Sunday Poem – Gaia Holmes

Hello everybody! Today I’ve been reading John Burnside’s ‘A Hunt in the Forest’ and sorting out all my poems, with the view to starting to work on the manuscript for my first collection.  I’ve been wafting about saying ‘I’m not really ready yet to start on it’ without actually having the courage to look and see what I’ve got.  It turns out I’ve been hoarding poems – counting the stuff in the pamphlet, I’ve got about 70 so this has given me the bit of confidence I need to start putting something together. 

As well as doing that, I’ve started on an article that I’m writing for Artemis AND watched Watership Down AND did the food shopping…unfortunately this approach means that I’ve not got any job finished – but the night is young!

The first Sunday Poem of 2013 – and I thought I would put up a poem that will hopefully make us all take ourselves a little less seriously.  I met Gaia Holmes at a reading organised in mid-december last year by Ian Parks.  I really enjoyed her reading, but in particular this poem, which had the audience laughing out loud.  The poem recounts the tribulations of going to a poetry workshop – now, as you all may know, I am obsessed with poetry workshops, I love them, but there are good poetry workshops and then there are bad poetry workshops….

Gaia Holmes lives in Halifax, UK. She is a part time creative writing lecturer at the University of Huddersfield and free-lance writer who works with schools, libraries and other community groups throughout the West Yorkshire region. In her spare time Gaia is a DJ for Phoenix FM, Calderdale’s community radio station. She plays accordion with the band ‘Crow Hill Stompers’. Her 2nd poetry collection, Lifting the Piano with one hand is due out with Comma Press in Spring 2013.

Here is Gaia’s poem

Murdering My Darlings – Gaia Holmes 

Following your advice
I have removed all excessive,
ornamental language from this poem.
The reader will no longer find
the small orgasmic palpitations
of humming bird’s wings
in the seventh stanza
or cherry stones
spat out like rabbit hearts
in the second line. 

I have also removed the scent
that permeated this verse,
the perfumes that you said
stank of clichés.
Now this poem smells
of the empty, anesthetic void
of doctors’ waiting rooms.
This poem reeks of service stations,
slack cement and indifference.

 I have erased all references
to fruit, philosophers
and obscure alcoholic drinks
and replaced them
with more accessible imagery
such as broken bus shelters,
abandoned shopping trolleys,
dogs and mackintoshes.

You hinted that my poem ‘tries too hard’.
You will be pleased to note
that this revised version
doesn’t try at all.
I have also applied your wise advice
regarding structure
and altered all the line 


And though I trust and value
your suggestions,
though I know that
your constructive criticism
will make this a better poem
I’m afraid I have to leave the thin scientist
eating rice with a pair of tweezers
in the final verse.
I have to leave spilt wine, a broken topaz choker
and blood stains on the bed sheets.
I have to leave the old woman
who keeps the moon
in a bowl like a goldfish
radiating amber light across the page

3 comments on “Sunday Poem – Gaia Holmes

  1. Brilliant, loved your first Sunday poem of 2013. Hope you have an exciting and fun year. All the best Ann x

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. I love this poem – it makes me laugh every time I read it.

    And I am a great fan of Gaia Holmes – good to see her featured here

    All the best for 2013 Kim

    See you soon – I have booked onto your workshop in Leeds


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