Language, Poetry and Leanne Moden, a workshop.

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Leanne Moden is a poet based in NOTTINGHAM and cohost of the Crosswords open mic night held monthly .  Recently, she had a successful one woman show at Stamford Arts Theatre. Fresh from all this Leanne is running this one -off session on language and poetry and I have been lucky enough to take part.

We are a motley crew of poets , writers and thinkers, about 10 of us, all wondering what to expect. Leanne is warm and welcoming  then gets straight to it by suggesting a free write session based on the theme of “ Today”. That gets the creative juices trickling …

Today is a day much like any other but at the same time it is a whole fresh new day like no other. A singular day, a clean sheet, a tabular rasa, a mystery waiting to unfold, the latest episode in the box set of life, a riveting, engrossing snapshot in the discourse of the universe “

Next, time to experiment with a Pathya Vat, a Cambodian verse form consisting of four lines of four syllables each, where lines two and three rhyme. When a poem consists more than one stanza, the last line of the previous stanza rhymes with the second and third lines of the following one. So, 4 line stanzas; 2nd and 3rd line rhyme which must be spoken aloud , with the option of varying the rhyme. Straight into writing a poem – I love it! Despite the sceptical looks and sighs of self doubt shared around the table, we all manage to come up with something.

No stopping us now , we are on to a Landay, apparently the linguistic equivalent of a small poisonous snake , with sarcasm the main tone. It covers big themes in only two lines, of 9 syllables and 13 syllables.The Landay is a traditional Afghan poetic form consisting of a single couplet. These short poems typically address themes of love, grief, homeland, war, and separation.

Strange we cannot solve all the knife crime 

To do so we would need to admit our poverty” 

Ok,  well I tried. It is surprisingly tricky to hit the required note of sarcasm required for this poetic form

I am struggling to keep up on this whirlwind world tour but at the same time it is refreshing and simulating.

The Japanese Dodoitsu has a comical, cheeky aspect and often focuses on love or work in a spare 4 line arrangement of 7,7,7,5. This was what I came up within the night, but I will definitely experiment further :

Self- Centred.

You love me and the others

With ardour and great passion

How was I to know from this

You love only you”

Leanne makes sure we have tea to keep us going before sharing her store of other language unusual words ( not the strangest collection I have heard of …). This seems confusing as we have no idea of their real meanings but it proves to be very effective in prodding our minds and eliciting different responses. My word was “ Greng- jai” which I imagined as a Japanese feeling of fresh Spring green . It turned out to be Thai and was a rather more prosaic “ feeling you get when you do not want someone to do something for you, because it would be a pain for them”!My poem about a child’s birth suddenly seems misjudged.

We are all inspired by Leanne’s knowledge, her confidence in us and her willingness to share and to mentor us. Knowing that she is a great poet herself does help too! I think I will be travelling further in my armchair than I have travelled before.


By Gail Webb

Gail Webb’s passion for poetry reignited in 2018. Social justice, equality and community singing are close to her heart. A Welsh woman living by the River Trent, she takes inspiration from her origins, nature, family , friends, animals and the Nottingham poetry community. Gail is published in a number of poetry anthologies magazines. Gail published her pamphlet “ The Thrill Of Jumping In” with Big White She’d in 2021. This year she has been busy appearing in Nottingham Poetry Festival events and as Poet In Residence for Lady Bay Arts Trail 2022.

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