Doorway Writing Group Winter 2019

We’ve had our usual fun with crosswords and have tried out a variety of word puzzles including the ever-popular word searches. Guests have said that it’s good to keep their brains busy and that they find it therapeutic. That’s nice to hear. That’s why we do it, after all.
On National Poetry Day in October, we had a visitor (S) who wrote us a special poem and J has, of course, written us a poem for Christmas.
Happy Christmas then, everyone! We’ll be back in the New Year.

A poem by S:
It’s National Poetry Day today
And I’m going to have my say!
I don’t know yet, what to write about
Whether it will be a moan or a shout
But it will be a thing.
I’m visiting Doorway and
The food smells good
I’ve had a coffee and I should
Clear my cup away.
I can’t yet, because I’m writing
A poem for National Poetry Day.
Oooh, chocolate cake and custard.
My favourite. Why’s it so hard
To write when you want to?
Like when you were at school
And your mind went blank
The moment the teacher pointed to you
And your heart sank!
There’s a buzz of chatter in the room
Clinking from knives, forks, spoons.
Oooh, chocolate cake and custard.
My favourite.
Right, let’s get down to it,
And write a bit of poetry.
Can’t you see how hard it is?
Stop and think, don’t take the… mick.
I’ve got it, J said it.
There’s cabbages in the vase
Green and mauve in a jug of clear glass.
Variegated, my big word for today.
Well, I think I’ve had my say.
No moan or shout today
This is my poem for National Poetry Day!

A poem by J:

Help at Christmas

Was it the first Christmas
or the last
That brought you to your knees?
Tidings of comfort and joy
or hands frozen into lumps into stone
and that voice that doesn’t sound like your own
that keeps saying “maybe this is life as well!”
But I look forward to the Doorway party this Christmas
For people who might otherwise miss Christmas
helping hands that span
and find some joy in forgiving
hope for living
all the best and love to give
Tear up the cords of fear and oblivion
And return home from the pilgrimage of chaos
To the light of a brand-new morning.

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Doorway Writing Group. summer 2019

Doorway Writing Group, summer 2019

Over the last few months our guests have been continuing to engage with the group crosswords and word searches, while also trying their hand at a new ‘word bubble puzzle’ which has proved popular. This new puzzle – which presents a challenge along the lines of “how many words (of at least three letters) can you make from these letters?” – has brought out a hidden competitive streak in a number of our guests. Who can find the most words? Who can find the most interesting words? An arrangement of the letters of our closest beach resort, for example, (Weston Super Mare) provided an intriguing selection of words including swarm, snare, remorse, mental, rupee, strop. Guests were subsequently encouraged to try putting these words into sentences or even a short story. Mental stimulation, fun with words, a distraction from day-to-day worries, plus some prompts for off-the-wall conversations and potential creative writing.

To close, here is a selection of J’s lovely poems.
Enjoy and have a great summer!

Stealing Time (by J)

In the forgotten city,
Where life is a dream,
And only the dream is real,
Though the shops are closed
There are open skies
Lost Vegas is how I feel.

Trolling the town,
For a Quality Street
And anything the seagulls have left
For a treat
Keep your head
Keep on your feet
A cup of tea
Life is sweet.

My head aches
With the return of sanity
My hands shake
“Welcome to gravity”

It’s the only thing you get for free
Everything else
Is a luxury.

Three lines and the truth
Needs not to be a haiku
With love,
The Blues.
(By J)

Leisure (by J)

“There is a time for everything”
The procrastinator ruminates
And there was time:
Bleeding through the cracks in the walls
Life’s great mystery
Sifted through arteries of birdsong
Lifted the washing from the line
Gently turning breath into wind
Listening to the sound of the unfurling of leaves
And in the grand haze

Mosaic maze of brain
Lullabies, alibis
The Great Escape
The Great Excuse

A distant train horn
The fanfare of fate
The solstice of understanding
dissolved in the sunrise of love

And finally the poem J read at the Civic Sunday service – Doorway is the mayor’s nominated charity for the year.

All tomorrow’s hopes
And the joys of yesteryear
Swept up like autumn leaves and
Flung into a dustbin
Of despair.

The winters seem forever
While the summers soon were sent.
It was hard to sleep and wake to search
For where my life had went.

The streets were not paved with mercy
There was no path to that second chance
Just a park bench to reflect for a while
In an exhausted fearful trance.

Until I came to Doorway
Where I didn’t have to hide
Hot meals and the welcome was warm
We gathered inside while breakfasts were fried
Like castaways after a storm.

Music art and crafts or I could pick up a pen
Write a poem about it all.
If I’m having trouble getting back on my feet
Monday evenings we play football.

When life was a battle I couldn’t fight all alone.
Now I have a roof over my head, and a place to call home.
Thanks to Doorway
I’m seeing better days
Until one day
Will be

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Doorway Writing Group May 2019

We had another good session at our writing group this month. The crossword we were doing in a little group had some nice old-fashioned words in it which were pretty fun to talk about:
What on earth is a rumpus? Is it a problem if you make one?
Who ever says “that’s a nice frock you’re wearing”? And what do they mean?
Word searches on dog breeds and flower types worked well. With so many beautiful flowers popping up all around us, in gardens and parks and fields, there was plenty to chat about.
S excelled himself this month by doing both word searches, L took one home to finish off, N took the crossword home, and J – after patiently helping out with our group crossword – wrote us a brilliant poem (see below) and promised to send on a short story later.

Talkin Trojan Horse Blues (a poem by J)

I don’t care how much you feel
that Trojan horse well, it ain’t real
I couldn’t believe what he said to me
and just expected me to agree
so I replied…
Well, if it is all just a mirage
could I leave it in your garage?
so we hauled it down the road apiece
and didn’t encounter no police
Pretty tiring though…
And then, relieved the giant horse
was now safely behind the doors
we shook hands and the poor old chap
went upstairs and took a little nap.
That old horse was pleased
with his overnight pass,
And a bellyful of iron and brass,
and inside a bristling bearded multitude
of soldiers, waiting to intrude
pulling on Spartacus T-shirts
splashing on the Old Spice

… And then early the next day
He opened the bedroom windows wide
and saw ten thousand Greeks outside
that Trojan Horse brought me bad luck
Looks like the whole town is running amok…
He phoned the boss, said I’ll be late
The whole town is heading for a grisly fate
I’ve got to stay and hold my ground
or we will lose the whole town
Hello, are you still there?
The boss replied: well, you told me
The Trojan Horse is a fantasy
and now that you just changed your mind
how do I know you’re not just throwing me a line?
Come round next week
and explain yourself
I’m not happy!

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Doorway Writing Group March/April 2019

Doorway Writing Group March/April 2019

We’ve had a good few contented word searchers these last couple of sessions – especially popular was the combined gapfill and wordsearch on different types of fish. There’s clearly no plaice that warms the sole like Doorway…
We’ve been working with a slightly easier crossword these last months (from the free Metro paper) which has proved more accessible though there are still just enough obscure clues to challenge our regular crossword fans. We experimented with putting the whole crossword out round the tables with the easiest clues circled as a suggested way in. D, who is (in his words) ‘not normally a crossword kind of guy’ worked at it really solidly one session, teaming up with some others and even deciding to take it home to finish it off. We can always rely on N to help out with the trickier clues. So hop-drying kilns are ‘oasts’ and mother-of-pearl is ‘nacre’ then. Thanks, N! And you can even live in a disused oast apparently. Sounds cool! Not that anyone here would be particularly choosy: after all, any roof is better than no roof!
We rounded one of our sessions off with a nice chat about English lessons at school – not the easiest subject, D reckoned, (probably about the hardest language there is, in fact, in terms of spelling) but he remembered his English teacher as the one teacher he’d particularly respected.

Finally, read on for another poetic treat from our wonderful J:

Under the Prow (a poem by J)

When the ship docked
in Copenhagen
We set off immediately in search
of the little mermaid

Behind the pastel coloured houses
on the harbour front
pacing the cobbled lanes
and the fish markets

She was nowhere to be seen
from the beach to the horizon
not even a glimpse!

Time was running out
we had to run back to the ship
We had just made it
but we had to ask.
The old fisherman
pushed back the peak of his cap
and pointed a weathered finger
and there was the mermaid
motionless, serene, almost directly beneath
the ship’s prow

Our search ended where we left it,
the tale ends where the tale begins.
On the quay!

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Doorway Writing Group January/February 2019

Doorway Writing Group January/February 2019
Our last two sessions have seen a good number of guests keen to engage with the crossword and our chosen wordsearches – most recently on the themes of wild animals and dances – and we had a few nice chats as a result: comparing our awful dance skills and thinking about when we last saw/whether we have ever seen an otter, a water vole or a dormouse. Discussing animals soon took us on to literature. Who remembered Wind in the Willows or the dormouse in the teapot in Alice in Wonderland? Who had read the book (or seen the film of) Tarka the Otter?
None of these books is currently in our Doorway library but there have been some great additions to it recently: a lovely selection of pocket-sized versions of some of the classics and – for those happier with a larger font size – a number of large-print romantic stories, found lurking (with amorous intent?) on the Wilko’s charity bookshelf. There’s certainly plenty of choice now including some poetry, a collection of which was recently enjoyed by our resident poet, artist, lyricist, the multi-talented J. It’s heartwarming to be able to report that J himself has just been videoed reading one of his own (brilliant) poems ‘Winter’ for St Petroc’s in Cornwall as part of their public awareness campaign to end street homelessness. Incidentally ‘Winter’ also features in Doorway’s 2017 publication Come on Through, an anthology of poems and lyrics penned by the Writing Group.
Read on for yet another example of J’s wonderful poetic touch, his evocative and poignant poem Home-Time.

Home-Time (a poem by J)
How did we make it through
that dreadful wait for home time?
Staring out of the window
as the minutes blur into hours.
How did we survive the crush
and the jostling at the bus stop?
Chattering like starlings,
past the bullies lurking behind the school gates
The smell of fish paste sandwiches,
petrol fumes and dust.
to a responsible adult,
family pet,
or children’s TV.
Hobbies, fashions and passions
pass the time until tea
Even now:
after the passage of years
and home time is over
without a blink of an eye
the child is wishing
in a world without wings
waiting to be free
at home time.

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Doorway Writing Group November/December 2018

Doorway Writing Group November/December 2018

Here’s just a super-quick post to round off our year with the Doorway Writing Group. The last couple of sessions have been characterised by some lovely teamwork and solidarity, guests and volunteers grouping together to complete wordsearches and puzzle over crossword clues. This month’s wordsearch, based on familiar pantomimes, got us all remembering some fun anecdotes from the past. We’ve had some nice chats about reading and innovative ways to go about writing. And, of course, please read on for some poetic brilliance from our star writer J and a thought-provoking response to the Writing Group “leave your comment on a post-it” challenge from another of our guests (anon).
Merry Christmas from all of us at Doorway! See you in the New Year!

Making Waves (poem by J)

God made waves to teach the angels how to fly.
And then the homeless taught them how to land.
History breaks like waves
on the hillsides
Brain waves
and waves of music
and we are dancing
Swirling like autumn leaves
In a mysterious motion of waves.

Universal Credit
Is Universal Chaos
(lines by anon)

Doorway Drives Away the Blues (poem by J)

Al, Tom and Ray
Came to save the day
The people clapped and yelled hooray
We sat down and they taught us to play
Driving the blues away

Miriam, the bongo queen
She was not mean
Just lean and keen
At driving the blues away

As if the day could
not be gloomier
There’s warmth and humour with a tune
in the roomiere

And I would give a host of angel choirs
For another of those Doorway hours

Free-falling, London calling
Mustang Sally, Gasoline Alley

And sitting on the dock of the bay
Sitting on the dock of the bay

So if your dreams aren’t what you planned
You betcha they will understand
Pop some music on the stand
And we’re driving the blues away

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Doorway Writing Group July/August 2018

Doorway Writing Group July/August 2018

Where does an English children’s author share letters with a mapmaker or a venomous snake cross paths with a river nymph? Well, where else but in the monthly Doorway Writing Group crossword? Alongside word searches on types of cake and wild birds, guests were challenged to list the months of the year in alphabetical order or encouraged to borrow a book from our little library. All to exercise the brain, stimulate our creativity or simply take our minds off the oppressive heat or the pressures of daily life.
We’ll be taking a little break for September but back with gusto in October. In the meantime, it’s a delight, as ever, to share one of J’s stunning poems – this one on a suitably summary theme.

Cockleshells and Bluebells (a poem by J)

Aurora wafts the summer’s plume
And the suburbs are again in bloom
Vibrant hues and fragrance sublime
Hip hip hoorah it’s summer-time.
It’s alright in blooming Westbury
Where the white horse prances light and fairy
Things are grey on the estuary
Our lives here are sedimentary
Sitting here we hide beneath the tides
And keep our beauty deep inside
Overlooked but not forlorn
We shimmer with colours of nacreous dawn
For in halcyon days and heavy weather
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”

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