In Response To…

Photo by Ricardo Cruz on Unsplash

I’m still working from home full-time and rarely going out. I’m not ready to start socialising in person or doing the tourist thing. So, when I recently took a week off work as holiday, I attended lots of on-line classes for creative writing and poetry. One of the common themes is to ask the delegates to respond to a piece of artwork in the form of a poem or short story. Here follows some of the prompts and my responses. All were written within the 5-6 minutes allocated in class. I think it’s a really fun exercise to do – to write without thinking about it too much, read it aloud and get immediate positive feedback.


MONDAY

The poem, ‘Richard’ by Carol Ann Duffy can be read in full by clicking here.

Grant me the carving of my name.

from ‘Richard’ by Carol Ann Duffy

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

This is my response to that poem.


Richard’s Third and Final Resting Place

Respect at last, gentle peace

you would not recognise this

City’s tribute. You’re home.


TUESDAY

The Heart of trees

by Jaume Plensa

This is my response to the sculpture (if you look closely, you can almost see the word, ‘Nicola’ on his body.)


Swept up under the carpet

a quiet protest

the weight on me to remain true

as he scars my name into his flesh

I am just, trust, a mast, ballast

strong like glue.


WEDNESDAY

Photo by Henry Lai on Unsplash

The brief was to write a short story in response to the prompt of an animal overcoming adversity.


I eventually found the hamster stuck in a pipe underneath the sink in the kitchen. How he managed to get out of his cage, I’ll never know. Well, I think I do know because the cat was crouching underneath a dining room chair, ready to pounce, and looked guilty as sin. I daren’t tell him off or I’ll get a scratch. Cats are the moodiest creatures I know – worse than any of my children – and I’ve got 3 teenagers.

You wouldn’t believe it, but there are actual YouTube videos on how to free trapped hamsters! I did it – eventually – by sawing the plastic pipe and pouring olive oil down the sides. It was the extra virgin stuff too. He plopped right out, bum first, into the breach.

Maybe I should have got one of the kids to film me doing it. I reckon it might have got a few hits.


THURSDAY

The brief was to write a haibun about a journey or place.

TERMINAL 5

Time is static, shocking, jerking me

I’m a tourist attraction in a glass cage.

Friendly, bored pods glide polite waltzes with lost teddy bears.

Waking up, smelling coffee just a sip or I won’t sleep.

overtired kids

it’s too late to go home now

air smells different.


It feels strange thinking about the time before, when we could travel freely. Maybe one day, I’ll be at the airport again. Is this living nostalgia? A yearning for a life we never appreciated at the time? Rites of passage missed? I feel like I’m thriving right now, so I hope that when we do start living normally again, some things will have changed for the better permanently.

My book of the week recommendation therefore combines the post-pandemic world and an airport. The brilliant ‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St John Mandel, which is soon to be released as a HBO tv series.

“The more you remember, the more you’ve lost.”



Be a lady

Be a gentleman

Be a human

5 thoughts on “In Response To…

  1. Station Eleven is a fine book. I reread it at the start of the pandemic when that sort of thing still seemed novel. Earth Abides too. My life long love of societal collapse novels may finally have passed. The real thing isn’t nearly as fun as the books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really enjoyed your short pieces. Sometimes the best writing comes when there are the harshest time restraints. Sounds like you had a good holiday, travelling creatively. I’m also not entirely back ‘out’ in the world yet and refuse to be pestered into socializing, when I don’t feel like it yet. Right now, I like your idea of spending a holiday on Zoom every day, joining writing workshops. Sounds like a very good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

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