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Writing garden poetry

Friday, 24th Aug, 2012

Winning the Gardeners world magazine poetry competition last year was a big thrill and it led to a number of exciting spin-offs. I was fortunate to see my poem, Charile's Beans, in print and I recorded it for Radio Four's poetry please. Alan Titchmarsh and I performed readings of it to packed audiences at BBC Gardeners world live, BBC Radio wales interviewed me and invited me to read it on air.

Last year’s competition was my first and I was surprised to win (I heard the news while on holiday in Spain). The reaction of people to the poem has given me a great deal of confidence to continue writing. I was really flattered that people found the poem moving. I’m never sure quite how to react when people say they loved the poem but it made them cry!

I realise now that my experiences, and my take on those experiences, can be the stuff of poetry and that people are interested in what I create out of those moments.

Charlie’s Beans is based on a real experience. I had the poem in an unfinished form for three years and the competition gave me a push to get it finished! I find that I can create three-quarters of a poem without too much difficulty, but actually completing it takes much longer – the big decisions about word choices and word order become crucial as you approach the point where you must let your creation go.

I try to have a sense of an ending when I start to write a poem. I am looking to create impact at the end. That impact can be created through ideas, imagery or rhythm – or possibly a combination of these.

If you’re uncertain whether to enter the forthcoming competition I would urge you to give it a try. What have you got to lose? Get outside with a notebook and start collecting phrases and ideas. A local park is a great place to start. Rather in the style of a film director, try mixing long shots and close-ups. Get back home and type up your notes. You’ve made the first few steps on the way to your masterpiece!

If it’s your first poem … well, you’ve gained an absorbing, new hobby. Good luck!