A place for ideas and explorations

[If you want my “mainstream” blog/website for things poetic and literary, go to: http://noelwilliams.wordpress.com/ ]

Image for my exhibition
Here’s one of many images from my exhibition

Exploding Poetry

At last my exhibition “Exploding Poetry” is taking shape, soon to come to fruition. So I’ve a new blog to document it, updated daily, at: http://explodingpoetry.wordpress.com/

Sheffield’s Bank Street Arts Centre, from Feb 9th to March 6th. The exhibition takes some of the ideas from this project, and brings them together in a five room piece. The rooms are:

– Garden of Stones: a beautiful piece of an evolving “Garden” using words from my texts created by visual artist Katherine Johnson

– the audio installation, as yet untitled: Michael Harding and I have created an audio-visual piece on women and war which uses four simultaneous DVDs. Although some of the texts are mine, fifty other writers have contributed and forty women have read these texts for inclusion.

– the Poetry Cafe – a place to lounge about, drink a coffee, read poems off the walls contributed by dozens of other writers, perhaps write something yourself, play with a few poetry objects, generally think about what makes a poem a poem

– the ghost office – here is where the poet should be working. Sometimes you’ll find me, and we can work together on your project or mine, or just chat about the pieces. Whether I’m there or not, you’ll find works in progress, poems you can contribute to, and interactive digital poems that you can change or which write themselves.

– the hall. The centre room, linking the other four, this is an austere hall again presented by Katherine on the theme of women and war.

John Clark who runs Bank Street and Ben Womack who is curating this exhibition have been major influences on how it’s shaped up.

There’ll be several poetry events during the life of the exhibition. First is an opportunity for you to include your own work: an invitation to contribute a poem on writing poetry which will be displayed in the Cafe. For details, see the topic “Poetry Cafe” at: http://www.bankstreetarts.com/ There’s more on the exhibition at the same URL.

Events should include: a private view, a closing evening of readings by the Tuesday Poets, a masterclass of readings from poets on Hallam University’s MA Writing, and an open mike evening.

Alan Halsey’s “Memory Screen”, another interesting poetry project, will be running alongside mine, making for a very rich environment for poets. I’m told that for two of the four weeks we’ll also have a special Caribbean kitchen offering food in the cafe.

So, drop in. Give it a whirl. I think you may find the audio piece moving at times – it has surprised me how powerful it can be, the actual experience quite different from what I might have imagined. Katherine’s visual responses to my work might be a bit challenging for some people, but they’re also subtle and evocative, and a walk through the Garden of Stones will mean that you’re writing some of the work as you view it.

I’d like as many people as possible to come along and write something, read something, play about with bits of poetry. Even if you’re not a poet yourself, come along and be a poet for twenty minutes, or an hour or an afternoon. And, if you want to use the opportunity to sit in peace yourself and simply write; or to work with me on your own work (a free workshop) or help with mine, you can drop in and hope, or contact me beforehand and we’ll arrange to meet.

matter 09

This blog

This blog is about my various slightly unusual poetry projects, mainly within my Residency at Bank Street Art Centre, Sheffield, UK, and as supported by the Arts Council, England and National Lottery.

[Picture shows me reading at the launch of Matter magazine, in Blackwell’s, Sheffield]

My workshop

My drop-in workshop took place on October 15th at Bank Street Arts Centre. I think it was pretty successful. I didn’t attract as many people as I’d hoped, but that’s understandable for an unknown quantity such as me, but everyone who came along seemed to get a good experience, some of them seemed to benefit, and I certainly had a good time explaining my ideas, demonstrating some of the poetry objects, chatting about writing problems, encouraging visitors to write (a couple of them left me poems they wrote in response to stimuli I’d set up), watching or interacting with the digital poem and so on.

I owe a big debt of thanks to everyone who gave me a text, or read others’ texts, for the audio project. This turned out to be a rather larger undertaking than I’d expected, with a host of unanticipated technical and organisational issues. I’ll post a full report later. However, despite the fact that I wasn’t able to do what I’d planned, I think it was a real success. Certainly as a tester for what is possible, and whether it might work on a more interesting scale (and with better editing), I think it was really successful and, at times during the day, it had quite a powerful effect.

I need some time to reflect on the workshop properly – where it should be going, what I should rule a line under, what needs further development and so on, and I’ll document my thinking here. But, for the moment, I think there’s enough worth in the ideas I’m pursuing to keep at them. Certainly I’ve produced some kinds of work I might never otherwise have thought about, even published a few pieces as a result (I wouldn’t, for example, have been offered the chance to be “featured poet” in The Coffee House next year if I hadn’t had my imagination stretched by this work) and there’s been no shortage of creative ideas. I’ve not been as successful in taking poetry out to people as I’d hoped, however, so perhaps that’s where I need to concentrate a little more energy.

Things I can offer

If you’re interested in anything below, or indeed anything within this blog, get in touch.

Here are the things I’m focused on, at the moment. I can now bring these activities to your writing group (if it’s local to Sheffield, UK) or arrange a workshop for you in the City or in some cases work with them online. I’m in the early stages of developing an online workshop for beginning poets, so I’d be interested to hear from people who have ideas or views on what is needed in such a thing.

Note that everything here is FREE, because it is mainly focused on my interests and ways I’d like to develop. If I need to travel to get to you, I might have to charge for that, but otherwise my workshops, feedback etc is given freely. If take-up goes through the roof, I may have to reconsider, but at the moment I have enough time and opportunity to do such things without charge.

You can: 

  • get me to workshop and help develop your own work. Ideally, this should be a writing group, but I can also work with a few individuals, face to face or electronically. If you want some feedback on your work, by all means send it to me.
  • contribute a short text (poetry or prose, around 50 words) for the prototype of the collaborative audio poem on women and warfare;
  • give me feedback on the works in progress, weird and wonderful poetry objects. I can bring them to workshops, for a somewhat different poetry experience. I’m also planning to document some of them here, as soon as I can.
  • offer stories of women and war that might lead me into a new poem. I’m collecting such things, and most of them have led to some sort of writing (though not always “good writing”, it has to be said).
  • suggest ways the current poems might develop, help me work on my own writing problems. I’m beginning to bring together the 50 or so poems that I’ve been working on within the “women and war” theme. I’d like people’s views on what works, and what might not work so well.
  • review the digital poem. At present it works perfectly, but poetically is not as strong as I’d like. However, the underlying engine offers lots of possibilities. I’d be interested to find other poets who might want to evaluate, or play with, an interactive digital poem.
  • contribute to the Endless Poem project. This has not really got off the ground yet, however. Watch for future updates. But let me know you’re interested, if you are.

Off the Shelf

As part of Sheffield’s “Off the Shelf” Festival. I’m also reading :

  • a couple of poems at the launch of Matter 09 magazine, Blackwells bookshop (near Hallam University), 21st October, !!TONIGHT!! 6.30 – 8.00. A free event, possibly with wine and nibbles.
  • a set with my fellow Tuesday Poets, at the Fusion Cafe, Butcher Works, Arundel Street, 30th October, 6.30-10.00. This is free, but ticket only. There are very few left, so contact me to get one. Excellent food can be ordered in advance.

The full Off the Shelf Programme can be found on the website, here.

Notes on the contents of this blog

I’m not a hugely experimental poet, but sometimes I take risks and sometimes I just mess about. I’m happy to wander into many different kinds of writing: though probably produce better work in some areas than others. This stuff on this site isn’t avant garde. It’s playing with language to see what you get. But the aims are serious: maybe some of the poetry objects explored here might excite people about poetry in ways that books and pages don’t.

Here you’ll find pages that document different ideas I’m exploring, how it’s going, and sometimes what it seems to lead to. Of course, ideas aren’t copyright, so you may pick up and run with my suggestions in your own direction. If you do, I’d appreciate the acknowledgement, and a link to this site. But I’d most appreciate comments, feedback and posts on where the ideas take you, even if it’s into a brick wall.

Although I’m experimenting with various ideas in this project, as far as I’m concerned the essence of poetry is still books of poems. I don’t see work like this as killing books, but opening them. Here’s a brief account:

If you want to check my more conventional work (which is where I am most of the time), have a look at my main site: Words with Music

Here you’ll find news and updates.

You can find info on my academic profile here.

I’m now working on a new blog/site for beginning writers. It’ll focus on poetry first, as that’s what I know best. If you’ve any ideas for what should appear on it, issues it should tackle, advice that might be helpful, exercises and so on: please contact.

Contact Info:

general email: words.of.snow[at]googlemail.com

academic email: n.r.williams[at]shu.ac.uk

Twitter: noelrw

I’m also on Facebook and LinkedIn, but don’t use either that much.



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