Wednesday, 17 July 2013

There's a poet in here somewhere...

Yesterday, I spent the day with Frances Corky Thompson and a small group of selected poets. We were looking at all aspects of travel and writing poetry and feeding back on it all day. The workshop was run by Ruth O'Callaghan, whose new book The Silence Unheard is available from Shoestring Press.

What a switchback ride. Ruth moved us straight into creative mode, jotting down impressions from a photograph, feeding back on the results, then getting us to start forming our impressions into a poem. The whole day was like that: work, work, work, think and feedback around the table. The six participants worked so hard, produced some amazing work, a couple of formed poems that blew me away included and loads of drafts with gems embedded in them. (I came away with dozens of lovely words highlighted). It was an advanced workshop, I was trawling through my knowledge of metre and rhyme, alliterations and onomatopoeia, weaving more and more references in. There were a few moments when I was just baffled, the word penumbra, for example was one I had heard but never understood (it means part shade, apparently).

More exercises, leading to more drafts, and more feedback which often found connections that, in my case anyway, had been unconscious. The other participants were so generous, and their work so wonderful, I was left feeling like a complete amateur. Despite that, Ruth and the rest of the group drew some good stuff from my fuddled brain. Frances laid on a feast in her gorgeous garden, and we chatted and breathed back out before it all started again in the afternoon. More challenges, some I thought were completely beyond me. More poems fell out, were slapped into shape with seconds to spare, read out. Terrifying. I felt completely nurtured by the group, their criticisms were constructive and a learning curve that I found so helpful. I can see more poetry in my future...

I wrote this: (be kind, early draft)

Air blows dusty and hot
rebounds through the train
as it surfs through Victorian earth
stations blur, circle again.

Metal brakes screech, jangle
around curves, the brick roof
pushes the river away,
spider hung with cables
and black with history.

We sag on sweaty, greasy seats
smell hot oil and hot people,
crowds pressed together, sway together,
blank-faces as we wait.

Oh, and on the book front, The Secrets of Life and Death has sold in the US to an imprint of Random House called Broadway. No more money for me but hopefully some more sales! How exciting...

1 comment:

  1. Just catching up on your blog. Fantastic news about the US sale!