Tag Archives: poetry workshop

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. Continue reading

Politics and Provocation

8 Oct

Daljit Nagra’s was a packed workshop in the holiday Inn and we were grateful for the posh bottles of water, Holiday Inn notepads and pens, and thankfully, air conditioning. Things got quite ‘balmy’ as Daljit put it as this workshop progressed. I had intended to come as an observer but found myself quickly and irrevocably drawn in.

The political became more and more accessible as a way into poetry as the workshop progressed. Daljit talked about his experience of writing British Museum, that a way to get into the structures of politics, for him, was to look at the structures of buildings; beautifully concrete images to work from. He talked about the joy of taking on The Big Poem, of doing the research without an authoritative or didactic voice, and mentioned my favourite Yeats quote: ‘Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry’. From this, he invited us, amongst other things, to be non-partisan and to write from another’s point of view. Continue reading

More exposure

8 Oct

I really liked Simon Kirwin’s poetry (his Sleeford Mods introduction, Lion the f**king cellar Lion, the political circus clowns – honk, honk!) but all I can think about is Andrew McMillan urinating. Okay so not him, exactly, but well. Continue reading

A brush with Kim

8 Oct

We started with an American sentence – 17 syllables – with an encounter with a person.

It’s like an extended Haiku, and for someone who tweets for a living, a fun challenge:

– I ran across the road avoiding a car; the driver shook her fist.

– Jumped into Coate Water to save a child, but it was just a coat.

– The human condition, the past, another country in his diary.

As someone said later, Kim Moore, poet-in-residence, worked us hard in her workshop, Encounters and Collisions, with the right balance of poems to read, discussion (without too many tangents) and work created. It’s amazing what 17 syllables can bring out from a bunch of writers – cockroaches and Cathedral cheese, cockney Albino, friends for life, squaddies and shoe-buffing dogs, phagocytes. Continue reading

Getting lost with a map

7 Oct
Jean Atkin workshop

Jean Atkin workshop

‘Here is a map.’
‘I don’t like maps.’
‘Can we use a satnav?’
‘There won’t be a test. It’s in the spirit of dadaism’

Jean Atkin kicks off the Poetry Swindon festival Big Poetry Weekend with a workshop, and asked us to get lost with a map. ‘You discover a place once with a map, then again when you visit,’ she said.

My eye was drawn to Bettiscombe Manor House and my mind to horror, which to anyone who knows me is far from a shock association. Dredging up my map skills the ye olde writing meant a historical site and the jam-packed series of irregular lines around it – some pretty steep hills.

Bettiscombe Manor House
I hide in a tight valley,
Sheepish slopes rise on all sides.
Children bring tabogans to Sliding Hill
Oh, some time ago.
No snow for years;
One great fall and the clouds were finished.
These days fun is found in my bare broken bones,
Then treachery on mildewed steps
Down inside to the cellar.

At that point, one poem up and still fun in the edits, I thought I’d quit while ahead.

Jean Atkin’s workshop was at the Richard Jefferies Museum on 6 October 2016, part of Poetry Swindon’s Big Poetry Weekend.

Chronicle written by Louisa Davison

Refugees and recipes at Poetry Swindon Festival

3 Oct

This morning at a workshop at Poetry Swindon Festival, poet, publisher and teacher Robert Vas Dias had us creating a poem through the powerful blending of a Nigel Slater recipe and a Guardian news report.

Some lines were picked by pre-randomly generated numbers (each line on report and recipe were numbered), some – like the one below – were picked by way of a roulette wheel. Continue reading

Damn fine words – writing workshop with Matt Harvey at the Swindon Festival of Literature

17 May
Writing workshop with Matt Harvey

Writing workshop with Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey’s writing workshop yesterday was a lesson, not just in writing, but how to run a writing course. We had three and a half hours to learn. I felt sympathy for Matt when we introduced ourselves, a proper mixed ability class.

There were published poets and Karen, a novelist with an agent. There were also people who hadn’t written since school; for Lucy that was twenty years ago. That’s one diverse crowd to cater for in a single workshop.

But the great thing about writing is that a person becomes a writer when they write. Whatever inspires a person – with a pen, pencil or finger to put it to paper or electronic device and create words – is job done. Continue reading

Surprising yourself with Cliff Yates at the Swindon Festival of Poetry

3 Oct

I guess the most surprising thing about this poetry writing session was that I managed to write four pieces.

I wasn’t surprised about the range of poetry written by people – some wonderful, some in need of work, Cliff offering advice. We were asked: who would we like to be? Where did we visit? Who was the surprising guest? And: there is/are plenty of – what in my house? We were prompted to observe and record the surprising details to bring alive our verse.

I am always worried (but not surprised) at a smile response at my work. That says: yep, that doesn’t stir any emotion, or, sorry what were you saying? It was so boring I forgot it instantly. I could interpret it as: ‘that’s perfect as it is’. But that wouldn’t get me anywhere. Next time perhaps I’ll write something really atrocious and see what happens. Or maybe that smile is the ‘really atrocious’ response?

Neuroses aside, I am left with a question. Surprisingly for me I was reticent to talk. I looked around the room, at the quality of poets present, and felt I would waste everyone’s writing time if I asked why the poem Cliff had read to us by way of example, was actually a poem. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but it looked like flash fiction with really short lines. Answers on a postcard.

Props to Cliff though – prompts and space to write. Suggestions to do your own thing. Not expectations of form or the such like. And a top piece of advice for newly scribed work? Lose the last two lines.

And for anyone who’s interested, here’s one inspired by the surprising visitor. Totally true, y’all:

The Morning After

There we were
Lying around, pyjama clad
Fuggy voiced
Toxic sweat.

The phone rang. ‘Sorry I couldn’t make it last night.
Could I take you up on the offer of coffee? It’s Peter, your neighbour.
Can I come now?’
A brief pause. Sticky sweat trickles. ‘Okay.’
He asks: ‘Do you have fags?’ Continue reading

Exciting poetry coming down a slip road – Swindon Festival of Poetry launch

5 Sep

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The great thing about being a chronicler is that on the one hand I can write whatever I like (as long as it isn’t defamatory and all the words are wrote proper) but on the other I feel part of the team.

So going to the Swindon Festival of Poetry launch today at Swindon Arts Centre was a chance to catch up with wordsmithing friends. Continue reading

Picture Hooks – Tamar Yoseloff workshop

12 May
Word & Image with Tamar Yoseloff and BlueGate Poets

Word & Image with Tamar Yoseloff and BlueGate Poets

Surrounded by one of the best collections of 20th century British art outside London and in the company of Tamar Yoseloff one of the most critically acclaimed poetry tutors in the country, twenty poets responded to art at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in Bath Road. Continue reading