Dark Angels Note 56

Dearest friends,

Welcome back to our writerly thoughts to distract, inspire and reassure you. Be well, keep reading, keep writing and know that we’re always here..


1 Writing

To celebrate the republication of John Simmons’s three novels, this week’s writing prompt comes via his recent blog post. He writes:

“My first novel Leaves was published in 2015, but I had written the original draft of it in 1970, straight out of university. I’ve often puzzled at the unfamiliarity of a piece of writing I wrote earlier in my life. Who wrote this? Was it really me? Time plays tricks with us but of course the answer is that I was a different person when younger… I asked myself if I could make it better, given that I had learnt so much since that first attempt. I changed “Ophelia Street is” to “Ophelia Street was”, and that small shift changed a lot. It allowed me to introduce a new character, a narrator, who was looking back on his youth… It’s a simple but often overlooked technique: change the tense. Change ‘is’ to ‘was’. What happens? Interesting things that take you by surprise, helping you to see the world and your story differently. Try it on a piece of your recent writing. It might be the change you were seeking.”

Read the full blog post here.

Leaves, published by Bloodhound Books is available in paperback and Kindle.


2 Reading


I am a debt, soon I will be added,
As words wither away with the things they describe,
As clouds may catch each other up,
As now is overtaken and tomorrow is an ‘I’.

Saying ‘we’ is dangerous, like time-words without soul.
I must have met them yesterday and loved their hunger.
The sea lives in the present so the present exists
In its waters like a heart not made to be broken.

Light is wider than time, it is I love,
It gives up being everything to become a view,
Like an emerald uncreating itself
To be green predominating in a skirt.

And the kiss is to turn the light back,
As though burnt or exhausted by its touch;
It is the theft when it has vanished,
And the dark feels, what part of it was loved?

Medbh McGuckian
From Marconi’s Cottage (1992), Wake Forest University Press


3 Sharing

Drove into the city. Thought of my dad.
Vauxhall Victor. Sideburns
Driving the selfsame roads
Passing the same buildings
Making the same turns

I feel unexpectedly close to him
A muscular memory
Which brings a strange beauty
to the nearly black asphalt

These moments rise up to surprise me
An everyday journey
that runs on ancestral lines

Lee Ryan wrote this in response to a William Stafford poem at a recent Dark Angels gathering.


4 Gathering

Join us via Zoom for an hour of writing and talking with other Dark Angels. We meet at 7pm UK time every Tuesday. Click here on the night. There’s no need to register in advance and we’ll be using the same link every week from now on. There’s no charge. And feel free to bring a friend along.


5 Workshopping

One Starter Day place is still up for grabs on 9th June. If you know of anyone who would enjoy the company of Dark Angels, feel free to spread the word.

From everyone at Dark Angels

Also published on Medium.