My Surprise Workshop

8 Oct

It is fair to say that some participants didn’t get what they came for on Sunday morning when they turned up with their rolled up mats and tired faces expecting relaxation and poetry. I was a late replacement for the relaxation teacher who wasn’t able to make it. There was a meditative quality to this workshop, but I don’t think you could say it was relaxing. This was a mixed group of experienced poets and some completely new to poetry. But every single one of them moved me with their willingness to dig in, dig deep and take on challenges. By this point in the festival I reckon most participants are steeped in poetry and they’re just ready to go. We read Wallace Stevens’ poem, ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’, an imagist masterpiece. The workshop culminated in everyone writing their own ‘Thirteen ways of looking at … ‘ poems, but before that, they wrote a group poem, each contributing a single section, ‘Nine Ways of Looking at a Mobile Phone’. At the end of the session, they all wrote down their sections for me, which I’ve transcribed and pasted in below with their permission.  You’ll find it there, unedited since this morning. I think it’s pretty wonderful.
The poems they produced subsequently on themes of their choice were even more impressive, producing plenty of laughter, but even more sighs of recognition. I felt thoroughly elated by the end of workshop. Bravo to all who took part.

Nine ways of looking at a mobile phone


Metal plastic blank


the phone belongs to anyone

lines, whorls, finger pressure




In the hushed London rush-hour

commuters sway: not to the rhythm

of the tracks but to their own

smart phone lullaby

Precious rare earth

minerals to be mined


Golden apple of life, lies and laughter

Perfect pictures and piracy

and shortcuts

and U




The latest iPad (or the one we can most afford) connects my

children to their friends and parties

they will attend, and the goings

on in their private world.

It excludes me, eyes contact

with strangers and the spaces

between the sentences that then

no longer speak

She spoke softly. I heard the tremor in the

tingling static.

“My mobile phone is out of credit,

could you ask on my behalf?”

I am birth

I am kiss

I am kith

I am love

I am death

I am your timelines

Miphone is nothing notable not able

miphone is isn’t an islander

Miphone is the best   only most

Miphone is my general fax factory jactotum

is my total totem

Is my translator transgender transitional object

Still so much to learn

Regarding all of the things

A mobile phone has offer

I like to learn in my own time

But at times I’ll call on my son

For assistance of which

Gives him the feeling of superiority

And a good laugh as well.

It’s important to me that at bedtime

He leaves his phone downstairs charging

Or he’d be on it all night

And he wouldn’t be able to cope with

His day and responsibilities

And neither would I!

The sounds of the phone are various,

alarming or comforting.

The messages in the phone

tell of the urgent, the mundane

or of endearments to treasure.


Written by: Philly Vincent, John Mills, Rachael Clyne, Marilyn Hamnich, Carole Best, Fi Paney, Lesley, Anon and Anon

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