January 2017

Writing the heart


The intriguing title of Connie and Cathy’s workshop was the starting point for a stimulating and challenging workshop. There was to be no “arm’s length” writing: the focus was on personal experience – bearing in mind that the personal is universal.

Connie introduced a series of short free-writing exercises, backed up by some well-chosen poems.

Our first subject to consider was ‘longing/yearning’. We read A Song In The Front Yard by Gwendolyn Brooks and Our Lady Of The Snows by Robert Haas.

The second subject was ‘being broken hearted’. We read Letter To Husband by Emily Berry and Hindsight by Ann Drysdale.

The third thing was ‘being afraid/scared’. Here we read Courage by Anne Sexton and The Missing Boy by Sharon Olds.

We then wrote our own poems in response. 

The second part of the workshop was based on writing in response to someone else’s poem. This involved us working in pairs, reading each other’s poems before writing our own response.  Cathy suggested six ways this could be done: use it to explore a memory; or an association; to agree or disagree; use the same form/layout; choose a particular word or phrase; use the same first line.

We read To Women, As Far As I’m Concerned by D.H.Lawrence with Feelings by Jean Sprackland; and Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas with Nettles by Gillian Clarke.

 We ended as usual with readings of our poems. The quality and variety of poetry produced was testament to the excellence of the preparation and presentation of the workshop material.