Over the years, I’ve done a lot of poetry workshopping online; I’ve learned a lot from the experience and have crossed paths with all sorts of people. One young poet whose work I pulled apart fairly ruthlessly around a dozen years ago has just won the Forward Prize for poetry. (There were plenty of other people who took an interest in his work, so I claim no special credit.)
This post, then, is dedicated to Kei Miller, although that’s not the name I knew him under.
Back then, he was working on his series of poems “Church women”, which I think later formed part of the collection Kingdom of Empty Bellies.
When you workshop, you learn from unpicking other people’s work – which is often much easier to do than it is to look at your own work objectively. You also find words, phrases and images that inspire new work and you sometimes see a way a poem could go which is not the way the poet wants to take it.
One piece in particular didn’t go the way I would have liked it to, so I wrote my own (inferior) poem. I had to search for it, as it had been archived onto an external disk and was in a format I no longer use, but here it is:
Up at cock-crow for early Mass
the biddy-hens cackle and peck
at grains of gossip. Inspired
by their jealous God, they speak
in tongues of acid
and hell-fire. Take care,
lest they decide
to pray for you.