Monday, 5 May 2014


I did it. I went away to Totleigh Barton in a remote area of Devon (really, really tucked away) and did poetry. With hindsight, I wasn't really at the same level as most of the other students: not only were they much more knowledgeable and proficient and fluent than me - they were really good readers too. I learned loads, but I still came away with the most valuable lesson - I am NOT a poet. I can write poetry, sure, and I know x, y and z about poetry, but the love of it isn't there. It's that passion that makes people push their poetry into art, and I'm just not there. But I don't mind - I got some amazing feedback from both tutors (Mimi Khalvati and David Harsent) and we had an amazing guest reading and Q&A session from Maitreyabandhu

But the urge to tell story and find plots and twists comes first for me. I did spend some time wandering in the amazing garden and thinking about characters in book 3, even though I'd promised myself I wouldn't. I was entranced by the beauty of the place, and the incredible mix of people there. The group was rich with accomplished and experienced poets, some of whom were already getting published. There were also a few (very few) who were finding their feet, like me. There were some very lively personalities there, too! Being in such a varied and funny and sometimes rowdy group (or was that mostly one Irishman and his patient, artist partner offering translations?) was a delight, if exhausting. So many creative people, so much lovely poetry by the end! 

It was also a relief to get away from the six month drama that is the fallout from my husband's cancer, in the final stages of being shrivelled by radiotherapy. No kids, no sickly cat, no house-on-the market drama (except one. The BBC might be interested in using our house for one of their programmes - how cool is that?). 

I won't give up on poetry because it's how I work and process the dramatic moments of my life. But next time - I'll be better prepared for the subject matter.


  1. It's awesome that you were able to do it. What a great experience, and whether or not you decide to follow a poet's path, just having lived it will help be a better writer. Congrats!

    1. Thank you Georgina! I know I'm still learning from the experience.

  2. I would love to do an Arvon course - someday. But not poetry!

    V cool re BBC