“Jean, you were fantastic with those Kentish kids”. John Hegley
Responses from participants on THE POETRY WIRE online poetry courses, April 2020 onwards:
“I just wanted to thank you for the course- it has been so well done and a real inspiration. You are such a lovely person to talk poetry with- a real empathetic presence and I have enjoyed your choice of poems immensely. The lovely one about the grey squirrel from this week was amazing. Will have to look the poet up.
You are running another fully booked course soon I think too ?“
“Anyway, what I really want to say is a big thank you for this wonderful course. The prompts have been inspiring and the Friday zooms have been very friendly and uplifting – you really create a lovely space.”
“Thankyou so much Jean for providing a thread of stimulating starting points over the past 6 weeks. The format has been great given the circumstances, the best part has been the emails and your very generous help with my efforts, it’s lovely having someone editing like you do, I’ve learnt such a lot.“
‘Thank you so much for working at Holmer Lake again. I know the children really enjoyed their time with you. That class has some quite hard to reach tricky children and great to see them at the forefront of the collaborative work.’
Email from Helen Watson, Assistant Headteacher, Holmer Lake Primary School, October 2019
‘Jean, thank you so much for the event on Saturday. It was one of the most immediately creative things I think I’ve ever been on. Being asked to create some poetry within 15 minutes was terrific and Jean you were such a good leader for the group. What a terrific thing for Ledbury Poetry Festival to do some real hands-on writing with a completely random group of people.’
Email from a participant, Troubadour Day at Clenchers Mill, May 2019
‘I just adored your workshops at the Shropshire Archive. You run workshops SO well. Great prompts and inspiration. You gave space and confidence to me during them.’
Message from a participant of Poems from the Archive, autumn 2018
‘We were at Ludlow Castle today. Thank you for your wonderful unicorn spell for my daughter. She was delighted with the magic! You were fantastic with her. Thank you!’
Email received from a mum, after being The Spellwright for 2018 Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre.
Twitter responses from Great Malvern Primary School on National Poetry Day 2018
I spoke to the staff and they were telling me how much they enjoyed having you in their classes. The poems were great. They are going to display them. And we were wondering if you could do some training for our staff?
Email from Parveen Bains, Assistant Headteacher, Hargate Primary School, September 2018
Thank you so much for enduring two very hot days in school last week. The Heritage Festival was a great day and we had lots of fantastic feedback about the quality of the children’s poetry writing. I know that the class teachers involved will be in touch to send you copies of final pieces.
I do hope that we are able to work with you again in the future and we will be certainly interested in being involved with the Cinderloo project.
Email from Helen Watson, Teacher, Holmer Lake Primary School, Telford, June 2018
Was just lovely to see it [the Spellwrighting] capture their imagination, so many toys undisturbed in their baskets at home, and your words on parchment created something they found really special, that’s a lovely thing that you are able to do.
Email from a parent after visiting The Spellwright at Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre, November 2017
Thank you so very much for a wonderful Spellwright weekend. You were magnificent and added a truly magical touch to the proceedings. Can I book you again for next year? Give those hard working snails a kiss on both cheeks from me, they deserve a lettuce leaf at the very least! Thanks again Jean, it was fantastic to see the museum buzzing.
Fay Bailey, Learning & Communications Manager, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, for the Museums are Magic weekend, October 2017
Thank you for a splendid morning yesterday, everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. Irene expressed how pleased she attended because poetry has not really interested her over the years – she was surprised how much she enjoyed it… especially how the ‘men told their stories’!! Look forward to seeing you next time.
Clarissa, Activities Organiser, Charles Court Nursing Home, Hereford – #Poetry&Dementia
‘Wow, these poems are stunning, Jean — so thoughtful, insightful, creative! This just shows how important a picture, the right picture, can be. And of course a really good poet introducing it and coaxing the reactions!’
John Killick, Dementia care expert, poet and author, after observing my session #Poetry&Dementia
Jean’s professionalism, enthusiasm and creative vision undoubtedly made for a successful project. The level of attendance and engagement was much higher than I expected. In managing the project, Jean proved ‘capable hands’, taking the lead on planning, promotion, coordination and end of project evaluation. During creative writing sessions Jean had a real flair with children and adults alike. Impressions of the Past gave all those involved some wonderful, shared memories, not to mention a deeper appreciation of our local heritage. Such a wonderful project!
Joe Penfold, Community Officer, Stiperstones & Corndon Hill Country Landscape Partnership Scheme, for Impressions of the Past project 2016-17
‘Jean, it was lovely having you! Kids love you and the poems were great. We are really lucky to have you as our poet! Looking forward to organising our next day.’
Hargate Primary School, West Bromwich (I am their poet in residence)
‘Beautiful poetry and artwork by children inspired by their local hillfort.’ Schools Prehistory @SchPrehistory
Tweets in response to our ‘Impressions of the Past’ project, March 2017.
Responses to my project ‘In woods we forget things, at the wood edge we tell stories’
Jean has a fantastic track record working with schools and the wider community. She uses poetry not only to unlock creativity but as a way of developing essential life skills including communication, enthusiasm and expression. Projects like this are what the Community Development Fund were set up for, so we were delighted to have supported it.
Helen Vaughan from Shropshire Housing Group (co-funders)
Just to say what a pleasure it was to come out and hear the poems read ‘live’ and to the trees. I found it an uplifting and emotional experience, so far removed from the negativity of the mass media!
Such a special project. I was delighted to be able to share Brineddin Wood with the Working Together Group and meeting and working with the young people helped to blow away some myths for me too.
I hope our paths cross again in the future!
Karen Limbrick from Brineddin Wood (Redlake Valley Community Benefit Society)
From what I saw in the woods the other day, it was a really lovely and worthwhile project – so thank YOU very much.
Hope to work with you again soon.
Andrew Barker, Head Bishop’s Castle Primary
Comment from Year 6 pupil at an Arvon school’s residential week at The Hurst, Shropshire (I worked with novelist Jonny Zucker), March 2016:
“It helped me so much because at school they give us a topic to write about but at The Hurst it was just amazing, outstanding. Johnny and Jean let my imagination run free and I wrote amazing poems and stories because of them so thank you Jean and Johnny.”
Email from Arvon Director at The Hurst at the end of the week (March 2016):
‘It was a completely magical week and you were BRILLIANT. Your energy, passion and skill was a sight to behold and we cannot thank you enough for all your hard work and creativity. Those children and teachers were so inspired and that’s because of you.’
Comments on Pen 2 Mic workshop at NAWE Conference 2015 (I worked with Liz Hyder, my partner in The Wordshoppers):
‘Useful in so many ways – fresh new ideas, good solid practical advice and a great demonstration of supportive, clear facilitation’.
‘Impeccably managed, well-thought out, inclusive, interesting and creative’.
‘Fantastic fun workshop led by two capable and encouraging facilitators who made every minute thoroughly enjoyable.’
Comments from Shaftesbury School Poetry Workshops Day, June 2015
Ollie: I liked it, it was fun! I never knew I could write a poem and put pictures into it until I met Jean.
Aaron: It was fun because we got to go into groups and choose expressions to fit the word in the middle, then we got to put all the words together to make one of the verses in a big poem. It was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that.
Finnigan: It was interesting and clever because Jean asked random questions and then we made up a poem about the questions.
Harry: It was good because I’ve never met a poet before. It was fun when we had to tell each other the answers to the questions.
Ms Rawles, Literacy Coordinator: Jean’s workshops were so well-constructed and delivered that every student was able to produce an authentic, personal and high quality poem whilst also having a lot of fun. She combined just the right amount of rigour, humour and energy to enable students to turn their initial ideas into something more crafted and considered; we were delighted with what they produced. More importantly, the students definitely got a buzz from creating their own little bit of poetry magic.
Comment from Roz Goddard (West Midlands Readers’ Network Co-ordinator)
Thank you also for your work as reader-in-residence at Southwater, it felt to me like a very positive and worthwhile residency. I loved the Readers’ Afternoon and the way you were able to create a presence in the library at the various reader events.
Feedback from recent poetry workshops in Acton Scott, Whitchurch and Shrewsbury.
“An excellent workshop very expertly run by Jean Atkin. As a poet I got a great deal from it.”
“Very helpful, wonderful tutor (creative and helps with editing!!!)”
“Jean’s workshops are so inspiring and fun!”
“Super – very helpful and provided further work.”
“Congratulations on a brilliant, productive, residency at Acton Scott, Jean. You’ve helped to inspire poets of all ages. Saturday’s reading was a wonderful celebration.”
Comment on ‘Poet on the Farm’ blog from poet, writer and tutor Chris Kinsey, July 2014
“You organised such a lovely event! Music as we arrived! Cream teas and waitresses in their olde costumes. There was a lot of heart.” Poet and publisher Nadia Kingsley, on the final event of the Acton Scott residency, July 2014
“I thought you would like to know that our Deputy Head asked her year 7 group on Monday what hints they had learned from you. They immediately came up with 10 different hints and that was 4 days after the event – brilliant! Thank you again!”
Frances King, School Librarian, Sibford School
“Our visitors came into Logan Botanic Garden this August, with not necessarily any plan to write poetry or listen to poetry, but the barriers were broken down as soon as Jean interacted with them. They listened, they learned, they engaged and they had fun – which is what this project has been all about.”
Richard Baines, Curator, Logan Botanic Garden – Walking With Poets Project
“Thank you Jean for all your enthusiasm, time and thoughtfulness during your time at Logan Botanic Garden. Both staff and visitors alike seemed to get a huge amount out of your programme, which was beautifully planned and delivered.
Amy McDonald, Public Programmes Manager, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Walking With Poets Project
“Poetry Partners was an excellent project bringing together the young and older generations to celebrate their local woodlands. The project was designed and professionally run by Jean with great energy and enthusiasm, motivating participants and bringing out the best in them. The project achieved a memorable celebration evening and an absorbing, well presented booklet of poems, as well as the promise of long-lasting links between local community groups and schools.
Peter Robinson (Ecologist, Cree Valley Community Woodlands Trust)
“Thank you for an inspiring day with Jean on Viewpoint Voices Project. Not only do the pupils feel more confident but I feel more empowered as well.”
Marguerite Cawood (teacher, Castle Douglas)
“I found the day very helpful, by the end of it I actually was considering doing poetry for my folio in English, which seemed an impossibility beforehand.”
“I don’t think I would have been able to write any kind of creative writing but the day was really helpful. Jean was really good at giving people enough confidence to read their poems out. I think it was very worthwhile.”
I believe I benefited from the creative writing workshop as I am now not as daunted as I was about writing poetry. It was beneficial to have our poetry commented on by a proper poet as we then received helpful advice and feedback.
“Quick to respond with creative ideas, Jean is also reliable and efficient, working to both time and budget as contracted. I have hired her as a Writer in Residence and recommended her as a PR/publicist to two organisations who are also very satisfied customers. She writes great press releases and copy and she’s good at TV and radio interviews too. And she’s a gifted poet in her own right.”
Carolyn Yates, Literature Development Officer, Dumfries & Galloway