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.

Vanity of Small Differences

Creative Writing Workshop

Picture of Seamus with misty background

2nd Sept, for the Touchstones Creative Writing Group from 2.00pm to 4.00pm at Touchstones Rochdale.

I’m delighted to be back to running face to face writing workshops. This afternoon I will be delivering a creative writing workshop inspired by the current exhibition in Touchstones, The Vanity of Small Differences, by Grayson Perry

In this session we’ll be talking about and taking cues from Perry’s work which focuses on taste, class and consumerism and was also influenced by The Rakes Progress by Hogarth. Most of all expect to enjoy some lively discussion and some brand new writing from everyone.

There are many works following similar patterns and we will discuss some to those including Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and the tale of Icarus.

A couple of quotes from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations where Pip, the main character and narrator, says early on to Biddy, “I have particular reasons for wanting to become a gentleman” (that reason being to be considered suitable by Estella) and then later on, as narration, he says, “In trying to become a gentleman I had succeeded in becoming a snob”

“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.

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

Altrincham Word Fest 2019

Photograph of a mechanical pencil

I had been delighted to return to Coco’s Lounge in Altrincham, following a pre-festival gig in March, for the second edition of Word Fest.

Word Fest, curated by Anne Early and Yoko Islamic, focuses on writing and especially encouraging local people to start writing or develop their existing talents. The festival included a wide range of events including workshops, discussions, performances, writer talks and lots of chances to learn from experienced writers.

As a non-resident of the area it was a privilege to be asked back to host the open mic poetry evening and as I expected, based on previous experience, the quality and variety of work was excellent.

Kevin Bamford read poems covering diverse topics ranging from the countryside awakening in the spring and Brexit to a concertina workshop.

Fred Varden was driven to love whilst Driving Miss Nosey, and gave us a recipe for life and a tale of falling in love with a senior citizen.

Taking a brief one-night break, from supervising students on a school camp, Chris Bateman had the audience laughing with his tale about and unhelpful shop assistant “Pat at checkout 25”.

Alex Swinton, still a teenager, is a poet with a great future; a young man with his anger, and angst, inventing, venting and performing to great effect and with excellent wordplay.

Martin Zarrop a popular performer at previous Altrincham events, and a widely published poet, had snowmen dreaming of English Summer, wondered how one might reason with a bereaved in Troutman and even mentioned the ERG (another Brexit reference).

First time performer Caroline Melliar-Smith performed a piece about the dancer Isadora Duncan “The silk scarf” a well crafted story-telling poem and we hope to hear from her again.

Liz Smith read a poem about a guide dog who “wanted the last glimmer to last forever” and a second everyday dramas.

Tom Jenks is known as an experimental poet read his poem “Going off-piste with Pedersen with great phrases like “Crowther’s desktop wormery” and “unsolicited marsh mallows” and the audience were certainly entertained.

Whilst compering I took the opportunity to follow the performers with a few of my own poems; “Outside” and “Only in my dreams” and a poem which was so new it did not yet have a title – fortunately the audience didn’t feel the need for a title.

Many thanks once again to Anne and Yoko got organising this lovely, friendly and innovative festival and letting me be part of it. I’m already looking forward to a hoped-for 2020 version.

Oldham Gallery -Dave Ball Exhibition – Poetry Workshop and Artist Talk

we began the workshop with quick introductions and a chat about why people had come along. Some were very new to poetry whilst others had been writing poetry for some time and some wanted to reignite their own poetry writing.

We spent a little time looking at the exhibition and using images selected from each section from A to C created lines or phrases which were gradually developed into poems.

We also selected a single image to consider in more detail using it for the inspiration to develop another piece of writing using a mind mapping approach.

The participants had fun, produced some great new writing and with an age range from 5 years old to a little older than myself proved that as long as you have the basics of the language and some suitable inspiration you can produce worthwhile poetry.

The tweet shown above from the Library service, who arranged the workshop, shows that the use of Dave Ball’s exhibition for inspiration was successful. I’m looking forward to meeting Dave this weekend to talk about his work and how the workshop was able to draw on it for our inspiration.

There is still time to visit the exhibition and tomorrow, Saturday 9th February, the artist Dave Ball who is normally based in Berlin, will be at the gallery to give a talk about his work. The artist talk will take place at 1:00pm and there is no need to book for this free event. You can find out more HERE

Photo Pointers 1 – Getting the right focus

As a photographer and tutor I am starting a series of occasional ” Photo Pointers” articles on this blog to give some guidance to those finding their way with photography. I will avoid using too much technical language or lots of formulae and numbers.

For those who would like to go into more depth I will be running workshops during the year and can also arrange 1 to 1 or small group sessions to suit. Please email me seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk and I’ll be happy to discuss your requirements.

A couple of days ago I posted a trio of colourful images on my  Instagram account which provide a simple example of the ways a photographer can change the focal point of the same scene.

For this set of pictures four highlighter pens were stood up on my desk, each an inch or two apart.

Four highlighter pens with the closest being sharply focused

This first photograph shows just the pen that is nearest to the camera being sharp with all of the others looking blurred because they are out of focus.

To create this effect you set focus on the nib of the blue pen either by using the manual focus on your camera, or using automatic focus and placing the camera’s selected focus point exactly on the nib.

Setting a wide lens aperture will make sure that only the one pen is sharply focused and the wider the aperture you set on the camera the less of the image will be sharp, this effect is strongest when you are close to the subject.

Four highlighter pens with the second closest being sharply focused

The second photograph is similar to the previous one but the camera has been focused on the nib of the yellow pen and the same technique used to make sure only that pen is sharp.

Four highlighter pens with the 2nd and 3rd closest being sharply focused

The final image in this set has both the yellow and red pens sharply focused whilst the closer blue and furthest green pens are out of focus (not sharp).

To create this effect the lens is focused at a point between the yellow and red – this is fairly easy to achieve by focusing manually but it using automatic it is possible to focus on an object temporarily placed at the point where you want to focus and by keeping gentle pressure on the shutter button keep the focus set to that point, remove the object and take the picture. The real benefit of digital cameras is that you can take lots of shots making little adjustments until you are happy with the result. This kind of experimentation is really helpful when learning new techniques.

Small versions of my images can be viewed on my OnePoetsVision Instagram Feed or you can follow “onepoetsvison”; I also have a wide range of full sized high resolution downloadable images for sale on my OnePoetsVision Etsy Shop