Sunday Poem – Jill Abram

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Evening everybody.  I’ve been away again!  This time I’ve been staying in Hebden Bridge with my two lovely friends, David Tait and David Thom at the House of David and David.  On Saturday I ran a workshop for Leeds Writers Circle called ‘Starting To Publish’.  It’s my favourite workshop to run because I love sending submissions to poetry magazines, I love poetry magazines, and I like trying to pass this enthusiasm on.  I ran the workshop last year at Ledbury, and the lovely Hilary Hares, one of the participants, got in touch afterwards to say that she’d had a poem published after sending some out so I’m waiting with baited breath to see if any of the Leeds Writers follow it up and start submitting.  It was lovely to see some old friends as well – the rather wonderful David Agnew, Peter White and Ian Harker, who I haven’t seen for a while – and what a wonderful thing Leeds Writers Circle have going – long may it continue – they have regular workshops for members, manuscript evenings and a competition – definately worth looking up if you are in the Leeds area.

I’m running the workshop again for Lancaster Spotlight soon – see the ‘Readings and Workshops’ tab for more details!

I’m now safely back in Barrow and starting to think that I’m getting far too used to going around the country visiting friends – my jobs this week will be: finishing the poem for Manon Ceridwen’s wedding  which is this Saturday(!), reading at the Penning Perfumes event at the Kraak Space in Manchester on Wednesday – Martin Kratz has kindly agreed to meet me at the train station so I don’t even have to worry about working out where the venue is.  Next Monday, I’m running a poetry workshop on Swan Lake for a Year 4 class in a Carlisle school – so tomorrow, I’ll be planning that with a sense of urgency and slight panic.

When I checked the blog stats this morning in my usual self-obsessed way, I noticed that there are lots of hits on Andrew Forster’s poem ‘Damselflies’.  In my usually sharp, quick-witted way, I have attributed this to the fact that not only is it a wonderful poem, but it is also one of the poems that has been plagiarised by Christian Ward.  Helen Mort and Tim Dooley have also had their poems plagiarised as well as an American writer called Paisley Rekdal.

I’ve been in contact with Andrew to check he doesn’t mind me blogging about this – I felt that I had to say something because of the interest and traffic to the site because of it.  Andrew has said that he would like to deal with it quietly and through his publisher and that he has received a full apology from Christian Ward and a full acknowledgement.

I felt it was fair to warn Andrew that he might have got it from this blog – however Andrew’s poem has appeared online elsewhere, as well as in his collection ‘Territory’ so there are numerous sources which it seems pointless to speculate about.  It was strange that when I was notified by an acquaintance about this, I felt very upset – almost culpable, because the poem appeared here – I also know this is illogical.

Someone has posted the link to the plagiarised version of the poem underneath Andrew’s poem – Who ever posted the link has also suggested that I should feel angry – I don’t, really.  I feel protective of Andrew, who I know is a very private person who will not enjoy the attention this will bring, and I still feel sorry for CW – despite his ill-advised comments, despite his serial plagiarising.  He has harmed himself much more than anyone else, and I don’t really want to add to any of that.  I’ve had some bad experiences, like everybody else, but feeling as happy as I do now, I can’t imagine anything more awful than having most of the poetry world pissed off with me…

On to more happier subjects – I stayed with Jill Abram last week and she showed me some of her poems (well lots of them actually) and I’ve decided to give you two poems for the price of one because they are small poems, and because they are both acts of homage in different ways to other artists, which seems relevant to what I’ve just been discussing, and because I’m a slacker and didn’t post one last week!

One is a poem about Hugh Masekela, who is one of my favourite trumpet players, and the other is an example of how poets can use other poems in a positive way.  Jill has taken the spirit and scaffolding of the famous William Carlos Williams ‘Plums’ poem and written her own response to it.  This poem made me laugh out loud when I read it – and the Hugh Masekela poem is touching in its simplicity, and I think manages to sum up a whole personality in just a few words.

Jill is the Director of ‘Malika’s Poetry Kitchen’ in London which is a writer’s collective founded in 2001 by Malika Booker which emphasises craft, community and development.  She won the inaugral PoetryPulse.com competition and is the Wham Bam Poetry Slam champion and was a semi-finalist in the Ledbury Poetry Festival Slam thi syear.  She has been published in the Loose Muse anthologies, Ariadne’s Thread and at http://greatbritishbardoff.blogspot.co.uk.  She has recently been collaborating with musician Julian Bardock and they have plans in the pipeline for further performances together at festivals.  She is originally from Manchester, but now lives in Brixton and is a regular on the Spoken word scene since 2008.

Brief Encounter – Jill Abram

Hugh Masakela hugged me
backstage at the Barbican.

I’d held out my hand
for a short shake

but he opened his arms
inviting an embrace.

This is just to say – Jill Abram

I found your poem
most amusing
and so I laughed;

I did not realise
it was meant to be
moving – a deep

emotional and spiritual
experience which you
actually lived through.

Forgive me
but it was
very funny.

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5 responses »

  1. I agree about your assessment of the CW thing. Although I would no doubt feel disgusted if my work were plagiarised, I don’t like social media seems to amplify everything and to make it so easy for people to say unnecessarily terrible things about the culprit. Not that I think he should have got off scot free, far from it. But from much of the coverage of the incident, you’d almost think he was the only plagiarist in the history of poetry, and I find that really bizarre. I feel sorry for him too, and concerned for his mental state, if you know what I mean.

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