Recently I spent two wonderful days at Hellens Manor, in Herefordshire, providing poetry workshops to local primary schools for Ledbury Poetry Festival. Ledbury PF have an acclaimed community and schools outreach programme, and Hellens Manor is a marvellous place. Chloe Garner, artistic director of Ledbury Poetry Festival, did a wonderful job welcoming and enthusing the children – a real effort aimed at demonstrating that poetry really was for them. We hope to see some of them at the Festival, which this year is 29 June to 8 July.
Then it was time for the first workshop. The children exclaimed in excitement as we walked on snowy cobbles under an arch, and I asked them to help carry in firewood. Our room was down a maze of flagged passages hung with iron breastplates, and once we’d arrived, on that first snowy Monday morning, everyone could see the point of lighting a fire.
Once we’d warmed up, we talked about nests. What they are, how they are, what they mean. We handled nests I’d brought in with me. And a very tiny, blown hen’s egg.
Then we played with cut up poems borrowed from Tom Pow’s beautiful pamphlet ‘Nest’, from Roncadora Press.
And then we wrote poems. Here are some of them.
For me, it was a very rewarding two days, and fantastic to be working alongside superb practitioners Sara Hirsch, Val Bloom and Matt Black. We had a lot of fun.