Return of the Poetry Wanderer
I've been oop t' the 'ills and far away ... a residential poetry course at Arvon's Lumb Bank centre, which is Ted Hughes' old house. I'll talk more about the different elements of the week in future posts, but here are 5 highlights:
- Two fantastic tutors, Daljit Nagra and Julia Copus.
- A fantastically talented and funny group of 12 other participants, all of whom where women (that's fine, I'd rather be one of the girls.
- Ted the fantastic cat, who very clearly was the catification of Ted Hughes patrolling his grounds. Ted (the cat) had an incredibly loud voice and had to be discouraged from coming into the buildings because he apparently has his own home (a fact we might have forgotten from time to time).
- Food. Fantastic lunches prepared by Jack, my favourite being the pea and mint soup. Dinner prepared by small teams of participants under Jack's supervision. I'm heading off to find the Lumb Bank Cookbook on Amazon, if it exists (the cookbook, not the Megalomaniac online killer of independent book shops ['Megalomania: a condition or mental illness that causes people to think that they have great or unlimited power or importance. Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary.']).
- Pub quiz! A fantastic performance from the team of 5, The Slush Pile, that I was part of, coming in joint second. I think this is perhaps the greatest achievement of my life and I might change my epitaph to simply say "joint second place in the White Lion, Heptonstall, pub quiz, 17 Nov 2016
So the format of the course was breakfast available (self-service) until 10am when the first workshop session begins. Each tutor held the workshop on alternate days, and I'm horrified to relate that I can't recall which order ours were, but I've a feeling Julia did our first workshop on the Tuesday and then Daljit did Wednesday's. Morning workshop lasted until 1pm (with a 10 min break halfway through for tea, coffee, bathroom and smokers) and then it was lunchtime from 1pm until 2. Afternoons were for us to use as desired, reading in the library, working on poems inspired by the morning's workshop, and also during this period we might have our tutorial session with one of the tutors. We had one tutorial with each tutor, mine being with Daljit on the Tuesday and Julia on the Wednesday.
After dinner at 7pm we would reassemble at 8:30pm for an evening event. One night Julia and Daljit read from their books, and on another night there was a guest reading by Zaffar Kunial, all of which were, you've guessed it, totally fantastic! Zaffar's set included this poem, Hill Speak, which really gripped me.
And then from 9:30ish onwards we were at ease, talking poetry, drinking wine, whisky and gin (or water for the endangered species of non-imbibing poet, like me!, I had a glass of white wine with the Monday dinner (prepared by Jack, which was ... and one more glass of white on Wednesday, but then it was back to the good old tap water). In order to be alert enough for morning workshop I'd turn in around 11:30pm and read in my room for an hour or two. Others tended to stay talking in the main house until one-ish.
Now, totally off subject, please keep your fingers crossed for my poem, Pooh Sticks, which relates all the rivers I've lived beside during my life, because it has made the shortlist of the Live Canon Poetry Competition. The prize-giving event starts at 3pm today (Sunday 20th November, 2016 at Greenwich Theatre) and the Live Canon group perform each of the shortlisted poems before the winner is announced. On a related note I'd heartily recommend getting yourself a copy of the 2016 competition anthology, which contains all the shortlisted poems. I bought a copy of the 2015 anthology and there is some, oh go on then, fantastic poems in it! :) xx
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