I was commissioned by Improbable and Emergency Exit Arts to create a poem in response to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as part of the Fly the Flag collection UDHR celebrations for 2020. Here it is – please do check out the other poets and their pieces over at Fly the Flag’s website.
I’m running this project to give myself and you a prompt every day to develop a regular writing practice. These will be mostly thinking about poetry writing but of course, you can use them however you like. The focus will be on taking inspiration from Queer and Feminist history, aiming to include and represent from lots of different places and cultures around the world. To be clear, I don’t mean I’ll be encouraging cultural appropriation, but I will be making sure the prompts don’t assume Whiteness or European-American-ness. I am also really open to anyone using these prompts bringing their own into the mix and adding to the pot – share in the comments if you’d like.
I also invite you to add the ingredient of form to your responses – if I get stuck I find forms with rules can help by giving a kind of scaffold to climb. I do this by rolling a dice and giving each number a corresponding poetic form, eg 1=sonnet, 2=free, 3=terza rima, 4=found, 5=couplets, 6=concrete. If you have other mother tongues that bring their own poetic or lyrical forms, I would love to hear about those and if/how you use them.
Follow the tag #DailyWritingPrompt here to get going – the posts should all show up below. Feel free to share your writing in the comments (bearing in mind some competitions don’t like poems that have appeared online – if you ever want me to take down something you’ve posted, just ask).
Today is the anniversary of the Great Kantō earthquake, which hit Japan in 1923. This day is known as Disaster Prevention Day to commemorate the earthquake and remind people of the importance of preparedness. So today’s prompt is to write about a disaster you have experienced but using a metaphor of natural forces to describe … Continue reading DWP: September 1
Wow, a lot happened on August 31st historically. We could be inspired today by: Isabella Di Medici, Maria Montessori, Malaysia gaining independence from the United Kingdom, the anniversary of the deaths of Diana Princess of Wales, Mary Ward or Empress Theodora of Byzantium. Please feel free to research and write about/with/from any of these. However, … Continue reading DWP: August 31
Today is Diamanda Galás’ birthday. As well as being an extraordinary musician and incredible vocalist, Galás is also a performance artist, painter, and activist – particularly around AIDS campaigning. If you’ve never heard her music, I recommend you go listen to some now. Inspired by her vocalisations, today’s prompt is to think about non-verbal sounds … Continue reading DWP: August 29
I’d like to mark that today is the anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder. This isn’t our writing prompt, but if you don’t know about Emmett, please go and find out, and consider donating to BLM, Amnesty or another human rights charity in his memory. Today’s prompt starts with another anniversary of a sudden death – … Continue reading DWP: August 28
I’ve just read this really insightful and fascinating thread about gender and sexuality in Malaysia and South East Asia, written by Dorian Wilde. There is loads to unpack here about the ways colonialism imposes judgements and erases cultures, so this post is also hopefully an invitation to research and learn as much as it is … Continue reading DWP: August 26
It’s stormy and windy today, so I’m thinking about power – the power of wind and weather is very present and obvious right now, blowing over objects and kicking up the river into waves, shoving the trees around. There are other kinds of power in the environment too – slow erosion, or small green shoots … Continue reading DWP: August 25
Today is Marsha P Johnson‘s birthday, and the anniversary of the death of Bayard Rustin. I’m taking inspiration from their work as civil rights activists and LGBTQ+ people who worked, marched and protested for LGBTQ+ rights and for black people’s rights. Today’s prompt is to write your protest – maybe it’s a speech that you … Continue reading DWP: August 24
Today is poet and civil rights activist Dorothy Parker’s birthday, so today’s prompt is to be inspired by her caustic wit and sardonic style. Access your own inner Dorothy and write from a place of anger, distaste, hate or heartbreak. Let your inner demons out to play. This prompt is probably a good one for … Continue reading DWP: August 22
Today is the anniversary of several uprisings and rebellions around the world, including by Pueblo peoples, Tlingit peoples and Nat Turner’s rebellion – all fighting to reclaim their land or their own bodies. It is also the day Captain James Cook formally claimed eastern Australia and renamed it New South Wales – ignoring the existence … Continue reading DWP: August 21
Today is my friend Alicia Radage’s birthday, so today’s prompt is to go look at Alicia’s artwork here and use the images, text or both to start something off (the fun technical term for this is ekphrastic poetry). You might place one of Alicia’s artwork titles inside a piece and write around it, you might … Continue reading DWP: August 19
Today marks 408 years since the Pendle witch trials in Lancashire, in which ten people were hung for witchcraft. During the trials, nine-year-old Jennet Device gave evidence against her own mother, saying that she had seen Elizabeth having conversations with her familiar; a brown dog called Ball. Some of the accused did believe they had … Continue reading DWP: August 18
Today is Rachel Pollack‘s birthday, so today’s prompt is tarot related. If you don’t have a tarot deck, you can use a playing card deck (have a google -there’s loads of sites explaining it), or you can use any of the free online tarot sources to pull some cards. Draw 3 cards; the first one … Continue reading DWP: August 17
Today I want to celebrate a couple of birthdays – composer and conductor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, fiddle-player and road-builder Blind Jack Metcalf, and – whilst we don’t know her precise birthday – composer and musician Barbara Strozzi was baptised in August 1619. All these folks had obstacles in their way but carried on and found a … Continue reading DWP: August 15
On August 14 1792, enslaved peoples from plantations in Saint-Domingue , marked the start of the Haitian Revolution with a Vodou ceremony led by mambo Cécile Fatiman and houngan Dutty Boukman at Bois Caïman. The uprising would go on to be the only rebellion by enslaved peoples to result in a state free from slavery. … Continue reading DWP: August 14
I spent a night in Ashdown Forest, sleeping in a hammock, woken up by owls, foxes, woodpeckers, small unidentified creatures rustling. Over this week, we are passing through the Perseids meteor shower, so there were shooting stars above. It felt precarious, free, uncomfortable and joyful. Jack Halberstam and Tavia Nyong’o write “New forms of wildness … Continue reading DWP: August 13
On August 11 1942, actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr and her collaborator, composer George Antheil, received their patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that has since provided the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi. Hedy had fled both her country and her marriage in 1937, escaping from Vienna to Paris, … Continue reading DWP: August 11
Yesterday was Tove Jansson’s birthday, so today’s prompt celebrates her life and love. Jansson based many of her Moomin characters on real people: Too-ticky is inspired by her long-term girlfriend, Snufkin is based on an ex-boyfriend, and an early drawing of what became Moomintroll started as an insulting portrayal of Kant. I’ve also been re-reading … Continue reading DWP: August 10
One of the books I’m reading at the moment is Opacity-Minority-Improvisation, by Anna T. The book is looking at queer slangs from around the world, like Polari, and how they construct a kind of linguistic closet for the users. The author often writes in Greek without translating, and leaves gaps in the text when there … Continue reading DWP: August 9
I’ve been reading about lots of AFAB warrior queens (having long had an obsession with female pirates), so today’s prompt is inspired by Queen Amina and others. Amina was a Hausa warrior queen in the city state of Zazzau, now north-west Nigeria. You might also like to check out Gráinne Ní Mháille, Sayyida al Hurra, … Continue reading DWP: August 8
I just read Kae Tempest’s beautiful announcement about their name change and gender identity. In the post, Kae talks about their new name being a name for Jay birds – I’m copying this directly cos it’s so nice: “It’s pronounced like the letter K. It’s an old English word that means jay bird. Jays are … Continue reading DWP: August 7
#DailyWritingPrompt for today: On August 6 1926, New Yorker Gertrude ‘Trudy’ Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel, a task previously thought impossible for a woman to achieve. Whilst I’d never impose a sexuality or gender identity on someone else, I think it’s interesting that she never married and lived all her … Continue reading DWP: August 6
Just So: Tegumai’s Tales is a music-theatre adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories for a contemporary audience. I’ve provided a libretto for composer Paul Ayres. The individual stories can be performed separately as mini-musicals, or altogether to create a full-length piece. Paul has also created a choral arrangement of some of the pieces. The work was selected as one of the three finalists in the North Cambridge Family Opera Company’s Composition Competition, 2013-2014. In 2015 The Crab That Played With The Sea was premiered at the University of West London (UK), and in 2016 Master Kangaroo was premiered by Bluegrass Opera (Kentucky USA).
Paul’s choral arrangement How the World Was Made was performed by the Queldryk Choral Ensemble in 2019. A video of the performance is here.
Moll Frith is back at Shakespeare’s Globe SW Playhouse. Following Moll and the Future Kings last March, I’ve been commissioned to create a monologue to and about Moll as part of Notes to the Forgotten She-Wolves.
Due to be performed on January 29 by Lucy Jan Parkinson, details and booking info can be found on the Globe website.
[Header pic by E. Mallin Parry]