Young Writers do Pop Up Poetry

Kay reads

Yesterday a group of talented young writers filled Kidderminster Library with words in a Pop Up Poetry & Zine Exhibition to mark the end of this year of writing with me.  We’re part of Writing West Midlands’ Spark Young Writers Groups and we meet once a month from September to June to explore all the possibilities of creative writing.  There are Spark Young Writers groups right across the West Midlands, each led by a professional writer and supported by an assistant writer, and great fun, and affordable.  More about Spark Young Writers here – sign up now for next year!

It’s been a fantastic year.  Actually, I’ve worked with this group now for two and a half years, and I’m moving to start working with a new group this coming September.  I’m both looking forward to meeting the new group, and already bereft without Kiddi Young Writers…

The quality of the writing, and the effort, focus and creative talent that’s gone into their zines, is remarkable (as several members of the public told us yesterday).  I hope Kay, Abi, John, Toby, Izzy, Aeryn, Lauren, Beth, Ellie and Adam will keep on writing – and I do know they’ll have a brilliant time with poet and writer Roz Goddard, who’s taking over the group in September.

A big thank you to all members, past and present, of Kidderminster Young Writers, to Nicholas Tulloch, assistant writer this year, to Caroline and Paul and all the other staff at Kidderminster Library and especially to staff of Writing West Midlands, who do the most incredible job providing opportunities for writing to the whole community.  Kidderminster Young Writers have been great.  I’m so looking forward to Telford Young Writers in September.

‘Around the Crow the weather’

It rained on Welshpool Poetry Festival, but didn’t dampen this great little celebration of words in Mid Wales.  I read with Gillian Clarke on the final evening, and am now wallowing in the delights of her new Picador Selected Poems.

But before that I ran a workshop for children.  Here’s a few pics and some very promising lines from a group of focused and inventive young poets.

Welshpool Crow wshop Jun2016 (3)

A Tramp of Poets for Arvon

I’m just back from a gift of a week, staying at The Hurst for the inaugural Poetry with Walking Retreat, led by David Morley.

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Sixteen pairs of walking boots littered the hall, and it was very interesting, going for group walks and yet being alert to the possibilities for poetry.  It worked, slightly to my surprise.  (I’d planned to disappear on my own now and then if it didn’t).  But the group was lovely, and rapidly bonded to become a very supportive and creative community.  Helped on by the truly marvellous food…

I’d met David at various events, but hadn’t experienced the high tide of energy, irrepressible curiosity and sheer knowledge before.  He did a lot more than he needed to, including providing one to one sessions for us (mine was exciting and challenging and fruitful).  He filled the workshop room with books and handouts and bits of bone and feather, took us out with a bat detector and a great device that you can point at a tree to hear birdsong several times louder than life.  He trained us all how to call owls.  He made us see asemic writing in the woods.  Here’s some:

The steady rhythm of walking is good, I think, for writing.  I scribbled constantly and illegibly in my scruffy small notebook as we put in the miles through coppice, hillside and river paths in the mornings, and then wrote all afternoon.  There is something magical about The Hurst – a mellow, thinking house.  Steve Ely was our guest poet, rolling up in an ex Forestry Commission van with a lamping light on top.  He was great.

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Early in the week David provided us all with a photocopy of Clun dialect words and meanings, and loosed us on the village with the resulting short dialect poems.  I have to say I enjoyed this a lot.  Not great art, but great fun.  I hid mine in a shop. And it was such fun to walk with poets – they look around themselves so much.  They are so nosy.

Do a Pen 2 Mic workshop here in Ludlow!

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Pen 2 Mic will see you write a brand new poem and perform it on the same day. Focusing on places and locations that mean something special to you, you’ll create a new work and learn some vital performance tips before taking to the mic.

Fun and informal, Pen 2 Mic is a two hour afternoon session focusing on writing, editing and mic training followed by an evening public performance.

Run by the friendly and energetic Wordshoppers, Jean Atkin and Liz Hyder, Pen 2 Mic will help build your confidence and experience in performing and reading your own work to an audience.

Wednesday 1st June

2-4pm followed by an evening performance at 7.30pm.

£10.

Please book your tickets by calling Appletree on 0845 548 5449 or email hello@the-appletree.org.  Or click this link.

Poetry and #dementiaawarenessweek

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Margaret pointing to the pink windowsill

At 8am this morning I was on the phone to BBC Hereford & Worcester, talking about making poems with people living with dementia, and later on, I was in Highwell House Nursing Home in Bromyard, really making poems.

I shared printouts of a painting by Joan Eardley around the room of ten people.  Not everyone has dementia, though several have it quite badly.  I’ve been working with this group for over a year. Today, Joan Eardley’s painting of 1950s children on the streets of the Gorbals proved very popular with everyone.  I write down (a desperate scribble) exactly what they say:
“Oh they’re joyous!  They’re real children”.
“You can see your own children in there”.
“Look at the mum’s tired face”.
“I love the little boy in the braces. His trousers are too big.  His face is too thin”.

After a while I read back to them my scrambled notes, ‘so far’.  Everyone listens, and then I go back round the room, speaking to individuals and persuading further contributions.

Later, at home, I put together a group of poems.  I don’t add any of my own words, but I restructure the ones I took down in my notes.  I think this is today’s favourite.

Pink Windowsill

Red hair, red cardigan buttoned at the top. What’s that dark
in her hair?  Oh, is it the shadows?
I was always knitting cardigans
for my own children.

Mother’s tried to brighten the windowsill
by painting it pink.

Words from Jean, Jim, Peter, Iris, Cecil, John, Isobel, Margaret, Jean, Stella

Next week I’ll take the poems back to the group and we’ll read them and enjoy them slowly – and probably twice.

And then we’ll make some more.

 

 

Write On! Young Writers go live!

On Saturday we had our penultimate meeting for this year.  That’s me, Kidderminster Young Writers and our assistant writer Nicholas Tulloch.  Everyone arrived with a bagful of papers, more or less fully constructed into a zine.

The tables vanished under card, paper, tracing paper, staplers, glue, glitter, ribbons and inspiration.  Chocolate brownies were ingested, for stamina.

“I’ve decided to do creative risk”, said John.

Kiddi Pop Up poster The zines were to be finished and left with Kidderminster Library, all ready to be displayed on Saturday 18 June, when at 11am this absolutely brilliant group of young people will be bringing their work to the public in the library in a stream of pop-up performances.  Everyone welcome.  And it’s free.

We practised with the mic.  And we were good.

Kidderminster Write On! Young Writers is one of the many young writers’ groups created and managed by Writing West Midlands and spread right across the region.

Here’s a sneak preview of the gorgeous zines to go into the display cabinet.

 

 

Older voices on BBC Shropshire Radio

Apple in hand

So delightful this morning to have the chance to share poems made with residents of Highwell House Nursing Home on BBC Radio Shropshire with the wonderfully enthusiastic Jim Hawkins.

The link is here: and the clip is at 1hr: 39  (or listen to the show from 1h for more on poetry in Shropshire, including Jonathan Day‘s new work ‘Lyric’).

Here’s one of the poems I read.  It was made by writing down conversations with the group as they happened, which then I worked into the poem, using only the residents’ words, but finding a form and line-endings for the poem.  These are the voices of Jim Cecil, Eddie, Vera, Wilf, Peter, Stella, Margaret and Iris.

Wise

We’ve all scrambled through life.
We don’t know why
we go through it, but we do.
It’s called experience.
It’s been an amazing life.
We don’t know
how wise we are.