Writing Poetry Workshops at Trowbridge Museum: Workshop One – Carol Ann Duffy and other poets, March 1st 2012

Aims of the workshop

  • to introduce new poetry to the group
  • to encourage new writing

Participants were varied in age and experience of reading and writing poetry.  The workshops were organised around reading/ listening to a poem and then following a writing prompt loosely structured on its subject matter and/or technique.

I introduced two quotes about writing poetry:

“…..nothing, but in things” (William Carlos Williams)

“Go in firmly, step off lightly” (George Szirtes)

Here is a summary of the poems read, points of discussion and writing exercises/prompts:

‘Old Notebook’ by Michael Laskey – the benefits of keeping a notebook; collecting words we are drawn to, not necessarily for any reason other than liking their sound; being precise about detail.
‘Valentine’ by Carol Ann Duffy.  ‘Break’ by Robin Robertson – using concrete items to write about abstract emotions.
‘Onions’ by William Mathews.  ‘Gone’ by Michael Laskey – used the shared opening lines “How easily happiness begins…” as a writing prompt.
Still thinking about domestic settings, we returned to Duffy’s ‘Warming Her Pearls’ to write a poem using dramatic monologue.
Then, two poems about tea.  ‘Tea’ by Duffy and ‘Tea Death’ by Jo Shapcott.  Use a liquid in your poem but in an unexpected way!
Then a poem by Connie Bensley (from Smiths Knoll, Issue 48) “I am sending you this present because………” as a gift line to begin a new poem.
Then back to Duffy and her poem ‘Oxfam’ and Mathew Sweeney’s 2011 National Poetry Competition poem ‘A History of Glassblowing’ to write a list poem.

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