Here’s a round-up of some successes so far this year
My flash fiction 1971 was selected for the wonderful live story-telling event, Talking Tales, February 2018
This story is a piece of historical flash about family secrets, about my great-grandmother’s suicide. I read it out to a packed audience at Stokes Croft Writers.
I won’t post it here as I might want to try it out for one of the larger competitions.
My prose poem, Sound Scrabble, was long listed from over 500 entries for the 2018 Tongues & Grooves Prose Poem Award 2018. I was invited to read my poem out at The Square Tower, in Portsmouth in March.
‘No such thing as a free lunch,’ flash fiction was selected for inclusion on the Flash Walk on National Flash Fiction Day. in June 2018
No Such Thing As A Free Lunch by Grace Palmer. Performer: Poppy Hocken
The skyline’s full of triangle-topped houses but the breeze is blowing in as the tidal bore rises. Martha skips around the M Shed, hop-scotching the train lines, a fat ice cream in her pink hands.
Martha’s Mum looks at her phone, realises she cannot meet her lover.
Martha’s Dad looks at his daughter and thinks he is unbelievably lucky.
When they get to the bacon-hut they place orders for coffees now the wind is up.
Inside, Dave flicks fat onto his apron, dreams of when it will go right. His regulars are chewing the fat and chewing the rind.
Martha’s Mother pays.
And pays. And pays.
I attended the Flash Fiction Festival July 2018 and went to workshops with Vanessa Gebbie, Nuala O’Connor, Ingird Jendrzejewski and Carrie Etter
My flash fiction, ‘In 1960…’ was accepted for publication by Flash Back Fiction Publication date is November 2018
A short story, ‘Once the Trees,’ has been accepted for an anthology, Tales from the Graveyard, by North Bristol Writers. Publication, late autumn 2018.
A poem, Rest in Peace, was selected and read out at the Ways to Peace festival at Tintern Abbey in September 2018
I attended Folk Fiction course with Zoe Gilbert, of London Lit Lab. October 2018
In November 2018 I begin teaching a six week course in flash and short stories for Bristol Folk House.
I used to get a lacing when I was young. Yeah, a regular beating, because I was on fire, but, you know what? It kept me straight.
One time, brave I was, running around the sofa. Mum went one way and I went the other. There was the big spoon hanging up in the kitchen, as long as my arm, she took that down and had it in her hand, cold as fury.
I was faster than her and she wouldn’t have got me, but Grandma came in and pushed the dusty sofa back so I was trapped in the corner. I tried to vault the back of it but Mum caught me and thwacked that spoon right down on my knee. Man, it hurt. And that night we went to my Uncles and he said, ‘Why’re you limpin?’ and I said nothing but Mum told him and he nearly walloped me again for getting her so upset.
And, I still limp from that spoon. See, I could’ve been in the first division, I was up for selection to the football team but that knee did for me, burnt my football bridges. She feels so bad about it now, but you know she kept us straight. Taught us the line and what would happen if we went rocking the wrong way.
You don’t want to cross Mary when she’s in a mood.
She was polishing bones until they were bleached white and suitable for stuffing into the Damien Hurst. When that was done the waste intestines were thrown into a large plastic drum. They landed like spent Durex, still knotty and silken with unnameable fluids.
Fancying a cuppa she cleared the sink of debris. The trap had collected lumpy gristle and nests of hair. She tugged gently at the waste with a blue gloved finger. Slowly, the tangled fibres came up from their death bed bringing with it a sour stench of drains.
She ran clear water in the sink and anointed the enamel with Fairy to clean the surface before she dared wash her cup.
This was no way for an arts graduate to live.
This story was based on a prompt from Meg Pokrass, and contains the words: tangle, waste, lump, trap, mood.
Roses he supposes are for love; chooses thornless plastic-sheathed ones for his love. Purchases three chocolates in a box lined with William Morris design. Hadn’t guessed she hated flock; what she wanted was meadow-sweet, a finger-tip trace on her face, garlic’s starry flowers.
Gadgets she imagines so his oil stained fingers can work through sweet grooves of tin, something practical to put in his pocket, to turn over and hold in his palm. He looks at it. Nods and places it on one side. Wonders why women never understand. Pats her back to steady her.
3 linked short stores of mine about Redcliffe were accepted as part of the trail. The stories are all linked by a sense of smell and this first story takes the point of view of a fox.
You can follow the trail and find the QR trails around the harbourside. (Unless the codes have been taken off – they will gradually fade away……)
Fox stops by the lamp post and sniffs the air on the cool night breeze. He smells man, rancid and sweet from the meat that’s been eaten. Again, he sniffs, nose high; there’s food beginning to turn. He trots to the gates surrounding the flats; too many lights. The pavement is hard on the pads of his paws. The food is in there. He pushes against the gate but there’s no give, no space for digging either. He can’t get in.
Seagulls squabble over-head arching over the harbour. Restaurants and high rise flats block out the stars, the light begins to thin at dawn, he needs to hurry. He turns towards the stink of man’s piss and checks a yellow polystryrene box on the ground. He nudges it and is rewarded with the soft pap of a burger. He hears a rat skitter away, sees a silver scaly tail drape into a hole.
He trots to the back of a building on the water’s edge. Next to a big red box lie some stinking black bags. He rips them open and rummages amongst the stuff to get to the food – finds a whole cooked chicken. He cracks the bones and gnaws, then pads back to his den in the caves next to The Ostrich. Rich pickings these days.
Judy Darley and David Rodgers stories also feature on QR codes on objects around Redcliffe.
I’m working on a new piece of work – in a genre I’ve only just discovered – video poetry. Not the same as a podcast, or just a poet speaking to camera, but the fusion of words and images ( I think!). I was a bit sceptical at first. I mean if you’re a poet don’t you paint with words? Won’t the visual aspect of the film overpower the language? But I’ve found some beautiful examples of words and images working together to create a powerful effect. See http://movingpoems.com/ for some lovely examples of film makers and poets coming together to create something new.
I decided to use my traintweets project on twitter. Briefly, at the start of May I set myself the task of writing a line of poetry in 140 characters a day on my daily train commute to work. You can follow me on @wordpoppy or find my tweets by using the hashtag #traintweets.
Once I had all these little gems I wondered if I could make something out of them, so this videopoem consists of my daily tweets. It’s a type of poetic journalism I suppose. I’ve made myself respond to the landscape daily. In some ways being limited by the daily journey has been liberating. The train window has become my frame
Finally I’ve finished the video – there were lots of technical difficulties – and it took ages to sync the visuals and audio together. Then I wondered if syncing is desirable as the visual will usually overpower the language, and make the language more redundant. But I’m quite pleased with the result.
So, here it is. My first videopoem.
#traintweets by @wordpoppy. A poem devised from daily tweets as I commute to work
Please let me know what you think – I’d love to know, especially as I’m entering a competition with this, and this is very much, a first attempt.