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OCA creative writing student Josephine Edge has enjoyed poetry all her life but until last October, had never seriously attempted to write it. She worked on two poems last year when she was studying the OCA level 1 course Writing Skills, but found the genre particularly difficult and she was disappointed with the results.
Despite the initial frustrations she experienced with writing poetry, Josephine was determined to persist. To give poetry a second chance, she began tentatively with the OCA course Poetry One.
Just nine months later, her prose poem ‘It’s Late’ goes live today after being chosen for publication in the online poetry magazine. Every Day Poets specialises in short poems that can be read ‘during your lunch hour, on transit or even over breakfast’.
The roots of ‘It’s Late’ lie in a challenge set in April this year by an online poetry group that Josephine belongs to. Each week, the winner of the previous week sets a challenge for the group. ‘The challenge in this instance was to write a poem that contained an element of randomness and to include a least two words from: rose, balcony, caffeine, joke or alphabet,’ explains Josephine. ‘The mention of balcony transported me back to Greece, where I lived for several years, evoking a tinge of sadness.’
At this early stage in the poem’s genesis, Josephine free-wrote her ideas. They included a blend of random thoughts that moved towards singing coloured by regret. She mulled the ideas over in her subconscious for several days. A poem about a blues singer began to emerge. ‘Initially, I had to work fast, to keep within the parameters of the challenge. Then began the process of drafting and redrafting to refine and polish my words,’ recalls Josephine. ‘Normally, I find I have to put a poem aside for several weeks before I can make the final edit, and ‘It’s late’ was no exception apart from the limited time scale. After several redrafts, I entered a 12-line poem for the challenge, and read with interest the critiques given by other members of the group. There was a strong suggestion that I make it a prose poem, and I followed this advice.’
There are two aspects of ‘It’s Late’ that are new in Josephine’s poetry writing so far. It is her first foray into prose poetry, and it has greater depth than her previous work, something her tutor has been encouraging her to aim for. Is she satisfied with the poem that has now been published? ‘I am reasonably content that it is complete, but the temptation to tweak it is always there,’ she says. ‘When I re-read it, I felt happy with the images of the song ‘lifting onto unsung notes’ and ‘coffee-carved balcony’.
Josephine writes short stories and has drafted a novel written initially as part of NaNoWriMo. Having dived deep into the poetry pool, she finds herself entranced with the beauty and conciseness of the genre: ‘I feel we use a different part of the brain for writing poetry which links us directly into the depth of our being, the subconscious mind. Meditation helps me link into this aspect and I endeavour to practice from five to ten minutes before writing or editing. ‘It’s Late’ is the first poem I have ever submitted or had published. I could barely believe the email informing me my poem had been accepted, and now it’s ‘live’ for anyone online to read and rate.’
Every Day Poets accepts online submissions of short poems in English of up to 60 lines/500 words or fewer in any genre. As the site says,’ there’s no such thing as too short’. The site editors aim to reflect a wide diversity of cultures and cross cultures. Poems must be for an adult audience and an original work written by the person submitting it.