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.
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.
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.