Hi folks! I just remembered I have a personal blog where I can tell you things!
I’m doing blackout poetry workshops for Crossing the Tees Festival this month, and I’d love to see a few more faces as I fly about Teesside with my trundle case full of dismembered library books, watercolours, Sharpies, glitter tape, star stickers, crayons and frames…
Book via ARC – dates include TODAY 11th June 2pm in Redcar; Wednesday 13th June 5pm at Cockerton Library in Darlington; and 10.30am Saturday 23rd June in Hartlepool Community Hub (the library on York Road)
Workshops costs a fiver, and you’ll go home with your own piece of text-poetry-art, in either a clip frame or a mount (depending on how much glitter glue you use, I swear that stuff NEVER dries…)
Hello! This is for anyone who would like to know what kind of stuff happened in my recent creative writing workshops for The Forge in Stanley. It’s also a bit about how poems might develop after such a workshop. If that’s not for you, then no worries, see you later xx
I recently ran two versions of the same workshop, one as an open public 3-hour workshop for Northern Writes Festival, and a shorter 2-hour version this morning for the Just For Women group. The basic structure was the same, but with 3 writing exercises in the longer version, 2 in the shorter session. In both, we start by drawing a map of somewhere we knew well as children. Over 30-45 minutes, we add on layers of details – street names and nicknames; people, animals, significant trees; places where stories happened to us and to others; urban legends; colours, sounds, textures and smells. It’s incredible how much detail you can recall using the technique of mapping.
Then we read a couple of example poems. I think of this bit as a choice between ‘landscape’ and ‘portrait’. The poems I’ve been using have been The Bight by Elizabeth Bishop, and Jean by my friend Jane Burn. We talk for a while about images, how to make them vivid, how to make verbs work hard for you. (Jean’s hair doesn’t curl, it ‘fizzes’, for example). Then we free write a landscape or portrait of our own, using the maps and their memories as our inspiration.
In the longer workshop I also ask people to try a short prose-poem or piece of flash fiction telling a real or imagined anecdote, and hand people some examples of ludicrous but real headlines to get them going. (One person in Stanley used this one – Ghost Hunters Stumble On Graveyard Porn Shoot). At some point we have tea. At the end we give our pieces a bit of spit-and-polish, talk about what editing we might do at home, share the bits we like so far. And then…
Freewrite in workshop
Edit 1 in workshop
Well this is what happened to mine – huge frustration, followed by a couple of edits that got me quite close to a finished poem. It may not be brilliant, but it’s more interesting than versions 1 or 2. In my opinion.
Edit 2 at home
Edit 3 at home
Edit 4 at home
Sleek among the rotten
leaves are blackbirds
swallowing small things
whole; should a brother
wear a white patch
volleying pecks at him
(naturally to death)
other as he is to the Race
and Nation of Blackbird,
that reaches in the dark
to the outermost edges
of the next bird’s song.