Workshop for Humans


“intelligent, odd, scary”

This afternoon, I went to a ‘Workshop for Humans’ with Alex Bailey & Krõõt Juurak – after they came in yesterday afternoon to give a private performance for Barney (our border terrier). The performance – with a local agency news photographer present (you can see the video here) – was really interesting for Barney’s Humans (us) – and he definitely enjoyed aspects of it (as well as being a bit unnerved by others!).

As someone who doesn’t ‘do’ movement work – I found the workshop today really interesting, in trying to get a ‘felt sense’ of our favourite animals, not through words, but through movement (the animals’ ‘language’). I particularly enjoyed the ‘imprinting’ activity of having one’s limbs manipulated by others, holding in mind particular animals – a curious experience, and oddly, rather nice not to be in charge of my own body, for a bit.

One of the activities during session was apparently an old ‘personality test’ – the results of which I thought I’d share here.

We were asked to name our three favourite animals, in order, then to list three qualities we like about each, next to them. For me, this list looked like:

  1. Giraffe: elegant; clumsy; amazing run.
  2. Octopus: intelligent; odd; scary
  3. Dogs: loyal; playful; expressive.

Then we were told that – according to this old test – the first represents what we want to be (elegant, clumsy, amazing run), the second how others see us (intelligent, odd, scary) and the third who we really are (loyal, playful, expressive).

I’m fairly sure I’m clumsy already, not sure how scary anyone finds me (but might be wrong) – but was quite happy to ‘really’ be those dog things…



Writing Between the Lines


“a transitory and changing constellation of percepts, hunger and muscular flexing” – a quote about the swallow, from Andrew Jeffrey‘s presentation

On Saturday, I went over the Severn to Cardiff Met University – to attend the Writing Between the Lines Symposium, on Creative Writing as Research Methodology with a keynote by Professor Kevin Mills.

Highlights for me were seeing papers by Andrew Jeffrey from Sheffield Hallam Uni – whose work roving around Sheffield to write about animals he encounters was fascinating, and delivered with huge energy and verve – I really enjoyed his energetic approach and his writing. You can see the presentation on his blog here.

I also really enjoyed hearing Megan Hayes‘ model of writing for wellbeing – drawing in aspects of Positive Psychology and ‘grounded theory’. Looking forward to hearing more about this, as it seemed a very thought-through, thoughtful and fresh approach.

And it was great too to meet Richie Copeland, hear about ‘My’ [or rather, ‘His’] Naked Queer Poetics – and discuss marriage Vs civil partnership and heteronormativity, in the loo…

Also, I finally actually met The Emergency Poet, Deborah Alma, with whom I have regular (political and poetical) exchanges on Facebook – but haven’t met in ‘meatspace’ yet. (By the way, you should order her new book The Everyday Poet you know (you’re welcome, Deborah)).

Doubtless there were others worth of mention, but these were the talks and interactions which stayed with me.

MOOCs & Lots of Learning

I’ve just started on a Future Learn course (a MOOC – Massive Online Open Course, I believe) – which is about Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing

It’s going to be interesting engaging with the subject through this medium – and how one interacts with the abstract ‘cloud’ of others, out there, also taking part. My hope is that some real connections and conversations come out of the process.

As a creative writing practitioner, I increasingly value the reading part of my workshops – where we spend extended time with one poem, together. The two parts sit very comfortably for me: creative writing and creative reading are really part of the same cycle.

So far, the course seems very well thought – out and the website is very easy to navigate, so I’m hoping to get some useful insights from it which will feed into my CPD and practice. And what’s more: it’s free! What a wonderful resource.

They’ve such a rich variety of courses on there, it’s definitely worth exploring. I’m intending to start another course on The Internet of Things soon, but will have to see how much time each takes up…It would be easy to get carried away, with all this free learning…

I’m also starting a series of Poetry School workshops this week, which I’m hoping will really boost the writing side of my (personal/creative) practice too.

So it looks like 2016 is going to be a Year of Learning. Which every year should be, of course.

I hope you’re enjoying reading, learning and writing too (in any or all orders).