Tuesday 28 November 2017

Writing Lives Together

By Jonathan Taylor

At last night's Leicester Shindig Open-mic Poetry Evening, the Centre for New Writing launched its new pamphlet, Writing Lives Together, an anthology of original poetry and prose inspired by nineteenth-century life writing.

This pamphlet grows out of a project called ‘Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian Biography,’ run by Dr. Felicity James and Dr. Julian North, who also hosted a major conference and edited a special issue of the journal Life Writing (June 2017). As part of this wider project, contemporary writers were commissioned to produce their own, creative responses to the research into nineteenth-century life writing. This pamphlet is the result. It features poetry and prose by Jo Dixon, Richard Byrt, Gregory Leadbetter, Alyson Morris, Anna Larner, Aysar Ghassan, Jonathan Taylor and Se├ín Body.

You can read more details about the pamphlet, which is free to order, as well as the Centre for New Writing's other publications here.

The Shindig launch last night included an introduction by Julian North and readings by some of the writers in the pamphlet. The evening also included wonderful readings by featured poets Julia Bird and Simon Turner, as well as lots of great open-mic poets. 

Here is one of the poems from the Writing Lives Together pamphlet, called "On Reflection," by Anna Larner:

On Reflection

If we were to meet again, I would say
sorry today, for then, when mad with love,
deranged with passion, all reason astray,
I cried “I love you!” Three words – not enough.

So I left flowers to wilt at your door,
composed mixed tapes, wrote odes, baked cakes, your name
on my lips, in my brain. “Be mine” I implored,
as I failed exams, missed deadlines, endured pain.

I lost sleep, got sick, felt weak, refused to 
see sense – still convinced that you could be mine.
And through it all, silent, wise and kind, you
knew the one answer for me would be time.

You were so gentle with your rejection.
Yes, I can see that now, on reflection.

"On Reflection" was inspired by Coleridge’s poem "To Asra" (1803) which speaks in passionate terms of overflowing, limitless love. The hyperbole of language and the exaggerated feeling expressed by Coleridge evoked a memory for me of experiencing that same consuming passion when I fell in love at university. I have used the rhythm of the iambic pentameter and the rhyme of the fourteen line structure of the English, Shakespearian sonnet employed by Coleridge.

- Anna Larner

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