Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Poetry. Yes, really.

with 8 comments

Over the last few months I have taken part in a number of writing MOOCs, primarily to receive feedback on my writing from peers. This has happened with a varying degree of success.

I have really enjoyed the University of Iowa, International Writing Programme’s, How Writers Write Poetry. I would encourage anyone to take part next time it runs, or even log in now to see the video lectures. I didn’t know any of the writers – Robert Hass, Mervin Bell, Nick Twemlow, Lucy Ives, Sridala Swami, Alexandria Pearyor, James Galvin, Kwame Dawes, Larissa Szporluk (to name a standout few), or the course leaders, Christopher Merrill and Mary Hickman (although this might be simply because I am UK-based), but I am going to read more of their work. The course really has been fun and an inspiration.

When I started the course I didn’t know how to write poetry. Apart from the WWI poets, I have never really understood it. I am still clueless as to the rules of poetry writing, but the enthusiasm exhibited by these writers is infectious.  I’m not sure I’m any closer to being able to write poetry, but I’m throwing caution to the wind and posting a couple of my course efforts here. Criticise away – it’s feedback that I need.



I wrote the below following a lecture on free verse and prose poems. Mervin Bell described writing free verse poems using a sentence as a line, a line being a sentence. This is the form I adopted. He now writes poems in paragraphs.


I wonder did he ….?

Does he really want children?
With you?
I don’t want to upset you, but I have to ask, did he stop drinking?
When you were taking the hormones to bolster your eggs, feeling weepy, getting heavy, did he stop drinking?
You know why I’m asking.
Excess alcohol is the primary cause of middle-age infertility, creating drowsy, lazy sperm, or ones with their tails missing.
And excess weight.
Are you heavy now with hormones, alcohol or despair?

I watched you both the other night, enjoying the delights of yeast and grape, and I wondered.
I wondered how much you wanted a mewling babe.
How much you both wanted.

My mother criticised my 16-year old niece for having a child.
‘She only did it so she had someone to love her,’ she said.
I wondered then and wonder still whether we have children for any other reason.
Why did you want children?
You say you’ve given up now, that you’re too old, but I have to wonder why – not why you’ve given up, but why you wanted.
Do you want someone to love you because he doesn’t?
You know he loves only himself.
He’d deny that, of course, you both would.
He loves his children, the ones he had by her, and of course he loves you.
But he doesn’t.
Not properly.
Not in the way you deserve to be loved.
So, I ask again, but expect no reply, when you were filling with hormones, creating the perfect nurturing womb, did he stop drinking?



Two-thirds of the ways through the course, the lecture was entitled, Poetry as Pleasure. We were encouraged to find the delight in our writing. Hmm, well, I’m not sure this covers it at all, but it was fun to write.



Empty cold fridge.
Reach in, withdraw thin plastic pot.
Portents not good.

Pulling back lid.
Silver inner layer reflects
pink-flecked putty.

Hint of rhubarb.
Fibrous threads mashed to sweetened pulp.

Spoon dives in;
Rises overloaded with light;
Hovers, takes flight.

Lips held apart.
Tongue startled, teeth stripped, maw tingling.
Senses heightened.

Swirling around,
Overworked palate starts to heal.
Haltingly smooth.

Timid throat waits.

Creamy unctuousness passes through,
Drops to centre.

Taste and texture
Engender comfort and feeling.
Soul satisfied.




8 Responses

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  1. Oh, i love the poems!!


    August 11, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    • Thank you 🙂 Now, go on and be a little critical for me.

      Sarah Ann

      August 12, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      • I can point what I liked more than others – Silver inner layer reflects
        pink-flecked putty; Hint of rhubarb. Fibrous threads mashed to sweetened pulp. Btw, did you mean resistable? I was not able to connect that…
        Overall, good work!


        August 12, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      • Thanks again. That is useful as you identified some of my favourite lines. I did mean resistible, as in pink yogurt not being one of the most inviting of things to eat.

        Sarah Ann

        August 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm

  2. well, i didn’t realize anybody could write a poem as yummmy as yogurt. you just did.


    August 18, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    • Thank you – 🙂 🙂 I’m very happy to know it was yummy for someone else.

      Sarah Ann

      August 21, 2014 at 8:52 pm

  3. Wow this is fantastic. I loved the first one “I wonder did he ….?”, such a lovely way to tell a story, with layers of complexities and emotions.


    August 19, 2014 at 4:50 am

    • Thanks for letting me know. Since posting I had some feedback that said maybe ‘I wonder…’ would do with cutting a little, letting the reader work out what was going on a bit more, but I’m glad you found complexity and emotion – the were there when I wrote it!

      Sarah Ann

      August 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm

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