Pauline Kirk is a performance poet, novelist, editor and leader of creative writing workshops. Based in York, she is Senior Editor of Fighting Cock Press, a member of the Pennine Poets group, and judges poetry and short story competitions.
Although poets are covered by knowledge of their insanity,
it is vital that you take the utmost care of your poems,
and are seen to be doing so.
Risk Assessment requires poets to ensure the safety
of their creations. We ask you to reconnoitre your inspiration,
to check that you are thoroughly familiar with your route,
and take note of potential risks for readers. Bear in mind
that your audience may be inexperienced in terms of poetic
understanding, and fitness to undertake late night
philosophical discussions, or to wear outrageous clothing,
so extra care is required. This is especially true of writing workshops.
It is difficult to anticipate the size, or talent, of such groups.
Please look at this list of potential hazards. If any are present
(and remember risk is magnified by wet ink and coffee stains),
tick the appropriate boxes, and ensure that you inform participants.
Keep the party close together when passing the hazard
to ensure everyone arrives safely.
Hazard: If present in the poem (yes or no) If yes indicate location(s)
Steep or rocky stanza divisions Slippery rhymes and concepts
Images with sharp metaphors Jagged lines or limp endings
Fields with cattle or horses (risky for romantic poets)
Other (please specify)
In an emergency:
Go to the nearest computer to contact emergency services,
including the Broken-backed Poem Rescue Group.
In case of injury to rhythm or sense, ensure that the patient
is put into Recovery Position, and urgent action is taken
(e.g. rewriting) to provide shelter from hostile critics.
In the case of minor injuries (e.g. a twisted dactyl),
reach for the nearest thesaurus or writers’ guide, from where
a new idea can be summoned – have grammar check facilities
available also. Depending on the severity of the incident,
either stay with the individual and keep working
on the injured lines, or leave a responsible person with them,
before continuing on a truncated version of the poem.
Have a good and safe day!
Fighting Cocks – Forty Years of Pennine Poets: Mind and Body, by K E Smith, ed. Pauline Kirk, Fighting Cock Press, 2006, £12.50, ISBN 0-906744-29-6
Walking to Snailbeach: Selected and New Poems, Redbeck Press, 2004, £8.95, ISBN 1-904338-15-1
The Keepers, Virago, 1996 and 1997, £9.99 and £6.99, ISBN 1-85381-838-0
A Survivor Myself: Experiences of Child Abuse, ed. Pauline Kirk, Yorkshire Art Circus, 1994, £4.99, ISBN 1-898311-02-1
Waters of Time, Century, 1988, and Ulverscroft Large Print, 1991, £10.95, ISBNs 07126-22624 and 07089-23941
Copyright© of all poems featured on this site remains with the poet