What? – Testimonials

What Do I Do?

I write and perform poetry, and run workshops to get people writing together. I’ve run workshops in supported living settings, schools, Universities, festivals, art galleries, science events and more…Below are what other people say about my workshops & tutoring (above) and my poetry & performances (under that):

What do other people say about my workshops & tutoring?

“The children have been buzzing about the poetry sessions and both teachers have taken away some great ideas we can use in our teaching of poetry. The delivery of the sessions and your manner with the children was also brilliant.”

– Primary Teacher, Exeter, October 2019

“The activities sparked the young people’s interest in the topics of ecology and activism, and many of them took it really seriously, thinking outside of the box and coming up with some brilliant ideas; the poetry itself taught the young people a new skill and a different way to explore and express their feelings and communicate these to others. Most of the young people had the confidence to contribute to discussions and even share their work, which allowed for a massive self-esteem boost when being praised.”

– Youth Worker, Leicester, July 2019

“Caleb’s visit was a great success: he engaged very swiftly with a diverse range of students; gave thoughtful, imaginative feedback about the film poems and delivered a very focused, inspiring performance.”

– Teacher, Millfield School, June 2019

“Thank you for everything you have done and are doing for our students. Working with you this year has been an absolute joy.”

Bristol Secondary Teacher, May 2019

“Caleb’s visit was very well received by all staff and pupils. Prior to our whole school poetry day, Caleb provided fantastic examples of poetry activities, differentiated for staff to choose which poem to focus on. This immediately relieved staff of planning pressure and provided a wide range of age-appropriate poems.

Caleb injected life and laughter into each class he ran a workshop in and spurred the children on to perform to the best of their individual abilities. The end results were fantastic and the children confidently performed their recently composed poems during a whole school closing assembly.
We would highly recommend booking Caleb for a poetry experience your staff and children won’t forget!”
 – Bristol Primary School, April 2019

“It was a lovely session: lots of positive from staff and a well-needed fun session. Hope to work with you again.”
 – Bristol Secondary Teacher, re CPD for Learning Federation English Teachers – March 2019

“Thank you to local poet Caleb Parkin for coming to our school and bringing so much creativity and joy. Any teachers interested in a well-prepared and engaging poetry workshop/day for their school should definitely get in touch.”

 – Bristol primary teacher, World Book Day, March 2019

“Caleb’s writing workshops for Beyond Words at Cheltenham Festivals and Gloucestershire Hospital Education Services have been innovative and inspiring, with the students’ wellbeing always central. It has been incredible to see these young people make such progress in their writing abilities and confidence, and this is down to Caleb’s ability to be simultaneously calming and energising, creating a safe space in which they’ve felt able to challenge themselves and grow. I couldn’t recommend him more highly. ”

 – Cheltenham Literature Festival, Education Manager, 2019

“Great – the poet is enthusiastic and his energy and positivity are contagious”

 – Teacher, re Beyond Words project, 2018-19

“I liked the way English/literacy was woven throughout the historical experience. We will follow up in different ways with history and grammar…Thank you – it was such a great morning’s learning. We would love to come again – it was very memorable.”

 – Primary Teacher, Bristol, 2018 – re Georgian House workshops, 2018

“​I wanted to say a MASSIVE thank you for yesterday. I’ve had such positive feedback from staff and ​a ​sense we’ve created a poetry​ ‘thing’  ​to ​be nurtured and developed. We really enjoyed working with you and hope we work together again”

 – Primary Teacher, near Bristol, 2018

“The session was really well organised and run. Caleb was constantly positive and encouraging to all the students, really bringing the less confident students out of their shells. A range of different tasks – fab day! Thank you.”

 – Secondary Teacher (re Bristol City Museum workshop), 2017

“Thanks for all your work on this and the workshops for schools. It’s been really great to see the exhibition interpreted differently and I think the young people have got so much out of it.”

 – M Shed Museum Staff, Bristol, 2016

“I feel it has helped me a lot being able to write about some things that I never thought I would be able to write and think about before. Being in a social and supportive environment as well, helped me reflect on a few bits of writing I’d given a go, so thank you very very much for that!”

– Workshop Participant, 2016

“Creative writing has given our service users another avenue to express themselves and it has given several people more confidence in discussing their creative ideas and improving their literacy skills.  You have worked with our service users’ needs; including more of what they have responded well to and adapting tasks for a range of abilities. I would definitely work with you again and am happy to recommend you.”

 – Keystones Mental Health Support, Bristol

“Thank you for a fantastic workshop today. It was the most fun I have had with words in years.”

 – Kelly, workshop participant, University of Bristol

“As you can gather from the feedback, Rebecca Tantony and Caleb Parkin were excellent at the event in Bristol…”

 – Becky Cherriman, organiser of ‘Words in Motion, Bristol, April 2015.

“I found the workshop really enjoyable. What I liked the most was the fact that it made me aware of skills I never thought I had. Caleb was a great workshop leader, he made it fun and interesting, and I felt really comfortable throughout.”

   – Paola, workshop participant

Inspirational to all the children involved and allowed them to express themselves creatively as well as exploring a passion for poetry…The kids were telling their parents about the story at the gate and the parents all seemed very impressed, if a little confused”

   – Clifton Learning Discovery Centre, on storytelling and workshops.

What do other people say about my writing & performances?

“Caleb’s work is precise, whimsical and strong; it has the one credential that good art requires, which is that it sounds like no-one else.

 – Dr. Jo Bell, poet & tutor

“I can tell poetry is important to you, a mode with which you engage with the world. You seem to have an instinctive understanding of what a poem is (what is a poem? I’m not always sure, but I sensed you knew something!).  I think you have a lovely sense for the music of poetry […] Lovely phrasing, good use of rhyme. There’s lots of interesting experimentation with layout and using the white space of the page. I found many of your experiments to be engaging, and I particularly liked your writing about technology.”

 – poet Hannah Lowe, on 2017 Rialto Pamphlet Competition shortlisted entry

“I really like the way that the form and the repetitions in this poem make for something a bit churchy, a bit call-and-response, and at the same time the way the phrases develop and mutate, layering up each assertion. By the end the poem has come full-circle, but it’s not the same circle we started off with: something has been shifted. Also I love “The Great Stapler” and the “Photo Copier”, which lend a humorous, imaginative tone to the grinding office job the “Gods of our Days” undertake in their administration of the “things that matter”. It’s weird, and smart, and confident, bringing something vast, strange and unresolvable within reach.”

 – National Poetry Competition 2016 Judges (about second prize-winning poem, The Desktop Metaphor)


“A haunting piece, its oddity and quiet confidence, somewhere between poignancy and lightness, continued to resonate with me long after reading.”

Sarah Howe, judge of the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017, on first prize-winning poem, Somewhere to Keep the Rain – after Wen Ying-Tsai, Umbrella (1971)

“Fresh and original, often wildly imaginative…Fluent, often showing a real poetic grace, and versatile – entertaining, poignant, fantastical, realistic.”

   – Patricia Ferguson, Writing Tutor and Novelist

“Caleb Parkin entranced us with his words. He interchanged live and recorded speech and cello playing to great if weird effect. Clever and different.”

 – Acoustic Night (Halo, Bristol) Review

“Highly inventive, linguistically and rhythmically alert, and admirably diverse in tone – from the comic to the evocative and reflective.”

– Dr. Stephen James, University Tutor

“I’m sooo impressed you took my lewd jottings and turned it into something quite exciting!’

 – Crysse Morrison, on collaborating on ‘Je M’aime’

“Nothing on that evening could possibly have hinted at the majesty of Skylab in full flight. Taking to the stage in a white decontamination suit, and with the aid of some ingenious headgear, Skylab took on variously the personae of rat, urban fox and – best of the lot in my opinion – a cockroach, complete with metre-long (at least!), retractable antennae that had those closest to the stage fearing for their eyeballs, as he read a set of thought-provoking poetry on the theme of Vermin, each poem addressed to the human from the creature’s point of view.”

   – Martin Vosper – writer, blogger

“It was a joy sharing a stage with Caleb Parkin…We talked and rhymed for hours…we meant what we we’re saying and said it with a hurricane like gusto, it was good, filthy and just.”

   – Chloe Poems (Gerry Potter), Performance Poet

“He wowed the crowds with poems exploring species we commonly see as vermin, viewed through the lens of the seven deadly sins. He paralleled the topic of bedbugs with the sin of gluttony in Vermin V, entitled ‘Let us bite’.  With the poet taking the place of a New York gangster, Caleb’s portrayal of one of the ‘bedfellaz’ will have our visitors laughing (but hopefully not scratching) for some time to come.”

   – Bristol Natural History Consortium, BioBlitz blog

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