Sunday, 2 February 2014

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Poetry by Heart and the Heroic Crown

So, February, we meet again...

This month promises to be a bit of hectic one for me. I’ll be judging the applications for the next Fenland Poet Laureate Competition in a couple of weeks, and I’ll also be planning my next writing workshop with the Y8 and Y9 kids at the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech.

But before all that, I’ll be taking part in the third annual sonnet writing challenge with the 28 Sonnets Later writing collective. I’ll be working alongside three incredibly talented poets – Andy Bennett, Russell J Turner and Adam Warne – to write a collection of 28 brand new sonnets over the month of February.

As a collective, we first flexed our creative muscles back in 2012 when we challenged ourselves to write a collection of sonnets within a month. When that didn’t kill us, we thought we ought to try something a bit more challenging, so in 2013 we wrote a collective Sonnet Corona.

It was hard work, but actually really enjoyable too, and it was amazing to see how our work had improved in the space of a year.

This year, we’ll be embarking on the ultimate literary challenge: the Heroic Crown.

We’ll be taking it in turns to write a sonnet each day. The last line of the first poem will form the first line of the second poem, then the last line of the second poem will form the first line of the third poem, and so on and so on, in a sort of poetic daisy chain. We’ll be writing two Heroic Crowns, and each will be made up of fourteen sonnets, plus an über sonnet, which is made up of all the first lines from the previous fourteen poems, in order.

Are you still with me?

All the sonnets – including the über sonnets – have to conform to standard metre and rhyme scheme, whether that be Petrarchan, Shakespearian, Spenserian, or even Occitan! If you think this sounds like an insanely complicated challenge – then you might just be right!

Oh, did I mention that we only have twenty fours to complete each sonnet? Blimey!

You can keep up to date with our endeavours by checking out the 28Sonnets Later website, or by following us on twitter @28SonnetsLater

And if that was enough poetic fun, I’ll be heading down to St Ives this Friday to help judge the Cambridgeshire regional Poetry by Heart competition.

The competition encourages school kids aged 14-18 to learn and recite poetry from memory, while also gaining a broader understanding of the poems themselves. The project - supported by The Poetry Society - engages students to discover the pleasure of poetry, and the winners of the regional competition go on to perform in the National finals at the National Portrait Gallery in March 2014.

I'm really looking forward to this event, and the organisers have also asked me to perform a few of my own poems during the evening. Unfortunately, I don't know any of my own stuff off by heart - so I'll be letting the side down a bit there!

Poetry by Heart takes place at the Corn Exchange at St Ives (Cambridgeshire) on Friday 7th February. The show starts at 6:30pm, so if you're in the area, do come down and say hi!

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