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

Cease The Day

Photo by Michał Bielejewski on Unsplash

You know the failure to prepare is to prepare to fail saying? Well, I prepared my socks off to read my poem online at an event. I rehearsed it, recorded it and pinned up print-outs in large font, in case I forgot the words. Half-way through reading out my poem, the doorbell in my house rang. It’s an extra-loud doorbell so I can hear it when I’m in my office. I remembered what my old drama teachers said. I acknowledged the interruption, then simply carried on. Apparently it was someone asking if we wanted double glazing. We already have double glazing in this rented house. Ah well.

Today has been a good week for my writing, quite possibly the most productive week I’ve ever had. I could really do this writing gig full time (if I had a private income).

  • I agreed edits and signed a contract for one of my short stories to be published in a lit mag later on in the month.
  • I read the critical feedback, then amended and submitted a story for publication in an anthology in September.
  • I wrote the beginning of a short story for a class I’m taking online, and then read it out in class.
  • I read my poem out in a zoom. Hopefully, it’ll make it into their anthology.
  • I submitted a bio, photograph and recording of myself reading out a poem for an event and anthology in Glasgow in November. That’s a big one. Internationally big.
  • Oh, and this was released……

The People’s Poem. Written and performed by residents of Leicester, which incidentally, was the most locked-down city in Britain. Inspired by The Leicester News’, ‘We’ve Missed You’ campaign.

Yup. That’s me folks. The one at the beginning with the moonface. Honestly, this project was so much fun to do. I loved every minute!


So, I was thinking about taking a short break from this blog for a bit. I will still maintain the diary of what I’ve been up to aka Neverthless She Persisted. I’d like to see this hiatus as a natural summer holiday pause or end of season one.

You can find me on Twitter @nicolawitters (Sometimes I remember what a man once said to me. “Is Witters your maiden name?” He clearly didn’t know me or how long I can babble on for !)

Thank you for all of your support so far. xx


My new boots.

I’m delighted that HAIKU SALUT, one of my favourite electronic bands has a new album coming out.

The Hill, The Light, The Ghost is out at the end of August. Here’s their new video to tide you over while you’re waiting, during these lazy, languid, long summer days, or washout, humid, hayfever-ish, thundery ones.*

*delete as applicable

For One Night Only

I’m reading one of my lockdown poems online in a Zoom session in a couple of weeks. I have so many versions of me practicing reading it out aloud on my iphone so far….. Learning lines is hard.

It’s an event from Liquid Amber Press, who are an Australian publisher of poetry.

If you would like to be there (virtually), please click here for a free ticket!

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

As has become usual at the end of a post, here is one of my favourite songs. It should have been Glastonbury sometime around now, but, you know, things happen. I was at this Glastonbury in 1999, and actually watched REM sing ‘Losing My Religion’, although this video is a better view than what I had!