I’ve never done a “proper” residential writing course before and, thanks to a combination of saving up and a credit card, last week I found myself with six other poets at Canolfan YsgrifennuÂ TÅ· NewyddÂ on a course called ‘Writing the Wild’.
Morning poetry workshops were led by Robert Minhinnick and Pascale PetitÂ each taking one turns. Â I’m a bit of a fan of Pascale’s work and it’s always slightly nerve-racking to meet poets you admire. Â Both poet-facilitators were lovely, the exercises thought-provoking and productive; I think it’s safe to say that some of us have poems that – with a little tweaking – could fly out to other homes.
On Wednesday evening we were treated to a reading from Samantha Wynne-RhydderchÂ reading from her collections. Â I was intrigued by her pieceÂ Tango in Stanzas: book art, poetry, performance, music, and dance which is innovative, collaborative and inspiring. Â Samantha is a poet who clearly pushes herself with her art and there’s a YouTube video of excerpts fromÂ Tango in Stanzas, however, I’d love to see a live performance. I managed to buy a copy of BanjoÂ which I’mÂ currently devouring.
I’m hoping that at least some of us keep in touch – there was such an energy in the group and I may have got teary a couple of times (chopping onions and writing poems).
“This is nothing new, the body count
of corpses, found in Cleveley
and on Pegwell Beach, near the hoverport.”
The above is an excerpt from the first draft of ‘Ovis Marina’, this is the poem’s “placeholder title”; it won’t be called this and this first stanza has already changed! Â This poem was written duringÂ the final day’s exercise facilitated by Pascale. Â We had to examine objects closely, principles drawn from poems by Alice Oswald and Louise GlÃ¼ck, and lose ourselves in an object. Â Trawling a section of beach between Criccieth and Llanystumdwy we were tasked with finding such an object to engage with. Â In my head I was looking for traces of bird life, but instead found a dead ewe who looked as if she’d fallen from the cliff.
If you’re considering ever doing a residential course I would say jump at the chance especially if there’s one at TÅ· Newydd that takes your fancy. Â As you can see from the pictures above it’s in a very lovely part of the world, accommodation is warm and comfortable Â – plus writing desks in the rooms, and the food is glorious and, of course, as locally sourced as possible. Â Financial support is also available for the courses.