All posts filed under: Workshopping

Sky above Clouds by Georgia O'Keeffe

Both sides now

A smooth drive to London yesterday for Anne-Marie Fyfe’s newest workshop, on the theme of clouds.  As in ‘I wandered lonely as…’, or ‘from both sides now..’ And yes, Joni Mitchell did make an appearance, as did Debussy, Django Reinhardt, Billy Collins, Emily Dickinson, John Lennon, The Wizard of Oz and a range of Surrealist art, amongst others. I’ve said this before, but I really do think these workshops are the best I’ve experienced. With so much stimulation – verbal, visual, musical – the sheer pace of it (although it never feels hurried), and the continuous nature of the exercises, you have no time to lose focus. It doesn’t matter if something doesn’t ‘click’ because there’s another question or exercise coming right up. Nothing seems to distract, not even the relentless traffic and sirens of the Old Brompton Road. You are immersed, coming up for air after two hours and wondering where the time went. Anne-Marie plans these workshops well in advance. Not only are there plenty of materials and handouts but it’s obvious that a …

TS Eliot prize readings programme

TS Eliot Prize – workshop & readings

Katy Evans-Bush‘s TS Eliot shortlist workshop is fast becoming an institution. Now in its sixth year, it’s a fine precursor to the Prize readings which take place the following day, and the prize giving itself the day after that. The format is straightforward – Katy reads the ten shortlisted books, chooses from them a number of poems to discuss, and invites poets along to the Poetry School in Lambeth for a day to mull them over. I’ve been to one of these workshops once before and had a wonderful time. This time I had to confess I hadn’t read any of the collections, but in a way that’s part of the excitement – to be introduced to them by someone like Katy. Not only does she offer her thoughts and insights into the works, and invite us all into the discussion, but she also brings to the table her formidable background as a writer, reader and and literary critic. Plus the odd bit of insider gossip, of course. The TS Eliot Prize is probably the highest profile UK poetry prize and that’s …

andrew mcmillan photographed by Innes Morrison

Notes from a workshop with Andrew McMillan

As promised in my last post, here are my notes from the workshop I did on Saturday at the South Downs Poetry Festival, with Andrew McMillan. I’m including links at the end to other workshop notes, in case you find these posts useful. I was really impressed with Andrew’s workshop. It’s tricky to teach a one-off session like this when you’ve no way of knowing who is coming to the session nor what they hope to get from it. As well as asking us to each say (briefly) what we hoped to take away, he also offered participants the chance to feed back after every exercise, and the chance to read aloud the example poems. Andrew had planned the session well and we motored through a lot of great material, but his calm and relaxed style meant it never felt hurried or forced. That’s exactly what I want as a participant – to feel challenged by the material, confident in the teacher and unaware of time passing. So here’s a summary, in which I hope I’ve captured the essential …

Coffee-House poetry workshop

Coffee-House poetry workshops with Anne-Marie Fyfe

Last weekend I was at the Troubadour in London on a Sunday afternoon for one of Anne-Marie Fyfe’s themed writing workshops. It was intense without feeling like hard work – I felt I’d been challenged and came away with a number of useful seedlings of ideas that may one day make their way into poems or other creative writing. Which is, I think, the best possible result. Writing workshops are a funny thing – as a participant, I often quickly get irritated or restless when invited to do a piece of ‘free writing’ or ‘imagine you’re five years old and you’ve just seen your first elephant’ or whatever. More often than not, nothing comes into my head, or else I just write reams of nonsense which just makes my hand ache. If it goes on for too long I look around at everyone else furiously writing and feel a bit resentful that I’m wasting precious writing time trying to write about ‘a time in my life when… [insert insignificant episode here].’ And then I get fed up with …

Poetry at the Troubadour

Readings, talks, good poetry stuff on the horizon

Last Thursday I was at Roehampton University where I’d been invited by Principal Lecturer Louise Tondeur to talk to her Creative Writing students about Telltale Press, collaborative working, the importance of submitting work to magazines, marketing your work/yourself, that sort of thing. I get a bit scared when faced by a room of people (mostly) under 21 – I find it impossible to tell if they’re interested or even listening. I suppose all my teaching experience has been with adults who are uninhibited about showing enthusiasm or appreciation, asking questions, and engaging fully. And yet the general feedback afterwards was great, and several people wanted to talk to me individually. I was even invited to the students’ showcase event to hear their work. Once again I was reminded of my great admiration for our overworked and underpaid teachers and lecturers. Monday: to the Troubadour. Anne-Marie Fyfe’s Coffee House Poetry nights at the Troubadour are always well attended. On Monday it was standing room only, and I was lucky to get a seat. The nice thing about everyone squashing up together …

Obsessed with Pipework issue 73

Quick update – submissions, good news, real life stuff

The big news this week is that we finally completed our purchase of the new flat, and we’re now wondering what we can afford to do to it in the five weeks before we move in. Within an hour of getting the keys I’d already stripped wallpaper from an entire wall – it came off so easily I think it was put on with Spray Mount. Honestly I could have rolled it back up and sold it on eBay. I’ll try not be a property bore here because I’ve started another blog dedicated to pretty much that. But on to the business of poetry … I’m really enjoying workshopping with my new buddies at the Hastings Poetry Stanza. The group was set up in 2014 by Antony Mair and he’s done a brilliant job of attracting an interesting group of motivated writers. There’s some fine talent east of here, and nice people too. Over in Brighton I’ve been attending a fortnightly poetry course at New Writing South led by John McCullough which has been great for introducing …

A Bridge (not) Too Far – workshop with Anne-Marie Fyfe

Today I made my first visit to the Troubadour cafe, after thinking about it for a long time – I thought I’d start by going to one of Anne-Marie Fyfe‘s Coffee House Poetry workshops, which always sound enticing. The theme was ‘bridges’, and the first irony of the day was my inability to locate Wandsworth Bridge, despite the satnav lady giving it her best shot. Thankfully I managed it second time around. I’m glad I drove – although it’s a couple of hours away from where I live, parking around the Troubadour is free and easy on a Sunday, whereas the rail service from the South coast is non-existent on Sundays, making for miserable four-hour journeys. And it was pouring with rain when I left so jumping into the car was wonderful. There’s something a tad intimidating about the Troubadour cafe – the door is solid and heavy so it’s as if you have to be ‘in the know’ to enter. The interior is, well, quirky. As I quietly ordered my cup of tea, wondering if I’d …

Launches, readings, online course, a new book … busy autumn

Someone posted recently on Twitter that poetry seemed to be “mostly about reading, writing and waiting”.  I know I’ve certainly had that kind of year up until a few weeks ago. I’d have to wait to do one of my ‘stock takes’ to see if I’ve been sending out less work this year than last, it’s felt a bit like the doldrums but in reality it may just be that I’ve had more rejections this year than before. I love autumn, and right now I’m feeling busy and fulfilled with various projects on the go, so maybe there’s a little momentum building. The first half of the year was mostly about writing (non fiction) books, the first of which is scheduled for release in November. This Monday (29th) I’m giving a talk / leading a discussion for Hastings & St Leonards Writers’ Hub  about social media and blogging, as a prelim to my one-day courses for New Writing South – the first of which is coming up in October. I also have a piece to …

Swindon Festival of Poetry

Hurray! First of all I managed to snag a place on the Don Share workshop in October in Swindon (before it sold out) and then thanks to a prompt from Josephine Corcoran I’m now booked in from Friday night, so I’ll be able to join in on Saturday also. The Swindon Festival of Poetry, brainchild of the indefatigable Hilda Sheehan, takes place from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th October, and with the range of workshops, readings, walks and other fun events on offer I think it’s going to be a super weekend. It feels like so long since I was able to think/talk/write poetry for more than a couple of hours at a time. So I really feel I need this. Can’t wait. Come along if you can – for the whole event, for a day or for an individual session or two – bookings are open now and all the details are here.

Share crazy | Dickinson poem found | Hot stuff

It’s all been a bit hectic lately, but I thought I’d just check in with updates on a few things. Readings  – On Wednesday I’m at the Poetry Cafe with 5 other Brighton-ish based poets, talking on Palmers Green in a Stanza Bonanza. I’m wondering how little clothing I can get away with, given the typical ambience of the Poetry Cafe basement even in February (think Brazilian rainforest). From 7pm – come and support us if you dare! Workshops – the amazing Hilda Sheehan has pulled off a right royal coup – she’s only been and got Don Share to come and give a workshop in Swindon in October – blimey! His fan club has got its antenna up and the Share-heads are already whooping it up on Facebook. I am so there – although of course I already have my autographed copy of Union – yeah, baby! Found poem – Not strictly ‘found’ in that sense, but it recently came to my attention that a poem I sent to poetsonline.org has appeared on their website. It was in response to one of their periodic …