A couplet of perspectives: poetry workshop – 13 September 2017

With enthusiasm brimming over from the poetry workshop last week, we are treated to a pair of blogs from which inspiration and advice can be gleaned: thanks to Maggie Bolton and Eddie Phillips.


‘We are all poets this evening’

That’s what Alison Craig told us at the beginning of her workshop. Even though poetry may not be ‘your thing’ we all have it in us. Poets are not quite the magically gifted beings you might imagine, with poems flowing, fully-fledged from their pens. Much of it is down to the brass tacks of construction, re-writing, oh, and listening – be aware of the sounds.

After a brief flow-writing session, Alison read extracts from several poems to illustrate the different use of sounds. Some used strict rhyme, while others slipped in more subtle half rhymes and similar rhythms.

We then looked at objects people had brought in, at Alison’s suggestion, connected to a personal journey, physical or internal. Alison then gave us a brief route map for creating a poem from these experiences. First, decide what mood you want to create. She then suggested a four part plan, focussing on something physical for each stage.

1. Setting out
2. Early part of the journey
3. Progression and change
4. Arrival

She suggested using verbs rather than adjectives as these can detract from, rather than enhance an image.

After a period of intense writing and, in my case at least, a lot of false starts and crossing out, we shared some of our efforts. Alison made useful suggestions and there was general discussion during the tea-break.

Finally we looked at Alison’s excellent ‘Rhyming Well’ technique for producing a pool of words connected by sound. Imagine a pebble dropped into a pool of water and the ripple effect it creates. The pebble is a key word from your potential poem. In the concentric rings you first add direct rhymes, moving on through progressively looser connections, but still with a detectable sound link. A useful tool I think.

Thank you Alison for a most enjoyable workshop which, hopefully, will generate a flurry of entries for the club poetry competition in October.

Maggie Bolton


Immediate Inspiration: a new member’s perspective

I have now attended two whole meetings (wow!) of Ayr Writers’ Club. I decided that, having just retired I needed to indulge my passions and as I have been an avid amateur writer for many years this seemed to be a great opportunity to sharpen up, get my brain in gear and get writing. As a former Trade Union Official and Councillor I have been involved in writing for many years but it was mostly reports, letters, contributions to magazines, letters to constituents and council reports. This is my first sojourn into proper writing.

I’m no poet though I have been writing poems since Primary School. The last poem I wrote and read out was at my wife’s 50th Birthday (not yesterday but mustn’t say any more for fear of letting out too much!). It’s not that I don’t like trying my hand at them, just never got round to having a go. Alison Craig who was taking the meeting, a poetry workshop, was very effective and well prepared. I’m not known for sugar-coating my comments so you can take it I’m telling it how it was. I learned from the experience and felt quite relaxed and inspired. I will put at the end of this report my first attempt at free writing.

We were given two themes to try “free writing” on. I surprised myself that I could do this and did one on “There was once…” and another on “my retirement”. The session finished with an explanation on something I had never heard of – “Rhymewheel”, a way to focus on words of similar ending which could be incorporated into poems. In conclusion I am now in full flow in AWC and looking forward to attempting my first poem for them on the subject of Ann Frank – I am going to Bergen Belsen next Wednesday.

There was once….
A young girl
And her Sister
Who lived with their folks
In an attic

In the cold, dark, damp,
airless, scary and pungent
confines of Nazi occupation
the family of Dutch Jews
were hidden from view
by courageous patriots
Who knew wrong from right
and were on the side of right

For 3 years or more
they kept the young family
from harm’s way
secreted in a secret place
only they new existed
they fed them and told them
how the war was going.

Eddie Phillips


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