Tag Archives: poetry course

I’m still alive….


Evening all – I just wanted to let you all know (in case you are worried) that I am still alive but have been really busy the last few weeks which has caused a severe dereliction of duty in regards to this blog.  I’m writing this from St Ives on the first day of a poetry residential that I’m running with the wonderful poet Clare Shaw.  It feels strange writing this as I know some people who read this blog are actually on the course!

Anyway, normal service of Sunday poems will begin again from next weekend and I have a real backlog of fabulous poems and poets lined up which will probably keep me going until Christmas.

Last weekend was the last weekend of the Ilkley Literature Festival and I’ve already told you all how wonderful it was.  Last Thursday I ran two workshops, one in a secondary school in Bradford and one in a primary school in Ilkley.  Then I ran an hour long session looking at how you get from the first draft of a poem to the last draft of a poem .  I used examples of my own poems and an example of a poem kindly donated by the ever generous Ian Duhig which worked out really well, as from looking at Ian’s draft, it seems he expands outwards from his first draft, making more and more links between words and ideas, whereas I contract inwards – I like to think of my first draft as a huge lump of rock that I have to chip away at to get at the shape of the poem inside.  After this workshop it was a sprint to the next venue to introduce the fabulous John Hegley, who gave a brilliant performance.  John’s performance was a masterclass in comic timing and how to keep an audience in the palm of your hand.  I also really like how John engages with the audience – he doesn’t just present poetry passively and expect the audience to listen quietly.  My favourite moment was when he got the audience members who wear glass to tap their glasses with their finger nails at the same time in answer to his own spectacle tapping…

On Friday I ran another workshop in a primary school in Bradford and then I had my own poetry reading with Matthew Sweeney and Michael Laskey.  This reading was a real treat because the competition winners of the Ilkley Literature Festival Poetry Competition read their winning poems out and one of the winners was my lovely friend John Foggin who came second.

On Saturday I got up early and dragged Phoebe Power, the apprentice poet in residence to Skipton Park Run, having not done a park run for weeks.  We couldn’t find the park in Skipton and parked the car and legged it across the field just as the runners were all lining up at the start ready for the whistle to go.  My fancypants Garmin watch couldn’t find me in time which was very disappointing so I had no idea how fast I was going or how far I’d gone.  The only thing I did know was that 4 laps in the park at Skipton felt much worse than 2 and a half laps of Barrow park.  My time was a minute slower than my Barrow park run time which I was a bit disappointed with..

On Saturday afternoon I had one to one tutorials with various poets, which I really enjoyed. If I had to redo my time at the festival, I would definitely put myself down for another afternoon of tutorials.  It was really fascinating having the chance to sit down with people and talk about their work and the half hour went by so fast.   The people who came for the tutorials were all at very different stages as well and I found it really interesting working with them all.

So last Sunday was the last day of the festival and it was probably my busiest day.  At 9am on Sunday I lead a group of intrepid and possibly foolhardy runners on a 5k run up on to Ilkley Moor – we made it to the top and back down again without any mishaps and then we went straight into a workshop about writing about the body which produced some brilliant poems.

After the workshop I went back to the hotel, had a quick shower and then went straight to the Mushaira which was a gathering of poets reading in lots of different languages which was a wonderful thing to be a part of.  After that, I hung around and caught up with the lovely Rodolfo Barradas, who worked at the Festival and belongs to a small group of people who I meet and instantly feel a connection with, and as if I’ve known them forever.

In the evening I was judging the Open Mic competition alongside Phoebe and Rodolfo and I must admit, the prospect of 18 open mic slots was not filling me with delight, after the afternoon of open mic at the Mushaira (lovely as it was).  However, it was such good fun!  And each competitor got five minutes and at the end of their slot a big timer came up on the screen so nobody could go over.  A great poet called Mark Connors won first place and he was very chuffed.  Everyone was great though.  I wasn’t bored once which can’t often be said at an open mic session!

I stayed in Ilkley on Sunday night which was maybe a mistake, because driving back from Ilkley at 11pm would probably have been a lot better than driving back from Ilkley at 6am because of traffic, but I was so tired I knew I wouldn’t be able to face it, so I went back to the hotel instead and got up early to get back from work on Monday morning.

I was saying to someone only today that I really feel proud of myself for the last three weeks, which might seem big-headed to say so, but I don’t care, because I rarely feel like that.  I normally feel like I ‘should’ feel proud about something because people tell me I should, but I usually don’t.  But this time I do – I feel proud that I not only got through my first real life residency, but I got some lovely feedback from people I worked with during it.  I kept up all of my teaching commitments although it would be dishonest to say I did this without losing my rather frayed patience by the end.

The one slightly terrible thing that happened this weekend was that my lovely friend Maggie who was looking after my dogs fell and broke her ankle.  My normally placid and mild mannered terriers apparently barked and growled at the ambulance workers but eventually were persuaded to let them put Maggie in an ambulance.  So my lovely new neighbours, whose daughter happens to play in my junior band have been helping out by looking after Maggie and the dogs whilst I was away.

This week I’ve been planning for the residential and finishing off printing out the last bit of stuff for my workshops so it’s not exactly been a relaxing week.  On Friday I ran my Dove Cottage Young Poets group in Kendal and then went straight from there to Preston to read at The New Continental with Judy Brown.  It was lovely to see Judy again and hear some of her poetry but I did too much nattering at the end and left rather late, and then on Saturday I got the train down to London and read at the Poetry Society Cafe on Saturday night with Jo Bell and Hilda Sheehan and various other poets and had a lovely night.

On Sunday I got up late and only just managed to get my train from London to St Ives and having located Clare Shaw on the train slowly realised that I couldn’t find my tickets anywhere.  I went to confess to the train guard that I had in fact lost my tickets – but I did have the collection reference number in my filofax.  My opening gambit was ‘Hi, I’ve lost my tickets, but I’m not a criminal, look I have a filofax’ which went down suprisingly well and the guard said I wouldn’t have to pay and to just explain to the next guard that got on what had happened.

The next guard was not quite so easy to convince and I didn’t get away without a lecture but it could have been a lot, lot worse and I managed to get to St Ives without having to pay for another ticket.  Which brings us up to date!  So there will be no Sunday poem because for a start, it is now very early on Tuesday morning but I will get back to normal Sunday Poem service next week.


Poetry in St Ives


Evening all!  Today I suddenly remembered it is already June and I need to crack on with advertising the next Residential Poetry Course that I’m running with the wonderful Clare Shaw as co-tutor this October.  I can’t believe how quickly this has come round. Apparently about a third of the places have gone already and I am expecting the places to go quite quickly so if you are thinking of coming, get in touch with the hotel and book a place – contact details below.



‘The Call of the Tide’ Residential Poetry Course,
Treloyhan Manor Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall,
27th- 30th October 2014

Course Leaders: Kim Moore and Clare Shaw
Come and join us for a week of workshops, discussions and readings.  The theme of the week will be ‘The Call of the Tide’.  In the beautiful setting of St Ives and surrounded on three sides by the sea, we will explore how encounters with the tide, the coast and the forces of nature can inspire and inform our writing.  There will be two mystery guest poets who join us mid week and time for one-to-one tutorials.

For more information or to book please go to the Treloyhan Manor Hotel website: http://www.christianguild.co.uk/treloyhan/interestbreaks.php

Alternatively you can ring the hotel directly on 01736 796240

There are limited numbers and we are expecting the course to be full, so please book your place early to avoid disappointment

Draft Timetable

Monday 27th October
2.30pm-5pm –Workshop with Clare Shaw and Kim Moore
“What the Tide Brings In” –
As we set sail on five days of creative discovery and development, we’ll meet and greet our fellows travellers in this introductory session. We’ll also start to explore the forces that flow through poetry; and to establish how we’ll discover and develop those throughout the week.  

8pm – Evening Reading in the lounge
Bring a favourite poem to share with the group, written by somebody else.

Tuesday 28th October

10am-1pm – Morning Workshop with Clare Shaw
“What the Water Gave Me”
Inspired by the ocean and what it offers, we’ll examine the principles of powerful language at work in contemporary poetry, and at how we can put them into practice in our writing.

3pm-5pm – Afternoon Workshop with Kim Moore
‘I need the sea because it teaches me’ – Pablo Neruda – Tuesday afternoon workshop with Kim
What has the sea taught us, and what is there left still to learn?  What can we learn from the people/fish/birds/animals/lighthouses/rocks/the moon/the stars/inanimate objects that make their home in or near the sea? We will attempt to answer these questions with poems, which will hopefully leave us with more questions than we started with…

8pm – Poetry Reading in the Lounge with Kim Moore and Clare Shaw
Wednesday 29th October
10am-1pm Morning Workshop with Clare Shaw and Kim Moore –
“The Edges of the Tide” –
From Arnold via Larkin to Oswald and beyond, poetry is created where ocean meets land. Following in their footsteps (weather allowing), we’ll take our inspiration from the extraordinary human and physical landscapes of the coast, and create some poetry of our own.

Free Afternoon – Tutorials available – participants to sign up at the beginning of the week

8pm – Poetry Reading in the lounge with two Mystery Guests

Thursday 30th October
10am-1pm – Morning Workshop  with Kim Moore
Stories of the Tide – Thursday morning workshop with Kim
The ocean plays a central role in the stories and myths that we tell ourselves.  The sea is a part of many idioms and phrases in language.  How can we use these myths, stories and phrases to enrich our own poetry? 

3-5pm – Afternoon Workshop  with Clare Shaw
“its always our self we find in the sea”: …. the ocean, the voyage and and lifewriting.
Ocean is one of the richest sources of metaphor. Whether literally or metaphorically, we’ll go beachcombing and find some version of ourselves to write about. 

Optional “Page to stage: performing your poetry” from 5-6pm with Clare Shaw

8pm – Poetry Reading in the lounge by Course Participants –
A chance for participants to read poems written on the course, or work they have brought along with them.

31st October

10am-1pm – Morning Workshop- with Clare Shaw/Kim Moore
A chance to bring a poem for feedback from the group and the tutors.  This can be a poem you have written on the course or one you have brought from home.