A quick post to share that I’ll be hosting creative groups for Key Stage 4 students initially (years 9 to 11) – with an emphasis on wellbeing – Tuesday afternoons, 2 – 2.50 (BST).
A belated and brief round-up of last year (I know – it’s nearly February, but midwinter just isn’t my time). 2019 was the year in which I:
Graduated from my MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP), with a dissertation focused on CWTP in museum and gallery settings. I’m immensely proud of the achievement and the training continues to provide me with valuable insights into group process and practical ways of getting the most of the wellbeing aspects of all the groups which I facilitate.
Received Arts Council Developing Your Creative Practice funding, to work on my first collection – hurrah! This is progressing nicely and I’m so enjoying the creative freedom to explore queering ecopoetics, more-than-human kinships and the intersections of technology and ecology…Watch this space for more info as that progresse
Worked on lots of projects and workshops, including:
- Max Literacy and Creative Cafeswith Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
- Beyond Words with Cheltenham Literature Festival – rounding off last year’s and beginning my second year as writer-in-residence for the project
- Sharing poems at Memory Cafes with Literature Works, with more coming up in February 2020
- Imagining detritivore spacecraft at We The Curious
- Working with a group of learning-disabled (and non-) artists to respond to the Outsider Art Collection at the Whitworth Museum and Art Gallery in Manchester
- Poet in Schools sessions for the Poetry Society
- Rounding off my Writer-in-Residencies and Lead Writer work for First Story (who sadly aren’t operating in the South-West anymore)
- Devising and co-hosting I’m Bitter About Glitter family workshops exploring gender and choice
- Pride month writing sessions with Toby Campion at Leicester LGBT youth groups
- Writing and performing a commission for the National Poetry Competition at 40 celebrations
- Creating a resource for the National Poetry Competition which you can find here
- Co-hosting primary school sessions (to be concluded in February 2020) with Josh and Rosie of the astonishing Impermanence Dance Theatre, exploring conflict and reconciliation around their splendid dance film The Ballet of the Nations.
It’s no wonder one gets a little tired and needs a midwinter break, eh?
2020 is off to a vibrant start with publications and projects, including:
- A selection of my poems on Molly Bloom, here
- My poem ‘Screenwash’ will be Poem of the Month in Bristol 24/7in February
- A cephalopod poem of mine will be appearing in Envoi in April
- A Section 28-inspired poem appearing in Lighthouse in April
- I’ll have a (jellyfish/climate change/Dylan Thomas) poem in the Dear Dylan anthology from Indigo Dreams in spring
- An LGBT+ schools creative writing resource will be on the First Story website in time for LGBT+ History Month in February
- I’m currently writing a resource for the Foyle Young Poets teacher resource book – more on this once it’s out in the world.
This is also the year I hope to complete my first collection and move it towards publication – which is very exciting indeed!
In these strange and troubled times, I’m extremely appreciative that my work is creative, helpful to others and fulfilling for me. May your work be so for you, too.
(No, projectification is not a word – but I just needed to finish the ‘-ification’ thing, OK?)
CWTP MSc Dissertation
A quick update on a few things – most notably that: I’ve passed my Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP) MSc Dissertation!
The dissertation focused on ways in which CWTP might be used in a museum or gallery setting, so there was a huge amount to think about – particularly materiality, working with objects, decolonising museum spaces (or trying to!), poetry as a research methodology and transcriptions re-presented as poetry…
It was, admittedly (or perhaps rightly), the most challenging (OK: difficult) piece of writing I’ve yet had to do! It really stretched my abilities and thinking through the rigour of writing in the Social Science thesis format.
Very little had been written before specifically focusing on CWTP or writing for wellbeing in museums and galleries, which meant it was both a useful exercise (I hope) and there was a lot of bringing things together.
I’m looking forward to graduating with my coursemates in July. The course was through Metanoia Institute and accredited through Middlesex University – and you can find out more about it here.
It’s been a good year so far for publications, I’m delighted to have had poems in:
the gorgeously handstitched Coast to Coast to Coast;
Nine Arches Press’ excellent journal Under the Radar;
the beautifully-produced (and pleasingly anonymously-selected!) Butcher’s Dog.
There are long swathes of time when nothing finds a home anywhere – so it’s really pleasing when some of one’s work (and really often not the poems you’re expecting) find homes in such wonderful company and in such carefully- and lovingly-produced journals.
Nobody’s in poetry for the money! For me, though, that’s part of what makes it such a wonderful ecology, to me. Yes, it’s difficult to make a living, but hell yes – people who thrive in poetry do so through their passion*.
There’s potential progress on my first single-authored pamphlet, but I’ll update on this once it’s more definite!
*Also: asking to be paid; being boundaried; working hard; being nice & being efficient.
I was very lucky to work with Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – with whom I’ve worked a great deal in the last few years – and Compass Point School on a Max Literacy Award project from January – March this year.
It was my pleasure to work with the year two and five classes in the school, who were immense fun. Writing creatively about art and objects is such a brilliant, nourishing thing to do – I hope they’ll feel confident and excited to go into more museums and galleries, equipped with pen(cil) and paper, and explore with their senses and their imaginations.
There’s an article about the project here and we’re in the process of developing and finalising the resources to go on their website. Watch this space.
National Writing Day
There’s a little video I made for the National Writing Day website, on the topic of Why I Write – which you can watch, here.
NB: this video was made while in the middle of CWTP dissertation writing, so excuse the bags under the eyes and the slightly lost look! That said, the MSc has made my processes so much clearer to me – so a good way of bringing this update full circle.
Keep reading, writing and exploring – I will be.
Some good newses to celebrate & projects to update!
Firstly, the filmpoem by Helmie Stil of my piece The Desktop Metaphor won the Jury Award at The Weimar Filmpoetry Festival! There’s more information about that here – and you can watch the piece at that link too. Helmie did a wonderful job with the poem; I love the film’s style and rhythm.
I’ve also just agreed to be the writer-facilitator on the Cheltenham Literature Festival project, Beyond Words. As the project website says:
In any given year, over 600 children In Gloucestershire are unable to access mainstream schooling due to conditions like cancer, eating disorders, epilepsy, and orthopaedic, neurological and respiratory disorders. The majority of these young people are aged between 14 and 16.
Working with the Gloucestershire Hospital Education Service (GHES), Cheltenham Festivals is giving every KS4 student the opportunity to work over time with a writer-in-residence, either in person or via a digital learning platform.
This is a wonderful opportunity to bring together my work with poetry, writing for wellbeing, young people and working in inspirational settings…Including museums, galleries and – hopefully – some which inspire the group about the more-than-human world. I’ll post up more information later in the year; it’s going to be a wonderful project.
Recently, I’ve been delivering some school workshops for Bristol City Museums Service alongside the Grayson Perry exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences – which tell the story of Tim Rakewell though six splendid tapestries. We’ve been exploring taste, class and Stuff, enjoying those details of our material lives which can say so much about us.
Finally, this week I became a Dementia Friend – having been on the training with some fellow artists at Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery. This is ahead of workshops we’ll be delivering for those living with dementia, around the paintings there – particularly Saint Luke Painting the Virgin and Child, recently acquired by the Museum in collaboration with others.
Oh, there’s also the small matter of an MSc Dissertation to get written…
Further updates a little later in the year.
I borrowed guided relaxation techniques from solution-focused hypnotherapy (thanks, Emma Edwards / Shine for tips on doing so safely), animal creation myths, and lovely rhyming bedtime stories: a bit of A A Milne lyricism, a splash of Dr Seuss sass, with some Channel 4 reality formats thrown in…
The story used the animal characters and dreamy rhyme to invite the artists present (and now you) to become relaxed, and explore ideas of home, hospitality – to picture a scenario where we invite everyone in, to a perfect home, for a perfect soiree.
So I recorded the script as I read it, here – so find yourself somewhere comfy for a sit down and to relax with it – ideally before bed. And especially if you’re hosting, or going to be hosting, any kind of soiree, workshop, or event.
I hope that the story generates some interesting images in your unconscious of perfect hospitality – and feel free to comment below with any experiences and reflections about these themes.
I’ve just finished facilitating four sessions, working with Wyldwood Arts – a group of 18-25 year olds from the Bristol Old Vic young producers worked with residents of Monica Wills House writing around the themes of Earth, Water, Fire and Air.
There was a lot of laughter and some really beautiful, playful and moving pieces of writing – and Wyldwood have made a wonderful short film which captures some of this. Here it is!
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.
Here’s a short film made by me, about the excellent Growing Bolder project – funded by Bristol Ageing Better – and the performance we did at Avenue House care home (in Redland, Bristol) on 7th July. Enjoy!
And if you’d like me to make a film of your project or event – please get in touch.
Limerick The First (based on our weekly rubbish-collection annoyance):
A couple on Johnny Ball Lane
Are wading through rubbish again:
They open their gate
And both get irate,
Saying: “It’s the EU that’s the blame!”*
*NB: this is a joke, to try and alleviate some of the horrors of the current Brexitocalypse we’re experiencing.
Limerick The Second (see image above):
A jovial collosal squid
Got upset when everyone hid:
As it reached for the sky
For an eightfold Hi Hi!
The pirates looked less intrepid.
Last week in my group with Off The Record, we looked at Andrew McMillan’s poem ‘TODAY’ from his great collection Physical (which you should buy too)…
Having read and reflected on it, we then thought about a space we know really well – and let our mind’s eye (‘floating camera’, as it were) loose around the space, writing about it (as McMillan’s poem does) in direct address (‘you’) and future tense (‘you will…’).
I thought I’d share my piece of writing that came from this exercise – it’s fascinating how changing tense and first/second/third person can affect the way one writes.
Perhaps inevitably, echoes of McMillan’s poem entered all the pieces of writing – so this is absolutely an exercise, response, and poem inspired by – and not something I’ll be taking ‘credit’ for as an original approach! (So thanks, Andrew, for the great poem and inspiration.)
– after Andrew McMillan
Today, you’ll step from the door
and into some chewing gum
the seagulls will serenade
the pigeons; the weather-
vanes will all point West.
Today you’ll see that all of the bricks
are spelt the same, that everyone’s faces
rhyme.. You’ll regret going to bed
so late, but you’ll do it again.
Today the binmen will curse
the randomness of the Lane, saying
They think glass is plastic and cardboard is clothing
and you’ll drink coffee as the break
lights glare at you.
Today the waiters of the Grand Hotel
will polish cutlery and their wit
the man with gnarly fingers
who collects the bridge toll
will run out of change and meet
his future wife as he seeks 50p’s
at the Crepe Affaire stall.