Guest writer Carole Bone: “Poetry – Pain, Pleasure and the Pen”

In the late 1990s Carole Bone turned up in my daytime astrology class: red hair, big eyes, bright mind, very eager to learn, fast talker, very hard to keep her quiet. Irrepressible. A great student to teach.

Some ten years later, she began, tentatively, showing me her poems: it was obvious that she is a born writer.

I remember thinking  “She’ll be getting published before long.” Sure enough, in 2011 she won a national poetry prize of £1000 with her poem ‘Stardancing‘ and has continued to develop as a poet. Click HERE to read her first published poem. Her first collection should be appearing before too long! ( Carole – did you hear that…..?)

Carole has kindly agreed to be my first Guest writer of 2014. Here she talks about why poetry is such a special creative medium for her. The next post will feature two of Carole’s recent poems.

Carole says: I was first attracted to writing poetry because I found I could say things in a poem that were difficult to express in other forms of writing.

So much can be said within the creative space of a poem to create a unique piece of art that touches the human soul in a way no other form of writing can.  Poetry has this limitless, creative magic other forms of writing do not have because it is not bound by the usual constraints and structures of grammar, sentence and context.  It is therefore arguably the most creative form of writing.

Developing as a poet can be hard work and not as easy as you might think. The freedom of all this amazing creative space can be overwhelming rather than inspirational.

I am reminded of a quote by Gene Fowler – “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead”.   I think most writers would agree that sometimes it can indeed feel as though blood rather than sweat is shed finding just the right words for a poem.

Poetry: in the genes!!
Poetry: in the genes!!

Engaging in writing poetry stretches your abilities as you strive to master the art of showing readers a scene through imagery, creating something that comes alive in the reader’s mind.

The challenge is to grab the reader’s heart by appealing to their senses, using words and images that make them feel.  That the reader connects emotionally with characters and their plights is essential to generate the visceral response you seek. This is achieved by learning how to use language that evokes emotions without telling readers what they should be feeling, to “Show not tell”.

Words must be carefully selected; every single one must be necessary to the poem. The writer must also learn how to be economical with language. The meaning of each word in a poem must be weighed carefully; connotation can mean the difference between a poem with depth and a poem that feels flat.

Melody too, has a natural affinity with poetry.  Similarly, a well crafted poem flows in meter, rhythm and cadence. A musicality is present in both which can have a physical effect on the listener.

Inspiration can flourish from almost anything.  An intriguing word, a dream, an image, an experience – your own or someone else’s.The list is endless.  The subject can be anything from comic to tragic, fact to fantasy and everything in between.  The crafting of a poem as it comes to life, weaving words to create a scene or story, is ultimately highly satisfying.  It can even feel as if  the poem is growing, taking on a life of its own.

The opportunity to develop your skill as a poet is boundless but there is an aspect to writing that I found both unexpected and magical.  When I first started to write it was a very private experience, but when I finally shared my efforts I was amazed at how something I had written had perhaps made someone ponder for a moment, smile, shed a tear or simply just enjoy.

That truly is an indescribable pleasure: a gift well worth every drop of “blood” squeezed from the brow to the page….

Carole Bone
Carole Bone

To see Carole’s bio and her publications list, click

Carole Bone – Bio and Publications

Contact Carole at:

700 words copyright Carole Bone/Anne Whitaker /2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

These rules work for hang gliding, tennis, sex – oh, and writing….

I can see you.

The spray can of heavy duty industrial oven cleaner parked on the kitchen floor is a dead give away. Peel off those rubber gloves, stop pretending that your family will drop dead of food poisoning tonight if you don’t clean those charred meal residues insulating the inside of the oven right away. Follow me. Yes, just as I thought. The study door is ajar. I can see the laptop screen from here. Closer….yes, that’s it. Don’t die of embarrassment, it won’t help. A new document  is open on screen. A title?

(NB – provisional ) Of authorship and toads….

" Of authorship and toads...."

And ?  I suspected this. One paragraph indentation, and the word  “The”…...can that really be all ? Oh. There’s a new line.

“ F— this, I might as well be cleaning the oven!!!!”

I have two words to say to you. Pay attention, they really will help, I promise:

Natalie Goldberg.

A few months ago, I visited Glasgow Buddhist Centre in search of a meditation stool. Yes, you’ve guessed, I had an article which had to be in the post by 5pm. I was distracted from the article by the stool, then distracted from the stool by Natalie Goldberg. Her bookWild Mind : Living the Writer’s Life drew me like a lure. What a wonderful writer! What an inspiring book! Did the article get to the postbox? I’m not telling you.

Natalie Goldberg is an American writer  and creative writing teacher. She is sharp, witty, compassionate, lateral….and tough. She has bottom lines and is not afraid to state them. She has rules. My guess is, if you follow these rules on a regular basis, you’ll rarely be distracted by oven cleaning or any other form of housework ever again.

She is fanatical about writing practice. “ If you learn writing practice well, it is a good foundation for all other writing.” We need to do it as regularly as possible, she says.

“ When you sit down to write, whether it’s for ten minutes or an hour, once you begin, don’t stop. If an atom bomb drops at your feet eight minutes after you have begun and you were going to write for ten minutes, don’t budge. You’ll go out writing.”

In essence, writing practice is a technique for cracking open the confining grip of our conscious, rational mind – and flying free into the big blue sky of what Goldberg calls “ wild mind”.

Here, briefly, are Natalie’s rules:

(She also thinks they mostly work for hang gliding, tennis and sex.)

1. Keep your hand moving. If you stop your hand, you stop the creator’s flow and give the editor in you an opportunity to interrupt.

2. Lose control. Just say what you want no matter how inappropriate. Just go for it.

3. Be specific. Don’t write flower, write narcissus.

4. Don’t think. Stay with the first thing that flashes into your mind.

5. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar.

6. You are free to write the worst junk in America ( or in your case, could be anywhere in the world ! )

7. Go for the jugular. Whatever comes up, no matter how frightening or disturbing, write it down.

There you are. Begin writing practice today. Next step, buy Goldberg’s books on the writers’ craft. They are a wonderful investment. I’m doing well with my writing practice, by the way. I’ve bought two new notebooks. Still can’t decide which one to start….

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page