Poet in Residence Beginner Poetry Workshops – Week one



I promised to let you know about the poetry workshops I am conducting at Worth Park as part of my residency. Sorry I’m a bit behind but things have been rather manic of late. The theme of these workshops is to hone in on senses to create imagery in poetry.

Week one brought a small group of adult students. This began with a trip outside into the park grounds, finding our own personal space to capture sounds and visions around us, focusing on all senses including smell, touch, taste, sight and hearing. I struggled with how my students would create taste so provided a choice of sweets to suck while on their creative journey.

Back inside the writing room a freewrite for ten to fifteen minutes was completed. ‘Free writing will often take you into your deepest ideas, feelings and memories.’ (Linda Anderson, 2006).  I explained to just write, don’t edit and if they got stuck what to write then jot anything down, such as, ‘I don’t know what to write’ until something else popped into their heads. One student found this tip particularly helpful.

Following the freewrite we discussed poetry, rhyme and non-rhyme. A couple of the members from the group read out aloud, William Blake’s, My little Rose Tree and Sea Rose by H D Imagist and then everyone discussed their differences. We looked at how free verse can be a poem using internal rhyme, alliteration, assonance, metaphor and simile.

The class broke for coffee and biscuits and chatted about the first half of the session. Afterwards as a group we brainstormed what we’d picked up in our few minutes private space. Everyone noted the sky appeared dull, flat and no one managed to single out a smell, despite being among trees and plants. One student (Vanessa Cumper) described the air as ‘air pausing,’ a wonderful description. Magpies dancing and pigeons plodding were on everyone’s list. One particular line that jumped in my head was ‘sirens of gulls.’

After our brain storm the participants began tackling their first poem making use of non rhyming couplets and using a different sense in each stanza. I was impressed with the quality and imagery used by these beginner poets.

Why not have a go yourself? Next time you’re outside, stop, listen, watch, feel, touch etc. Then have a go at a poem using non rhyming couplets. I’d love to hear how you get on.

Watch out for Week Two’s session over the next day or so…



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