“The Spirit Vaults” Sheila Hamilton (Green Bottle Press) – poetry review

Sheila Hamilton The Spirit Vaults book coverSheila Hamilton’s poems reach out and she seems to reveal in stories from or of others. “Inuit Tales” sets up the idea “Hunger is the hawk/ that will never fly away” and ends,

“A young man falls in love with a blow-fly,
cannot be persuaded of the folly
of this. It would be better, everyone else says,
were you to fall for a seal, or a gorgeous guillemot.
The young man and the blow-fly get married,
regardless. And so on.
The couple set up home.
On the fence outside, even
in the beautiful weather, sits
the hawk.”

It doesn’t matter if the blow-fly is real or a metaphor, the young couple’s defiance is recognisable and the hawk no better than the gossips and meddlers waiting for the marriage to fail so they can smugly pick apart its bones, like a cloud edging into a sunny sky. The title poem is a tour of Liverpool taking in pubs, hotels, industrial units, charities and the church that takes in bodies of the drowned,

“And the public come, press their faces
to the deadroom’s window, agog
to see the bloated bodies, their pallor,
their contortions. It’s a daily show,
and never cancelled.

*

Between us,
membrane.”

Rather than finishing with the “daily show”, the poem reminders readers of the window separating the viewers from the viewed. It asks how comfortable readers are with leaving themselves to understand another’s situation. Those gawping at the bodies in the church, don’t do so solely from fascination but also from a position of reassurance that it’s not happening to them, that death is something that happens to others. The window gives an allusion of safety, because death catches up with everyone, and a place from which to view something that’s normally taboo. The dead are normally whisked away to funeral homes and prepared for showing, not left on view with the ugliness of death uncensored.

In “Waiting for the Immigration Papers”, a man in New York living in a pumpkin-coloured house projects his anticipation on the house,

“Every night, that house shines brighter —
glows, lit from within.
Eventually the sun flows in and out
of all its windows simultaneously.

Then the house glides, bird-like,
over New York Harbour.
Someone had painted the word ‘Liberty’ on it.”

Mary Anning, fossil collector and amateur paleontologist, never met John Clare as far as anyone knows, but Sheila Hamilton imagines a connection, in “Mary Anning’s Letter to John Clare, 1841”

“What I perceive in your poems is a deeper knowing.
Emmonsail’s Heath I have not visited
but I believe on account of your Poems
that I know it, its Seasons and Flowers,
Birds and Beetles. As for me,
I am acquainted with the beaches
of Dorsetshire, pebble and boulder and cliff,
and have been Blessed to know not dragonflies
or Meadow Browns, Skippers or Gatekeepers
but long-ago creatures embedded in such stones.
I cannot say how my Eye saw them
when the Eyes of the much more Educated
did not. I can only think, Mr Clare,
that you and I are cut from a similar Cloth”

Which poet wouldn’t be delighted to receive a letter with the opening sentence of the quote? However, this isn’t just a fan letter. It distills the common theme in “The Spirit Vaults”: no matter how different individual humans seem, they all have a universal desire to meet or connect with someone who understands them. Even mavericks and rebels need that connection with fellow beings.

A gardener gets to speak in “Ekaterinburg”

“I dug them up one summer,
An accident. I hadn’t wanted my spade
to hit bone, but it did.
I covered everything up.
Autumns come, killing leaves on the trees.
White winters white out the dump-side.
Every spring, that tangle of ribs and corsets is visited
by moles, worms, a hundred species.
I still tell no-one.
I think of them, though, those people,
how they ended in the woods by my garden.

Every spring, wild primroses grow there.”

It’s the site where Czar Nicholas II and his family were buried after being shot during the 1917 Revolution. The gardener knows the bodies are somewhere in the garden but not exactly where. He inadvertently uncovers their bones but re-buries them, not yet ready for a public revealing of history that he wants kept hidden. He wants to think his motives are pure and allow nature to take over, but the shameful act of their murder keeps haunting his thoughts. For now, though, their location is his secret and something he can control.

“The Spirit Vaults” is full of humane, compassion poems that seek to give voices to people who don’t usually get chance to speak, to strengthen common bonds and explore ways of excepting differences. They are not afraid to criticise, as shown in “To Pablo Neruda who did not denounce Stalin”, and take to task those who behave inhumanely.

“The Spirit Vaults” is available from Green Bottle Press


Leicester Writers Showcase Ella @ 100Leicester Writers Club Everybodys Reading event flyer

Writing Retreats

Whether in (mostly) rain-soaked Wales or (mostly) sun-drenched Greece, the aim of a writing retreat is to enable writers to take a break from everyday concerns and have a focused space for writing. Most retreats offer a structure, whether that’s just a post-dinner discussion on works-in-progress or a schedule of more detailed teaching workshops, and some will specify whether they are aimed at beginners or those with some publication experience.

Looking at the wealth of retreats available, how do you decide whether one is suitable for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you viewing a retreat as another means of procrastination (e.g. I can put this project on hold until I get to the retreat)?
  • Do you have a project you can take to a retreat or are you looking for a retreat to kick-start or get you back in the habit of writing?
  • Do you want to write or are you more interested in the social side of a retreat?
  • Are there specific skills you want to work on or do you want to be left alone to write?
  • Are you looking at the location and thinking of places to visit/see nearby or are you looking for a location that offers no distractions?
  • How confident are you in your cooking skills?
  • What’s your budget?
  • How important is wi-fi?
  • Will a retreat offer you something different from what’s already available in your locality?

If you’re looking to procrastinate and/or thinking of places to visit, then a holiday without pressure to write might be a better option. A holiday isn’t a waste of time if it also offers chance to dream, think, research and explore ideas in a different environment. Sometimes a break from the notepad or keyboard can bring you back recharged and refreshed.

If you’re looking to work on a specific project or want to be left alone to write, than a retreat without a heavy structure of workshops would be better. If you’d like a retreat to revive inspiration, look for one where the workshops are geared to getting participants to write rather than edit or revise existing work.

Some retreats will ask participants to help with cooking the evening meal. Some retreats may not have internet access. Also check if you are expected to share a room and whether that suits you.

If budget’s a problem, seeking out local or online writing communities or courses might be a more realistic option. Some universities and colleges offer online courses (MOOCs) taught via video and reading materials with online forums to discuss what participants are learning. Some retreats may offer bursaries or local arts funding might be available and these might be worth exploring if you can prove that you have a measurable aim and can show whether you will achieve those aims in attending the retreat.

Signs a Writing Retreat may not be right for you

  • The brochure isn’t clear about the aims of the retreat or there aren’t enough details for you to be clear about what’s on offer
  • The pricing structure isn’t clear about what’s included and what are additional extras
  • The retreat offers workshops but doesn’t say who the tutors are or doesn’t let you know who the tutors are in advance of booking
  • There are no testimonials from previous participants or, if it’s a new retreat, no indication of what experience the organisers have in administering retreats
  • You don’t have a clear idea of what you need to bring to the retreat – “turn up and write” isn’t a plan, but “improve this skill” or “work on a body of poems towards a coherent pamphlet/collection/performance” are.
  • You don’t have a clear idea of what you want to achieve – are you looking to improve technique, work on a specific project or just get together with some writers to revive inspiration and try a new direction in writing?

Like creative writing courses, retreats either fill you with enthusiasm or leave you cold. Neither matters, because it’s about whether it is right for you, but, like most things, research and preparation will enable you to pick the right retreat for you and ensure you get the most out of the experience. A retreat isn’t necessarily about getting published and poems written during a retreat may not be the ones you seek to get published, but those poems do offer practice, experience and will help you develop as a writer.

Does Your Writing Environment Impact your Poems?

Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

Mary Oliver

Virginia Woolf famously wanted her own room, Mary Oliver prefers solitude and J K Rowling wrote in cafes while her very young daughter napped (although I’m guessing now she has a home office.) Some writers take over the kitchen table after other residents have gone to work or school. Others have an office, some at home, some in a separate building so they have to leave home to go to work. Some write directly onto a computer. Others insist on writing out first drafts by hand.

How much does environment impact on writing?

The last six pieces I wrote – reviews and five poems – were all written in different places under different circumstances:

  • I wrote my reviews in the lounge of a rented apartment, computer on my lap, TV in the background because the person I was with wanted to watch it.
  • One poem was drafted by hand in a notebook while I sat in a parked car, background noise supplied by the breeze and birdsong. The person I was with was playing a game on their phone.
  • Another poem was written by hand in a notebook whilst I was sitting on a public bench overlooking the sea, background noise a combination of lapping waves and seagulls.
  • Another poem was written by hand in a notebook in a noisy café.
  • Another poem was written straight onto a laptop at home. This was probably the only uninterrupted draft.
  • Another poem drafted in the notepad app on my phone during lunch break in a noisy office where the radio leaks from the neighbouring warehouse.

The reviews have been accepted. One of the poems has been accepted, the others are still being worked on and aren’t ready for submission yet. The accepted poem was the one written in a noisy office.

If I needed privacy, a place of my own or insisted I could only write drafts on my laptop or in a specific notebook, I wouldn’t get much writing done. Habit has made the ideal writing environment redundant.

I tend to do a lot of drafting in my head before committing words to paper or screen. I have a reasonable memory and experience has taught me that if an idea is good enough, it won’t get forgotten. It will haunt you until you write it. However, it may start in the form of a rough pottery urn but then may shatter and the shards regroup into an elegant china coffee pot and then it may decide that a coffee pot isn’t much use without cups and a milk jug so will reach out and link to those shapes too, bringing them together on a graceful tray. At this point, I’ll pour the coffee and start writing, wherever and whenever I happen to be. I’m not fussed about drafting by hand or on screen.

Ideally, I’d be able to sit at my desk at home with a familiar keyboard and screen. Reviewing has disciplined me into reading from a screen just as I would read from a printed page so I don’t fall into the lazy habit of skim reading from a screen, although I will skim read a boring article in an online journal just as I would speed reading a boring article in a print newspaper. Ideally, I’d have something close to silence (inevitably nature will intrude, the fridge will hum, the computer itself is not always silence). I can filter out predictable noise such as a radio or background chatter, but it’s hard work and makes the writing process more tiring. I have never been able to filter out someone else humming, whistling or tapping in the background whilst I write a poem, particularly if the humming/whistling/tapping is arrhythmic or I don’t recognise the song and can’t make the distraction predictable.

Habit has taught me to seize the moment and write with the environment and tools available. If I wait until I can get home and sit at my desk with minimal distraction, it would only give me a narrow window of opportunity to write and, of the last six pieces, only one was written at home. I would lose a lot of poems if I waited for the ideal environment or indulged in the luxury of only using a certain type or notebook or pen or downloading apps or switching off the internet hub to make me focus on word processing instead of social media.

For most of us, the best writing environment is the one we create with the place we happen to be in and the tools at hand. Worrying about the ideal environment or creating the right set of circumstances is just like waiting for the muse to strike: procrastination.

 


Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing is undertaking a three year collaborative project, Colonial Countryside, which will mobilise child historians to develop new audiences for cutting-edge research about British country houses’ Caribbean and East India connections. Peepal Tree Press will publish and resource new writing. To kick-start this project, a pilot event will be held with Colmore Junior School in Birmingham and Kenwood and Harewood Houses. A crowdfunder has been opened to pay for 20 children to visit country houses and related archives along with a historian and a writer to support the children in creating a podcast about their experiences.

The JustGiving page for the project is available here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/uniofleicester/colonial-countryside


 

“Dreams of Departure” The Process Void – music review

The Process Void Dreams of Departure EP coverThe Process Void set their own bar high on this five track EP. How do you carve your own niche in electronica without sounding like someone else? Go for a pop sound and listeners hear The Cure or OMD. Add rock and listeners think Gary Numan or Devo. Aim somewhere in between and comparisons with Yahoo and Depeche Mode are inevitable. Add a dash of goth/punk and listeners think Miserylab.

Fortunately Alex J Wise’s experience and talent give The Process Void a distinctive sound, even if the elements of hard-edged guitars, melodic synth and basslines plus male vocal sound familiar.

“Eliminate” starts with a simple beat, the synth and guitars come in with the voice centre stage. Its focus is on fallen idols, “You thought they were king of the universe/ But there comes the day you see the mask fall off”.

“Konstellation” feels the most gothic. It’s theme is disillusion, “Constellation, black sky in view/ The stars in your eyes/ Where did they go?” Synth and guitars combine to give the chorus a densely-layered feel, which eases a little during the verses.

“Disgrace” feels like the lament of someone stuck, hamster-on-a-wheel-like, in a rut they can’t see a way out of. The guitars become relentless, the voice more insistent and the synth adds a note of desperation.

“Dying Machine” appropriate starts on a mechanical heartbeat, synth stripped back to give prominence to the vocal. The verses are carefully enunciated, like the last gasp of someone/something fading away. “A new reality is here for you/ Stuck in a time without progression” comes with with an imperative to “Act now or drown”. Choruses are less sparse and vary the tempo, starting with urgency and slowing as the song progresses. I felt this was the best track on the EP.

The title track is voiced by a man who is “Waiting for the paycheck/ For the money already spent” wants to leave. The mix gives prominence to the guitar and cymbals punctuate the lyrics giving the song a wistful note despite the repetitive, regular beat echoing the sense of someone stuck in a life they don’t want.

“Dreams of Departure” is a soundtrack to a dystopian landscape urging listeners to find their inner rebel and challenge existing norms one considered step at a time. That “considered” is important: The Process Void want listeners to think and don’t particularly care if a thinking listener disagrees with them. The Process Void like calculated risks such as taking what looks as if it should be familiar and shifting the listener’s angle so they see it in a new light: punk with melody, electronica with intelligence and purpose.

More on The Process Void here.


Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing is undertaking a three year collaborative project, Colonial Countryside, which will mobilise child historians to develop new audiences for cutting-edge research about British country houses’ Caribbean and East India connections. Peepal Tree Press will publish and resource new writing. To kick-start this project, a pilot event will be held with Colmore Junior School in Birmingham and Kenwood and Harewood Houses. A crowdfunder has been opened to pay for 20 children to visit country houses and related archives along with a historian and a writer to support the children in creating a podcast about their experiences.

The JustGiving page for the project is available here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/uniofleicester/colonial-countryside


 

Forthcoming Literature and Spoken Word Events in Leicester

Some events take a break over the summer months, but Leicester’s as busy as ever. Here’s a list of events I know about taking place during August and September:

Jazz-inspired poetry at Leicester Central Library to celebrate what would have been Ella Fitzgeralds 100th birthday

 

1 August – deadline for letting me know if you’d like to take part in the Ella @ 100 Leicester Writers’ Showcase event at Central Library on 18 October 2017. If I don’t know you want to take part, you won’t get included in the programme (I don’t do telepathy). We’re looking for jazz-inspired poetry and spoken word which doesn’t have to be exclusively about Ella Fitzgerald.

 

 

 

 

 

1 August
8pm Word! Y Theatre, 7 East Street, Leicester LE1 6EY £4/7
Featuring Kayo Chingonyi with support from The Bradgate Writers. If you wish to put your name down for the open mic sessions, arrive at 7pm.

3 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3
Leicester Writers’ Club’s Summer Open Evenings offer guests a taster of how the Club works, chance to meet current Club members and decide whether the Club is right for you. The Club offers constructive and professional feedback on works-in-progress, opportunities to discuss markets, writing tips and news all with a friendly group of professional and semi-professional writers. More details on Leicester Writers’ Club’s Summer Open Evenings click here.

9 August
6.30pm Leicester Writers’ Showcase Central Library, Bishop Street, Leicester. Free Entry.

10 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3

17 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3

24 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3

31 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3 Last Summer Open Evening. Leicester Writers’ Club meetings in September are for members only.

[Both Leicester Writes and the South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza do take a break in August only].

5 September
10am Leicester Writes, Bru Cafe and Gelato, 24 Granby Street, Leicester
Friendly open meeting for writers to discuss work and share tips.

8pm Word! Y Theatre, 7 East Street, Leicester LE1 6EY
Featuring Caroline Bird with support from Cynthia Rodriguez. If you wish to put your name down for the open mic sessions, arrive at 7pm.

12 September
6.30pm Novel Exchanges, The Exchange, Rutland Street, Leicester
Hear readings and discuss works-in-progress.

16 September
2pm South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza, Old Grammar School, Market Harborough, Leicestershire
Informal poetry workshop – bring copies of a poem to discuss. Small charge to cover room hire.

20 September
6.30pm Leicester Writers’ Showcase, Central Library, Bishop Street, Leicester. Free Entry.

25 September
7.30pm Shindig! Western Pub, Western Road, Leicester LE3 0GA
Free entry. Perfomers tba. Open mic slots available – names taken on the night. Organisers Nine Arches Press and Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing/Crystal Clear Creators.

30 September – Start of the Everybody’s Reading Festival – look out for brochures for a week-long series of events celebrating and developing reading.

7pm Journeys in Translation African Caribbean Centre, Maidstone Road, Leicester LE2 0UA. Free Entry.
Journeys in Translation builds on the success of the Journeys Poem Pop-up Library held during 2016’s Everybody’s Reading. Thirteen poems from “Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” (Five Leaves, 2015) have been translated into twenty other languages, Arabic, Assamese, Bengali, British Sign Language (BSL), Chinese, Danish, Farsi, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Shona, Spanish, Turkish, Welsh (each poem has been translated into at least one other language and most poems have been translated into more than one other language although not all poems have been translated into each of the 20 languages listed). Journeys in Translation will host readings of the original poems in English and in translations with displays of posters showing the original poems alongside translations and will be held on International Translation Day.


Institute of Physics Flash Fiction and Poetry Competitions

If you can write a piece of flash fiction and/or a poem of up to 500 words about physics or featuring a physicist by 31 October, have a go a these free to enter competitions.

You can enter 1 piece of flash fiction and/or 1 poem but you cannot enter either competition more than once. Cash prizes of £100, £75 and £50 for each competition.

  • Entries should be sent as a Word or .pdf attachment with no identifying details (entries will be judged anonymously) to writingcompetition2017 [at] iop.org.
  • Please include your contact details and title of entry in the body of your email.
  • Please use the subject heading IOP Physics in Flash Fiction Competition 2017 or IOP Physics in Poetry Competition 2017 as appropriate.
  • Entries must be original, unpublished and should not be extracts from longer works.
  • Writers retain copyright and the Institute of Physics reserves the right to publish entries or extracts from entries for publicity purposes.
  • Entries are not restricted to Leicestershire residents.
  • Enquiries about the competition should be emailed to the address above.

 

“Holding Unfailing” Edward Ragg (Cinnamon Press) – poetry review

holding_unfailing“Holding Unfailing” is the second collection from Edward Ragg. Stylistically, it takes a similar approach to his first collection, “A Force that Takes”, in its use of short lines and stanzas, which leave space on the page for a reader to absorb and interpret what’s being said. An Englishman now settled in Beijing, it’s unsurprising that many poems explore travel and arrival. “From Our Own Correspondent” places itself “where light-skinned city folk// brush obliviously/ past dark-skinned arrivals”

“A new dance writes
its marks upon

the kaleidoscopic lights
of midnight floors

where youth moves
on bubbles and adrenalin.

The sleek high-speed train
touches 300 kilometres per hour

rushing obliviously
past channels of lore and algae.

That we may each move
upon the earth and leave

such marks with ease
and be forgotten.”

The repetition of “obliviously” acts as a reminder that life carries on despite us. Whether we are at the stage of being newly-arrived somewhere and wishing the pace of life would slow enough for us to adapt and catch up or at life’s end where others continue even though we’ve passed on. Similarly, the repetition of “marks” is also an echo. The marks of a current dance craze will give way to the next and the marks we make on life will also fade as “Ozymandias” did not take into consideration when he ordered his monument be built. Edward Ragg’s thoughtful, philosophical approach works well in “”The Human Chain”, a sequence, in memorial to Seamus Heaney

“IV

We breathe the same air and breathe
in the language across the waters
you made and made your own singing

the disinterred marvels of a planet
lit with the precision of cut turf
like sparks from the sharpened edge

of Beowulf’s steel. Each vowel seeping
from the peat-rich bog, each poem the miracle
of a sluice suddenly watering the earth.”

It’s a reminder that talent can overcome barriers and remind readers of their own humanity, a great poem can live on by speaking to a common identity or universal truth and voice can overcome the barriers of language. Seamus Heaney’s poems weren’t dressed with overly poetic language and were often rooted firmly in landscape but nonetheless, their truths and voice endure. That final image suggests the poems will continue to inspire and enable other poets to grow. Mortality also creeps into the sequence, “Arrival at Santiago,” that also marvels at Santiago’s wonders, but part VI acknowledges something more sinister,

“VI

But to speak differently in the shade of lemon trees:
in love I arrive, haunted by the news today
of a flight of limitless souls blown out
of existence over the Ukrainian fields.
Primary school kids running screaming
from a playground where death fell from the sky.

Not the earth’s end, but a preserved strip of it,
their echoes discord the songs of Santiago’s streets.
And, as we walk back past Cruchero Exeter,
low Andean foothill fog makes
of the late afternoon another sunrise.”

The narrator is right to acknowledge the act of terrorism and find delight in lemon trees and Santiago itself. It’s when fear governs us that terrorists have won. Although it’s difficult not to let that fear intrude. The section ends on “another sunrise”, a reminder of continuance and how little effect one individual may have.

Naturally, contemporary China is a big focus in the collection. In “Illuminations of Beijing”,

“I

The first light is the dullest light
reflecting the uncertain brightness

of a winter’s day. The first light
reveals buildings and trees

and the cracked earth
of winter fields.

The first light is suggestion,
conception, then realisation

or so it seems. For I can
never say precisely where

this city begins:
only that it ends

in these gently illuminated
calcareous hills.”

It catches someone very much aware of his place in a city where he knows the boundaries but not the full history, someone aware of their mortality.

Edward Ragg’s poems explore personal landscape through observation and memory, questioning how memories and personal response shape and project onto the landscape. However, the poet does not restrict the reader to considering only one view, there is space for interpretation and thought. The use of plain, precise vocabulary supports the poet’s desire to communicate and reach out to readers. “Holding Unfailing” consolidates and builds on the foundations of “A Force that Takes“.

“Holding Unfailing” is available from Cinnamon Press.

Does your poem end where it should?

I usually talk about titles because a good title will make a poem stand out in a list of contents and could be the difference between the reader choosing to read your poem or the one on the page after yours.

However, a good ending will entice a reader to read and savour your poem again. A bad or underdeveloped ending will wreck the reader’s experience. What makes a good ending?

Have you wrapped up your poem like a ready-made kit?

If you’ve resolved every question, explained every image and tied up every loose end, your poem may feel complete but your reader will find it frustrating. What you’ve done is excluded the reader from interpreting your poem or failed to give them space to develop an emotional connection. Instead of giving your reader the kit and guide, you’ve already made-up the kit and left the reader thinking that was pretty but pointless.

Do you deliver the promise of your premise?

Poems have their own internal logic. If your poem is grounded in an urban landscape, suddenly veering off into fantasy for the final couplet will irritate. That doesn’t mean your urban landscape can’t have a surprising piece of architecture or that your poem can’t end with the narrator suddenly realising that s/he’s no longer on planet earth, but give your reader some clues earlier in the poem. Even in twist-in-the-tale stories, the clues to the twist were in the story if the reader was paying attention.

Have you over-explained?

If you cut the last two lines of your draft poem, does it still make sense? Trust the reader to understand your poem. If you feel the need to explain your ending, then your poem is not ready for publication. You can guide a reader towards the conclusion you’d like them to make, but you must allow for a reader to make a different interpretation.

Have you employed a Deus Ex Machina?

Readers feel cheated if the downtrodden hero/ine who never gambles discovers a winning lottery ticket or some wealthy relative (who hasn’t been mentioned in the story so far) turns up out of the blue or a fairy godmother waves a magic wand. Cinderella’s fairy godmother enabled her to go to the ball, but it was Cinderella herself who left her glass slipper behind so her prince could find her again.

In a poem, the narrator needs to resolve their own problem.

Is the form dictating your poem?

In an early draft, your poem might have looked like a sonnet but, if you’re struggling with the ending, it might be better to release it from a sonnet’s straitjacket.