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I’ve attended two workshops recently organised through Writers SA – Mark Tredinnick’s The Little Red Writing Workshop and Rachael Mead’s Writing the Landscape.

Mark is an award-winning poet and widely published, however this session focused on craft and technique that can be applied to any style of writing. Participants ranged from academics to creative writers, who were given a crash course in Mark’s fifteen rules and received a copy of his book in which they’re explored in more detail.

Mark shared his extensive knowledge and experience, along with some memorable quotes, such as E B White defining writing as the process of the “self escaping onto the page”, which can apply to both the writer and reader. We looked at structure and rhythm, language and voice, being urged to copy a well-made sentence and examine how it’s constructed. Mark’s message was “writing better means getting out of your own way”, write from rather than of the self and master punctuation to help your audience breathe your story.

Rachael is also a widely acclaimed poet whose work I admire and her session explored eco-poetics – an activist way of writing nature poetry in that it has both agency and impact, providing an ecological rather than humanistic perspective, the essence of her latest collection.

Rachael introduced us to four approaches, explaining that eco-poetry is a challenge to dominant discourse, chipping away at anthropocentrism. We read work by Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver and Judith Wright, poems grounded in place with biological, cultural and physical forces at play. Personal and sensory aspects are fundamental to eco-poetics, macro combined with micro to produce a multi-layered piece that seeks an emotive rather than intellectual response. Rachael’s workshop spanned a morning, but there’s enough material to easily fill a day.

And so I’ve acquired new skills to flex and drafts to develop, and a new awareness of self – the impact it has on writing and the world in which both exist.

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