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Writing challenges

We at Ripon Writers’ Group have creativity coming out of our ears this year with new challenges thought up by Ian Gouge, the Chair since the last AGM.
The flash fiction evening – writing inspired by character profiles he got us to compile as a group – went very well, but even that may have been surpassed by this week’s task.
The thought of writing a new poem inspired by a well known one but in the style of a completely different poet caused a lot of head scratching and yet most of us got there in the end.
Examples ranged from ‘Humpty Dumpty’ rewritten in the style of John Betjeman to a Rabbie Burns version of William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’. Much hilarity ensued and everyone agreed that it had been a worthwhile exercise.
My own contribution, an attempt at the style of Ian McMillan, was inspired by A.E.Housman’s war poem ‘Here Dead We Lie’. Written with the greatest respect, my response is dedicated to Uncle George, who fought in the trenches, and Uncle Albert who died at the Battle of Jutland.
However ultimately pointless WW1 may seem in retrospect, no one should ever underestimate the courage of those on both sides who suffered and died.


Here dead we lie because we did not choose

To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;

But young men think it is, and we were young.


In the style of Ian Macmillan

So we’ve kicked t’ bucket

And does tha want ter know why?

Cos we wasn’t conchies

And nooan were gonna ‘and us white feathers

Or call Yorksher lads shirkers

We got usselves organised

Joined t’Pals and off we set for France

Us mothers wept o’ course

But they was proud. Us fathers too.

We’d come back ‘eroes, or so we thought,

Afore we turned nineteen.

It weren’t to be.

Pity really.


10 March, 2023 - Make the first comment on this story

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