My writing process blog tour

Robin Houghton, the woman behind the excellent blog, Poetgal invited me to join the writing process blog tour. Her post telling us about her process is here.

1)      What am I working on? 

This week it’s the event at the Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly.

Emer Gillespie, sensingCatherine Smith and I founded EKPHRASIS at the end of last year and have been working with galleries setting up links between art and poetry.  I think by engaging with something beyond ourselves we set our creativity loose in a way we do not when we work alone. Exploring and experiencing other people’s art, focusing totally on them, takes us to places we couldn’t even imagine.

I have spent the last month putting together the pamphlet for the evening event (this Friday – 7th March from 7pm) and it has been fantastic seeing it evolve. We commissioned a number of poets to write poems based on the exhibition and I had the joy of collating their work and being the first one to read it as a collection. Setting the pamphlet and working with poets has been incredible and I wonder if this might open up new directions. We’ve half set up a small press, who knows what might happen next?


2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is not new of course. Pascale Petit does some wonderful courses at the Tate, Carol Ann Duffy’s project Thresholds had poets in residence in the University of Cambridge’s museums and collections. What’s different about EKPHRASIS is that we commission poets for a particular exhibition at a chosen gallery. The ‘Sensing Spaces’ exhibition has drawn on seven architectural practices from six countries and four continents.

Some of the most creative architectural minds have come together to give a new perspective on architecture and transform their Main Galleries with a series of large scale installations. So we selected poets with the most creative poetical minds to respond.

3) Why do I write what I do?

GeorgeIn my last collection, Eva and George: Sketches in Pen and Brush I was moved so much by the Big No exhibition of Grosz’s work that I had to tell his story. I suppose this project is similar. I did focus on the exhibition as a whole – the more I peeled back the exhibits the more enchanting it became. I entered a fairytale landscape up spiral staircases and imagined a world of witches, wolves and all things magical.

What I have noticed since my commissioned piece (can one commission oneself?) is that my writing has taken a totally new direction. It’s as if I am exploring new territory, moving away from the mad teacup and Snow Child. It is like re-inventing myself but the inventor isn’t me. I bet that doesn’t make sense. All I can say is I write because I have to and am currently being steered by something beyond myself.

4) How does your writing process work?Frost

To quote the overused Robert Frost quote, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” That’s how it feels to me. I read something and am moved to write. I feel something and the words start to take shape. I’ve currently had a run of having the title before the poem. I know what I want to come from it, but am surprised by the route and final destination. Oh, I sound like I go on some hippy journey… I go where I’m pulled.

If you would like to follow the blogging tour, you’ll find the links to four diverse and dynamic poets below. They’ll be posting about their writing on Monday March 10th. Enjoy the trip.

Ayesha Chatterjee: http://www.ayeshachatterjee.com/

Ayesha Chatterjee was born and raised in Kolkata and currently lives in Toronto. Her debut collection, The Clarity of Distance (2011) is published by Bayeux Arts. She studied English and German at Smith College and spent her junior year in Hamburg, the year the Wall came down.

Kathleen Jones: http://www.kathleenjonesauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

Kathleen Jones is best known for her award-winning biographies, but has also published poetry, feature articles and short fiction. Her collection, Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21 was the winner of the 2011 Straid Award.

Emma Lee: http://emmalee1.wordpress.com

Emma Lee’s poetry collection Yellow Torchlight and the Blues is available from Original Plus. She reviews for The Journal, Sabotage Reviews, Elsewhere and London Grip magazines.

Gillian Prew: http://gillianprew.com/

Gillian Prew’s collection, Throats Full of Graves, has been published in 2013 by Lapwing Publications. She has a collection forthcoming from Oneiros Books in 2014. She lives in Argyll with her partner, children and cat.


EKPHRASIS at the Royal Academy

Sensing Spaces: Wandering Words


Friday March 7 2014 7pm – 9pm

Seven internationally influential architects transform the main galleries of the Royal Academy of Art in London, ten poets respond to their work in an exciting evening of peripatetic poetry.

‘Imagine, feel, share, explore, touch, reflect’ – where we are shapes how we feel, what we hear colours our experience… We are delighted to announce our first event in collaboration with the Royal Academy.

The poets contributing response to Sensing Spaces are:

Patricia Debney Sasha Dugdale Ian Duhig Martin Figura Vanessa Gebbie Emer Gillespie Helen Ivory Maureen Jivani Edward Mackay Abegail Morley Robert Peake Catherine Smith Tamar Yoseloff


Two members of the public will be invited to read as part of the evening alongside established poets. If you would like to take part, please send your work to info@ekphrasis.org.uk

Tickets for the event can be booked on the main RA website.

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined

25 January — 6 April 2014



Abegail Morley, Catherine Smith and Emer Gillespie, together we share a passion for creating a dialogue between the arts.

‘It’s the exciting bit, really….how arts practitioners in one sphere can take something created by an arts practitioner in another sphere and see something fresh and inspiring in it,’ Catherine Smith

‘I find that what I see and read sets off a chain of thoughts in my own head that can lead to a poem I would never have thought of writing in the first place. The poem furthers my communication with a work of art, I can talk back to it, talk back to the artist who created it, or explore the resonance it creates inside me,’ Emer Gillespie.

EKPHRASIS provides an evening of conversation and exploration inviting collaboration with some of the most original voices working in poetry today.