Nicola Burkhill

Originally posted on The Open Mouse:

Honeymoon in Govan

My Granny honeymooned
in a single-end
in Govan.

She recalls this like yesterday,
Blue eyes twinkling,
Wet with remembrance.

A husband she has mourned
longer than lived.

She wore a knee length dress,
Silk fabric, of tiny proportions
that she passed down to me.

She told me they spent all
their money
on a photographer.

They walked to Govan
from Pollockshaws
hand in hand.

She said,
they wur the best two days ai ma life.

We smile,
our eyes simultaneously drawn
to the picture
of the happy couple,
at the side of her bed.

Copyright © Nicola Burkhill 2013

I live in a beautiful Scottish conservation village with my husband and two sons and decided to return to writing after a serious illness. I hold a BA (Hons) in English Lit/Creative Writing and write poetry, short stories and a wee blog. I attend a weekly writing group…

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Golden Boy

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You died under a bridge,

On your way home through Old Darnley –

something I wish I could change,

but know I cannae.

 

Your short life lived caring for others –

never yourself.  God, you were worth so much more!

 

I keep expecting to see you

rounding the corner – blue carrier filled with

morning rolls, cans of juice, this morning’s papers.

 

Instead, I watch tears fall from the cheeks

of all who loved you. You

 

the gentlest man -

infectious laugh

that still brings a smile to my face.

 

your voice still resonates

inside my head

 

your scent lingers on

like the sadness we never knew existed -

until you were gone.

 

Faced with the finality of goodbye,

Wee Granny said, What am I gonnae dae

ma Golden Boy?

 

We don’t know, because

you were oor Golden Boy tae.

Sometimes words speak for themselves….

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Despite not blogging for a while, I am still writing and decided that since I found the wild women writing group so helpful, I would join again for another term!  This aside, my family have suffered a great loss.  My Uncle Steven passed away suddenly on 13th April.  So, on this day we should have been celebrating his 50th birthday with a party for all his family and friends.  I have decided to post the poem which I wrote and read at his funeral. So, here’s to you Uncle Steven. Thank you Magi Gibson for helping me make it the best it could be. Poem will be published in final edits.

Who said feminism was dead?

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Coming up to the halfway mark at my writing group with Magi and I’m already worried about it finishing.  I have been so productive and it is so helpful to get my work critiqued by the group and Magi.  I have also had a one to one with Magi at the women’s library where we worked on editing my work.  I just happened to get a chance to look at a little box of suffragette history on my visit to the Women’s library.  I can’t believe I actually held beautiful original suffragette memorabilia such as a paperweight and a brooch with stones in the suffragette colours amongst other things. The best thing of all was looking the postcards sent during this time and reading the messages on the back.  I enjoyed getting a glimpse into what the lives were like for the people who had sent and received these postcards.  It conjured up ideas for characters, not to mention getting in touch with my feminist self again! I knew she was hiding in there somewhere! So, my latest pieces have been inspired not only by celebrating the woman in me but also the feminist.
Hallelujah! Magi Gibson, I think you’ve finally turned me into a Wild Woman!

Like a Bus

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No post’s for ages and here I am like buses writing them all in one go, playing catch up as usual. I am beginning to think that my wonderful mentor is going to vanish in a puff of smoke and I will wake from a beautiful dream. I would encourage anyone who is serious or wants to get serious with their writing to join a group. The support you get from other writers is invaluable. It also helps when you have someone or my Magi who has this wonderful talent of extracting the best from you. We enjoyed listening to some great pieces of prose and poetry which was really refreshing, with some really unique distinctive voices among them. All different, but all equally valid. Roll on week three…and I’ll try to be punctual…yeah right.

Getting Wild!

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Week one of my new writing group with Magi Gibson at the helm and I am have already written two poems and a short story.  It was nice to sit and write at a table, instead of trying to hide out in various rooms around the house tapping away on the laptop whilst listening to my babies creating mayhem and shouting at the dog.  At one point I thought, “Oh God!  I am never going to be as good at writing as these other women.”  The nerves were soon dissipated as we got to know each other a little bit better.  I get the feeling that as the weeks go on and the trust builds between the group we will become more open in our writing. Magi always talks about unlocking that little bit inside of you that makes you write from there (let the record show I am pointing to the heart).  That she believes is the key, not forms or formulas for writing.  Well it certainly worked for her!  I have to agree.  I think I have mentioned it before in older posts, I like to read stuff that makes me feel something.  I want to connect with the words.  This is my aim for my writing.  If I can get my reader to connect with my words then I think I will have cracked it so to speak. Week 2 coming soon….

Amusing Oneself

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After building myself up to attend my new writing workshop with my Magi as my son calls her. The first one was cancelled due to illness. So, in the need for some creativity I decided to write about a topic. I thought a good one was to write about a time when I felt scared. I had thought about the time we stupidly got lost in Thailand on our honeymoon, but another image popped into my head. It was a photograph we have of me outside a temple laughing whilst blessing myself with a lotus flower. I’m certain the Thai people must have been thinking bloody stupid tourist. Anyway, like the lotus flower, a beautiful poem arose from the murky depths of my mind. It got me thinking, I wonder how many poems I could write about time where I felt…? I found that a flood gate was opened and once I had unlocked the memory I could probably write a series of poems. It’s a wee trick to remember for those creative kickstarts we sometimes need. More of my creative kicks to follow……

Magic Magi

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Well folks to sum up my meeting with my uber talented mentor – AWESOME!  We worked on two of my short stories, where Magi pointed out how I tended to go for the big ending.  To be honest they ended like an episode of Eastenders, “You’re not my muvver!”  After this was pointed out, I could see where the problems lay with both stories.  I was also able to identify that the stories pretty much wrote themselves in the beginning, but I had forced myself to end them, rather than giving them the time and thought they deserved to finish them and make them credible.  What an insight! I have already scaled one back but it’s still not quite there yet.  I have the other to work on still.  We also completed a close edit of one of my poems.  I asked Magi, “Will I ever be able to do this on my own?”  She said when we start the writing group and I have to critique the work of my peers then I will automatically start to apply this to my own writing.  Already, I can see the difference.  I now understand the less is more rule and can see how cutting back words can give weight to others.  It really was such a valuable meeting.  I feel I am really starting to achieve my goal. 

Magic Magi also suggested reading short story collections of Scottish women writers such as Janice Galloway and Helen Lamb.  One of the writers we also discussed was Alice Munro and how clever she is at building on the psychological nature of her stories and how good she is at dropping in little hints about her characters into the prose, almost without the reader noticing it.  It is so nice to have some guidance and be pushed in the right direction. 

We discussed how in the next meeting we will complete a close edit of the stories and discuss which publications to send them to in the new year.  I have to say 2013 sounds exciting already!

Merry Christmas everyone! More posts in the new year!

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