Little PC Update

Small Update on Podcast. I haven’t forgotten about all you lovely writers! I’ve had a family bereavement and a lot of stuff that’s come alongside it, there have been podcasts recorded and they will likely be released more sporadically, like one every few weeks.

NaPoWriMo – Day 19

And now for our (optional) prompt! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an abecedarian poem – a poem in which the word choice follows the words/order of the alphabet. You could write a very strict abecedarian poem, in which there are twenty-six words in alphabetical order, or you could write one in which each line begins with a word that follows the order of the alphabet. This is a prompt that lends itself well to a certain playfulness. Need some examples? Try this poemby Jessica Greenbaum, this one by Howard Nemerov or this one by John Bosworth.


Above the ground sprouted the daffodils that the

Brownies put there. Magic flowers they were

Called by all the Owls, but I can’t recall by anyone else.

Daffodils in their bright sunshine would grace the scene

Every year with no mind as to how they were put there.

Further up the

Grass banks were the little

Huts we used to use for some classes.

I remember singing ‘Colours of Day’ in the Portacabins.

Just around the corner, down some steps was the actual building

Knowing the layout now after not being there for years

Like it was yesterday, not ten years ago.

More like twenty. God.

Nobody noticed when three of us snuck into the

Other bathroom for the boys. Our eyes

Pealed wide with giggles. We had to be

Quick because it was part of a game where we had to

Run in and out. But then, all of a

Sudden, one of the girls had a better idea.

Touch that. She directed at me. Pointing down at a

Urinal cake. And I tried to distract her by trying to

‘Vest her interest into

Why it was called a cake if you dont eat it. This building for me, was meant to be

Xylophones and glockenspiels. Loving memories of a

Yesteryear. Tell that to young girl who then learned the true

Zeitgeist of the place. She placed her hand down and touched the urinal cake.

NaPoWriMo – Day 18

Our optional prompt for the day takes its cue from how poetry can help us to make concrete the wild abstraction of a feeling like grief. “The Lost Pilot” does this, as does this poem by Victoria Chang, called “Obit.” In both poems, loss is made tangible. They take elusive, overwhelming feelings, and place them into the physical world, in part through their focus on things we can see and hear and touch. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an elegy of your own, one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail. This may not be a “fun” prompt, but loss is one of the most universal and human experiences, and some of the world’s most moving art is an effort to understand and deal with it.




He sits there with a blanket on his lap,

Draws it up over his lip and closes his eyes.



He sits there and sips from a engraved whiskey cup

Draws it up to his lip and closes his eyes.



He sits there and crosses his feet,

Uncrosses his feet, places them in slippers.



These ones weren’t his, he picked them up and put them back in the cupboard.

Goes to the kitchen. Grabs a whiskey glass.

Goes to the sofa. Grabs the blanket.

Closes his eyes

And starts to dream in lavender.


NaPoWriMo – Day 17

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). As long as we are on uncovering or embodying feelings that may not be commonly presented, I’d like to share this poem by Sharon Olds, who I think of as sort of a Master (or Mistress, I suppose) of discomfiting the reader. This poem is beautiful in its focus on detail, its word choice, and it has an earthy, witchy slyness to it. It reverses what we might think of as the “usual” relationship between the sexes in a disorienting way, with the woman as the appraising watcher, and the man as the vulnerable and innocent party.

Today, I’d like you to challenge you to write a poem that similarly presents a scene from an unusual point of view. Perhaps you could write a poem that presents Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery from the perspective of the apple. Or the shootout at the OK Corral from the viewpoint of a passing vulture. Or maybe it could be something as everyday as a rainstorm, as experienced by a raindrop.



Creating Words


Touch me

Feel me

Place the delicate tips of your fingers

Across my smooth

and create.


I am your tongue

I will speak your worries

Your fantasies

and your love


Letter by letter you

Give to me.


I will take them and

write you

Through my body.






it’s a keyboard… Duh.




NaPoWriMo – Day 16

Day 16! Over half-way!



And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always). Today’s prompt takes its inspirations from Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno.” Fundamentally, this is a poem about a cat. It’s also a structurally very straightforward poem – every line begins the same way, and is about some aspect of the cat at issue. But from these seemingly simple ingredients, Smart constructs a poem that is luminously, joyously weird. Just as English’s poem listing things found in a hedge renders the familiar strange by making us focus on each, individual item in the hedge, Smart makes a humble housecat seem like the most wondrous thing in the world. Today, I challenge you to write a poem that uses the form of a list to defamiliarize the mundane.



I wanted to look further into the poem to begin with as I noticed it was “from” Jubilate Agno. I found the following:

Christopher Smart wrote a long free-verse manuscript between 1758 and 1763, largely while in a madhouse. 32 pages of this manuscript survive.

With three exceptions, every line on one set of pages begins with the word “Let” and every line on the other pages begins with the word “For.”

In 1950, W. H. Bond noted that some of the surviving “For” pages were dated to match some surviving “Let” pages, and that a sizable clump of “For” lines on those pages referred one-to-one to the corresponding “Let” lines. This indicated some rigorous ordering on Smart’s part — probably by following a procedure of writing one “Let” line on one page and then writing one “For” line on the other.



So for today I have decided to respond to Christopher Smart’s “For”s for his cat with “Let”s about my dog.



It created this:



In response to the ‘from Jubilate Agno’ by Christopher Smart.



from Jubilate Agno


                                   In response to from Jubilate Agno



By Christopher Smart



Response By Bethan Rees



For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.


Let’s consider my Dog Mitzie.


For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.


Let us pray that she is no representation of a Godly thing.


For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.


Let’s wake her up, she’ll stretch in whatever direction you gently kick her.


For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.


Let’s observe as she attempts to step forward, and falls cluddingly several times round with unimpressive clod.


For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.


Let’s pop her bedding in the washing machine, as is tradition, so we avoid catching her night-time musk.


For he rolls upon prank to work it in.


Let’s tell her off for rolling her face in the blanket.


For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.


Let’s not repeat the received blessing she bestowed upon us.


For this he performs in ten degrees.


Let’s make sure the washing machine is washing at an extra ten degrees.


For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.


Let’s first, look at her stand upon her wonky forepaws.


For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.


Let’s secondly, watch her clumsily dribble jellied meats, then walk through them, dirtying her back ones.


For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.


Let’s thirdly, roll our eyes as she stretches it into the rug, forepaws extended.


For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.


Let’s fourthly, listen to her clack her unsharpened paws on the wood floor.


For fifthly he washes himself.


Let’s fifthly, wash her.


For sixthly he rolls upon wash.


Let’s sixthly, roll our eyes once again as she rolls upon dirty bedding immediately after her wash.


For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.


Let’s seventhly, not worry about fleas – none are attracted to her aged blood.


For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.


Let’s eigthly, rub our hands over her fluffy coat.


For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.


Let’s ninthly, look up instructions on YouTube of “How to Tell if Your Dog Loves You”


For tenthly he goes in quest of food.


Let’s tenthly, quest for food in the kitchen for her.


For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbor.


Let’s not let this ungodly creature near anyone else, especially the neighbours.


For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.


Let’s pull her away as she yaps aggressively at another dog.


For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.


Let’s keep a careful watch as she takes her food, for with no teeth she is likely to choke on her tongue.


For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.


Let’s throw away one in seven meals she refuses to eat for no particular reason.


For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.


Let’s go to bed after a hard day’s work, alongside her who will sleep further, as her more sleep properly begins.


For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.


Let’s wonder if she does anything but sleep, ignoring the Lord’s watch.


For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.


Let’s control her powers by tucking her in comfortably, as she agrees tenderly, with heavy breathing and lowering eyes.


For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.


Let’s not counteract the Devil, who sorely wishes for her death, as she brisks about her life.


For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.


 Let’s not love the sun and sleep forever, dog.


For he is of the tribe of Tiger.


Let’s google ‘what animals are dogs descended from’ and discover she belonged to gray wolves.


For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.


Let’s look up etymology, to find that from these Gray Wolves has come a Withering Devil.


For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.


Let’s subtly berate her with our hands, and in her goodness she suppresses snaps, and rumbling hooves in her throat.


For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.


Let’s view her destruction, bones though well-fed, as she hacks without provocation onto the rug.


For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.


Let’s stare at her silently, as she stares silently back, whilst God tells her she’s a bad dog.


For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.


Let’s be proud when people instrument that she had a stoic benevolence.


For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.


Let’s remind ourselves that our house is incomplete without her, and we have been blessed with her spirit.


 For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.


Let’s think about how poorly dogs are represented in the Bible. Revelations in revelations that unholy people are dogs. Outside the city. The ones who follow witchcraft and those who do sex sins and those who kill people and those who worship false gods and those who like lies and tell them. Because they are all equivalent.


For every family had one cat at least in the bag.


Let’s just acknowledge that we shouldn’t keep cats in a bag, and shove Mitzie in this here bag.


For the English Cats are the best in Europe.


Let’s agree that dogs are better than cats.


For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.


Let’s dismiss any reasons that cats would be better. Oh, they’re clean. Wow.


For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.


Let’s defend her clunkiness with the agreement that she is not like other canines, as she is completely useless and in no way nimble, agile or athletic.


 For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.


 Let’s be wary if she is quick, following that shall be a lot of slow, more than any creature, even tortoises.


For he is tenacious of his point.


 Let’s point and laugh at Mitzie.


For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.


Let’s appreciate her mixture of anti-gravity and waggery.



For he knows that God is his Saviour.


 Let’s know that God is not going to be her Saviour. We all know where she’s destined.


For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.


 Let’s sweetly wonder if this is the end when at rest.


For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.


 Let’s admit there is many a thing brisker than her life when in motion.


For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually—Poor Jeoffry! Poor Jeoffry! The rat has bit thy throat.


 Let’s… wait, what?


For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.


Let’s bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Mitzie is better (than Jesus?).


For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.


 Let’s wonder if there is some sort of divine spirit that sustains this incomplete dog.


For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.


 Let’s purely want her music, for she only makes noise when emotive.


For he is docile and can learn certain things.


 Let’s learn certain things in her docilicity


For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.


 Let’s set up the word ‘docilicity’ and patiently wait for it to be an actual word.


For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.


 Let’s patiently wait for the things that she never fetches or carries.


For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.


 Let’s jump over this stick, turn around and watch her trip over it.


For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.

 Let’s give her commands, to no spraggle upon waggles.


For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.


 Let’s muffle in groaning pain when she attempts to settle upon her mistress’ bosom.


For he can catch the cork and toss it again.


 Let’s catch the cork and toss it in the trash, so she doesn’t choke on it.


For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.


 Let’s hate cats.


For the former is afraid of detection.


Let’s detect her fear, and do our best to alleviate it. 


For the latter refuses the charge.


 Let’s refuse to be in charge, she is the boss.


For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.


 Let’s bear her adequately.


For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.


 Let’s think on her, for man express what they think she thinks.


For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.


Let’s make her figure in Wales, a legendary. 


For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.


 Let’s make Llywelyn lose his smiles, and have her protect the child from the wolf.


For his ears are so acute that they sting again.


 Let’s really appreciate just how massive her ears are.


For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.


Let’s pass by her and gain her attention, so she will clack behind us.


For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.


 Let’s stroke her and not get electrocuted by it.


For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.


 Let’s maybe cool down with the religious references, now, it’s just a dog.


For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.


 Let’s analyse her spiritual substance, she is made of wolves, and terriers, and ears, and piss, and sinews, and piss.


For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.


 Let’s bless her with the variety of movement, by miming she is on a rollercoaster, or dance moves to a pop-punk song.


For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.


 Let’s accept that she can not fly, never will, nor clamber.


For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.


 Let’s face it, she is lazier than any other quadruped


For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.


 Let’s tread together with her through her final days.


For he can swim for life.


Let’s hold her above the bath so she swims in the air.


For he can creep.


Let’s just love her, the creep.



NaPoWriMo – Day 15

Our prompt for today (optional, as always), takes its inspiration from the idea of a poem as a sort of tiny play, which can be performed dramatically. In the 1800s, there was quite a fad for monologue-style poems that lend themselves extremely well to dramatic interpretations (this kind of work was basically Robert Browning’s jam). And Shakespeare’s plays are chock-a-block with them. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write your own dramatic monologue. It doesn’t have to be quite as serious as Browning or Shakespeare, of course, but try to create a sort of specific voice or character that can act as the “speaker” of your poem, and that could be acted by someone reciting the poem.

I am what you’ve been looking for.


 I shall begin by requesting a member of the audience provide me with a word,

any word, providing it begin with the letter “A” …

Now, I shall begin, with a deep breath, maybe a fiddle with the microphone,

or clearing of the throat.

Now I shall begin.

I am reading this to you in a voice I would never use in regular conversation.

Observe my delicate O’s. The light frosting of rippled repetition,

the light frosting of rippled repetition. And alluring alliteration allitering ambilivently against an accomplished… (Insert word provided by audience member here – the word could simply be inserted or this instruction could be read for a comedic effect).

The forest green garden grassland ivy twisting green lush naturey natures in nature. It makes me feel so… good.

But sometimes I feel bad, and the things I say will rise in crescendo, until you are marching with the beat of my drummed, sticatto sy-la-bels, and I ring bells of thunderous anger so loudly you can feel it.

Hush. It is gentle, and emotional. Some of you may cry, are you crying yet? (I really hope some people are crying). Now I will discuss something tragic, imagine a dark unrooted seed of your past, I am going to describe it, but not directly, I will plant it like a tree in your thoughts, because did I mention that I really love nature?

I am poem.

I am poet.

And I bloody love words, I do.



NaPoWriMo – Day 14

Almost halfway!

To be honest, when seeing today’s prompt while having a full head cold I thought I’d skip it and write something a little less challenging.

But after listening to the prompt poem I got myself in a nice little funny mood. It’s silly. And I’m glad it’s silly. Life’s too short for constantly serious, life changing poetry!


Our video resource for the day is this recording of Taylor Mali reciting/performing his poem “The The Impotence of Proofreading.” We’ve saved this video for a weekend day because while it is quite funny, well, it’s not entirely safe for work.

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) takes its inspiration from Mali’s poem. As he shows us, there many words in English that sound like other words. For that matter, English has lots of words that look like other words, Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates homophones, homographs, and homonyms, or otherwise makes productive use of English’s ridiculously complex spelling rules and opportunities for mis-hearings and mis-readings.

Love is not a homonym.


I’d like to address you. Move in with me.
I’d like to carve your initials into this bark. But I guess the dog will need special training for that.
I’d like to beam at you. Then apologise and dim the lights romantically.
I will bear all. Then take them all back home to the zoo.
I will bore into your soul with my words. Then wake you up when it inevitably puts you to sleep.
I will forever be cordial. Drink me in, diluted with water.
To be frank, I love you. Though I don’t think she wrote of such strong emotions in her diary.
I’m sorry, but to approach this generally wouldnt work. I can not command you as I would 10-15,000 soldiers.
Don’t jade your memory, and stop painting everything green.
I know I’m being a jerk, but shaking this ten-foot scaffolding whilst I’m stood on top of it is the only way I can demonstrate how seriously I feel.
Ten foot. Or five people’s amounts.
I would commit murder for you, but I cant catch enough crows.
I would wave at you constantly if I were the sea, but for now I have just my hands.
If I lived in a mansion with  thousands of acreage of land, I’d traverse my yard for you. Though that does seem like such a short distance.
You are tender enough, I would never hit you with a mallet.
This poem was written especially for you. No homo.