Author: Peculiar Things

I write novels, short stories/flash fictions and poetry. I'm interested in the intersection between light and darkness and oddness in all of its forms.

Bad Poetry

I teach creative writing at a college and one thing I have found is that often my students dread poetry week. This is partly because at school we’re taught to dissect poetry as if it’s a dead rat in a science lab – to pull apart the words and root out the ‘correct’ interpretation.

But it’s also because culturally we’re taught that there are two types of poetry- good poetry (which generally means deeply esoteric poetry) and bad poetry (the rest).

I’ve been listening to Lemn Sissay’s podcast Poetry Rebels and in one of the episodes he talks about how the Liverpool Poets were initially dismissed by the poetry establishment because they didn’t use poetic technique.

And it’s still happening. The poetry world is chock full of gatekeepers. There are so many different types of poetry these days which is great – there has never been a better time to get involved. But sometimes it seems like each crowd wants to stifle the others.

I’m not sure how to define my poetry. It isn’t particulatly cerebral, it isn’t folk poetry and I’m definitely not a performer. It’s taken me a while to fully embrace the label poet for myself because I’m not too sure where I fit in. But I have embraced it. I have learned to own my poetry without placing it in a box.

I wonder if it’s time we stopped dismissing the poetry of others as bad, just because it isn’t to our taste? Can’t we all learn to co-exist and embrace the creativity instead of pushing people out of the club? There’s space for everyone.

Things I Will Pledge Allegiance To

My dog, my books, a cup of tea –

the universe, my poetry.

Chris, risotto, sticky buns

Bees and flowers, my two sons.

Education, my left leg,

The sun, the sky, scrambled egg.

The Labour party, at least for now,

A speck of dust, a holy cow.

My favourite sock, a biscuit crumb

A lock of hair, my lovely Mum.

Slime mould, grass, a hairy knee,

immigration, celery.

A wink, a laugh, a persistent itch

But never to the idle rich.

Poems I wish I had written: Number Four

Day Seven Prompt: A list that isn’t a list

I used as inspiration for this.

Poems I wish I had written: Number Four, The Silkies by David Hart

She has my name, for one thing:
Mrs Kendrick.
But she wears it like a siren,
sultry defiance on her lips, sweet as jam.
A flash of red across a grey sea
as she hangs them out to dry.
A wild thing, alone apart from the birds
chattering in lines above.
She whispers to the seals, tells them
secrets of the sailors and their sullen wives.
Offers them wisdom from the sea,
salty and cold. They blink
their black eyes at her
and go back into the water,
where she can’t follow.

The Cafe

Day Five: Laughter prompt

It was going to be a bad day –
the kind that follows a sleepless night.
I was wrapped in my pain and
I’d snapped at you already;
you’d wandered into a tangle
of worn out feelings, fractured nerves.
We went for coffee because
I needed the caffeine and we both
like cake. Anyway, it was raining.

A tiny cafe with plants and lights.
Candles on the tables.
You told me you could only
wink with one eye. When you tried
with the other it made you smile
on half of your face.
You showed me.
I laughed so hard I nearly
spat out my drink. I couldn’t stop.
Involuntary and helpless.
The rain stopped.

Triolet (for my sons)

Day Four NaPoWriMo

What I wish for you is this
when everything is said and done:
life and hope and happiness.
What I wish for you is this
Joy and courage and true love’s kiss
and happy moments in the sun.
What I wish for you is this
when everything is said and done.


Day Two NaPoWriMo

Petals and barbed wire –
be careful where you stand.
A bicycle at the top of a hill.
The hum of a lorry and
the scream of a metal shutter.
leaving words and silence
and an open magazine.
They didn’t understand –
like oil and water, the surface
always moving.
Nobody was beneath,
no fingers were in the ground.
It’s always about love, isn’t it?
Too far to see,
not far enough to forget.
A tiny crab and a lost ring.
The sea and the sky. A lost afternoon
spent searching.