Welcome to the page which showcases member's poetry and short stories inspired by our workshops and competitions. Think of it as an "occasional series"
Here is a selection (from the bravest of us) who submitted poems and stories for publication on this page. The pieces are from a competition for members of CV to write a short story or poem in the style of a favourite writer - a difficult challenge in which tribute can morph into parody. (Message to self, there!) However that cannot be said of the winning poem by Paul Williamson "The Court House" which captures the mores and language of the day, and the dignity of abolitionist John Brown and the black woman who had faith in him.
The Court House* In the style of ‘Walt Whitman’ (1819-1892)
While nodding by the fire,
after a night of wandering Brooklyn’s harbour,
my thoughts were turned to old John Brown
how I’d seen him on the Charlestown Court House wooden steps. Tall he was, and bore himself well;
and except for a little stooping owing to his wounds
stood firm and proud. I saw a Negress (quite young she was)
with babe in arms; lift up that little one,
so old John Brown could kiss it on the cheek. such was it an act of loving kindness
it stole my heart away.
And later at the scaffold
as he stood there on the boards,
with his ruffled snow white hair,
and a trembling of his body,
I felt a sudden surge of sorrow in my breast,
and tear drops came
fast falling from my eyes
*The poem imagines Walt Whitman at the Court House in Charlestown, and later at the scene of John Browns execution.
John Brown was the staunch abolitionist who led the raid at ‘Harpers Ferry’ on Oct 16th. 1859. He was hoping that the local slave population would join the raid, and through the raid’s success, weapons would be supplied to slaves and freedom fighters throughout the country, and the end of slavery would be bought about. This was not to be. John Brown was captured and placed on trial for treason against the state of Virginia, murder and slave insurrection. He was sentenced to death by hanging. Those in support of the freeing of slaves or Abolitionists called John Brown and his men martyrs; hence the song- ‘John Browns Body’. Those who supported slavery called him a traitor. While the Civil War that was to start two years later in 1861 would have probably occurred without him, it is thought that John Brown played a significant role in bringing it forward.
Party Time (in the style of John Cooper Clarke)
They came after midnight, they came in pairs
It was their time to party, to be sick on the stairs
Those faceless wonders I’d never seen
All from a world where I’d never been.
Them calling for food and sitting around
Some on the furniture some on the ground
Voicing full-volume conversations
About their on-and-off relations.
Then broken glass and raucous laughter
Here’s to Happy Ever After.
Waiting upstairs for the mob to disperse
Hiding in case it gets any worse
Then endless coffee and banging head
Wishing they’d gone home instead
Clear the mess and turf them out
Don’t let them all hang about.
Spray the room then vac the rug
Open the windows to clear the fug
Glasses and bottles fill the bin
Wish we’d never let them in.
Country Jaunt (in the style of William Wordsworth)
Along hearth churned toiled tails,
tuffs of grass and brown shoots dip boggy pools,
wind whistles through fields of wheat,
heads bend bowing salutations to day.
Sheep munch on carpets of green,
trees reveal furtive squirrels, robin redbreast lands on nearby bush,
and sun reigns above cotton cloud sky.
Fluffy clouds remind me of sheep; ancient dry stone walls speak mosaic histories,
each brick cast aside, but eventually finding its place.
Knocking clogging boggy mire off boots
I take in the magnificent vista of countryside alive
with swallows that swoop and dive snatching flies
and of sunshine glinting off leaping speckled trout
while hearing cascading waters splash and crickets click.
A blackberry bramble bush presents fleshy fruit,
salivating and teasing taste buds,
I drink in this fruity aroma, before sweat taste stimulates…
©Jason Nicholas Smith
In the dark-baited night (in the style of Dylan Thomas – The Long Legged Bait)
He arrives hauling his dark-baited sex
I, more scared than a rabbit, yield
to his bitter-black ocean-going eyes
watching in a fox-smiling field.
Stars dim in the red-shifted universe,
thorn bushes burn a far-red bloom;
in far-flung home-steads the corpse-candles
darkly illuminate each night time room.
The days each the same shadow loneliness,
handling dark the webbing traps we weave,
the snared woman, a man-trapped bait
writhe together as a Lenten moon deceives
with a twisted fox-smile. So run the rabbits!
Amongst dead sunflower-people, bowed and rotted,
slip through sleet-blanched forest dressed
as etiolated dreamscapes; trapped, besotted.
Arrive, the dark-baited night, seeping madness.
Rattle gates of sunless prisons dank with lies.
While jailors spin their moon-bent coins
the snare-lipped sadness of unheard voices cries.