Workshops at Wenlock and Cheltenham

wenlock

Strange maypole dancing picture at Much Wenlock art gallery (wish I had written down who painted it – I think it’s brilliant..please contact me if you know the artist, although I did notice the price was too high for me to buy it!)

On Saturday I went to Much Wenlock to attend a ‘Page to Performance’ workshop run by Hollie McNish. I had met Hollie at the Writing and Motherhood event that I chaired last summer at Ledbury Poetry Festival and I had been very impressed by her poems and the way she performed them. Witty, clever and emotional words combined with an almost gentle, conversational and embracing way of reading them. Hollie draws the audience in and they hang off every line.

The workshop was equally as good. There was emphasis on finding the mundane and everyday details to place within the poetic/descriptive language, to anchor it to something authentic. In pairs we studied the other person’s face in detail. Uncomfortable at first, yet it became a very freeing exercise and ultimately emotional as we listened to each others poems. At the end we exchanged the poems we had written so they became a gift to the other.

hollie

rosie

The workshop today was part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. It was in the basement room of a pub and it was a gloomy venue, yet it made it atmospheric as we sat around a dark wooden table. Rosie Jackson wrote one of my very favourite pamphlets titled ‘What the Ground Holds’ so I was very keen to meet her in real life. You can read my review of Rosie’s pamphlet at Sabotage Reviews. The workshop had caught my eye in the programme because it was focused on creating poems from works of art. I studied art at college and like to paint and draw. I write poems and illustrate them and my poems often feel like paintings in my mind; as I describe the images I want them to be vivid in their colour, light and shadows. It was an excellent workshop and the final writing exercise came from us looking at two paintings from a large choice. We just picked two up without any thought and then had half an hour to write. My poem came out in a rush, it was a joy to write. Although it was full of animal/human shape-shifting…again.

postcardsHare image: Sitting by Sophie Ryder 2009

Does anyone know who painted the horse picture please?

Writing and Motherhood

Ledbury starts this Friday! Those words may mean nothing to most people, but to a certain type of person they cause a shiver of excitement and expectation. The kind of people who spend hours debating a line break or think that reading a thesaurus is a treat. Poets.

I am reading from my new pamphlet on Saturday, but before that I am chairing an event called Writing Motherhood. I was excited to be asked to do this because it is something that I can relate to as I have three children of my own and I have often had to fit my writing in around my role as a mother.

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The three poets who will be reading their work and debating the issues around the subject are Hollie McNish, Carolyn Jess-Cooke and Rebecca Goss. I have been thinking about it a lot, as I write poem edits whilst waiting at gym class for my daughter or make notes on the edge of my child’s old spelling practise. For me, writing and motherhood is intertwined and cannot be separated easily. It’s not easy being a mother who writes: two occupations that are equally time consuming and require me to be focused. I wouldn’t have it any other way though! I am looking forward to listening to the conversation that is generated about women who write and have children. How do they find the time? Does it make them a better writer? Or does it hamper them and stop them from achieving what they want? After I had the children time suddenly became very finite and precious so when I had a moment I would use it to write with a burning intensity, aware that I didn’t have long before I had to focus on the children. Come along and join the conversation on Saturday.

Writing Motherhood

Saturday, 5th July
11:00 am – 12:00 pm

£8.00

Burgage Hall

Does becoming a mother affect your creative life? Does a child ‘cost’ a female writer four books or profit her writing? Poets  discuss the various ways that motherhood has influenced their writing, and perform newly commissioned work in response to the social and political dimensions in which motherhood operates.