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Ty Newydd excitement & friends’ news

Ty Newydd photo by Touchstone

What’s been your experience of writers’ residential courses? I’ve heard many good things from friends who’ve done an Arvon course or similar. The idea of a few days holed up in seclusion with time and space to focus on writing does seem like a wonderful luxury.

I created my own ‘retreat’ a couple of years ago and rented a tiny beach house at Camber Sands for a few days in March. I was lucky with the weather – cold but bright and breezy days – but the place lacked a comfortable chair in which to write. I got a fair bit done, writing, reading and walking/thinking about writing. But I was a tad lonely, and it’s hard to stay motivated on your own.

Anyway I’ve finally booked onto a course and I’m feeling quite excited about it. It’s billed as a poetry ‘masterclass’ with Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke and it’s at Ty Newydd in October. (Photo above from their website). What attracted me was the fact that we had to send some poems before we got definitely accepted. I’ve no idea if that was a token gesture – maybe there were only 16 applicants anyway – but it feels like some sort of quality control, and that really appeals to me. Hopefully we won’t have the kinds of problems described by Isabel Rogers on her blog recently. If you’re going to shell out 500 quid you kind of want to know that everyone else is at least as serious and willing to participate as you are (maybe that sounds a bit pompous but hey.)

PLUS…  news of poet friends  – Brighton Stanza organiser Jo Grigg has tried to keep quiet about the fact that she had two poems on the National Poetry Competition long list this year (come on Jo, could you try bragging a bit more, you’re making me look bad!) and Tess Jolly hit the jackpot in a US competition – there’s gold in them thar hills! Not only that, but Hastings roving writer Antony Mair is now sending out his poems and has had work accepted by Ink, Sweat & Tears and Acumen – nice one.

PS can anyone tell me how on earth to pronounce ‘Ty Newydd’? – thanks

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  1. This is exciting! I’m sure that course would have been oversubscribed and you should feel very pleased to have been selected. I must admit to admiring your self-created writing retreat but can imagine that loneliness would be a factor. I’ll leave it to a Welsh person to comment on the pronunciation. I’ve done a few Arvon courses and have always enjoyed them and gained a lot, including friendships.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Josephine, and good to hear that you’ve benefited from Arvon courses. Actually just the train journey to Wales will feel like an adventure!

  3. doris17 doris17

    I might have written exactly what Josephine Corcoran said. I would add that the selection is no guarantee of perfect fellow students. There is ALWAYS someone to avoid. But It will be so much better than that sojourn that you’ll have to watch out you don’t get addicted. As I am.

  4. I did an Arvon with Carol Ann a while back, also one to which we had to submit beforehand. Who knows how (over)subscribed these things are? Jackie Kay was the other tutor. It was a great week – you’ll have a very productive time I think. Can’t help with the pronunciation: ours was at Moniack Mhor which had its own difficulties! Don’t let my tales of weird people put you off!

  5. jaynestanton jaynestanton

    Enjoy it all, Robin! Although I’ve only recently discovered your poetry, I feel sure you’ve earned your Ty Newydd place. I’ve cultivated the same reservations, based on experiences at workshops/poetry groups over the past few years. However, my February half term treat, a poetry residential in Cumbria run by Kim Moore and Jenny Copley, was made all the more worthwhile and enjoyable by the other attendees. I hope the same can be said of tomorrow’s all-day workshop with Mario Petrucci at my local stanza group.

    • Hello Jayne, welcome! Thank you for your kind comments and for the reassurance! I hope your Mario Petrucci workshop went well … which Stanza are you a member of?

  6. i forgot to say, Robin, that despite the oddities on these courses, nearly all my now closest poetry friends have resulted from the courses i have attended.

  7. I’m a member of both Leicester and South Leics stanzas. Yesterday’s workshop was an opportunity to reflect on how we approach/write poems and to attempt/revisit ways which may be quite different to the habitual. Petrucci runs an excellent workshop (am biased).

    • Thanks Jayne, I shall keep an eye out for any of his workshops happening over this way.

  8. I think it is pronounced something like ‘tea new-with’

  9. Zoe Fiander Zoe Fiander

    Hi Robin

    I’m also going to that Ty Newydd week in October – you can decide then about whether I’m one of the ‘characters’ (I hope not!). I think it should be good – I was a bit ambivalent about writers’ courses before signing up for this & the quality control element was definitely a draw. But then it’s difficult to gauge how someone will be in a workshop based on their work alone…I think the ‘characters’ tend to write badly and would hopefully get screened out, but I’ve met the odd person whose work is good but is a nightmare in workshops (won’t take any feedback/offers feedback which is designed to turn someone else’s poetry into the sort they write). Anyway, Ty Newydd should be good – will be useful for the time spent focusing on poetry, if nothing else. I’ve been tempted to do a DIY retreat before but I think the isolation would get to me!

    Until October…


    • Hi Zoe, thanks very much for commenting and very nice to ‘meet’ you! I was hoping we’d all get told beforehand who was coming along so we could check each other out and make contact like this 🙂 – am really looking forward to it, so see you there!

  10. Jean Riley Jean Riley

    Hi Robin (and Zoe, if you are checking in) – that I have found my way here gves away my recent search on line for participants on the Ty Newyd (pronounced Now-with I think) course. Yes, I am curious about everyone, too, and hoping it will be a serious, fun, warm, supportive, inspiring group and that if I am not seen as having these qualities myself, I am blind to it! Maybe I will send a group message to all, soon. Meanwhile, I shall be travelling by train from Cheltenham……and needing the lift from Bangor. See you at some point in Octiber.!

  11. Hi Jean, thanks for making contact – what fun! That’s three people who’ve been in touch so far. The beauty of the internet, eh? Can I read any of your poems online? I’ll travelling by train too, but to Criccieth. Look forward to meeting you in October 🙂

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Robin Houghton 2021