Poetry workshop February 5th 2014


Any aspiring poet should have been here for our poetry workshop with Alison Craig. One of our own, a successful and published poet, Alison opened the workshop by reading two short poems: Wild Oats by Norman McCaig and Handbag by Ruth Fainlight.

This set the tone for the evening, the former humorous, with lustful pirouetting pigeons creating a vivid image of an everyday scene, the latter a recollection of the content and associated smells of her mother’s handbag so familiar to many in the audience.

Members then had the opportunity to share their own work. This opened a veritable cornucopia of distinctive and thought provoking poems.  Some inspired by the previous year’s workshop were based around the idea of a childhood home. Whether it was Nigel’s flaky paint and sarcastic gate or Dorothy’s view through a brightly lit window, they quickly transported us back in time. – Who needs a time machine?

Other contributions by our multi-faceted group created wonderful imagery, emotional experiences and reflection or were highly entertaining – Maggie’s Baby Sister had us in stitches. Some were the complete package while others left you wanting more. All were inspiring and generated widespread comment and discussion of how and why they had been created.

They also benefitted from Alison’s gentle critique and her repeated encouragement to “Do something with it and not put in back in the drawer”.

Alison gave tips aplenty to help develop our poetic side in this first part of the evening; the importance of shape; reaching the emotions underlying the poem; the many layers to a successful poem;  pacing out the poem while reading aloud to check its rhythm. (Alison does this regularly in her conservatory which is an interesting image in itself).

After a short break, we shared two other ideas for developing our inner poet .The first, sitting silently for three minutes and listening to our  bodies(not always easy), followed by recalling childhood  rhymes which we tried to develop into a piece of work under a time  restriction.

Secondly, to create an alphabet of favourite words both abstract and concrete which are either sense or sound.
From the list select your favourite abstract term, place it in imaginary box and reaching in, feel it, smell it, listen to it and even taste it, then removing it  from the box, see how it feels and how it feels about you.

Then DROP IT and see what it does! This recipe should render a concrete version of any abstract idea.

Alison’s other piece of advice was to go home and work with them to develop our creative selves.

Remember – Get out those boxes and start writing.

All in all, an inspiring evening which sowed the seeds of future poetic masterpieces. Thank you Alison.

Yvonne K. Jack

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