Two Sides of the Severn 1

Since Christmas I’ve been working on Two Sides of the Severn, a project funded and managed by Wenlock Poetry Festival to help primary school children enjoy, access and create poetry.  The project will also assist the established poetry festival in Shropshire to develop and encourage young audiences, and it’s funded through a Clore Poetry and Literature Award.

mw-y5-trip-13feb-9The power plant was far, at night, red-eyed
like a robot when you were small.

During Two Sides of the Severn I’ve introduced children from two primary schools to the work of A E Housman, Mary Webb and my own poems about Shropshire, before setting off outdoors for the children to create their own poetry by responding to place.

The schools are in Much Wenlock (south of the Severn) and in Telford New Town (north of it).  The schools are governed by different local authorities, and wouldn’t normally work together, so it’s been an innovative collaboration with new experiences for the children, their teachers and the Poetry Festival.

With the children and their teachers, I walked in woods on both sides of the Severn, and they wrote their Poem Notes, which we used for writing once we were back in the classroom.

It’s been a real joy going outside in the winter with the children, who really rose to the occasion and created marvellous collaborative poems.  Here’s a few glimpses of what we’ve been doing so far.  The words below the photos are taken from the children’s collaborative poems.

rh-trip-16feb17-10-cropTrees flickered like candles on my birthday.

 

dscf3735A scarlet elfin cup grows on a branch of pure love.

 

rh-trip-16feb17-13Later that day I saw blue wellingtons that smelt like violets.

 

rh-trip-16feb17-12What wasn’t there to see was the River Severn.
What wasn’t there to see was foxes, but I could smell them.

Now we’re moving on to writing individual short poems, and then we’ll be working on ways to perform the collaborative poems to an audience – one school to the other.  And then finally there’ll be a proper, full-on performance with a big audience, lights and raked seating!

 

 

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‘In woods we forget things, at the wood edge we tell stories’

Print screen blog cropI’m very excited to say I’ve got funding for a new project, which will take place this autumn.  It’s called ‘In woods we forget things, at the wood edge we tell stories‘ – click for a blog which will document our progress.  The project is funded by Shropshire Hills AONB and Shropshire Housing Group, and many many thanks to them.

The project will provide opportunities for three different groups from the community in south Shropshire to spend time in native woodlands, learn real, useful conservation skills, respond to place through poetry, and perform their own new site-specific work.

The three groups involved are from:

  • Bishop’s Castle Primary School
  • St Mary’s CE Primary School, Bucknell
  • The Working Together Group – a Ludlow-based registered charity who provide a focus for people with learning disabilities and their families

These groups are matched, respectively, with woodlands at:

  • Brook Vessons, Stiperstones
  • Tru Wood, Bucknell
  • Brineddin Wood, Chapel Lawn

I’m really looking forward to starting work on this.

 

 

 

‘The Crow House’ – event in Ludlow

The Crow House_Jean Atkin FRONTcover

This Saturday 13th August, I’ll be doing an Author Event for ‘The Crow House’ in Castle Bookshop on Castle Square in Ludlow, from 2pm to 3.30pm.  Map link here.

‘The Crow House’ is a timeslip children’s thriller set in Wigtown, which happens to be Scotland’s Book Town.  Odd and alarming things begin to happen in No. 71 North Main Street – or ‘The Crow House’ as Holly and Callum discover it was once known.

As they reluctantly begin to trust each other, Holly and Callum find out that The Crow House is old.  It has unsafe secrets and doors that aren’t like other doors.

Oh – and I’m going to take my Crow to Castle Bookshop on Saturday – come and meet him!
CROW 1

Wigtown kirkyard crop bw

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)

Zines in the Making

I work regularly with a group of five home educated children, who come to my house to write.  Lately we’ve been creating zines, giving an opportunity for more extended story-telling.  It’s been a magical process, with each individual’s ideas coming through strongly.  The children have displayed great zest and inventiveness, and our meetings are fascinating, with mature discussions, ranging from how to pace a longer story, to decisions in design and illustration.

Making Zines & long stories (1)

An impressive amount of work is being done in between sessions with me.  There’s been much planning, like this –

Making Zines & long stories (11)

and simply glorious attention to design and making details –

Home Ed zines Mattie & Mollie (2) Home Ed zines Mattie & Mollie (3) Making Zines & long stories (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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