“I said there’s no getting rid of me now to which he replied I’ll hold you to that”

and when we’re fifty-three
we’ll have a house with a sea view and a stove top kettle.
There’ll be a cat called Steve
and you’ll put on red slippers to fetch the newspaper.
I don’t know where we’ll be,
Portreath, Marrakech, Porto,
all I know is that I’ll race you to the cupboard every morning
and you’ll hide my glasses every evening, we’ll make every day a game.

And when we’re sixty-two
we’ll sleep naked like starfish in the middle of the bed
and your heavy hands will follow my wrinkles,

trace the stories in my worn thin skin.
For the one million and thirteenth time,
I’ll stroke your balding head,
and go in for a kiss
but lick your nose
instead.

And when we’re seventy-four
I’ll smack your butt in the kitchen,
as you take out the turkey,
and our daughter of forty-three will sigh and tell us
get a room,
so we’ll sneak away to the pantry,
and steal kisses by the roast potatoes.

And when we’re eighty-one
I’ll ask you if you love me
and you’ll say
nah, you’re just handy to keep around,
so I’ll stick my tongue out at you,
and you’ll put your hand in mine,
that space that’s made
just for you.

(An edited version of an old poem, picture from Pixabay)

-Andrea

“Poem for the thighs”

Tea stain scars run down my thigh,
and the new skin growing
feels soft under my hands.
He has never touched this skin,
never let his fingers linger over it,
or kissed it with seafoam lips.
It’s like a teacup in my lap was what I needed,
to discard him,
grow out of him,
to make me see that the spot he used to rest his hands on,
isn’t there
anymore.

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This picture’s not mine, but it can be found here,
and for more poems, both text and video, click here!

-Andrea

 

Writer’s Log 4

Writer’s Log 4
21/05-2018

Mission Log
Today’s goal is to finish the Creative Voice-Creative Piece.
I’m in Swanage for the time being, staying with Harvey. He’s in the process of applying for jobs and I’m writing this piece, to hopefully finish my degree with a bang. Most likely my last ever creative piece at uni. So weird!

Andrea Wold Johansen Writing Nook Swanage

10:35 I’ve got this.

10:42 So, I just went through everything I wrote about in my last Writer’s Log, and I may or may not have scrapped it all. Didn’t really resonate anymore, it was too much backstory and not enough actual story. Will keep it and maybe put the backstory in as an appendix though, or just use it as something to reference to as I’m working on it.

11:17 Scrapping what I had might actually have been the most useful thing I’ve done with this story! Ended up creating an entirely new storyline, and now the protagonist has a proper mystery to solve. “Kill your darlings,” and all that; even if you like something you’ve done, if it doesn’t move or add anything to the story, it doesn’t belong in it.

12:00 So, this story has taken a completely new turn, and I’m loving it. It now starts out with a teacher fleeing into England’s last existing forest (in the year of 2187), to hide a 100-year-old forbidden dream journal. This is gonna be a ride.

12:22 This feels more and more like a speculative piece, and when it’s done, submitted and marked, I kind of want to post it here. At the moment I’m trying really hard to not make it into a Technology-is-scary story, though, it’s more a comment on how we as a society overwork ourselves and where we might be headed if we keep it going like this. The technology parts are just a bonus!

13:03 Rocky demanded belly rubs, so I had to take a break. It doesn’t matter if you’re well into writing or if you’re in the middle of a good “flow”, there is always time for belly rubs.
Andrea Wold Johansen, Rocky 004Andrea Wold Johansen, Rocky 001Andrea Wold Johansen, Rocky 002

13:15 Since I started the day by deleting everything and had to start again, I’ve changed the goal of the day to 1500 words. Should be doable.

13:45 I’m really struggling with updating the writer’s log today, but that’s actually not a bad thing. I started the writer’s log series to keep myself accountable for how I spend the time I set off as “writing time” and to keep track of how well I’ve been working, but today I’ve just been busy writing and writing. I’ve been banging my fists against a bit of a creative block lately, so suddenly just having the words flow out feels really good again. Not gonna worry too much about the earlier stated goal for today, but I’m having a really good time writing now.

15:05 Okay, Rocky is demanding pets again and I’m feeling good-tired from having been at it since about 11. Gonna call it a day and just keep working on the plot in my head until I can get some more words down!

Andrea Wold Johansen 023
Also, just found this image again from June last year (while looking for some research on my laptop), and I have to admit that I do miss the hair a bit…

Recap of the session:
Did not reach either of my goals (1. to finish and 2. to reach 1500 words), but still, a very productive session! Starting from scratch gave me new drive to keep writing, and I’m a lot happier with what I’ve got now. Now it’s actually an interesting story with a proper action and character-driven plot, instead of just being musings about how the world ended up being as it is.

Mistake of the day: Accidentaly. Acidentaly. Acidentally. ACCIDENTALLY!

Wordcount of the day: 1367

Writing location: My favourite ever writing nook looking out over Swanage bay.

Phone breaks: Not a single one, my phone is very battery-dead at the moment.

Beverage of choice: Started off with just a Yorkshire tea, but have switched over to this green tea one of my flat mates brought from Hong Kong. I’m normally not a fan of green tea, but this is really good!

Mood before writing: I’m not entirely sure where to find my plot after the 1000 word long backstory I wrote last time??”
Mood during writing: Delete everything. Start afresh. See what happens.
Mood after writing: Need some time to really figure out how to use the plot to explain how this world works, and how to use the characters to show how not physically (and genetically) being able to sleep would affect an entire population. This is gonna be fun, though!

Question of the day: When you write, do you start by planning out the plot or the setting?

-Andrea

Poetry Platform @ the Railway Inn

Before I came to uni, poetry was one of those things I enjoyed reading and listening to, but never did myself. Even though I read the works – and listened to the words – of all these wonderful poets I found online and in the library, writing poetry still seemed like something angsty teenagers did alone in their rooms. Then I got to Winchester, and I attended my first ever Poetry Platform. The Poetry Platform is a great open mic night, where poets from all over Hampshire can come together for a monthly night of wordery (this is a word now). I loved it from the beginning. The vibe of “everything’s okay here”, the little stage that welcomed everyone, how there was always room for one more person.
The entirety of first year was spent watching everyone else perform, while I was trying to build up a portfolio of half-decent poems in the creative writing course’s mandatory poetry lessons. I started loving those lessons too. Seeing poetry so alive,  and workshopping other students’ lines, sentences I could only dream of writing one day, made me fall in love with poetry as a medium. It’s a love affair I hope will last a lifetime.

I don’t call myself a poet. There are way more talented people, those who can express everything they feel so elegantly, who’ve just got words flowing out of their brains in poetic sentences every minute of every day. However, I do love putting together simple, uncomplicated poems, poems that ponder on how we all more or less fumble through life. My poems are rarely very deep, they don’t often tackle very heavy subjects, but after a performance the other day, someone told me they thought my writing felt like “a hug in poem form”, something they felt they could relate to, and I loved that. That’s exactly what I want my “art” to be. Something to make people feel nice and warm and good.

Here’s a video of a poem I did on this month’s Poetry Platform. I’m still working on the title, but it felt like a fitting poem to do on my (most likely) last performance at the Railway.


(The song is “Har du Fyr” – Hekla Stålstrenga, a beautiful song about your home always being there waiting for you, no matter how far off you venture.)

It’s all a bit soppy, but my three-year England adventure is coming to an end, so I feel like I’m allowed to be.

(For more poetry, both page and stage, check out my Published Pieces and Performances page!)

-Andrea

“Yellow Flowers on the Kitchen Table”

We met in 1952, and I remember her dress from the first day of college. It was red and I asked her out a week after I saw her for the first time. She declined. We still talked though, and I still noticed her. Noticed how no matter how hard she tried to pin her hair away, it would always fall into her face, and how her eyes always wondered why to everything. Then, a year later, after we’d had a bit more time, almost set fire to our homeroom together and passed all the exams we’d studied for, her red pen next to my black, she asked me out. We danced a slow dance by a jukebox, listening to Nat King Cole.

     It’s very clear our love is here to stay, not for a year, but forever and a day. Read More

“After Nils-Øivind Haagensen”

jeg skal holde deg til du sovner

she puts her hands on his face,
strokes dry skin and chapped lips

hva om jeg ikke sovner

354 days clean
nearly a year of no burning throats or broken nails
and clinging to porcelain life lines

jeg skal holde deg

“why today,” he thinks
but “don’t hold me,” he says
as he expects her to shove his shivers away
but she doesn’t

I`ll hold you till you fall asleep
What if I don`t fall asleep
I`ll hold you 

Andrea Wold Johansen 008

This is a poem from a creative portfolio I handed in for a second year poetry module. It’s always weird to look back at old writing, but I guess that’s a good thing; progress and learning and all that jazz.
The single stanzas in between the verses make up my all time favourite poem by Norwegian poet Nils-Øivind Haagensen. The last verse is the poem translated.
It  simply goes:

jeg skal holde deg til du sovner
hva om jeg ikke sovner?
jeg skal holde deg.

And that’s it. No title, no capital letters or any sense of who the characters speaking are, still it’s got such a strong story to tell. I love it.

-Andrea

“Norwegian winters”

They moved into number 24 at the age of 23.
Brown doors needed new locks, the garage was falling apart,
but they rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
When Winter and his winds flew down from the north
and blew snow right in where the windows were supposed to be,
they dreamt of a red-brick fireplace and a double bed,
a door you could close and proper curtains.
Outside, the snow grayed like a father of three,
and the leaves wrinkled up like fishermen’s hands
as icicles hung from the roof;
swords and slippery ladders.

He brought hot chocolate in pink elephant mugs,
and an extra pair of socks for cold feet.
She went to bed on the living room floor,
a single mattress with room for two.
It was one of those nights, where the snow and the street lights tried to outshine each other,
and the wind played lullabies through the cracks in the ceiling.

Come here, she said from her spot on the floor,
it’s a night for stomach kisses and seven pairs of mittens.

Andrea Wold Johansen 003

-Andrea

“I knitted your cat a scarf for Christmas”

but you’re impossible to buy presents for.

Maybe I’ll give you the sequins of sun on snow,
and the frost roses I scraped off my car this morning.
I could write you a note saying how nothing lasts forever,
but look how pretty temporary can be.

I could give you a magic chocolate factory,
with a flying glass lift and grass made of sugar,
because nothing’s ever as it seems,
and every problem looks small when seen from above.

Maybe I’ll get you a home made jumper,
so big it could house the Russian circus.
Hopefully, it would remind you to always dance,
even when it’s Jan Garbarek on the radio.

No, I’ll  give you a kiss like they do in Peter Pan.
An acorn on a string,
soft fingers on your chest, messy sheets,
and quiet voices,
in the dark.

I knitted your cat a scarf for Christmas,
but you are impossible to buy presents for.

Andrea Wold Johansen 005

-Andrea