Poetry Workshop…Complete!

I’m back from the poetry workshop, and you’ll be glad to hear (unless you enjoy seeing people fail, you sadists) that I wasn’t shown up by others.  Or at least I don’t think I was. Hmm, well unless they are incredibly good at masking their feelings, I’m confident that I sufficiently impressed on occasion.

There were some better than others, naturally, but overall I feel we all came up with at least one good poem.  I know I managed to write some decent stuff.  It was a good day.  And though my views of poetry haven’t really changed (it’s still not my thing, but I can understand why people enjoy it) I learned a lot from the workshop.

So what did we do?

Well big thanks have to go to Peter Samson for leading the workshop. He got us thinking creatively, and more importantly, didn’t focus too much on us writing one particular poem. Instead he would give us five minutes to write four or five lines before moving onto a new idea, so the pressure was off to come up with something amazing straight away. And, by doing it this way, we (or at least I) were able to gradually get into the workshop. If you see my first few poems, you’ll notice how clunky and short they were. Then by the end, I was writing several pages worth. Granted, I only had a tiny notebook but this was a noticeable improvement by the end of the day. Moreover, as my confidence grew, I was more comfortable speaking out my ideas. Suddenly I didn’t feel so foolish, which has always been my problem in the past. If Vanna was to ask for a poem now, I think there is a better chance since I’ve done this workshop that she’d get one, whereas before today I’d probably attempt one, give up after five minutes and write her a story instead. Sure, it might not be quite what she wanted (most of my poems had a rather depressing feel to them – occasional humour was the closest I got to being positive) but it’s better than nothing.

Here’s Peter Samson’s website by the way. I feel obliged to publicize him after he was so good with us today (though it’s no hardship – I already had it written down for me). As I said before, I probably won’t start writing poems for fun but I think I’ll use some of the techniques Peter taught me on those days where I’m struggling with my novel. Writing a short poem on something you see, or think about, is fantastic for getting your brain into the right mind-set. I would certainly recommend it. It doesn’t have to be particularly good either; so long as it engages you mentally your efforts at a poem (you could even just write the notes for one) will be helping. I can vouch for it, anyway.

We talked about the weather, looked out the window, focussed on certain memories, explored different poetry styles and pretended that we were writing from the perspective of an inanimate object…all these methods were used to write a stanza or two of poetry. I’ll go through my better work tomorrow, make a few tweaks here and there, and then post them on the blog. I’d appreciate it if you had really low expectations before you read them. That way I might surprise you (in a good way). Thanks.

Oh, and in the afternoon, we took a short trip to Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery. Our first task was to work in small groups to pick a picture. We would then write a poem each about this picture, but from different angles. To give you an idea of what I mean, our picture was a photograph of a tree covered in shoes. While Steve (one of the tutors) took the perspective of a pair of shoes (the best pair, in fact), Ryan discussed the story behind them and I wrote about how the tree was dying, but there were all these memories that lived on. I’ll post it later.

After that we were told to choose a painting to write a poem about. It could be any painting in the room so long as we picked something unique about that painting as the focus of our poem. It could be a tree, or a person, or an animal…anything.

I, being the observant fellow that I am, noticed that there was a very interesting painting of a naked lady.  Leaning against a mantelpiece, with long hair dropping all the way down her body to cover her, well, special lady place, this woman was waiting to be killed by a Christian extremist group (cheerful, I know). I would give you a name to Google (I’m not posting it here!), but I, uh, forgot it. Oh well. You’ll just have to imagine it (I bet some of you can think it quite vividly) from my description.

And, because it was clearly the one everybody was looking at, I chose to write about said naked lady. Naturally.  But, in my defence, I wasn’t the only one. Two others were standing by it taking notes too. Thankfully though, we all picked different aspects about the painting. I went for the view of the mantelpiece she was leaning on. It was a very lonely mantelpiece. But I’ll stop talking about that because you can read it tomorrow! Yay! Don’t worry, it’s very classy. Honest.

Once that was complete we headed back to the library for a final recap, before saying our goodbyes and heading home.

What next?

Well, the next workshop involves Scriptwriting, which I’m very excited about. As a writer who is using a screenplay layout to shape the plot to his novel, and is harbouring dreams of being a games writer, Scriptwriting will be a very helpful thing to learn about. I can’t wait.

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