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

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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