Poetry Workshop – 1st November, 2012

“ … and tonight when the door closes, you’re all poets in this room.” So began Alison Craig’s poetry workshop but anyone feeling daunted by those words, had nothing to fear.
Starting with Wallace Stephen’s intriguing words, “Poetry is a pheasant disappearing into the bush,” Alison gently guided us through the evening, first with rules for free writing – my personal favourite was, ”let your brain snore and roll over” – on the theme of A WALK IN THE WOODS. From that exercise, we were encouraged to mine for little poetic nuggets which we tentatively shared, and then reaped the benefit of Alison’s experience and other members’ encouragement. As always there was a wide variety of response, although leaf mould, crunching, squelching and dogs did seem to make regular appearances!
Next Alison invited us to bring out our ‘homework’. Last April, club members had been given four poems to read and use as a stimulus for a piece of their own, and six members had the chance to read their work.  Michael offered us 2 lovers: “Book Lover” and “Coffee Lover” the quality of which impressed everyone. Kirsty shared “My Home”, a piece filled with interesting images and a memorable “stag” on a mountain top. It was a childhood memory which was the theme of Maggie’s “Sledging”, exploring an unexpected angle on that common childhood adventure.
Then there were Rhona’s knees – not literally, of course, but “Knees on the National Health”, an original and fascinating journey through her father’s life. “Gateway” was Nigel’s excellent offering, all the more impressive when he admitted to never having attempted the poetic form before!
After refreshments, Alison finally treated us to an examination of a poetic form – HAIKU, which is said to be “an addiction which spreads like measles.” This Japanese tradition is a 3 line, 17 syllable study of a subject with a turn, change or epiphany involved.  The challenge – and here we were all counting on our fingers! – was to stick to the traditional 5 syllables in line one, 7 syllables in line two, and 5 again in line three.
I had never been much interested in Haiku before, but Alison’s infectious enthusiasm won me round, so much so that I found myself extolling its virtues to my husband, who couldn’t resist having a go, in his own inimitable way (and yes, I do have his permission to print it!)

Black and white in sky
horns and moos in the clouds above
a tail swishes the birds.

Needing your help, I think, Alison!

Carolyn O’Hara

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