National Poetry Day – 6th October 2022

Having just delivered a project, Climate Worx, a series of creative writing workshops looking our planet, our environment and climate change I was delighted to see the announcement, this week, that the theme for National Poetry Day 2022 (NPD22) is the “Environment”.

Photo of trees in winter

For National Poetry Day in previous years I have run poetry workshops and delivered performances for libraries, schools and writing groups. This years theme promises to deliver lots of inspirational and thought provoking poetry.

With a lifelong interest in all things environmental and a degree in Ecology I always relish the opportunity to help spread appreciation and understanding of our natural world through creative writing, art and photography.

Image of planet earth as seen from lunar orbit

With that in mind I currently have a range of poetry creative writing workshops which focus on the environment and include sessions suitable for all ages from 5 upwards and with any level of experience in creative writing. Most importantly we can have fun whilst flexing our creative muscles and sharing the experience with others (hopefully in the room rather than only via Zoom).

Sessions for the day itself can be booked for two hours in the morning, the afternoon and the evening (depending on travel times) or half or full days. Poetry written in the workshops can be recorded on audio with a digital file provided to share with your group, family and friends.

For those that would like a more permanent and physical record of their work it is possible to run a series of workshops in the weeks before 6th October from which the work produced can be collected into an attractive book and the work can be performed at an event on or close to the NPD22.

NPD22 is still 7 months away but slots can book up quite quickly so if you’d like to discuss your requirements or plans please email seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk

Prices start from £100 for a two hour session including travel within 20 miles of Littleborough.

Climate Worx – Final Workshop – 17th Feb

A photo of the Gaia installation in Rochdale

The last of six workshops for the Climate Worx project I been running since November is taking place tomorrow morning from 10:00am to noon. This is the last chance to be involved in writing for the project but there will be plenty of opportunity to see the work produced after the launch of our collected writing in March.

A total of 15 people have taken part in the creative writing sessions that were inspired by the Gaia Installation, in Rochdale in November and December, and thinking about our environment and climate. The project, with Falinge Park Writing Group, was funded by the Rochdale Borough Creative Network and hosted by the Vintage Worx Community Development Trust in Falinge Park.

Lots of new writing has been created and I am currently compiling it into a book which will be a lasting legacy for the project. There will be a wide range of styles of writing in the book including poetry, short stories and non-fiction. All participants in the workshops are able to have at least one piece included in the publication which we expect to launch on 17th March (an auspicious date for a book edited by someone with my background).

New creative writing project in Rochdale

An image of the Gaia installation in The Natural History Museum in London
Gaia Installation in London, Image from my-earth.org

I’m delighted to receive confirmation that my funding bid for an exciting new creative writing project in Rochdale has been approved.

The project, ClimateWorx, with a newly formed creative writing group with Vintage Worx will look at issues around climate change and take inspiration from the upcoming Gaia Installation at Number One Riverside in Rochdale.

“Climate Worx” will consist of a series of free creative writing workshops, themed around the Climate emergency and inspired by the Gaia installation. The workshops delivered to the creative writing group currently being established by Vintage Worx will include; introduction to creative writing techniques, development of new writing, editing and investigating climate change and actions communities can take to mitigate its effects

VintageWorx is based in Falinge Park, a stunning Victorian park in Rochdale, and are working to transform the Park, the local area and the lives of local people. The organisation offers a range of workshops, classes, events and activities including arts, crafts, up-cycling, health walks, volunteering opportunities and a job club. For more details CLICK HERE for the VintageWorx website.

NASA image of the earth rising over the moon - taken by Astronaut Bill Anders in 1968
NASA image of the earth rising over the moon – taken by Astronaut Bill Anders in 1

The Gaia Installation features a huge 3-dimensional globe of the earth measuring 7 metres in diameter with imagery from NASA’s photography. In Greek mythology Gaia in the personification of the Earth.

The artwork is 1.8 million times smaller than the real Earth with each centimetre of the internally lit sculpture describing 18km of the Earth’s surface. By standing 211m away from the artwork, the public will be able to see the Earth as it appears from the moon.

The installation aims to create a sense of the Overview Effect, which was first described by author Frank White in 1987. Common features of the experience for astronauts are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment. 

Luke Jerram, the creator of the artwork has said “I hope visitors to Gaia get to see the Earth as if from space; an incredibly beautiful and precious place. An ecosystem we urgently need to look after – our only home.”

The Gaia exhibition runs from 20th November to 24th December and I would be pleased to discuss additional workshops with schools or community groups relating to Gaia and to the issue of climate change. Please email for further information to: seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk

New creative writing workshops added

Details of my most recent creative writing workshops have been added to the “Workshops” page on this site. Clicking the tab will take you to a full list of workshops along with details for bookings and prices.

Workshops that are particularly suitable for schools include:

  • Superheroes and mini-beasts (Key Stages 1/2/3)
  • Dinobirds (Dinosaurs and birds) (Key Stages 1/2/3)
  • Endangered (Key Stages 2/3/4)
  • Fun with words and poems (Key Stages 2/3/4)
  • Pyramid poetry (Key Stages 2/3)

Workshops suitable for adults as well as young people include:

  • The worlds inside my head
  • I’m not supposed to be here
  • The power of poetry

Bespoke workshops are always available. Bespoke workshops can be designed and themed to fit with current projects, areas of study, art installations and exhibitions etc. Please allow 4 weeks from booking for development and planning before delivery of bespoke workshops.

Should you wish to discuss any workshops or projects or to make bookings please email seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk

Pigments – a poem written in lockdown about changing stories and fading colours

Pigments

My metal nib dips

in the dappled green bottle,

quietly bubbling, drinking in Midnight Blue.

Tapped on glass rims

the thin remnant stains

sink back into the pooled pigment;

and I replace the lid.

My metal nib scratches and slides,

scratches and slides,

laying its snail-trail of ideas

in, none-too-neat,

left to right rows.

Shimmering slick tracks

dry to sharp edged characters.

Chrysalis stories open their wings

emerging into the light of day

fading from the moment of creation.

Details bleed from the edges,

Midnight fades through

Raw Umber to Charcoal Grey

as spilled blood changes

from Crushed Raspberry,

Burnt Sienna, to Lamp Black.

And the paper, musty,

like undried washing, 

softens, flakes and peels.

We re-tell the tale,

re-write the ideas.

Copy, re-write and re-type.

Reformed, intensified,

Carmine replacing Cinnamon,

Lagoon Blue for Faded Tattoo

and Deep India Black for Payne’d Grey.

Copy, re-write and pupate.

Re-written words,

stretch their wings in new light,

painting new stories.

My metal nib scratches and slides,

scratches and slides,

laying its snail-trail of ideas.

“Endangered” Creative Writing Workshop

Workshops for KS1, KS2 and KS3 (time 1 to 2 hours per group)

Following the success of the “Insect and Mini-Beast Superhero” and “Dinosaurs and Birds” workshops for #HAF2021 Summer Schools I have also created and delivered another new workshop for children aged 5 to 12. The new “Endangered” workshop encourages children to look at a variety of creatures that are at risk of extinction. The “Endangered” workshop is now available for bookings from September onwards – please email seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk for availability.

In this fun and informative workshop children will hear some poetry and stories along with plenty of discussion about those at risk creatures. Using eight well know creatures as examples they will discuss what they are like, where they live, what they do for the environment and why they are endangered. Rather than being too prescriptive the young people are encouraged to ask lots of questions. Props including photos and some life size drawings of footprints for some of the creatures really help young people to understand the size and nature of these creatures

To develop skills in imaginative story telling the children are asked to choose one endangered animal and imagine what it is like to be that creature. Through a simple set of questions they are encouraged to be creative and think beyond the usual constraints they might sometimes have in a classroom setting.

After completing their stories or poems the children have the opportunity to make audio recordings of then and to draw or colour images using the range of source material provided.

After the workshops delivered for the Health Activity and Food sessions by YourTrust, Rochdale, young people have said;

“I enjoyed learning how to be an tiger”

“I’ve enjoyed learning about how big animals are and learning about African elephants”

“I’ve learned that people kill elephants to get their tusks”

“I’ve enjoyed writing”

For young people the opportunity to write creatively, without being tied by specific rules, or being limited by their ability to spell or use perfect grammar, helps to develop creative thought and imagination. Working in this way helps with problem solving skills and logic whilst still allowing them to explore the familiar alongside the unknown. Telling stories and writing poems is a highly valuableal set of skills and children benefit from exploring their own opinions and their own creative voices.

Whilst these workshops can be linked to the curriculum to write creatively without being judged, marked or graded, brings a freedom that can rarely exist in the school curriculum. That freedom makes it fun to write, read and in some cases to record of perform their work. Such enjoyment of reading, writing and literature can continue to bring benefits throughout our lives.

“Dinobirds” Creative Writing Workshops

New 2021 Summer School Workshops (2)

Workshops for KS1, KS2 and KS3 (time 1 to 2 hours per group)

Following the success of the Insect and Mini-Beast Superhero workshops for #HAF2021 Summer Schools I have been delivering another brand new workshop for children aged 5 to 12. The topics for this new “Dinobirds” workshop are dinosaurs and birds. The “Dinobirds” workshop is now available for bookings from September onwards – please email seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk for availability.

In this fun and informative workshop children write either poems or stories after hearing my light hearted poem, “My Pet T-Rex”, followed by discussion about dinosaurs and birds. They will learn about the different types of creatures, what are the largest and smallest, what they looked like, what they eat and how birds evolved from dinosaurs and how their feathers developed to enable them to fly. Children are encouraged to be creative and think beyond the usual constraints they might sometimes have in a classroom setting. By mixing together birds and dinosaurs the poems and stories have a unique appeal with each child given free rein to extend their creativity.

An image of the T-Rex footprint leaned against a microphone stand

To help get ideas flowing a wide range of visual images are available, including a life size Tyrannosaurus foot print and template sheets for poems or stories.

When the children have finished their poems or stories they can read them out, if they choose to, and audio recordings can be made. If children are not comfortable reading their work out they can choose for an adult to read for them.

During the workshops delivered for the Health Activity and Food sessions by YourTrust, Rochdale, young people have created a Golden-Rex that likes to play dodge ball, a Golden Eagle-Velociraptor that likes to ride on the bus and a Golden-Eagle Ostrich that sings like a broken record.

For young people the opportunity to write creatively, without being tied by specific rules, or being limited by their ability to spell or use perfect grammar, helps to develop creative thought and imagination. Working in this way helps with problem solving skills and logic whilst still allowing them to explore the familiar alongside the unknown and magic. Telling stories and writing poems is a highly personal set of skills and children benefit from exploring their own opinions and their own creative voices.

After completing their poems the children have the opportunity to draw or colour images using the range of source material provided.

To do this without being judged, marked or graded, brings a freedom that can rarely exist in the school curriculum. That freedom makes it fun to write, read and in some cases to record of perform their work. Such enjoyment of reading, writing and literature can continue to bring benefits throughout our lives.

Superhero Insects and Mini-Beasts

New 2021 Summer School Workshops (1)

Workshops for KS1, KS2 and KS3 (Time 1 to 2 hours per group)

During the Summer I have been delivering a brand new creative writing workshop, as part of the #HAF2021 Summer Schools, to children aged 5 to 12 at various locations in Rochdale, Middleton and Heywood. The “Superhero Insects and Mini-Beasts” workshop is now available for bookings from September onwards – please email seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk for availability.

In this fun and informative workshop children write either poems or stories after hearing my light hearted poem, “The Plastic Mantis”about a fictional superhero beast that can turn plastic waste into useful material. Children are encouraged to be creative and think beyond the usual constraints they might sometimes have in a classroom setting. By mixing together insects of mini beasts with other creatures to create their own environmental superheroes the poems and stories have a unique appeal.

In this workshop children will learn about a range of insects and mini beasts including Bees and Earthworms, they find out what they contribute to the environment, what are the largest and smallest, what they eat, how they hide and lots of interesting facts . To help get ideas flowing a wide range of visual images and fact-cards are available, including a life size cut-out picture of the largest insect that ever lived and template sheets that are used to produce either poems or stories.

When the children have written their poems or stories they can read them out, if they choose to, and audio recordings can be made. If children are not comfortable reading their work out they can choose for an adult to read for them.

During the workshops delivered for the Health Activity and Food sessions by YourTrust, Rochdale, young people have created a BeeLion as fierce as a shark, a WolfBee as big as a BMW that can make it rain and an Elepede with 100 legs that can put out fires.

For young people the opportunity to write creatively, without being tied by specific rules, or being limited by their ability to spell or use perfect grammar, helps to develop creative thought and imagination. Working in this way helps with problem solving skills and logic whilst still allowing them to explore the familiar alongside the unknown and magic. Telling stories and writing poems is a highly personal set of skills and children benefit from exploring their own opinions and their own creative voices.

After completing their poems the children have the opportunity to draw or colour images using the range of source material provided.

To do this without being judged, marked or graded, brings a freedom that can rarely exist in the school curriculum. That freedom makes it fun to write, read and in some cases to record of perform their work.

The Bolton Review 2021

After 12 months where many of our normal daily activities have been severely curtailed it was really great to hear that one of my poems, “Pigments”, will be published in the 2021 edition of the Bolton Review.

During the periods of lockdown, weighed down with concerns about the safety of our loved ones, friends and the public at large, it has sometimes been difficult to concentrate on writing. I’ve always tended to write best when I have a good clear head and can experience the world and emotions without them being clouded.

That means that I’ve only written a handful of poems in the last year so for one of that small number to be published is not only exciting, but also a reminder that sometimes it isn’t how much we write that is important but what we write.

Pigments is a poem about how stories are created and how, like life, they change with each retelling. I wouldn’t pre-empt the published version yet by sharing on this blog, but here are a few lines to whet appetites:

My metal nib scratches and slides,

scratches and slides,

laying its snail-trail of ideas.

A dip pen drawing a line of bright yellow/green on white paper

Whilst writing less than usual I’ve managed to keep stoking the metaphorical fires of creativity by focusing more on my photography and image making including starting on a new series of linocut prints of which I will write more in a forthcoming blog post.

Coverage on All Across the Arts

When I first noticed my picture in the Rochdale Observer I was surprised as I hadn’t expected to be the focus of an article by Norman Warwick. I’ve known Norman, as he says, for quite a long time and have on occasion had the chance to work alongside him. Reading the words Norman had written about me I was genuinely moved.

The paragraph “He faces straight ahead into concerns that even poets often turn away from and he addresses those concerns with an honesty and courage too many of us lack” really hit home, making me think about why I write the things I do. If I can continue to live up to that in my writing and in creating and leading workshops for writers and young people then I will be more than satisfied.

Image of article from Rochdale Observer

As a poet I don’t always choose my topic or subject, often they tend to choose themselves in the way that events are thrust upon us and cannot be ignored. Sometimes when things happen I find it impossible not to respond poetically; such responses are not always immediate and I tend not to use writing as a catharsis.

The poems that emerge from life events are some of the hardest to create and I feel that I only write well when I am thinking clearly and although emotions have a massive part in that writing they must take a back seat in the drive to a finished piece.

When we write all of us are influenced by our own personal experiences but when we write for an audience, for readers, then each person hearing or reading the work needs to feel a connection to it. If I write about a personal event I don’t want to exclude others so I talk about the feelings that all of us will have experienced at some time. For example when I wrote about the loss of my own Dad in “A platform I don’t know” I didn’t talk about the amazing man I had lost but rather about how that loss makes you feel about we respond to it. You can listen to “A platform I don’t know” but clicking HERE or you can find it in my book, Thinking Too Much, which you can buy HERE.

RLIF Writers Showcase 2019

The Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival 2019 took place in late October at various locations across the borough of Rochdale. For local creative writers a highlight is the Writers Showcase event which on this occasion took place in St Mary’s in the Baum, one of Rochdale’s impressive historical churches.

I was delighted to have the chance to close the session with a set of my own poetry following some great performances from others including a standout set from Sue Devaney and a remarkable and moving performance from “Sing Along With Us” – Jade Kilduff and her younger brother Christian.

The newspaper review of the event is shown in the image below.

jpeg image of newspaper column

Independence Days Workshop – 4th July 2019

When Touchstones Creative Writing Group asked me to deliver a writing workshop on 4th July it was always going to be themed around Independence.

Photograph of Rochdale Town Hall

But I felt this workshop needed to be much wider than the best known “Independence Day” as celebrated and commemorated on this day in the USA so I brought along research about some of the 150+ other countries who also celebrate their independence on days throughout the year. Discussion included the easiest and most recent cases of countries gaining their independence and some cases where a country has gained independence more than once.

This led to discussion about various types of independence and what they mean to different people in order to help to inform some new writing.

I read a brand new poem titled “I can do it” written specially for this workshop and there were periods for writing and the participants shared their work with the group. The quality and variety of work was genuinely excellent, feedback was supportive and positive and it was a real pleasure to lead such a session.

The writers produced, poems, prose, factual accounts, a formal letter, a song and flash fiction. Topics covered included The American Civil War, children growing up, a granddaughter’s first steps, Zimbabwe, dementia, bravery, recovery from dependence on prescribed medication and a story about receiving a first pay packet. There was lots of discussion and reminiscence around the work shared in the room and I will certainly workshop around this theme again – even when it isn’t 4th July!

Perhaps the best feedback a facilitator can hope for is when a participant waits at the end of the session to explain how it has helped them. On this occasion a lady told me she had been blocked, unable to write, for the last 3 years after having trouble with physical illness but she had written two very promising and effective pieces during the session and she felt enthused and inspired and could not wait to get home to write some more. That is what creative writing groups like this aim to do, to provide the encouragement and support to enable people to enjoy their writing and develop skills and confidence and comments like these prove their worth.

Touchstones Creative Writing Group meet monthly from 2.00pm to 4.00pm on the first Thursday of the month at Touchstones on The Esplanade, Rochdale and sessions are led my professional writers.