Archive for December, 2008

A To Do List For 2009: Why, how, and what.

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

OK, as regular readers might have noticed, I am an obsessive list-maker. I make time for a Love List and a Link Love List every week, and New Year is my favourite time — it’s all about wishing and hoping, planning and dreaming, as Dusty would’ve said (or rather, mimed hideously!). I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently rubbishing this kind of thing, but forget it — I am a typical dreamy Pisces, and I need to organise myself well in advance. So I will still be making New Year’s Resolutions (though only ones I know I can keep!), and I’ll also be writing a 2009 To Do List.

Why should I write a To Do List for the whole year?

Well, everyone writes To Do Lists from time to time, no matter how well organised they are… usually when they have a lot on, and it’s important that they get everything done. Well, apply that kind of thinking to a whole year — how much stuff will you have to deal with between now and December 31st 2009? Surely it’s a good idea to have a bit of a plan before you start, in order to hit the ground running. You can never be too organised.
Also, a year might seem like a long time but as we all know, you get to Christmas every year and inevitably find yourself commenting on how it only seems like five minutes since it was January. This is why it’s not only important to write down all the achievements of the past year, but also to get ready for the next one, to make sure that the 365 fleeting days are well-spent. Here’s a fact for you: if you write down your goals, you are more likely to achieve them, so To Do Lists are NOT a waste of time. If there’s something you really want to achieve in the next 12 months, write it down now… it could make the difference between success and failure.

How should I do it?

Prioritise: Maybe you have some goals that you’re desperate to achieve — getting really good exam results, for example. Maybe there are others that aren’t so vital — you’d really like to get your poetry published in a certain place, for example, but if it doesn’t happen you won’t be totally devasted. And maybe you just have some odd little whims that you can take or leave but might try out at some point…
A good idea might be to write three separate lists, or divide your list into three ’sections’ according to your priorities. Don’t sweat the small stuff — but at the same time, don’t forget it either. Put the biggest want for 2009 at the very top of the list in big letters, and keep the airy whims for the end.

Be realistic: Don’t clutter up your To Do List with things that you know aren’t achieveable in the next year. If you start too big you’ll end up disappointed with yourself at the end of the year when you find you haven’t reached you goal — remember, as I said, a year isn’t as long as it seems! If you have a big goal like saving up for a house or writing and publishing an epic six-part novel, you might want to make a separate list for the next five years, ten years or whatever. You can also put slightly silly goals like “note to self: win the lottery” on a fantasy To Do List if you like… just keep them off the serious list!

Expand: If you have a goal but aren’t sure how you’re going to achieve it, you can turn your list into more of a plan. If your goal is to travel for six months, for example, you can note down the steps you think you’ll need to take to get there… “get job / open savings account / save up and stop buying notebooks obsessively (confession!) / book flights in advance” etc. A great big goal can seem a bit scary and unrealistic, but break it down into smaller steps and it will seem less intimidating and easier to achieve.

Share: You might not want to let other people in on your cunning plan for world domination, but showing your To Do List to someone else can make you more likely to get where you want to be. Proving to someone else that you can do it gives you added incentive, and having someone to talk to if the going gets rough is always useful. If you’re feeling shy, just show your best friend or a family member who won’t snigger at the fact that your ambition for the year is to become a professional Cliff Richard impersonator or whatever… or if you’re more confident, get thee to your blog, or better still, spread the To Do List idea around your friends. If they also draw one up you can compare notes and keep one another going!

Display: Once you’ve written your To Do List, don’t just stuff it in a drawer or squirrel it away in a dusty old file on your computer desktop. Put it somewhere you’ll see it often, and make sure you check back every so often to see how you’re doing. It may sound daft, but crossing another thing off your list brings a real sense of achievement, AND if you get to the end of the year with everything crossed off, how awesome is it going to feel?? If your To Do List is out in the open you can also update it as more ideas and ambitions hit you during the year… and this humble piece of paper will serve as a cool memento of the fabulous 12 months you’ve finally put behind you once you get to New Year 2010!

What should I put on my To Do List?

Anything you want. The important thing is that, if you think you can achieve it in a year, you should put it down, regardless of how daft it might seem. If you’re worried about other people thinking you’re nuts, you don’t have to show the list to anyone… and if you end up not achieving the big goal for the year, you can transfer it to next year’s list instead. Nothing is too small for the list, and nothing is too vague. “Finish reading the last Harry Potter” is just as acceptable as “Conquer Finnegan’s Wake,” and “be more confident,” might seem very general, but putting it down on paper is the first step towards getting it done.

Note! The To Do List you make for 2009 is there to be scribbled all over, torn to bits and stuck together again or chucked on the fire if you so wish. Don’t write it and then assume it’s set in stone. You can add things at a later date, remove things if you change your mind, and tear it up and start again in August if you find your priorities shifting massively. You’re not writing a personal Bible or anything, you’re just visualising goals, which is the first step on the road to achieving them. If, halfway down that road, those goals don’t seem as appealing anymore, no worries. The whole point of the To Do List is that it can — and probably should — evolve. Happy listing!

What’s on YOUR To Do List for 2009?

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This week’s Featured Poet: Josh Seigal

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

I first met this week’s Featured Poet at the London Poetry Festival, where I heard him read his distinctive mix of page and performance poetry — he’s since featured in Read This Magazine. He’s been published in a heap of places and I reckon he’s destined for great things. Here’s his bio, and one of his poems… more in a day or two!

Josh Seigal studies philosophy at University College London. He has had poetry published in several journals both in print and online, and regularly performs in and around London. He is currently working on a book of childrens’ poems to be illustrated by his grandfather, Michael Kitchener, and is obsessed with the music of Tom Waits.

Posh School

I went to a posh school.
We didn’t deface books
by scribbling cocks all over them,
we defaced books by putting
them in parentheses,
with a negation sign in front.

Want to see your poems featured here? Just drop a line — with three or more of your pieces included — to claire@onenightstanzas.com!

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In 2008, I…

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

So guys, if you’ve been following this blog with any kind of regularity, you’ll know that I am a HUGE believer in the power of positive thinking — and KARMA! I genuinely reckon that if you focus on the positives and make time to say thanks for the breaks the Universe hands you, you’ll not only be happier, you’ll automatically get more of those good breaks. Call me insane if you want, but this is the thinking behind my Things I Love Thursday posts… and here’s some “thanks, Universe”-thinking on the grand scale. This is basically my Things I Love 2008 list, so without further ado, here goes! IN 2008, I…

— Wrote a huge, spiralling dissertation on the early works of poet and personal guru Allen Ginsberg… which got a first!

— Became a tutor of English, Creative Writing and Drama, and had the priviledge of guiding nine smart, sweet and talented young people from bad grades to brilliance in the space of one academic term… I was so, so proud of them all.

— Won three writing prizes: The Grierson Verse Prize, The Sloan Prize for Writing in Lowland Scots Vernacular, and the Lewis Edwards Award for Poetry… totalling £1,900.

— Performed at my first ever poetry reading… in front of a room full of terrifying academics at the University of Edinburgh!

— Went on to do a huge tour of the Edinburgh poetry readings, appearing at Poetry at the Great Grog, Golden Hour (twice!), MeadowsFest, the Scottish Arts Club, Voxbox and the West Port Book Festival.

— Turned 22 and celebrated at my sister’s house in Newcastle (Italian food, pub, vintage stores, late night chattering), then went on holiday with The Boy to a tiny remote cottage on the plateau above Scarborough, cold, windy, wild and amazing.

— Kept my literary magazine running, celebrated the first six months with a huge and fabulous poetry reading

— Sat my final exams

— Started learning the art of poi!

— Spent a sweet long weekend in the Lake District with The Boy, exploring bookstores, drinking great beer, buying records and crazying about on open top buses.

— Attended a huge end-of-degree bash at which all my tutors got riotously drunk and several risked some serious impropriety! Hilarious!

— Graduated with Honours from my MA in English Literature… dress-buying, first haircut in seven years (!!), robe fittings, huge ceremony in the devastatingly grand McEwen Hall, photoshoot, afternoon tea at the Balmoral Hotel, sunset champagne on the beach = the. best. day. ever.

— Went to see the amazing Mr Eric Clapton at a one-off gig in the grounds of Harewood House… a beautiful balmy summer evening, The Boy and his lovely Dad at my side, a beer in my hand, and 200,000 other crazy fans all singing along… perfect.

— Spent a month living in Victoria, Canada with my Boy. I met the beautiful and talented Miriam Parker, swam in the Pacific Ocean, slept under the stars in a field full of elk, ate the most amazing food, drank loads of great beer, got tattooed for the first time (and started a lifelong love affair, I reckon!), read a huge stack of books, wrote some great poems, loved every minute.

— Went on an awesome road-trip / caravanning extravanagza with my poet besties… campfires, castles, hiking, lake-paddling, beer-drinking, marshmallow-toasting, song-writing, poem-writing, mixtape-making, open-top-bus-riding, up-late-staying loveliness.

— Won the William Sharpe Hunter Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing… worth £4600!

— Was Poet in Residence at the 4th Annual London Poetry Festival; read at and compered the event for a run of three nights.

– Made my first ever trip to London (really!); spent a long weekend there with my sister, being crazy on the Tube, bouncing on hotel beds, eating sandwiches and being mobbed by pigeons, exploring Leicester Square and falling in love with Camden Town.

— Enrolled (thanks to the scholarship!) on the University of Edinburgh’s MSc in Creative Writing.

— Set up my own blog (you’re reading it) with loads of support, brilliant submissions, great reviews and incredible reader-contributions. I love you guys so so much! Thank you!!

— Teamed up with gorgeous artist Lizzy Stewart for the “Two Heads” creative writing/illustration project… more info soon!

— Was interviewed by Jim! Hardest interview questions EVER, but worth it!

— Worked as a Poetry Terrorist for the opening week of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Scottish Poetry Gardens.

— Spent Halloween stalking the Newcastle suburbs dressed at Medusa, alongside Black Frost, Sweeney Todd and a very vampish Helena Bonham-Carter!

— Celebrated the first birthday of Read This in huge style with an amazing poetry-and-music bash and a special, beautiful anniversary issue!

— Watched on in joy and with huge pride (up until 6am, and so worth it!) to see Barack Obama elected as President of the United States.

— Watched on in further joy as the truly legendary Lewis Hamilton became the first black Formula 1 Champion, the youngest ever Formula 1 champion, and basically the luckiest ever Formula 1 champion… nail biting! (yep… closet motorsport geek!)

— Became Poetry Co-ordinator for forthcoming poetry-and-film festival “this collection.”

— Was employed as a Fiction Reader for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize… a stack of free books to read, and paid to do it? Hells yeah!

— Was offered a book deal by the lovely Kevin Cadwallender of Red Squirrel Press… and accepted! My first collection will be available soon! Eeee!

Publications in 2008: Pomegranate Issue 3 // The Journal // The Herald Newspaper // Poet’s Letter Magazine // The Delinquent Issue 5 // Dash Literary Journal Issue 1 // Snakeskin, May ‘08 // The 4th Annual London Poetry Festival website The Edinburgh Review 123 // Scottish Poetry Library Reading Room // Poetry News Summer ‘08 // Gloom Cupboard Issue 43 // Bottom of the World Issue One // Textualities // Bolts of Silk // BBC Radio Scotland: Days of our Lives // Poetry Scotland Issue 57 // Spark Bright Issue 1 // The Positivity Blog a handful of stones // The Scottish Poetry Library’s 20 Best Poems of 2008 Anthology

I seriously recommend that you make a huge long list of all the cool stuff you’ve done in the past year. It can be something as trivial as writing a poem you were really proud of or something as massive as winning the lottery. Everyone’s list is different but we all have things to celebrate and be thankful for… so try it! It’s seriously cathartic!
(and, of course, link back if you can. I am Little Miss Nosy!)

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Taking the plunge: sharing your work with others.

Monday, December 29th, 2008

“Hi Claire… Basically I have noticed that on Onenightstanzas you write a lot about people who want to publish their work in magazines [...] but I have only just started writing and I just want to know if it is OK first. Shall I show my poems to people? I don’t know which people to show them to and what to say.”
That’s a bit of an email I received the other day. And it’s a good question! Beginning to share your work with other people — even if those other people are just your very nearest and dearest — can be as terrifying a prospect as getting onstage at a poetry reading for the first time or sending off your first submission to a magazine. So if you’re feeling a little uneasy about the whole situation, I hope that the following may just help…

1. Be ready.
Yes, I know, this is ‘the number one piece of advice’ for everything (actually, no, the real number one is “read the submission guidlines”!), but it’s very important. Poetry is personal stuff, no matter how many alternate voices you employ, and if you’ve never even shared the fact that you’re a poet with anyone before, it’s a big deal. And you do have to be prepared for some potentially unpleasant stuff: there’s more to the phrase “I’m a poet” than three little words… it carries a lot of baggage with it. I’ve had people laugh in my face in response, or throw their hands up in shock, or tell me I’m an idiot. And that’s before you even show them any of your poetry! Make sure that, if people react this way, you’re ready to bounce back from it. The best way to deflect any kind of attack is to be cool, and to just point out that writing poetry is as worthwhile an activity as playing football or campaigning for charity or digging the garden. And anyone who reckons it’s “gay” or “emo” (standard responses from some young’uns!) doesn’t deserve any of your time.

2. Choose carefully who you share your work with.
Fair enough, you might feel ready to take on every poetry-basher in the world, but it’s still better if your first response is a good one. Therefore, pick someone who’s likely to be supportive and, more importantly, geniuinely interested. It doesn’t have to be someone particularly close to you — sometimes a former English teacher is a better bet than a best friend. If you guess wrongly and the person you approach is a skeptic or couldn’t give a monkeys, try elsewhere. Not everyone has a dismal opinion of poetry, I promise!

3. Voice your fears.
If you don’t want people to be too harsh when they first respond to your stuff, don’t be afraid to say “I feel a bit vulnerable.” If people know that your poetry is important, personal stuff, and that you’ve trusted them to see it in spite of the fact that you’re a bit wary, they’re more likely to be civil and hopefully even encouraging. Many people don’t realise quite how personal poems are to poets — I’ve heard a lot of people say that their poems are like their babies. While you don’t have to be quite this honest, putting things in context can be a good idea, so people don’t unwittingly steamroller your feelings!

4. Get an honest response.
Everyone is a reader, whether they read poetry regularly or not, and every reader is valuable on some level… so no matter who you get to look at your poetry, make sure you do listen to what they think (unless, as I say, all they think is “poetry is gay”). Sometimes, asking your mum or best friend might seem like the best option, since they’re less likely to be cruel, but they’re also unlikely to be honest with you either. Someone who’ll say “it’s OK but it could use some polish here and here” is infintely more useful than someone who’ll say “it’s all perfect.” And even an “I don’t know much about poetry but I liked the way you did X” is a useful response.

5. Ask for specifics.
Once you’ve got someone to agree to read your stuff over, you can try asking them some specific questions that will help you improve your work. There are questions that anyone — no matter what their knowledge of poetry — can answer, and often the answers will be more useful than grilling a poetry professor on iambic tetrameter might be. Ask “did you understand what was going on?” — that’s important. Sometimes, things can seem insanely clear in your own head but insanely confusing to anyone who’s not you. “Does it sound convincing?” is another good question, as is “did you get bored anywhere?” If you ask people to respond honestly then the answers may sting a bit, but this information is the stuff that makes your poems perfect, so take it on board.

6. Filter the feedback.
HOWEVER, you don’t have to take the advice you get, no matter who gives it — even if your favourite poet tells you to, you don’t necessarily have to take out that hard-wrought stanza. There’s a fine line between utilising constructive criticism to improve your work and just handing your poem over to someone else for them to pull to bits. Often, when you first get feedback on your poems, your immediate reaction will be HOW DARE YOU QUESTION MY GENIUS THIS STUFF IS PERFECT AS IT IS, but you have to learn to strike a balance. Retain the things you worked hard on, liked, and want to keep… be willing to sacrifice things that other people say they don’t understand, or which you don’t think really work. It takes time to get the balance right and it can be hard, but learning to take criticism — and to know what criticism to reject — is a really valuable skill, and the sooner you master it, the better your writing will become.

7. Keep writing.
No matter how careful you are, eventually, it will happen: you’ll show your poem to someone who’ll steamroller your self-esteem. Whether it’s a lecture on how poetry is a useless pasttime, or a harsh critique that rubbishes everything you always thought you were good at, eventually someone will burst your bubble. HOWEVER, when this happens, it is ESSENTIAL that you don’t allow it to stop you writing. There will always be people out there who hate your work, and who always will no matter what you do… it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time. So, as hard as it may seem, keep ploughing on — keep writing, and keep showing your poetry to other people. For every jerk there will be whole bunch of normal people who want to help and encourage you rather than flatten you. Keep seeking them out… and see the (often unwitting) jerks as an unfortunate part of the job-description.

If you’re really freaked out, you can always share your poetry with me. Drop me a line to claire@onenightstanzas.com — I’m always happy to hear from you!

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This week’s Featured Poet Wendy Kwok Interviewed

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

You’ve seen Wendy’s fantastic poems… now find out a bit more about her, her work, and her creative processes…

Tell us about your poems.
They have a funny way of saying everything I cannot. They are my feelings, the world through my eyes; they are a train of thought chased to the extent of my literary legs. But they are never as beautiful as the real world. They are only echoes.
I write them because it feels natural. Sometimes they are a good place to put the great weariness that comes with thinking too deeply about everything; sometimes they are nothing more than a glorified coping mechanism, a vessel in which I place my life so it can be examined from all angles. Sometimes they come about because everything I feel is threatening to spill over - whether that be joy or grief or peace or loneliness - but mostly I write because I love to.

How long have you been writing?
I have written ever since I knew how to; my family loves books and I have been surrounded by paper and ink my whole life, so writing is as natural to me as breathing. I was introduced rather unceremoniously to poetry by my English teacher when I was twelve, and ended up writing in grossly exaggerated rhyme that stole all the meaning from the words. I was rather put off as a result [though I did continue writing prose] and didn’t rediscover poetry until I turned sixteen and fell in love [what love I was capable of then, anyway] and the feelings had nowhere else to go.

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
I’ve been published in three volumes of my old high school’s yearly literary magazine, as well as Soul Disclosure; Poetic Expressions - a series of books representing the richness and diversity of the poetic form. I don’t really know where my work is going because writing is not a means to an end for me, but I would sincerely love to reach out to more people and maybe show them a little of myself; maybe even touch them and transfer across oceans and continents the sentiments I am surrounded by.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Learning how to critique and revise my own work, and learning to receive the critique of others with grace. It is hard to get perspective on your own writing sometimes because it is so close to you; sometimes it feels like an extension of yourself and it can sorely sting when your poems are read critically. But in order to improve as a writer you must be able to look at your words and see how they can be bettered.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
I can write the beauty in my life into words so I can share it with others, so I might touch something in somebody I may never meet. It is a place I can put all the weight of the world into, so I may walk lighter without losing mass. The worst is that I can never really express what I mean because words can only say so much.

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Live. Absorb as much as you can from life and live it well because poetry is above all a reflection of all that is human, and in order to write well you must be aware of the world and feel with every part of your heart. Be thin-skinned and susceptible to everything because that is how you get the most out of all that we have, and by extension your writing will benefit for it is a richness of spirit that makes poetry so wonderful.

Who/what influences your poetry?
It can be anything. A thought, the way light falls on the lawn, the morning, running taps, limbs, lace, frost, windows, electrocardiograms, apple juice, soap, pistachios, nocturnal whispers, ovine viscera, flight, birdsong, love, loss, longing… anything that makes me feel or think is likely to find itself somewhere in my writing. As for people - everyone I interact on whatever level will influence what I write, because I am quite porous to the emotions of others (and it is the things I feel that make me write.) I am also influenced by my favourite writers; Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Romantics, Doris Lessing, Seamus Heaney, Roald Dahl, Rainer Maria Rilke, Blake… but I am most inspired by the poets I know personally. I love them best of all, because they lift me up when I am low and I am able do the same for them; we are travelling this odyssey together, and I couldn’t have asked for better company.

Lost

fill me with words so i’ll
spill the essence of sea
onto the sun-spots skipping
in your eye, full of ghostly
flowers and spectral towers
tight with pretended words
awash in the underside of
waves dancing your doubt
for the fish to read.

you forgot we are mostly
water and we have learned
our translucency from wilder
climes. stranger times remind
me of moments i did not know
and suddenly the lee of cloud
lathers the sea so you no longer
show what i am to you

Want to be a Featured Poet? Just send at least three of your poems to claire@onenightstanzas.com. I am always happy to hear from you!

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Procrastination Station #18

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Hey guys, hope you all had a fabulous Christmas Day no matter what you were doing… here’s my (quite short, natch) linklovelist this week…

The Christmas Worldwide Flickr Group

The Top 10 Christmas Books

Want!: 2009 Poetry Calendar

Creative ideas to ring in the New Year

How to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions!

Quiz: night and darkness in literature. (I scored dismally!)

Awesome pics of London shopfronts.

Don’t eat too many turkey sandwiches!

(Photo by AlbinoFlea)

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More from this week’s Featured Poet Wendy Kwok

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

You met Wendy yesterday, and I’ll be posting an interview with her in the next couple of days, so you can find out some more about her. For now, here’s a Christmas poem she sent me… enjoy!

Blind Faith

The mass of Christ is in our mouths, we
are consuming him in our fire. We forget
the child found by stars inside us all; a little
drop of weekend wine made longer by
thought. We are weaker than wrapping for
the stronger something we can never
crucify with words; we can only grow,
spirit evergreen as trees, and follow the sky
wherever it may lead us.

(Photo by David_M.Aster)

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Things I Love Thursday #18: Christmas Day Special!

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! OK so as you can imagine, this is going to be a fairly short and sweet post, my apologies! Here we go with a very festive lovelist…

Beautiful frosty mornings running up to Christmas, waking up with Christmas carols on the radio and feeling excited!

The Boy being done with work and officially on Christmas holiday! I have been at the ‘rents house for nearly two weeks now and feel like I haven’t seen him in months… poor boy.

Christmas Eve. This year my poor sister was slaving away in Waterstones til 8.30pm (her new name is Bob Cratchitt, apparently), so my Dad and The Boy leapt in the car to drive down to Newcastle and whisk her away from the last-minute-shopping hideousness. My aunty Jude and her dog Mouse (yes, really) arrived from Kendal in the Lake District to spend the next few days, and of course my Mammie and I instantly cracked open the Martini! We basically sat in the living room chatting away and sipping cocktails in front of the fire (bliss) until Dad and Boy arrived back with my poor, bedraggled sister. We revived her with chocolate and settled down to watch Carols from Kings, then just before midnight we opened our Christmas Eve presents… small, silly joke presents, basically! We then snuck off to bed leaving a mince pie (home made by me!) for Santa (or, erm… for Mouse to steal in the night!)

Christmas Day: up early, turkey in oven. Fire lit in living room, because it’s baltic in there. Tea and toast with Scotch whisky marmelade (yum). Present-opening in pyjamas. More tea, Foxes biscuits (we always get a box of these from some wrinkly member of the family), then Martini / Lycheeni (vodka, white rum, cream of lychee) / Snowball / Pom Fizz (pomegranate juice, ginger ale, vodka) / Sherry / boring old wine, depending on your taste! We all get dressed up to the nines (like, really. Pictures soon!). Jude, Mammie and I do the dinner while Dad, Boy and Sister veg out… as usual. Dinner is massive and amazing (turkey + all the trimmings, plus meat-free delights for the veggies). “The Corset-Buster” pudding (chocolate shortcake case, coffee ice cream filling, butterscotch topping, made by me) very good but basically lethal. Much sitting around and trying not to move after dinner, + more cocktails. Very late tea of turkey sandwiches, Wallace and Gromit and Strictly Come Dancing. Much chattering, more cocktails, probably very late night. YAY.

Bondi… the bulldog in the pic above! How freaking cute is he?! I want to keep him!! More pictures here.

Honourable mentions: Huge cozy duvet // Hearing sleet-flakes against the window at night // Seeing my lil’ sister… even if only for three days :( // Christmas paper scattered all over the floor in a huge crazy rainbow nest (lots for the recycling!!) // Making exciting plans for 2009! // Making decisions about my forthcoming collection (eee!) // Long talks with my Mammie // Christmas lights in all the little Border towns // Peace and goodwill to all men!

(Photo by Heidi and Bondi)

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Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

This week’s Featured Poet: Wendy Kwok

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

I’ll let Wendy introduce herself!

“I’m nineteen and sometimes I fear this defines me; it is a cusp cradling everything that I know, telling me I am too young to know better. Sometimes I fancy I am growing out of my own skin because I am like a beanstalk shooting up to a place I do not understand, and I have been replanted half the world away from home and I fear I will never find a place to belong to. A lot of what I do is worry. I like to worry at my thoughts, at my fingernails, at the corners of books, at my bottom lip - I am the picky tactile sort and I don’t know what more to say about myself, because I am still not looking in the right places for myself and I am turning up bits and pieces under stones and broken bricks and finding a piece of myself there. I am not totally found, but I don’t think we ever will be. We are constantly looking for ourselves. But this is a biography and it is supposed to be about me, but my mind works in such a way that I go off on a tangent and forget where the circle was [not that divergent directions aren't valuable in themselves.] I am told I think too much and sometimes I believe it; but I can’t say I’m unhappy with that.”

You can see Wendy’s work at her deviantART site. Here’s one of her poems…

Puzzle

there is yearning
in the way light falls
on your face.

the parts of my heart
you have not touched
are grabbing onto wisps of
wistful wishing, handfuls

of dreams in heads
full of hoping, every word
a grain of millet
in unforgiving wind.

there are traces
where i have walked,
footprints and heartstrings
you will not remember and

i wish you would look at me
and see how i am leaving myself
everywhere

so you might pick up the pieces

Want to see YOUR poems featured here? Drop me an email, and include at least three — send it to claire@onenightstanzas.com, and I’ll do my best to get back to you about it as soon as I can!

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