The Duality of Love is another poem which I wrote a while ago now and I guess it kind of speaks for itself, especially given how short it is.
I wasn’t sure whether to put it up in my poetry section before, but I have just recently received news that a poetry collection I put together has won a prize in the Koestler Awards and they have picked The Duality of Love from the collection to include in their exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London.
The collection is called ‘The Road Home: A journey through love, loss, and a life-sentence’, and was dedicated to someone who gave me hope when I had forgotten the meaning of the word. A lot changed between me writing it and the Koestler results being announced, but it won a First Time Entrant Prize along with two of my other entries.
In addition, I am very pleased to say that, among my other entries, 3 were Commended, 2 were Highly Commended, 1 won a Bronze award, 2 won Silver awards, 3 won Gold awards, and 1 won a Platinum award. The Platinum award was Wakefield’s prison magazine, which was a group entry, and which I was very pleased to have the opportunity of taking the lead on designing since it was our tenth anniversary bumper edition.
I haven’t included an extract of The Duality of Love in this post because, well, an extract would be the entire poem! But if you would like to read the poem that Koestler will be including in their exhibition, you can view it here.
This year I set myself a challenge to start experimenting with poetry forms I have never tried to write in before. Well, this is the first Villanelle I have ever attempted and, if I’m honest, I hate the form. But it was good for me nevertheless. In the process of writing this one poem in a strict form I also produced three more poems which didn’t fit the form at all. If I hadn’t tried something harder I might never have stumbled across the magic beans that grew into three poems am really happy with.
And I’m not entirely displeased with the Villanelle I produced either – only the form itself. You can read the full poem here.
A couple of mouths ago I was thinking about everything I have lost and everything that has been taken from me over the past thirteen years, and over the last year or so in particular. But one thought did keep coming into my head. No matter what happens. No matter how much I lose. No matter how things turn out with one situation or another or with this person or that. The memories of the good times can never be taken unless I let myself forget them and obsess about the negatives in life instead.
Sure I’ve lost a lot that I care about. And I am bound to lose more still. But I’ll always have my memories of the good times, I’ll always be thankful for them, and it’s because of this that I will never lose my smile.
In the sixties TV series The Prisoner, Prisoner Number Six said these words during the title sequence. They are words which resonate with almost every prisoner around the world and they inspired me to write this poem, quoting the line in every couplet but turning it around into a positive affirmation of identity.
It’s a poem I like to read back to myself every so often (when I remember) to remind myself that nothing and no one can take away the freedom of my imagination and creative drive.
Recently I took the lead on editing a special tenth anniversary bumper edition of HMP Wakefield’s prison magazine The Signpost and, to mark the anniversary, we committed to emphasising the theme of ten.
One way we did this was to collaborate in the Creative Writing class on a set of ten poems, of ten lines each, where each line is written by a different prisoner. We called it Ten by Ten Poetry and Loss was my favourite of the poems we produced.
I very rarely plan to write poetry in a particular form. I usually just start and the form either finds itself or it all becomes a piece of free verse. That’s something I hope to change this year. I want to write in as many different forms as possible. To experiment. To see what I like.
Seasonal Revelations are a set of Haiku (or Haiku No Renga), based upon the biblical nature of the seasons and the year. I originally wrote them for a creative writing class at HMP Frankland and I must admit that I don’t like the form all that much, but they still hold meaning for me as each year blurs into the next and time leaves me behind.
It’s You is a poem I wrote years ago. I had just met The Woman with Eyes of Fire (see my story The Fire and the Sea for details) and was struggling to get my head around my feelings for her, especially given our situation. Then I read some poetry by Robert Burns and decided to start a poem from one of his lines and work into what I really wanted to say from there. I never gave this poem to her as such, but a couple of years after I wrote it she did happen to read it (along with most of my poems) when she got hold of my notebook. She didn’t have a clue it was about her until we got back in contact just last year.