Writing a Poem a Week for a Year

Published by Nine Arches Press and edited by Jo Bell and guest poets, this wonderful book is a year of poetry-writing prompts.

I can’t quite remember when it first came on to my radar – possibly through a podcast. But I am now up to week 40 of 52 and could not be more delighted to have created this number of new poems.

I mentioned in my last monthly newsletter that I would share one of my poems with you and have decided to make it the most recent one I have worked on this week. The remit was to write about a place or a memory of being outdoors that meant something to us, and I chose a moment from several years ago. It didn’t last long, but you know those moments that stay with you? This is one of those.


When we stepped off the plane,

the small one that veered like a seagull and

pulled my stomach through my feet, we

 pulled our rucksacks on, slung

haphazardly across our shoulders like shrugs

and walked along the quay

until we reached the pontoon

where a small boat awaited us to take us over that

narrow stretch, to the island.

Lamu. A two-syllabled

treasure chest of fabled tales, impossible to disentangle

  truth from myth, but as

the motor sputtered into life and

murmurs of Arabic words grazed the hot, dusky air,

I fixed my eyes on our destination:

a car-less, comma-shaped slice of land of

winding stone streets where donkeys carried people and cargo

and dhows bobbed in the harbour.

The sun was slowly being tugged

over the palm-thatch rooftops and as our boat gently moved

across the silken sea like a lullaby,

a sudden sound pierced the silence and

rising, like steam, the muezzin called the faithful to prayer from the

 needle-thin minaret, again and again as the

boatman’s eyes momentarily closed, his own

devotion whispered on the wind and I knew that

 that this was it, this was life

and that I would bottle this

memory like a fine wine, unscrewing the cap now and again

for a single, sacred sip.

Rebecca Stonehill

Thank you for reading this blog post. Compliment it with reading my winning poem for the 2020 Trip Fiction Poetry award, Tripoli Dreaming (which undoubtedly has parallels with my Lamu poem) & a poem entitled The Public Library Love Letter in which I wax lyrical about that greatest of institutions.

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