All 18 entries tagged Poetry Challenges

No other Warwick Blogs use the tag Poetry Challenges on entries | View entries tagged Poetry Challenges at Technorati | There are no images tagged Poetry Challenges on this blog

February 12, 2013

The Far Field by Theodore Roethke

The Far Field by Theodore Roethke

I dream of journeys repeatedly:
Of flying like a bat deep into a narrowing tunnel
Of driving alone, without luggage, out a long peninsula,
The road lined with snow-laden second growth,
A fine dry snow ticking the windshield,
Alternate snow and sleet, no on-coming traffic,
And no lights behind, in the blurred side-mirror,
The road changing from glazed tarface to a rubble of stone,
Ending at last in a hopeless sand-rut,
Where the car stalls,
Churning in a snowdrift
Until the headlights darken.


At the field's end, in the corner missed by the mower,
Where the turf drops off into a grass-hidden culvert,
Haunt of the cat-bird, nesting-place of the field-mouse,
Not too far away from the ever-changing flower-dump,
Among the tin cans, tires, rusted pipes, broken machinery, --
One learned of the eternal;
And in the shrunken face of a dead rat, eaten by rain and ground-beetles
(I found in lying among the rubble of an old coal bin)
And the tom-cat, caught near the pheasant-run,
Its entrails strewn over the half-grown flowers,
Blasted to death by the night watchman.

I suffered for young birds, for young rabbits caught in the mower,
My grief was not excessive.
For to come upon warblers in early May
Was to forget time and death:
How they filled the oriole's elm, a twittering restless cloud, all one morning,
And I watched and watched till my eyes blurred from the bird shapes, --
Cape May, Blackburnian, Cerulean, --
Moving, elusive as fish, fearless,
Hanging, bunched like young fruit, bending the end branches,
Still for a moment,
Then pitching away in half-flight,
Lighter than finches,
While the wrens bickered and sang in the half-green hedgerows,
And the flicker drummed from his dead tree in the chicken-yard.

-- Or to lie naked in sand,
In the silted shallows of a slow river,
Fingering a shell,
Once I was something like this, mindless,
Or perhaps with another mind, less peculiar;
Or to sink down to the hips in a mossy quagmire;
Or, with skinny knees, to sit astride a wet log,
I'll return again,
As a snake or a raucous bird,
Or, with luck, as a lion.

I learned not to fear infinity,
The far field, the windy cliffs of forever,
The dying of time in the white light of tomorrow,
The wheel turning away from itself,
The sprawl of the wave,
The on-coming water.

The river turns on itself,
The tree retreats into its own shadow.
I feel a weightless change, a moving forward
As of water quickening before a narrowing channel
When banks converge, and the wide river whitens;
Or when two rivers combine, the blue glacial torrent
And the yellowish-green from the mountainy upland, --
At first a swift rippling between rocks,
Then a long running over flat stones
Before descending to the alluvial plane,
To the clay banks, and the wild grapes hanging from the elmtrees.
The slightly trembling water
Dropping a fine yellow silt where the sun stays;
And the crabs bask near the edge,
The weedy edge, alive with small snakes and bloodsuckers, --
I have come to a still, but not a deep center,
A point outside the glittering current;
My eyes stare at the bottom of a river,
At the irregular stones, iridescent sandgrains,
My mind moves in more than one place,
In a country half-land, half-water.

I am renewed by death, thought of my death,
The dry scent of a dying garden in September,
The wind fanning the ash of a low fire.
What I love is near at hand,
Always, in earth and air.


The lost self changes,
Turning toward the sea,
A sea-shape turning around, --
An old man with his feet before the fire,
In robes of green, in garments of adieu.
A man faced with his own immensity
Wakes all the waves, all their loose wandering fire.
The murmur of the absolute, the why
Of being born falls on his naked ears.
His spirit moves like monumental wind
That gentles on a sunny blue plateau.
He is the end of things, the final man.

All finite things reveal infinitude:
The mountain with its singular bright shade
Like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow,
The after-light upon ice-burdened pines;
Odor of basswood on a mountain-slope,
A scent beloved of bees;
Silence of water above a sunken tree :
The pure serene of memory in one man, --
A ripple widening from a single stone
Winding around the waters of the world.

January 20, 2012

John Clare's 'The Mouse's Nest'

Harvest Mouse nest

I found a ball of grass among the hay
And proged it as I passed and went away
And when I looked I fancied something stirred
And turned again and hoped to catch the bird
When out an old mouse bolted in the wheat
With all her young ones hanging at her teats
She looked so odd and so grotesque to me
I ran and wondered what the thing could be
And pushed the knapweed bunches where I stood
When the mouse hurried from the crawling brood
The young ones squeaked and when I went away
She found her nest again among the hay.
The water o’er the pebbles scarce could run
And broad old cesspools glittered in the sun.

Seamus Heaney describes this poem as 'seven couplets wound up like clockwork and then set free to spin merrily through their foreclosed motions'.

John Clare

John Clare

October 25, 2011

'It Dives into the Burly Water'



That kingfisher jewelling upstream

seems to leave a streak of itself behind it

in the bright air. The trees

are all the better for its passing.

It’s not a mineral eater, though it looks it:

it doesn’t nip nicks out of the edges

of rainbows. – It dives

into the burly water, then, perched

on a Japanese bough, gulps

into its own incandescence

a wisp of minnow, a warrior stickleback.

- Or it vanishes into its burrow, resplendent

Samurai, returning home

to his stinking slum.

Norman MacCaig

April 05, 2011

The Xenotext Experiment of Christian Bök

Bacterium as poem
An Interview with Christian Bök [PDF]. Explanation of project Video 1, Video 2. More Videos.
"I have conceived of The Xenotext Experiment, a literary exercise that explores the aesthetic potential of genetics in the modern milieu, doing so in order to make literal the renowned aphorism of William S Burroughs, who declared “the word is now a virus.” In this experiment, I propose to address some of the sociological implications of biotechnology by manufacturing a “xenotext” – a beautiful, anomalous poem, whose “alien words” might subsist, like a harmless parasite, inside the cell of another life-form...."

I propose to encode a short verse into a sequence of DNA in order to implant it into a bacterium, after which I plan to document the progress of this experiment for publication. I also plan to make related artwork for subsequent exhibition.

I plan to compose my own text in such a way that, when translated into a gene and then integrated into the cell, the text nevertheless gets “expressed” by the organism, which, in response to this grafted, genetic sequence, begins to manufacture a viable, benign protein – a protein that, according to the original, chemical alphabet, is itself another text. I hope, in effect, to engineer a primitive bacterium so that it becomes not only a durable archive for storing a poem, but also a useable machine for writing a poem."

November 17, 2010

Only Two Weeks to Go Before an All–Powerful Hedgehog Exacts Regime Change on the Planet…

Writing about web page

Hedgehurst by Peter Blegvad from Enchantment by David Morley

You've been warned.

David Morley’s new poetry collection from Carcanet is Enchantment.

His website is right here

September 10, 2010

An Antidote to Anthologising: “Dove Release” Reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement

Where the thinking gets done

A number of writers have contacted me about the review of my poetry anthology in the TLS by the poet and jazz musician John Mole; and a number of younger poets and contributors to the anthology have had difficulty seeing the review owing to their not subscribing to the TLS. I was teaching an Arvon Foundation course at The Ted Hughes Centre at Lumb Bank last week and managed to see their subscription issue. I took a copy which appears verbatim somewhere below.

I want to make a comment. It’s interesting to contrast the friendly reception of this unassuming, agenda-free poetry anthology from a small press with the qualified receptions offered by reviewers to recent canon-trouncing anthologies of younger (and not-so-young) poets from the more powerful independent presses. George Ttoouli discusses this balance in Horizon Review here and goes on to contrast Dove Release with a number of anthologies, none of which Dove Release is competing with. It’s a warm and fascinating piece of writing but I don’t quite get why George Ttoouli believes, ‘It’s hard to discuss this book as an anthology, when so much is geared towards making readers focus on the poems.’ In my world - in my book - the focus on poetry is the whole point of an anthology. The model for my anthology, although I wasn’t slavish about it, was The Poet’s Tongue which, as Stephen Burt writes on The London Review of Books blog:

“The grandfather – or perhaps the generous uncle – of such anthologies may be the best of the lot: The Poet’s Tongue, edited by W.H. Auden and John Garrett, saw at least two printings in 1935, and at least one more in the 1940s…The poet and the schoolmaster put together a volume in which, the introduction says, poetry would appear not as ‘a tradition to be preserved and imitated’, but as ‘a human activity, independent of period and unconfined in subject’…It’s in two parts, paginated separately; part one has simpler language, and more narrative, as if intended for younger readers. But that division is almost the only clue that Auden and Garrett intended the book for schools. Selections arrive in alphabetical order by first line (an arrangement The Rattle Bag imitated), with authors’ names left out of the main text (they show up in the table of contents); humour and obsequy, fame and anonymity, prayer and limerick, show up unpredictably, side by side.” More succulent prose on anthologies from Stephen Burt here:

This is what George says in his discussion of recent anthologies in Horizon Review:

“Coming to a different beast entirely, Worple’s recently published Dove Release, chooses a distinct path through these various aspects of anthologising. Ostensibly gathered under the auspices of celebrating “a decade of writing at the University of Warwick”, there’s a celebration of new poets, some of whom, David Morley’s introduction tells us, are in their twenties. There are some established names, a refreshing addition to the range of new poets (listed alphabetically here to mimic the book’s “democratic” order): Jane Holland, Luke Kennard, Glyn Maxwell, Ruth Padel, George Szirtes; and various Warwick staff, including Peter Blegvad and David Morley, jostle with a host of unknowns, or barely-knowns. There’s a spate of Eric Gregory Award recipients: Zoë Brigley, James Brookes, Swithun Cooper, Luke Heeley, Liz Manuel, Michael McKimm and Jon Morley. But there’s an anti-celebrity approach; poets are not named as prize winners and biographical details are absent — even acknowledging where poems might have been published before is foregone in favour of stressing the selected poetry, above all.

“It’s hard, then, to discuss this book as an anthology, when so much is geared towards making readers focus on the poems, but Morley’s introduction is an oddball. He emphasises the specific university environment and the connections each poet has with a course I myself took in 2000, taught by David Morley, called The Practice of Poetry. The recent scientific underpinning of Morley’s approach to teaching poetry is also highlighted: “Meeting scientists, and seeing live science, presented our poets with ideas, characters, and designs. It also gave us new language: the terminology of science is gravid with metaphor and is constantly inventing new terms for describing the stuff of life and the structures and shapes of the universe.”

“Aware of how this might limit interest in the anthology, Morley points out that it “certainly isn’t” a book of science poems. The book’s jacket and blurb attempt to avoid easy pigeonholing, but ultimately this is held back by the context for the collection, which is a shame. The lack of pressure placed on the reader’s expectations is refreshing, the democratic structure doesn’t favour celebrity in any way and so, as a reader, I was primed to find something to enjoy — and there is plenty. But I would say that, I’m in it.”

Just so. And finally to John Mole’s piece for the TLS.

David Morley, editor


New Flights and Voices

184pp. Worple Press Paperback, £10

9788 1 905208 13 5

Purchase from

In his engaging introduction to this anthology mainly by young writers in their twenties with whom he and fellow tutors have worked together on the Practice of Poetry course at Warwick University, David Morley begins with a quotation from Kenneth Koch’s poems addressed “To My Twenties”. This was a time between the twenties and thirties, Koch writes, when “you were midmost / Most lustrous apparently strongest” and there is plenty of light and strength apparent in Dove Release. Plenty of variety, too, both in the poems themselves and the encounters which have inspired them.

Convinced that writing is an act of community and always in search of “open spaces for creative discovery”, Morley has encouraged his young writers to work not only in art galleries and nature reserves (he is himself a former ecologist) but also – and most rewardingly, it would appear – alongside research scientists in a spirit of mutual delight and respect. The scientists were “charmed and challenged” by the poets’ presence, and the poets energized by new language and material which find their way into work which, though sometimes overloaded with the excitement of fresh terminologies, is seldom less than technically accomplished. These terminologies are, as Morley points out, “gravid with metaphor” and thus ready to give birth to poems.

But Dove Release is not just the record of an experiment. The sixty poets, introduced alphabetically and without biographical notes, include several Gregory Award winners and a few of the tutors, among them Glyn Maxwell, Fiona Sampson and George Szirtes. Readers will find their own favourites, but of those which most successfully ingest scientific knowledge I’d pick Charlotte Jones’s “Cuttlefish”. Three scrupulously attentive poems by Emily Hasler compare favourably with the Elizabeth Bishop of “Sandpiper”, Luke Kennard wins a memorable simile prize for describing a friend’s “courteous smile like a weak / Line-break”, and Rebecca Fearnley’s “The Bipolar Bear” lives up to its clever title. In fact, there’s a lot of cleverness and fun, as might be expected from a project in which the poets and their tutors have evidently enjoyed working together.


Times Literary Supplement, 6th August 2010

August 11, 2010

Chat We Won't. Talk We Willl.

Writing about web page

How it sounds'Live Chat' with, me(!), David Morley, Thursday 12th August, 2pm-3:30pm via Warwick Live at The Knowledge Centre.

This week, I'll be hosting a live chat and answering your questions on poetry, art and science, creative writing and publishing.

I'll also give a number of “micro-workshops” and some quick techniques... to assist you in your writing. The Live Chat will take place on Thursday 12th August from 2pm – 3:30pm. Just visit this webpage on Thursday to join the chatroom and take part in the discussion. You’ll need to be an alumnus of Warwick to join in the chat though... Sorry if you're not.

July 15, 2010

Why Poets Die Young

Writing about web page

Caution: Writing Poetry May Be Hazardous to Your Health
by Mad Dog

Poets die younger than novelists, playwrights, and nonfiction writers. They’re also poorer, get beat up more often, and are really tired of seeing people roll their eyes when told how they earn their meager living.
Most people don’t take life expectancy into consideration when thinking about a career. Rare is the high school student who sits down with a guidance counselor and discusses the job availability, pay scale, potential for advancement, and average lifespan of investment brokers, doctors, and cowboys. After all, you know that if you choose to become a police officer, Navy SEAL, or elementary school teacher you’re taking your life in your hands, but who would think that if you become a writer, what you write can have an effect on how long you’ll be doing it?

  Well, it does. At least according to an article in the Journal of Death Studies (motto: “People are dying to get published in our magazine”). James Kaufman, a researcher from California State University who wrote the article, studied nearly 2,000 dead writers from the United States, China, Turkey and Eastern Europe and found that poets die younger than novelists, playwrights, and nonfiction writers. They’re also poorer, get beat up more often, and are really tired of seeing people roll their eyes when told how they earn their meager living. And you wonder why they write such depressing stuff.

  Kaufman’s not sure exactly why it is that poets die younger, but he has two theories. The first is that since they have a higher rate of mental illness, alcoholism, and drug addiction there are more suicides. I know, I was shocked too. The second is that poets start writing young, churning out twice as much of their lifetime output in their twenties as do novelists, so if they die at an early age they may already be known as a poet, while if a novelist dies young he or she may not have written anything of note yet. Is it any wonder Zen priests have adopted the new koan “If a great novelist dies before writing his masterpiece, will he make a sound?”

This is one of those instances when winning makes you a loser, much like taking first place in the International Mime Competition. 
  In spite of their propensity to die at a younger age, poets aren’t anywhere to be found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics list of the 10 Most Dangerous Jobs. Lumberjacks are at the top, followed by fishermen, pilots, and structural metal workers. Keep this in mind the next time you think about grabbing your rod and reel and hitting the Bassmasters circuit. Neither is poet on the list of the most stressful jobs, though prison guard, police officer, social worker, and teacher are. Hell, even dentists made that list and what do they have to be stressed about other than being careful not to let the occasional “Whoops!” slip out while they have a drill in your mouth?

  As writing goes, there are definitely more dangerous jobs than being a poet. Being a foreign journalist in Iraq immediately comes to mind, as does being an Academy Award-winning screenwriter. It’s true. According to a study a few years ago by some Canadian researchers who had more time on their hands than government oversight, screenwriters who win an Oscar live an average of 3.6 years less than those who are merely nominated. Winning additional awards cuts their life expectancy by another 22 percent. Go home with four statuettes and chances are you’ll die while being handed your next one. Talk about too much of a good thing.

Keep all this in mind the next time you get discouraged with work and romanticize about dropping out and becoming a poet. Consider a career as a novelist or playwright or nonfiction writer.
  This is one of those instances when winning makes you a loser, much like taking first place in the International Mime Competition. The interesting thing is that it’s just the opposite with actors. In a previous study, the same researchers found that when an actor wins an Academy Award he or she tends to live 3.9 years longer than those who were merely nominated and had to smile when their name wasn’t announced, trying desperately to imitate someone who actually believes that being nominated is the honor. Now that’s good acting, especially since inside they’re crying because the jerk who won will not only get paid more for their next film, but will outlive them. Of course they shouldn’t be upset. After all, it’s not as if having stalkers, not being able to have a quiet dinner out without being hounded for autographs, and seeing photographs of yourself at your sloppy early morning worst in People week after week isn’t enough of a reward.

  If you’re looking for a job that’s easier on you than lumberjack, fisherman, poet, or Academy Award-winning screenwriter, you might consider the list of the least stressful jobs as ranked by the Jobs Rated Almanac. At the top of the list are medical records technician, janitor, forklift operator, musical instrument repairer, and florist. You’ll notice writing jobs are nowhere in sight. I can only hope my insurance company’s actuary doesn’t notice this.

  Keep all this in mind the next time you get discouraged with work and romanticize about dropping out and becoming a poet. Consider a career as a novelist or playwright or nonfiction writer. Anything but a poet. And whatever you do, don’t aspire to be a poet who wins an Academy Award. Life is too short. Or it would be anyway.

©2004 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. They're like poetry only without the annoying rhyme.

Poor Chats

Poetry's Reasons

Writing about web page


David Morley presents the last podcast in our series of Poetry Challenges. This episode is called Poetry's Reasons and it's about how and why we write poems. See:

David challenges you with two small exercises that attempt to remind the writer how individual and strange our relationship with words and language is, and how a writer's personal reading, listening and writing are intimately linked within any poem.

To finish the series Prof Morley shares a poem that he has recently written, You Were Broken, listen to the podcast to hear him reading it.

You Were Broken

The amazed, massing shade
for the glacial valley, made
from a single araucaria
that smashed its way
by micrometers of birth-push
under five centuries of dusks
of carbon dioxide and rainfall
against its unrolled, harbouring roots;

and the roots took the rocks in their arms
and placed them, magically,
like stone children, about itself
as it unfolded its fabulous tale:
of the wood heart mourned to flint
by slow labour and loneliness,
by whatit could not reach, yet see
at distance, and of the sound of that sea,
and of the cruel brightness

of butterflies and grasses,
foreknowledge of their brevity,
of a heard stream, overhearing
prints of otters on its plane stones,
gold wagtails sprying over
the gravel and shallows of courtship;
of orange blames of gall-wasps, honey fungus,
the watch-turning of tree-creepers;
of blights of summer lightning,

of fire damage and that dark
year's mark worn secretly,
a ring, forged inside a ring;
then the winter's coronation closing
in a swaying crown of redwings,
cones, drab diagonals of pine-fall,
the lead winds hardening, and while
the stone children wept with rain
the great tree sheltered them.

David Morley

July 02, 2010

It's Time to Become a "Poetry Volcano

Writing about web page

David Morley presents the tenth Poetry Challenge called Volcano and Diamonds. This episode is "about youLanguage as steam becoming a kind of poetry volcano blasting out lots of rubbish but also a few diamonds". 

In this podcast I challenge you to a drastic exercise in deletion and discrimination. Click

June 26, 2010

Philip Pullman was Right about the Dust

Dark Matters

June 25, 2010

On Titles, Sequences and Collections

Writing about On Titles, Sequences and Collections from Warwick Challenges

magnetic-poetry.jpgDavid Morley presents the ninth podcast Poetry Challenge in which we explore titles, sequences and collections.

"The title is a door for the reader to open, or a little window through which they peer at the interior, an intrigue making them question whether they should enter or take part."

In this episode david gives you a very Twitterish Poetry Challenge - make up a one-word poem and then give it a title.

Don't be shy about sharing your responses to this poetry challenge here on the blog where others will be able to appreciate them.

June 18, 2010

Poetry from the Dark Side

Writing about web page

or Finger Counting in the Dark...

moonProfessor David Morley presents the eighth Poetry Challenge "in which we play, very seriously, with language. This episode is a two for the price of one podcast about writing poems using syllabics and subverting forms of poetry.

Prof Morley challenges you with an exercise in precise patterning and also to write a sequence of Dark Side Limericks, the kind of limericks Darth Vader might write between battles.

Don't be shy about sharing your responses to this poetry challenge here on the blog where others will be able to appreciate them.

June 14, 2010

Playing Tennis with the Nets Down

Writing about Playing Tennis with the Nets Down from Warwick Challenges

The view from Robert Frost

David Morley presents the seventh Poetry Challenge "in which we play with language and make it into toys and little machines called poems". This episode is about finding ways to create free verse without ignoring the fact that free verse is also a form of poetry.

DM challenges you to write two poems in free verse using repeated phrases to pattern your poem: "I wish that..." and "I curse you with...". Follow link above or below:

May 28, 2010

The Inner Truth of Tomatoes

Writing about web page

Neruda would have loved these

The Inner Truth of Tomatoes

Professor David Morley presents the fifth Poetry Challenge "in which we explore the wonderful word-world of poetry." This episode is about finding subjects for your poems. "It is what your poem is, not what your poem says, that makes it work. That also goes for subject matter. There is no subject off limits."

Prof Morley challenges you to "break out of the usual poetic subjects and make something new from something that is defiantly and wonderfully unpoetic". Click here to get started:

Pablo Neruda's poem in full:

Ode To Tomatoes by Pablo Neruda
The street
filled with tomatoes,
light is
its juice
through the streets.
In December,
the tomato
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
into living flesh,
a cool
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
its flag,
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
at the door,
it's time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

May 14, 2010

'Mirrors to Nature': New Poetry Podcast by David Morley

Writing about web page

David MorleyDavid Morley presents the third Poetry Challenge "in which we begin listening more clearly to the poet in ourselves." In this episode David asks "Where is the truth of the self? Is it located in the observer or the observed, or in the act of observation or the act of observing?".

Don't be shy about sharing your responses to this poetry challenge here on the Poetry Challenges blog where others will be able to appreciate them!

Click the link above...

April 25, 2010

Poetry Challenges

Writing about web page

Follow me on Twitter as a new series of podcasts is released about writing poetry.

Here's the article from the University of Warwick and the link:

In the last series of challenges we invited you to take part in Professor Ian Stewart's Monday Maths Challenge. This time we have something a little different for you all...

Starting on Friday 30 April we invite you to take part in the Friday Poetry Challenge from Professor David Morley.

Each Friday for the next 12 weeks we will set a new challenge in the form of a podcast workshop. Professor David Morley will explore the wonderful word-world of poetry, share some of his own poems and challenge you to find the poet within you.

The challenges will be published here on the Warwick Challenges blog and on the University Twitter account (@warwickuni). To be the first to hear about each new challenge, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to use the #warwickchallenges hashtag.

Don't be shy about sharing your responses to the poetry challenges here on the blog where others will be able to appreciate them and Professor Morley will make an appearance from time to time.

If you want a taster of what to expect, visit Professor David Morley's blog or try our previous series of Writing Challenges.

Favourite Web Worlds

Blog archive


Search this blog



RSS2.0 Atom
Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder