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I’ve just finished an open workshop in which poets were asked to explore their own experiences of pain and develop them into poems to share with the group.

Poetry of pain

Hosted through The Poetry School’s online social network CAMPUS, the workshop was facilitated by Daniel Sluman and ran for two weeks comprising assignment, reading, writing time and live chat. Daniel is an amazing poet, whose work often explores the challenge of the body and the pain it can cause, with two collections to his name – his first, Absence has a weight of its own, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2012 and then his latest, the terrible, is also available from Nine Arches Press.

So we were asked to recall the most memorable moments in our lives that have involved pain and note three down. Well once I started, I found it difficult to stop and ended up with over seven on my list! We then had to think about these times in an objective way with a focus on detail and other senses, i.e. not just the sensation of pain, drawing on poems by Matthew Siegel and Sharon Olds as exceptional examples of how pain can be conveyed.

I managed to draft and share three poems, with notes for another five, and poets had to choose one to be work-shopped during the two-hour live chat session. Having this at 4:30am my time (7pm London time), I thought showed commitment to the craft!

It was a really useful exercise and I met some fantastic poets along the way, whom I hope to remain in contact with. Daniel asked if we thought this course could be expanded upon; most definitely, where there’s pain, either physical or emotional, there’s a lot to say and share.

After finishing Catherine Smith’s online feedback course earlier in the year through The Poetry School and finding it extremely useful, I thought it about time I enroll on another to give life to some poems that just want to sleep and do nothing all day. So I did.

Bill Greenwell

I had heard good things about Bill Greenwell’s poetry clinic and discovered his work through Abegail Morley, an extraordinarily talented poet who Bill used to mentor. The course runs over 10 weeks and is hosted through an online learning environment out of Exeter University, with the absence of ‘live’ sessions suiting me perfectly due to the time difference.

The aim is simple – to share poems with other poets and an experienced and published tutor, cue Bill, for discussion and critique. So the idea is to present a poem a week, or two if time and length permits, and now half way through the course I have five poems to work on using invaluable feedback.

And even if widely published before, I believe a poet should never stop improving, learning and sharing to develop themselves, their work and fellow poets. Thus I’m in brilliant company, joined by the likes of Sharon Black and Valerie Morton, two poets with excellent track records, as well as solo collections.

So with that in mind I best get back to it. Stop blogging, making cups of tea, thinking about lunch…

I have just started my online feedback course through the Poetry School based in London hosted by Catherine Smith. Catherine’s work is just delicious, her collection of small stories, The Biting Point, evoke such powerful imagery in a hauntingly beautiful way.

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The course runs over 10 weeks with members of the group uploading poems for feedback from each other on a fortnightly basis. Poets can upload as many versions of the same poem during this time, for Catherine to then feedback on the final version at the end of each two week slot. The idea is to dig out those ‘problem pieces’ that just don’t feel right – and I have plenty of these believe me, where I like a particular line or concept but something is just not working.

I’m finding it to be an incredibly useful experience, and have created a feedback document for each of my own pieces in which I’m saving all the comments I receive to later review the work with these to hand. And I’m meeting some wonderful like-minded poets along the way, who I hope to remain in contact with after the course has finished.

January has been a busy month. Other things keeping me buzzing are submissions – five achieved so far to a mixture of magazines and competitions – keeping up to date with the latest publications which yes, does involve purchasing some collections and books, and working out which sessions to attend during Adelaide Writers’ Week starting later this month. So having my wonderful Writer’s Diary has been an absolute saviour! It has really got me organised with submission deadlines, when to work on them in advance as I have, in the past, missed some due to a lack of allocated time, so every Friday now is just chock-a-block of what to achieve. The old paid job gets in the way 😉

 

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Inkspill is a free online writing experience facilitated by awritersfountain over the last weekend in October.

I will be dipping in – will you…?