
It’s catchy, it’s deafening, it gets all caught up in my head
Until I couldn’t possibly hear anything else.
Even if I wanted to.
Slowly insidious lyrics start to creep in,
Telling me what everyone thinks of me,
And what I think of myself.
Telling me what I should do about it,
And that even if I don’t listen now,
There’s always the next stanza for that.
Tortured bows screeching across strings taken from my heart,
Pitiful cries echoing in the emptiness of my chest,
Sometimes squeezing out from my paralysed throat.
There’s no hope here, no way to hush the musicians,
Not while the conductor drives them on.
And what match am I for him?
Listen to the words they sing, I’m no match at all.
Timeless music robs me of time itself,
There is no past, no future, only the aching present.
It doesn’t matter that the last verse ended,
Because this one never will.
You let the music build to a crescendo, then drop your arms,
Slowly drifting to silence, but the song plays on and on.
And no-one hears it but me.
Exciting News & PoetsIN
Long time no post. I’ve been absolutely slammed but while I have a minute or two, I thought I’d check in and let you know what I’ve been up to and let you all know about some exciting opportunities.
Some of you will remember the Letters from Prison Portal here, where Paul and I would visit prison, teach writing workshops, and post their pieces here. This is where PoetsIN was born. Paul and I realised that writing was a form of therapy and the prisoners were reporting astounding results.
After parting ways with Prose, we tailored our groups further with an emphasis on rehabilitation, mental illness, and suicide prevention. We began to measure the outcomes of each session, and over a set period of time had evidence that what we do worked with 99% of the service users. To put this into perspective, CBT in the UK via the NHS works in 48% of the cases they work with. If CBT doesn’t work, the service user is given no other therapy. Talking therapy such as counselling is no longer provided on the NHS because that was only successful 29% of the time, which is way below the threshold of success the NHS will work with.
With our 99% success rate we went to the UK Charity Commission. Wrote our governing document, recruited 5 trustees, filled in a ridiculously long application form to register as a charity, and submitted it. Then we waited.
Whilst we sat thinking of all the things we could’ve included in our application but didn’t, and worrying about all the things we may have done wrong, we carried on with our groups. Expanding them and trialling new techniques and measures of capturing data to ensure maximum impact. We got such good feedback from the prison directors that we were offered a grant from a trust for $50k - before we were even a charity - which is unheard of. Visit www.poetsin.com/testimonials to see what people have been saying about what we do.
Four months passed and we finally received our answer. We’d done it! We were a charity.
Since then we have won three awards. We were named Mental Health Heroes 2017 alongside Talia Bennington, Mental health workshop provider of the year 2018, and Nonprofit of the Year 2018. We have also employed some faces you may recognise. The lovely Karen, who used to design Prose images, the badass Lish, and we’ve just hired a wonderful fundraiser, Pippa. MilesNowhere and Amanda Cary have also joined the family and have been vital to PoetsIN, and my own personal sanity.
We are now a week away from launching online writing therapy groups that people can access from wherever they’re located, along with in-community groups external to prisons across certain parts of the UK to begin with.
We also have a growing Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/poetsin) that is full of old faces from here and new faces from beyond, along with a website that has mental health and writing blogs galore.
We’ve opened our own publishing company, PoetsIN Publishing, that offers the best royalties EVER and any royalties taken by PoetsIN Publishing are all ploughed back into the charity to reach more people who need our help. The best thing about the publishing company is that we want to publish poetry. Many traditional publishers don’t. We do. We are publishing print and eBooks, and have already accepted submissions that will be released this year.
We have a current challenge running for an anthology. Our first anthology open submission call was a huge success and will be published within the next month - we’re just putting the final touches to it. The current submission call is on the topic of addiction, and you are all more than welcome to submit! The more the merrier. Visit this link to submit https://buff.ly/2EdHxwe
Those of you in the UK should come down to our huge all day fundraising event in Camden, London 28th July. It is being held at the iconic Nambucca venue that has housed Oasis, Blur, and many more. We have a full day of amazing lineups from spoken word poets, comedians, and acoustic and indie music. All acts are donating their talents and time to us for free along with many companies who have donated prizes that we will raffle and auction off at the event. We also have a Skydive coming up in September, more details about that can be found on our social networks.
There have been people that doubted Paul and I - along with our mission - but our determination, skills, and experience have served us well, built our confidence, and given a much-needed lifeline to those that truly needed keeping safe.
Setting up a charity is far harder than setting up a business, and if we can do that, you guys can do anything. One word, one poem, one story at a time.
Paul and I both hope you’ll join us elsewhere on the interwebs but in the meantime, write on!
#PoetsIN #PoetsINPrison #Charity #NPO #Publishing #WritingContests #GetPublished #Poetry #InsideOut
How’s the Weather?
Came in like a lamb -
this month number three,
sunshine and mildness
Though Spring 'round the corner
finds snow at the thaw;
this folklore might cause some
conclusions to draw.
Some fond little voices
(the adage-ing kind)
say that's only half
of this "weather remind".
(if) "In like a lion"
brings "out like a lamb"
then current mild weather
flips month end to jamb
a roaring out-going
to balance today.
Things could get exciting.
What do you say?
Spelling Question - Just ‘Bee’ cause
Until this morning, I thought 'vilify' had two ll's.
Which started me pondering...how important is correct spelling when it comes to writing?
I've seen a meme come across my FB feed once or twice where some of the vowels/consonants are replaced with other letters. The picture, if you can read and understand it, makes the point that our brains can identify words correctly (and thus be able to communicate adequately) even when some of the letters are different than the standard dictionary spelling.
--Does it bother YOU when you see misspelled words in things you read?
--Is correct spelling only important in some contexts and not others?
--Do you try to improve your spelling abilities?
--How does it make you feel when someone corrects your writing (hopefully charitably)?
These letters that we mix around
to fashion words which foster sound?
Well-ordered need or merely close?
Which leads to understanding most?
Do you get miffed when (more or less)
mistakes abound? Does grammar stress
arrive, until you feel compelled
to correct those who have misspelled?
Your thoughts I'll not treat spurious.
Please share below. I'm curious.
The Cyclical Cynic (Petrarchan Sonnet)
Aloud and full commanding came the plea
to right the wrongs which passing days allowed,
and any who would not attend the crowd
deemed obstinate, with fervent pitch decree.
To change would serve ill omen, to the free.
To stay the same must never be allowed!
So rough and deep division lines get plowed
(obscuring path of compromise to see).
What then will come if one or other crowned
as victor? Methods meant to halt the kill?
Will heaven look with favor on the deed?
Or might, despite some best attempts to drown
out sorrow’s pool (of which we’ve had our fill)
the curse continue, while the blameless bleed?
My Word Is ...
Ashes to Ashes
to mark away the
fears and jeers of
all we fail to be.
Instead to see
to glory Him
Path lays joined;
living what was
made to be at
No pawn, but
child of God.
Prod of conscience,
for greater than
what earth lays bare.
Dare, in dying,
yet to live;
give away your
gifts as they were
the light of
See the tentacles, a web of silver silk spreading
Knitting a corn field to reeds and seaweeds
Tall, haggard, and dead cornstalks compete
With tall grass reptiles for the same alluvium
That takes hundreds of years to yield substance
But lo, the earth turns at midnight tonight
The hubbub, a signal to indicate the arrival
Of the hundredth billion mark since onset of stars
There’ll be groans as those silver silks are severed
Groans as the hour forces fossils in fusion
Groans rising from a cavalcade already half-dead
Long frilled pantalettes and leghorn hats
Chasing broomsticks into a midnight gloom
The dark without ever a bloom of light
This is the plight of our stars, a tilt to trounce
The illusion of the past, the future, and the now
All will arrive at midnight torn, but there’s no fear
Tomorrow will fold within the waves of space
And all will arrive at midnight in peace or pieces
Freckle faced and not so slim, the red-headed teen sauntered to his tormenter. Gun drawn.
If every thorn was meant to hurt, no rose would bring joy.