How to write a Cento Poem.

Hey everyone, Callum here.

For those who have read this blog site, you’ll know that I love writing poetry. Whether it be anaphoric, filled with rhymes or have a free verse rhythm to it. But sometimes, writing a poem can be challenging.  You look at the result and get frustrated. You moan and cry about how crap it is. Why did I ever choose this career? Oh, woe is me.

Believe me! I’ve been there. Many a time, I’ve looked at my poem and  been annoyed. Which is why today’s subject is on writing a cento poem.

A cento poem is a written poem, compromised of lines from other poems or other forms of literature and media. It can range from film, books, tv shows and much more. And today I’m going to write about how you budding poets can write your own cento.

1: Choose a Theme.

When writing up a cento, the first thing you must do is choose the theme of your poem. Anything will do. It could be a story about how to gain confidence, or how to get over heartbreak. The sooner you know what you want to write about, the sooner you can get started.

2: Research.

Now comes the tricky part: Research.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re writing about something you like, look up quotes that relate to your theme. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t have to be a line from another poem. It can come from anywhere.

Want some advice? Mix it up. Pick a line from a poem, and then make the next one from a film. And so forth.

3: Let It Flow.

As soon as you’ve picked your favourite lines, put them in an appropriate order. I recommend picking nine or ten lines for your cento, it’s an easy starting point. And as I’ve said, it doesn’t have to rhyme unless you want it to.

The key thing is to arrange them in an order that tells a compelling story. You may write the first five lines about someone struggling in life, and then have the second half involving them managing to regain their confidence.

As long as each line pushes the narrative at a nice flowing pace, that’s all that matters. But just because you’ve finally written it doesn’t mean that it’s done.

4: Copyright.

Before you finish your cento, make sure that you reference where each line came from. You can do that at the end of the poem by writing down the name of the source where the line came from e.g. 1: Sonnet 120 by William Shakespeare. The same applies for lines from other forms of media.

Always cite where your lines came from. Write it down at the end of your poem, and you’ll be fine.

And that is how you write a cento. I’ve attached a few website links below that explain more about writing centos and examples as well. Feel free to browse them and give it a try yourself.

How to write a cento poem: Patchwork poetry for teens

Cento: Poetic Forms

https://poets.org/text/cento-poetic-form

 

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Number 13: Amadeus (1985).

Just a brief note: I apologise for the lateness in this post, as I had to replace a film on this list with something else due to my opinion changing over time.

With that out of the way, here is my 13th favourite film of all time. Amadeus, directed by Milos Forman.

Let’s face it, there was no way that this film could not be on my list. This is a film that has always been on a lot of lists of favourite films, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. Even those who bash it for its historical inaccuracy have to admit that the work that went into this film was, without a doubt outstanding. And I’m here to explain why Amadeus is one of my favourite films ever.

The film centres on the real life classical musician, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), who is known for his talents and music around Germany. Another musician named Salieri (F Murray Abraham) grows fascinated with Mozart, yet also perplexed by how much of a buffoon he is. As time passes, his feelings turn to jealousy, and he secretly plots to discredit and eventually destroy the young musician. At the same time, however Mozart is plagued with problems of his own, including his strained marriage and personal life, as well as struggling to find work and putting up with the Emperor’s court criticizing him. These two conflicting paths of the musicians interweave, culminating in a devastating end for Mozart and Salieri.

So, there it is. But, how exactly is it good?

1: Character Conflict.

No film is ever good enough, unless there is some form of conflict that keeps the audience engaged. Whether it be small or big, there has to be a battle of some sorts.

The main conflict is with the central characters, Mozart and Salieri. The latter sees Mozart as a baboon who doesn’t deserve the respect of other people, when it should be him. Mozart harbours no grudges against Salieri, due to his naivety of Salieri’s jealousy. His  main conflict is with everyone around him; the emperor’s court of musicians and his father. Mozart is looked down by others because of his giggling personality and whilst we can sympathise with his plight to be a success, we do understand why others look down at him and why Salieri is jealous.

Salieri’s determination is one of the driving forces of the movie. He obsessed over destroying Mozart’s career and watching the latter spiral out of control. Whilst this is a major plot device in the movie, the other half that focuses on Mozart’s slow descent into ruin is the plot point that takes up most of the narrative. We see both characters struggles and how it ultimately destroys them. This conflict is just amazing and we can relate to both Mozart and Salieri and how their stories intertwine.

2: Obsession and Self-Destruction.

Whilst the film may have a lot of inaccuracies and just a story of a famous musician, the main theme that is present throughout the film is that of obsession and how our desires can have bad consequences. Now, bear in mind that this is my opinion, so it might differ from others.

Salieri’s obsession over getting the better of Mozart ultimately drives to plotting his death: he disguises himself as a hooded figure requesting a mass requiem to be written. Salieri is fully aware of Mozart’s ill health and all his financial troubles and manipulates his rival into a phase of madness, pushing everyone away. Salieri’s obsession causes him to reject God from his life and secretly plot behind everyone’s back. Unfortunately for him, whilst his obsession does prevail in the end, it drives him insane to the point where he is locked away in an asylum, with only his guilt to keep him company.

Mozart has an obsession of his own: to write music and make money. His success however, is not fully seen by the emperor’s court who criticise his music for not being in touch with what they want. As a result, his work is given bad reviews and he struggles to earn money, all of which drives him to the brink of insanity and to his wife leaving him and his father dying feeling ashamed of what his son has become. By the time Salieri has played his hand in manipulating Mozart into writing the requiem, Mozart is on the verge of death and, indeed, he does die, unaware of Salieri’s deeds and how his work will be admired in the future. But one thing is certain; much like Salieri’s obsession destroyed him, so did Mozart’s.

This film does a fantastic job at showing how a strong desire to achieve our dreams has its disadvantages. Sometimes, an obsession can be extremely harmful to our own health, damaging us psychologically. But, that’s my take on this film, so don’t take it for granted.

3: Music and Cinematography.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of classical music. That being said, I am rather fond of the music in this film. It presents the world of music in such a dramatic and spellbinding way.

From the quiet opening of Salieri preparing to talk about to Mozart, to the former’s stunned reaction to reading Mozart’s music and describing it, and all the way to Mozart’s burial set to the infamous requiem mass. All of these scenes in the film work so well, conveying the story and keeping us engaged despite the long running time.

I was blown away by the scenes at the opera as Mozart orchestrates his work, even though, again, I’m not a huge opera fan. For anyone trying to get into Mozart’s work, this is the place to go to. Just seeing how much effort the real life man put into his music and how appreciated it is today is staggering. We’re sucked into this world, into the madness of both Mozart and Salieri and what the world of music means to both them and to us. That’s what Amadeus is, at the end of the day.

And that’s all I have to say on Amadeus. Great performances, music and an outstanding conflict, this is a film that I’m happy to watch now and then, hence why it is on this list.

Join me next time for film number 12.

 

June 2019 Update.

Hi everyone, Callum here.

Apologies for the late post. Just had a lot of good stuff happening in the last month or so. And that’s what this update is about.

Before the good stuff happened, I was in a bit of a down mood. Not that I was suffering from depression or anything serious, but I was feeling angry at myself all the time. Thinking nasty things to myself because I wasn’t going anywhere in life. I was stuck in two jobs that had nothing to do with my dream of being a writer.

In short: I was stuck. Until the end of April. That’s when the downward spiral started turning up.

I had written two play-scripts that I was hoping to get published at some point. On Facebook, I saw an advert about a radio station called Sheffield Live that was looking for new writing material. I submitted my plays and, to my delight, they loved it and wanted to record them. I cannot begin to describe my mood when I saw the email response from them. My dreams of being a writer were finally coming true.

I even got to see my play being recorded as well. This was my first play called Still Learning, about two close friends who are going off to live their lives elsewhere and aren’t sure of where they’re going. I’ve attached a link at the end of this post, as its available on YouTube. My other play needs a cast, so we’re currently searching around at the moment (By the way, if you live in Sheffield and you’re wanting to publish something you’ve written, Write Radio is the place to go. Email them at writeradio@sheffieldlive.org about sending in new material).

My second piece of great news came from a new job opportunity in Sheffield. A friend of my parents was the manager of a media company called Fortay Media, and he’d heard of my writing degrees and wanted to give me a three day trial to see if I could work for him.

The result: I was given the role of Creative Content Writer, by which I was given a blog to write about from different clients and then it would be published online after being read through. I also got to do bits of filming for the company as well and a bit of writing content for a website. Of course, I had to leave my job behind at School and Coumes Brook Residential, but that didn’t matter. I was finally doing something I enjoyed.

If you ever need a media company for filming or promoting your company, check out Fortay Media in Sheffield. They are brilliant.

Finally, the last bit of news came from a new drama society I joined called Grenoside Pantomime. Also based in Sheffield, I decided to join them after leaving HSU Theatre Society. They were holding auditions for a pantomime version of Treasure Island at the beginning of June.

I auditioned and, to my surprise, I got the lead role of Jim Hawkins. Another fantastic climb up the ladder of success. And all whilst watching X-Men: Dark Phoenix in the cinema.

As a result of all these good events occurring, my mood began to improve. I’ve become a little bit more positive about my life, and I’m finally a writer. I’ve finished the final planning stages of my horror novel and I’m back to writing on this blog as well. I’m so happy about how good things have been in my life.

All of this goes to show one thing: anyone can make it. I’m sounding cliched here but I’m being serious. If you have a dream and you want it so badly, go after it. Keep going, no matter how tough life may be. I’m finally a writer and I’m glad to have gone through so much to get there.

Expect the unexpected, as my parents and I say. You never know what will be around the corner.

Heres the link to my radio play:

 

The Tempest: Review.

What would you get if Lost had a crossover with Coronation Street and Game of Thrones (Except without the swearing and violence)? You’d get The Tempest by William Shakespeare, the good old bard himself.

Directed by Charmaine Lambert, the play is set on a far away island, where a former Duchess named Prospero seeks to regain her former title. When her daughter, Miranda falls for the son of the King of Naples, Prospero realised that this may be her chance, and with the help of Ariel, she sets about a plan to reclaim her former glory. Meanwhile, more characters who have journeyed with Prospero soon join the mix, resulting in a comedy of errors, romance and betrayal.

The cast and crew have worked so hard on this production, and with it being the debut piece put on by the new upcoming theatre company, Green Productions, I am pleased to say that they do it with style. From the opening, stormy sea segment to the hilarious and satisfying conclusion, this show is just magnificent.

For me, the two standout performances come from Suzie Ford as Ariel and Matthew Skelton as Stephano. Ford is just dazzling and tremendous in the role of the island spirit, and from the moment she enters the stage, you know that you’re going to be in for a fun time. Ford also puts so much energy into her performance by striding and prancing along the stage that you can’t help but break down in laughter at her amazing stage presence.

Matthew Skelton as Stephano is a dream casting choice. Skelton owns the stage from before he can even mutter his first line, with his drunken movements and quirks reminding me of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. Every time his character appeared, I was in stitches at his interactions with the other cast members. This is a future star in the making, people. Seriously!

Everyone else turns in a brilliant performance as well. Maise Bamford as Prospero gives a sympathetic take on the character, making us feel for her situation in a well executed sequence showing her backstory. Morbeen Arshad as Caliban is fantastic, with his hunching posture and clothing adding more humour to the play itself. Every single cast member plays off each other so well, and I admire this aspect of the production, for it shows good teamwork in telling a story.

I would also like to applaud Charmaine Lambert and Kiera Rhodes for their efforts in the production as well. The main stage may be small and not have much of a setting, yet none of that matters. The cast have so much space to move around that they practically dominate the stage, making use of every area and conveying just how big of a story this is through the use of dances in certain parts. It draws the audience directly into the story, to the point where I actually felt like I was on the island as well, living every second and understanding every character. The use of sound effects and lighting also helped with adding such weight to the storyline.

Two standout moments for me included the opening sequence of the characters struggling through a stormy night at sea. It instantly got me into the story, making me wonder what would happen to the characters. Not a word is said, but the way that the cast threw themselves around on stage and showed us the seriousness of the situation got this production off to a good start.

Another moment I enjoyed came soon afterwards, in an explanation of how Prospero lost her title of Duchess. This is a moment that was not only briefly told to us by the main lead, but mainly through a dance movement. To my mind, it was the perfect use of a technique called Show, Don’t Tell, and it was a magnificent choice. And that is something that, again made me want to stick around to see what happened next. The mixture of choreography and staging blended together, perfectly telling the story and keeping us all engaged on where it would be going next.

Funny, sometimes emotional and excellently put together, The Tempest is a wonderful play for Green Productions to put on as a debut performance. For those who enjoy Shakespeare and dance, this is one performance that you don’t want to miss. I must thank the cast and crew for making all of this possible, and I hope you’ll agree when you go to see it.

Update- April 2019.

Hi everyone, Callum here. Hope you’re all doing well.

Heres a little update on how I’ve been doing for the last few weeks and days as well. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for me, so I’ll be as honest as I can.

During the Easter holidays, I went into a bit of a downward plunge with my mood. I was happy at times, but for those two weeks, there were moments I began to feel sad. About my life, in general. And it scared me at how frustrated I was because, for that time, I felt like I was going nowhere in my life. Like I was stuck. Not even close to my dreams. And it angered me because I felt like I was being ungrateful for all the good things I had in life; Friends, family, employment, a lovely home and a dream of writing.

I’ll admit that my problems are rather small scale compared to what’s going on in the real world nowadays, especially people struggling with far worse mental health problems. But at that time, I felt selfish. Dramatic. Emotional. And I’m being honest here, that’s how I truly felt. I couldn’t enjoy the fun things in life, nor could I be happy about what I was yet to do.

Eventually, I confessed to my friends and family about how I was feeling and they consoled me. They told me that these things do happen and I should talk to someone if I ever feel bad. Ever since, my moods have gone back and forth. There have been times when I’ve been happy and times when I’ve been low on confidence and not felt the urge to do anything. Again, I’m still trying to talk, and wanting to speak to others in an attempt to improve my confidence. But it’s not something that is easily done.

Thats how I’ve felt sometimes. And I know I shouldn’t be hard on myself or be selfish. Because I can behave like that a lot of the time. I can be angry when my confidence isn’t great. But no one is perfect. Not everything in life works out as we plan. It’s just how it is.

So, that’s all I have to say right now. Hope you’re all ok and I’ll hopefully be writing again soon.

 

Trying to Talk.

Hi everyone, just a little update from Callum here.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling to tell people how I’ve been feeling a lot. You sometimes get that with people, who find it hard to express themselves. I was that person recently, keeping a lot of bottled up feelings kept away. As a result, it hurt me so much that I became angry and unable to feel or say a thing.

It took a meaningful conversation with my parents yesterday to make me realise what my behaviour will do one day if I carry on the way as I am. If I don’t think talk about how I’m feeling and remain silent. And I don’t want to be that person. I want to talk more. To express myself. To be a better talker. I know my previous blog post was about how I can express myself through writing, but I also want to talk more.

That’s why, as of today, I will be more honest with people and will take control of my own life. I will try not to be hard on myself and pick myself up whilst I can. This blog post might not attract lots of people, but for those who read it, I’m glad to have said this.

Thanks for reading 🙂🙂🙂

What Writing means to me.

Hi everyone. Callum here.

Today’s post will about why I enjoy writing and what it means to me. It’s going to be a big one because it comes after a sudden return to writing on this blog, as well as some poetry that I’ve written. To begin, I’ll shed some history to you.

When I was a young boy in Primary school, I was always interested in writing. I used to make up stories about Thomas the Tank Engine with my Dad, and how we used to go on all sorts of adventures. Growing up with autism, I used to have an imaginary, make-believe world called Story Land. Where I could enter and talk to people that were in films and TV shows that I watched. At one point, I made up an imaginary film about me meeting several characters from cartoon shows, and I named the idea as “Callum in Cartoon World.”

As I kept on growing, however, my autism drove me to the point where I couldn’t express my feelings properly. That is, to say I didn’t go mute or anything, but I found it difficult to get my point across, something which a lot of people found frustrating sometimes. And it drove me mad. I only wanted to say how I felt, but I could never get the right words out, often saying things that either alienated or made people feel uncomfortable. I’m not like that today, but I still struggle sometimes.

And, that’s where my writing comes in. I have always had a passion for writing because it’s something I personally enjoy. To me, writing is what milk is to cereal; nice and sweet.

But, there’s another personal reason. Because, through writing, I can express myself more. If there is anything that scares or torments me and I can’t muster up the courage to speak about it to another person, then I write it down. Whether it be a personal blog post, or a poem, or even a little written confession, I make sure that I write something down. I have so many things that I want to say and do. But, because I always overthink and panic too much, the negative thoughts are always there. Torturing me. Taunting me for being a coward. I do fight back mostly, but sometimes, when it’s too much and I can’t breath, I write it down.

Sometimes, I suffocate as a result of keeping too much on my mind and for being too hard on myself. And when I write these thoughts down, the cloud lifts a little. And that is where my joy for writing comes from. And it’s one of the reasons why there are so many authors out there in the world. We write because it’s never easy to express what we feel through conversation. Because we’re not always strong as other people in the universe. Because we want to cry out and be accepted and to let the world know that this is us. This is who we want to be.

There’s a little poem that I’ve written that describes what it feels to read and write. It’s called The Other World.

I find myself, floating,

feeling a freedom like

never before.

This world is mine,

to command. Control.

Create. Construct.

 

I can pick sentences.

Mix up stories. Make

A waterfall of imagination.

Like an Eagle, I fly,

never fearing the ground

below me. It has no power.

 

Mixing. Splashing.

Grinding. Crunching.

All my ingredients collide.

 

I could make up a story.

Of a man who went to sea

and married a mermaid.

 

Or a woman driven mad,

by her estranged lover.

Wouldn’t that be dramatic ?

 

With my words, I throw them

and they crash onto the page.

Their prison. My creation.

 

The fog clears, and I stare

at what I have done.

I have found my voice.

 

This is my work. My voice.

This story is mine to tell,

And I am the author.

 

This is what writing means to me and why I love it so much. I write because I have a voice that I struggle to sell. Because there are many days when I feel upset and want to scream out and say what I want. And it’s never easy. But, it is through my gift of writing, that I am able to be brave. To express myself and how I feel. To be the person that I want to be. To finally speak. And, most of all, to be heard and accepted. Through novels, short stories, poems, scripts and plays. They all carry with them a part of my life that I’ve longed to explain to people but have never been brave to.

That is why I write. And so should anyone who wants to. You’ll surprise yourself.