Leave Alphabet Abc Read Literacy Letters Board

2017 finished with Gnu Week 41, having started in March for reasons beyond Squiffy’s control, especially as he was in a cryogenic tank at the time.  But excited by the prospect of Epiphany, he had one of his own. He’s quite good at arithmetic, and he became very animated (sic) when he realised there were 26 letters in the alphabet and 52 weeks in the year. It occurred to him that, if every fortnight we wrote a poem about something beginning with a different letter, by the end of the year, we would have our very own poetry alphabet anthology! See Squiffy Gnu’s facebook page for the results – if you too are a gnu!

Image credit: Max Pixel


Week 41: Sequels and Prequels

Christmas is fast approaching, and with this in mind (and also, bizarrely for a mid-African ruminant, inspired by the new Star Wars film) Squiffy has devised the following prompt/ parlour game:

1. Choose a classic poem
2. Write a poem, or flash fiction piece, about what happened next
2a. Or what happened before

Some examples, how did the boy get on the burning deck ? did he escape ? how was the day at the beach before all that waving and drowning started ? Prufock wearing slightly shorter trousers,

You get the idea…

Prompt by Chris.

Photo Credit- Gnu Christmas by The Irish Penquin (Flickr Creative Commons)


Week 40: Power!

Super heroes are all the rage these days; every other cinema release is a Marvel or DC film, and TV streaming services have started to broadcast spin offs of spin offs, focusing on one character, then the next from sprawling alternative universes. It seems we’re obsessed with characters that have super powers. Thor has his hammer, which grants him the ability to fly and manipulate weather, as well as his all-round super strength. Captain America has his shield, which is indestructible, as well as his all-round super strength. And Hulk has his, er, all-round super strength. (But only when he’s angry.)

In these films, TV programmes and their original source comics, these powers are generally used for good; they are used to overcome the forces of evil. But the idea of power often has more negative connotations. In Naomi Alderman’s 2017 Baileys Prize winning novel, ‘The Power’, women suddenly develop the ability to shoot electricity from their bodies, they become more physically powerful and it seems that the world is on the verge of a revolution for good. But women don’t necessarily choose to exercise their power in this way.

This week’s theme is power, super or otherwise. Is power always bad or always good? Who has it? Who doesn’t? And, if you had one, what would your super power be?

Prompt by Jenn Taylor

Image – https://commons.wikimedia.org/…/File:Leadership_and_Power.j…

Week 39: The Gnu and the Grasshopper

Squiffy placed his last tile on the Scrabble Board and looked up at the perspiring hare, as it dashed past;

“Hey Mr Hare !” he called “you gotta read the guidelines, inter-species competitions are no different to poetry submissions in that respect.”

The hare, at least seeming to show interest, pressed Squiffy to explain this week’s prompt;

“Fable” he said “a short, moral tale, especially about animals. For some reason this feels like a well-trodden path…”

So that’s this week’s prompt, to write something cautionary, using animals and birds to make your point, to walk in Aesop’s shoes, or possibly Sammy the Bat, whose soft-Brexit parable “The Ballad of the Conciliatory Lemming” is a reasonable contemporary example of the genre.

You could update a classic fable to a modern context, study “Blue Planet II” for species that haven’t yet been anthromorphosised, or turn the concept on it’s head, and write about humans to teach moral issues to animals.

Squiffy can see a flaw in that last suggestion, he needs to stop reading clickbait on MSN…

Picture credit- Glass Tortoise by Swaminathan (Flickr Creative Commons)

Week 38: The Esoteric Made Easy

Last week, Squiffy got into the spirit of Black Friday and indulged in a little sale shopping. Whilst browsing in a bookshop, he was drawn to a copy of former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufkis’s ‘Talking to my Daughter About the Economy’. He’s hoping it will explain everything.

This week, Squiffy would like you to take on a challenge like Varoufkis’s: he’d like you to write a poem about a subject or concept that another person might find complicated. What would you tell your son about feminism? Or your great great grandmother about 21st century geopolitics? How would you describe gravity to a visitor from another planet?

Your poem (or story) doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the idea is that it shouldn’t be! Keep it simple…

Prompt by Jenn Taylor

Image credit: Sao Paulo Stock Exchange.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Week 37: Food, Glorious Food

This week’s prompt is about food – specifically, preparing food. We all have our favourite – and least favourite – things to eat, but there can be huge emotion attached to the actual making of food, too.

You could look at the feelings of comfort and well-being that may go along with baking, for example in Simon Mole’s ‘Making Bread’:

‘Here, I achieve everything,
and still live slowly.
Oh, for the easiness of waiting,
when you have the time to wait’.

Or perhaps you’ll go for the opposite of this sense of accomplishment, and focus on the pressure (and possible failure!) involved in cooking for a dinner party, or a date.

You may choose to use food as catharsis. Look at the anger that Wendy Cope conveys so visually in ‘From June to December’:

‘Decapitating the spring onions,
She made this mental note:
You can tell it’s love, the real thing,
When you dream of slitting his throat’!

Or perhaps you’ll use the prompt to underline a characteristic of someone else’s personality, or to play the role of observer, such as in Catherine Smith’s darkly intriguing ‘The Butcher’s Hands’:

‘He’s learning the patter,

recommends lamb chops
and grips the knife; cuts
precisely between ribs’.

Food and poetry are a natural fit. Go on, make us hungry.

Link to Simon Mole’s poem ‘Making Bread’: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/…/performance-poet-simon-mo…

picture credit -Ingredients for tuna cat treats by Monika Animallama (flickr creative commons)

Bio – Claire Walker’s poetry has been published in magazines, anthologies and webzines including The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Poetry Shed, and The Chronicles of Eve. She is a Reader for Three Drops Press, and Co-Editor of Atrium poetry webzine. Her first pamphlet – The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile – was published by V. Press in 2015, and a second – Somewhere Between Rose and Black – will follow in December 2017

Week 36: Breaking the Rules

Have you ever been scrumping, gone through a red traffic light on your bicycle, or broken wind in the library? How did you feel about it? Elated? Of course, we wouldn’t want to encourage anyone to use an excessive number of adverbs, or to ‘tell’ instead of ‘show’. That would be too awful for words!

But perhaps you think there are too many rules that control our lives—or too few? Is there some activity you would like to ban or punish? And what about children and animals? How obedient are they?

Prompt & photo by Colin.