Wow! What a great night over at Heywood Library on Monday.
Usually for an event in August we can expect low numbers as people are busy childminding, taking holidays and have lots of things to do other than go out and listen to a poet and take part in a writing workshop. Not this time – the room was full to capacity pushing the Edwardian air conditioning (little windows that opened with a pole) to its limits.
After a lovely (and not yet earned) brew and biscuits and a quick reorganisation of the furniture so everyone had somewhere to sit I was introduced by Eileen Earnshaw for the first “performance” part of the session. As I had planned I used mostly more recent poems supplemented by a few from my book and with excellent responses from the audience we all had a good time talking about bike racing, being an outsider, family, money, politics and modern society.
After the half hour “reading” (performance/reading/telling? – that is a discussion for another post) had flown by it was time for the workshop. We talked about what poetry is and I laid out a few simple rules for the session, gave some examples and offered some advice as I steered the group into creating their own poems of 16 lines. As always in workshop situations I was amazed by the way 20 people can put such different slants on a subject and the stunning and varied ways in which words could be combined to add impact.
We had poems about people, about places, about words and even about motorbikes and as the session went on I spent time supporting each of the participants whether through ideas, phrasing, choice of words, rhymes etc. Every now and then I’d come across something that really grabbed my attention and that was so clever, unique and powerful that with the permission of the writer would share it with the whole group.
We ended with some of the poets reading their work or having me read to the group on their behalf. Several of the attendees had never written poetry before but you really would know from hearing or seeing their words.
I’m grateful to Weaving Words and Eileen Earnshaw for inviting me to run this session, to Rochdale council and Punam Ramchurn for organising the venue and funding, to Heywood Library for their welcome and facilities and of course to to participants who threw themselves into the session and produced work to be very proud of. Thanks all. Below is some of the feedback received at the event:
Did you enjoy the session – Yes:15 No:0
Was the session useful – Yes:16 No:0
Would you attend future sessions – Yes:14 No:1
Very innovative, learning something new every session
Very useful for a technique to write in a more interesting and layered way
Really enjoyed the session and I nearly wrote my first poem (to be completed). Thank you very much
Great workshop, thought provoking
Lovely poetry and great workshop
Learnt loads, Seamus was great, loved the poetry and was helpful & encouraging during his workshop
With my performance and workshop due tomorrow evening (Monday 22nd August) I had a look over my notes as final preparation – watched over by photos of two very special ladies. The session, organised by Weaving Words and Rochdale Library Service, takes place at Heywood Library and starts at 6.30pm with tea, coffee and biscuits and will run until about 8.30pm.
Preparations for Weaving Words August Workshop
After a performance of some of my poems including some of my newest ones as well as some from my book Thinking Too Much I’ll be leading a poetry workshop.
The session will be suitable for experienced and aspiring poets as well as those who haven’t tried their hands at poetry. We’ll look at what poetry is all about and then of course, with some support and prompts, everyone will have the chance to produce and perhaps share some brand new poetry. Most of all we should all have fun.
We’ll finish with a chat and for those who’d like to there will be a chance to buy a copy of my book.
It is always a privilege to see and hear brand new work, brand new ideas and to help people discover their own capabilities so I’m really looking forward to the session and it will be nice to catch up with Weaving Words group.
If you are looking for something a little different, something a little more intellectual, something more sophisticated or just a poetry evening with really good coffee then Kava Cafe in Todmorden is the place to go.
A monthly session, run by Anthony Costello and Shirley-Anne Kennedy, Kultura takes a different format from most open mic poetry events with a guest lecturer, a feature poet and a reading and discussion of a favourite poem all of which is followed by an open mic session generally with around 8 slots available. It is also unusual in that the majority of the audience does not consist of those aiming to read in the open mic. All of this leads to an informative, thought-provoking evening with plenty of entertainment.
The next Kultura will take place on 25th August 2016 and the poetry lecture will be by James Morgan Nash and the feature poet is Atar Hadari.
You can find more about Kultura from their own blog at: Kultura Blog
Below you can see my notes, in original scribbled form and the edited version from the Kultura session in June 2016 with the topic of the lecture reflected in my doodled sketches relating to vision and eyes:
My notes from Kultura ready to be typed up
For this session the guest lecturer was unable to attend and that slot was filled at short notice by Anthony Costello himself and his chosen subject was “The Eye of Coleridge”. As is often the case I was unsure whether the subject would prove interesting and as is also usually the case I found it interesting, informative and entertaining – a particularly good job by Anthony considering the short notice he had for preparation. There were elements of Coleridge’s personal life and health that were knew to me and with examples of references to eyes in his work and his view s a seer or magician there was plenty to learn. The lectures are available in printed form at Kultura including copies for previous lectures.
The feature poet for the night was Peter Riley, award winning author of 10 books of poetry as well as being a well respected editor and essayist. Peter read his “earliest readable poem” and also from a sequence of verse written in his time in a traditional village in Transylvania which was under threat from modern life. Perter followed these with a few poems from north Derbyshire and the edge of the Peak District. Peter’s poems, which are full of atmosphere and create great little sketches of the places and people, were very well received by the audience.
Gaia Holmes shared and led the discussion of “Homing” by Liz Berry before an open mic session with 8 readers closed the session.
I’m really looking forward to delivering a special session for the Weaving Words writing group in Heywood. The group normally meet in Rochdale but are not yet able to return to their base at No.1 Riverside due to damage from the floods at the start of the year. In the meantime they have made Heywood Central Library a second home and this event will take place there – you can find the location from this link: Location map – Heywood Central Library
You can keep up to date with Weaving Words session and activities on their Facebook Page by clicking here: Weaving Words on Facebook
Flyer for Weaving Words workshop
All are welcome and the session will start, as all the best session do, with tea, coffee and biscuits from 6.30pm to 7.00pm. Costs are kindly being covered by Rochdale Library Service and there is no charge for the session.
I’ll read a few poems from my book, Thinking Too Much, plus some newer work and then lead a workshop designed to get everyone writing some poetry. Whether they’ve never written poetry or are past-masters at the art I promise that participants will come away with something brand new to be proud of. They’ll probably even want to share their work with their fellow attendees….
After the workshop I’ll be speaking about all things writing with Eileen Earnshaw from Weaving words there will be time for a chat and of course a chance to buy copies of my book.