Alison Craig’s Poetry Workshop by Mary Corbey

Alison Craig’s poetry workshop.

It was with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation that I attended my very first

poetry workshop. It was reassuring to find a healthy mix of ‘first timers’ and ‘old

hands’ amongst the participants; the good attendance no doubt a reflection of Alison’s

reputation in the field. .

As a child at school I’d felt that poetry was something that they used to torture you

with, rather than a creative activity that could be used to support, encourage and

inspire. I need not have worried; the workshop in presentation style and content could

hardly have been further removed from some of my less positive encounters with the


Alison asked us all to bring along an object. In common with several other

participants, I had chosen an object with emotional significance; in my case, my

Grand mother’s powder compact. Firstly we were asked to spend a few minutes

examining the object, and in minute, practical, detail describing it. Secondly, we were

asked to record our emotions and feelings about the object. Looking then in turn at the

separate pieces of work, we were asked to highlight any particular phrases or words

that worked for us. From this ground work, we were asked to generate a couple of

lines of poetry.

I found Alison’s practical approach to idea generation refreshing, reassuring and

most of all productive. Having gone from not knowing what I was doing at a poetry

workshop, to not knowing where or how to start, I found myself with a strategy. A

strategy where there is every indication it will bear fruit.

That is not to say that the workshop was restricted to nuts and bolts mechanics; to the

contrary Alison deftly showed us how to marry the conceptual elements with the

practical, in away that supported the piece. She demonstrated, by sharing with us a

number of works from renowned poets, how the attention of the reader could be

anchored and how this could support the introduction and exploration of more abstract


The metaphor Alison used; Blood, Stone, Gold was particularly illustrative and did

inspire me to write my first poetry in over forty years. Although, I remain a long way

from producing ‘Gold’ or even ‘ripe fruit’, Alison Craig’s workshop has gone a very

long way to support this (very) late developer on her first steps into the world of

poetry and in her pursuit of the right word, at the right time in the right place.

Mary Corbey

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