Creative Work: ‘who we are’ by Jessica Robinson

Creative WorksThis week we have a poem from Canadian poet Jessica Robinson, entitled “who we are.” For her, love embodies various forms of being, but never human. Each section focuses on a different element, concluding with a powerful last stanza. 

who we are

I once had a boy made of water. He lived
in a glass jar, would swim around and ask me to
take him to the pool. He loved dolphins and
he never looked at me. He called me Jonah
and swallowed me whole.
I called myself Geppetto, took to fishing inside
of him. I had a boy made of water and he would melt me
like sugar and I would hate it. He would pull my insides out
and leave them strewn across the yard. He would whisper his
secrets into conch shells but not my ear. I had a boy made
of water and he didn’t love me and I didn’t want him to.
He thought I left him for fire and I didn’t but I
wanted to. Continue reading


Creative Work: ‘Withdrawal’ by Francesca Lo Basso

Creative WorksThis week we are bringing you another piece fresh from the Kingston MFA programme. Francesca Lo Basso takes us to the front lines in this poem whose rhythm echoes that of soldiers’ footsteps. ‘Harrowing’ would be the best way to describe this piece, which uses the sonnet form to hammer out a poignant point. 


The question is: how do you stop a war?
Your body frozen, your mouth metallic—
through what new breach will you attack this chore?
As bullets rain from gun barrels phallic
and blistering bombs burden, burst, and blaze,
do you lay down your rifle, mock defeat?
Turn tanks in their tracks, greyed blur in the haze—
reliance, defiance, chivalrous retreat?
Do you beg? Do you wheedle? Do you con?
Does your voice resound? Does it rattle, roar?
The question still remains as we move on
to the refrain: how do you stop a war?
Empty words for soldiers now departed
because the hallowed truth is you don’t start it.

This poem finds its strength where most pieces might fail, in asking questions. The rhythmic questioning of outdated practices only emphasises the underlying theme – the pointlessness of war. 

Join us again next week for another jaw-dropping piece!

Creative Work: ‘Silvia’ by Barbara Biles

Creative WorksFor this week’s post, WPN has expanded its geographical horizons, bringing you a wonderful piece of fiction from Canadian writer Barbara Biles. Biles’ work is reflective of ancient tales, drawing influence from Greek Mythology to parallel the way we live and love in the modern world. This short piece explores two generations of characters, all with their own ties to mythology and the Greek gods who have spawned them. You, the reader, are an active participant in this tale, being spoken to, almost in secret, about Silvia’s affairs and the speaker’s memories as she has grown over the years.


          Her hair was blond as a child then prematurely grey so that you thought of her as ash-blonde; beautiful but mature. In spite of her resolve to become a biologist she fell into the same trap as dozens of other girls of the sixties, believing the whole amusing idea of free love: equal opportunity to hop in the sack with no repercussions. So funny I forgot to laugh.

Silvia got pregnant the first time out and like her namesake, Rhea Silvia, who was seduced in the forest by the god Mars to become mother of Romulus and Remus, she bore twins thus ending her own concocted tale of perpetual virginity. In Silvia’s case the seduction was in the back of a Chevy Nova at the edge of Groat Ravine. She could end the resulting pregnancy or put her boys up for adoption. Unlike Rhea Silvia whose boys were set adrift on the Tiber River then rescued and suckled by the she-wolf Lupa, Silvia chose to stay with her Aunt Margaret in Toronto for a stint and from then on wondered what kind of life her boys might lead. Certainly not likely to create a city like Rome or commit fratricide.

Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Magnolias’ by Kaylin Brennan

Creative WorksThis week, we have the pleasure of introducing debut writer to the blog, Kaylin Brennan with her flash-fiction piece, ‘Magnolias’. We also welcome Kaylin into the WPN family as production manager for the future Words, Pauses, Noises Anthology. There’s the old and outdated myth that it’s difficult to balance on the fence between publishing and writing. ‘Magnolias’ gives it a go; see what happens.



Me and her used to fight a lot when we lived with Ma. It wadn’t me though or my kind and givin’ momma. Couldn’t a been Ma. She’s an angel in everythin’ she does ‘cause she gave me the gift a life. It was that devil woman, Cheyenne.

I loved Cheyenne like she were a daily birthday present. She had the most doggone beautiful body. She knew it as well, always wearin’ the tightest jeans on this side of Arkansas. She would always go to the bathroom to take them off, never in front of me. Always thought she had some special trick of doin’ it that nobody should know. But I stopped thinkin’ that when she walked out that bathroom door. I stopped thinkin’ anything when she walked out that door. She always wore the prettiest underwear. Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘On Nights’ by David Russomano


Creative WorksWe’ve returned to our Words, Pauses, Noises competition winners and this week, we have returning contributor, David Russomano gracing our posts again with his poem, ‘On Nights’.


On Nights

It rains on nights when the leaves have gone,

coating every branch in black,

drenched. The cold light from street lamps

caught in the boughs turns to spiders’ webs—

silver fragmented lines extend

out in shaky patterns like cracks

in a mirror met by a fist.


From the center of a mirror

struck by a fist, silver fractures

extend out in shaky patterns,

shimmering like spiders’ webs of

drenched black boughs back lit by simple

street lamps on a rainy night when

the leaves have taken something with them.

This piece showcases an intriguing inverted perspective, where David hones in on micro moments that reflect a completely different outcome. The subtle change in reality has the reader flickering back to the beginning for another look, relishing in its visual symmetry. Next week, we’ll continue on with more from the Words, Pauses, Noises competition so hold tight and keep following.

Editing Masterguide by KU Creative Writing Staff and Writers in Residence

InterviewsPut down your pens, close your books and bid farewell to the MA Full-time Creative Writing class of 2014.

Now pick them back up and reopen Lockhurst quickly as we’ve got the mother of all workloads ahead. May submissions seem like a dot in the distance but we’ve all learned from semester one, time is notoriously deceptive. Especially if you’re like a certain member of the Words, Pauses, Noises team who leaves posting to the eleventh hour.

But fear not as our delightful tutors and writers in residence have bequeathed one final gift. Words, Pauses, Noises are honoured to present the top editing tips and advice, tried and trusted by our mentors and tutors. Gather around children because for some reason, I envision this post printed out and stuck up on many fridges over the coming weeks, including my own.

Jonathan Barnes:

  • Read your final drafts aloud – this will help to eliminate small repetitions, glitches etc. All text seems different when it is spoken.
  • Highlight clichés, then eradicate them!
  • Read a page of writing by an author whom you really admire and then return to your own editing, uplifted and inspired.

James Miller:

  • Where you have a long paragraph, cut the first and last sentence. These are usually waffle, the writerly equivalent of clearing your throat. This tip also applies to non-fiction.
  • Write early drafts long-hand, then type it up then print it out then go over it long hand. Then type up your corrections. Then repeat throughout the process. You should expect to do this many, many times.
  • Finished a final draft? Well done. Now open a new document and start again. You now have to re-write the entire book from scratch but with reference to the earlier draft. You are not allowed to copy and paste any of the old draft. Doing this will tighten your prose and intensify the drama of your story and is particularly good if, having ‘finished’ the first draft, you feel there is still something lacking. In general the more times you can go-over and rewrite, the better.

Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Half Light’ by Christopher Moore

Creative WorksAt first glance, flash-fiction may look like a ridiculously condensed version of its short-story counterpart. Some may scoff and disregard its size as a by-product of the story that couldn’t. But to the keen eye of the creative writer, it’s an art form of its own, a wonderful hybrid between verse, prose and dialogue. It is a challenge. And debut writer to Words, Pauses, Noises, Christopher Moore rises to the occasion in his piece, ‘Half Light’ with immediate story-line that delights the minute it has the reader captured for.


When I was four, my grandmother died. Well, not my actual grandmother. My adopted grandmother. I wasn’t upset. Not really. Not until she reached out of her coffin with her cold-as-marble hands and stared me down with bloodshot eyes, asking me to look after her begonias.

* * *

Biology was always my favourite subject. Emily Burrows was my strongest competition until she took a tumble down the stairs. I didn’t know how those marbles got there and that’s exactly what I told Mr. Branson. I learned the “what goes around comes around” lesson pretty soon after that on Dissection Day. I took the scalpel in my hand, pressed my thumb to the pig’s heart and passed out promptly after it beat. Twice. Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Help Wanted’ Part 2, by Cais Jurgens

Creative WorksIn last week’s installment of Cais Jurgens‘ story ‘Help Wanted’ we found the protagonist, Fish, starting his new job at a gentleman’s club in Manhattan. We were immersed in a world of sensuous delights countered by the unglamorous reality that lies behind the scenes in such places. Cais’ work is richly textured, giving us both the glamour and flash as well as the alcoholism and despondency that pervades both sides of the bar. 

We return now to Fish and his upstream struggle to understand and belong.

Help Wanted, Part 2

By Cais Jurgens

Ja ja ja, drink it slow or you get no more. I tried my best and I took my time.  I picked up my pen and got to work.

A Degustation

How can you nurse like that
I drowned my own secret
Baby when you checked
The roast

I hoisted bitter sails
Wide mouthed
Sunday measures

We know another on sight
Eyeing a polite bottle
Dreary longing

How you cradle and warm it
Enjoying more the thought
Before you
Filling up floating

Your glass polished
A sundial
I’d rather see wasted than

Knock it over
Rock it back
I’d hate to have to watch
You mop it up

Pablo was a time traveler.  He did so often and without hesitation.  I believe it was one of his only joys in life but I may be wrong.  For someone I spent up to eight hours with each day, I really knew very little about him.  What I did know was that his preferred time machine was made of Hennessy.  He’d get into his time machine sometime on Saturday evening and it would transport him to about three in the afternoon the following Tuesday.  It did this each week like clockwork.  Sometimes he would begin his time travel at work and then reappear again the following day, barely aware he’d ever been home.  He’d show up for work in low spirits but accepting of his personal hell.  Within a few minutes, out would come a stiff cup of coffee and the Baileys Irish Cream.  This would get him back to his higher function and a mindset capable of tolerating another 8-10 hours standing behind the bar.  I found Pablo to be amazing in this way.  He was living proof of the durability of the human body, a testament to what it can truly tolerate, at least in its general youth.  It’s true that he did look older than twenty-six but not a day over thirty.  

You have an order, Fish.  Off I went, food in hand.  A salmon roll, some French fries and a plate of lobster, a skirt steak, a tuna avocado roll and an order of miso soup.  It was an odd combination and therefore was going to a high roller with a couple of hungry ladies at his side.

The cashier pointed me in their direction.  The two girls were Russian.  They were tall, blonde, almost identical and spoke in a thick accent.  They flanked him on both sides at the bar in the club.  The man was middle aged, American, not a native New Yorker.  If you were in town on business you could request that the club print the name of a different restaurant on the receipt so that you could charge everything to your expense account without your company knowing you just spent several hundred dollars at a strip club.  I suspected that this was the scenario I was dealing with.

Can you bring me some ketchup? 

I brought you some ketchup, it’s right here.  I handed the man the plate of ketchup I’d prepared upstairs.

No, I need more.  It’s for the lobster.  

You want ketchup for the lobster?

Yes, please.  The lobster special that evening cost eighty dollars.  This man and his two escorts were going to cover it in generic brand ketchup.

Yes, sir.  That will be one hundred and forty-six dollars, please.  He looked at me in disbelief.  I handed him the bill, which he studied while the girls laid into their food.  Obviously this man was not aware that you shouldn’t give two exotic dancers free reign over the menu when you’re the one buying.  It was a lesson I’d seen many people learn the hard way. I saw one man escorted by two very large bouncers in black.  I over heard the cashier say that apparently he owed the house twenty-six grand.  Nobody ever saw him again.

We never saw a lot of people again, that was the nature of the business.   Our lives existed around alcohol and our livelihood because of it.  Anything and everything became an excuse to indulge heavily and it got to the point where Pablo and I drank to feel normal.  It was like coffee perking us up in the dead of night.  More than once I found myself waking up at east one hundred and fifth street in Brooklyn at five or six in the morning or maybe all the way down in the financial district.  I fell asleep on the train during my ride home many times.  It took the sanctity out of night and out of sleep for there’s nothing worse than heading home and hearing birds mock you at every turn.  I liked to imagine that morning commuters took pity on me but I didn’t mind, for you don’t really, truly know comfort until you can find happiness on a blow up mattress on a wooden floor in the center of Bushwick.   Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Help Wanted’ Part 1, by Cais Jurgens

Creative WorksEverybody’s had one of these jobs, where a new unknown world appears and you slowly get sucked in. Help Wanted is a portrayal of just that kind of workplace that comes with a language and culture of its own. The familiar sense of community in a foreign backdrop where you almost belong, but don’t quite feel a part of. Words, Pauses, Noises is proud to showcase this debut piece from one of our own, Cais Jurgens; part one of his short story.

Help Wanted

By Cais Jurgens

 They call bullshit an art form.  I’ve always found there to be a fine but noticeable line between art and dumb luck and my job at 1674 Broadway at the top end of Manhattan’s theatre district was a result of the latter.  I wish I could tell you I’d sauntered in, put on a show of flaming cocktails poured expertly into a chilled martini glass and was hired and highly paid but it didn’t exactly happen that way.

The reality is that I was on the verge of giving up on that unseasonably warm November evening.  I was salivating at the oddly satisfying thought of ending my job search for the day and heading back to a friend’s couch in Brooklyn to hose down my empty stomach with what would be the first of several beers that night.  Instead, I pressed uptown with my rejected resume, watched the sun dip a little lower into New Jersey with every city block and eventually wandered into the swankiest Sushi joint I’d ever seen.

It was beautiful as well as classy.  Floating globes lit the room and in a warm essence that mingled with the lingering scent of skirt steak and hot oshibori towels.

I was nervous yet beaming dumbly from ear to ear and hired on the spot just for showing up it seemed.  Bar-back.  I was satisfied with the title.  My other title came to be White Boy, as I was the only person featuring both white skin and male genitalia employed at the establishment.  Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Black Ocean’ by ReBecca Compton

Creative WorksAs deadlines approach for papers and submissions at Kingston University MA program a certain frenetic energy takes hold of us and changes simple words into stories that capture imaginations. This is the right time to take a breather and check out other people’s ideas and realisations.

This week on Words, Pauses, Noises, we have a new author, ReBecca Compton, and her short story ‘Black Ocean’. This first person narrative seeks to explore the hidden, true nature within her characters, as well as every one of us. Come join us for a while as we drift in the waves of discovery.

‘Black Ocean’ by ReBecca Compton

There he was with his friends and that woman, the one who never stopped touching him. Though it didn’t matter what she did, he never truly fell for her.

Not like he would for me.

I heard the clicking of my heels across the wood of the patio as I made my way to the drinks. I wrapped my hand slowly around the cup next to his.

“Hello.” I said it smooth and slow.

He met my eyes last. “I’m-I’m Brian.” He stuck his hand out. I smiled. Touch was key, and now he was asking to do the work for me.

My hand wrapped around his. “I’m Alix.” I ran my fingers down his palm as I released his hand, watched his pupils dilate. “I’m visiting from out of town. Tell me, if there’s one thing I need to see before I leave, what would that be?” I traced my finger along the rim of the glass and sucked off the salt.

“Oh that’s easy.” He pointed away from the party. “You need to see the ocean at dusk.” Continue reading