Sitting here listening to the birds singing, and the sun vaguely shining, and after days of beautiful weather, it feels like December is very far off. It feels strange to be planning for winter when summer is starting. However, this December, I’m really excited to be running another residential again. This time it’s the Poetry Carousel, back by popular demand. The Carousel came about when I was trying to think of a way to utilize the uniqueness of running a residential course in a hotel – all those bedrooms, but we were only using 16 of them. I also wanted to try and combine the best bits of a residential with a poetry festival – so I came up with the idea of the Poetry Carousel. The course will take place at Abbot Hall Hotel, Kents Bank, (nr Grange over Sands in the Lake District)
One of my favourite parts of running residentials is working with the other tutors. The process of selecting tutors to work with is really exciting – I always choose tutors that I’ve either worked with before so I’ve seen them in action, or that I’ve been in a workshop with as a participant. They also have to be great performers, and they have to be poets that really care about teaching. And for the Carousel purposes, they have to have three different approaches to poetry – this is one of the reasons why it feels different to a traditional residential. There is no unifying theme for the weekend. I just ask the tutors to run a poetry workshop on a theme or idea that they feel passionate about.
The 2017 team consists of David Morley, Steve Ely and Hilda Sheehan. I ran a residential down in St Ives with Steve last year, and I was really impressed with his level of preparation for the workshops, and his kindness and generosity towards the participants on the course. I’ve known Hilda for quite a few years now – we first met when we shared a room together on a residential course. Hilda is great fun, very energetic and I’m sure she won’t mind me saying, slightly bonkers. She runs the Swindon Poetry Festival and both her energy and her humour are legendary! She runs fantastic workshops and is a great performer of her work. I went to a workshop run by David Morley at The Wordsworth Trust quite a few years ago now and I’ve never forgotten it. It was completely different to every other workshop I’ve been to. There were lots of different strategies for taking us all out of our tried and tested methods of writing poetry, and again, David’s energy and enthusiasm was infectious.
So those are some of my reasons for assembling this team of tutors – now all we need are the participants! The hotel tells me that a fifth of the places are already booked for this course, and the nicer rooms are always booked out first, so if you are thinking of coming, I would book sooner rather than later. If you would like to book, you need to contact the hotel directly on 015395 32896.
If the course sells out (as I’m expecting it to) there will be 32 people booked on. Those 32 people will be divided into groups of 8. Each group of 8 will have a 2 hour workshop with one of the tutors on the Friday afternoon at 4pm. We then all come together for dinner, and an evening reading from two of the tutors. On Saturday morning, each group of 8 moves on to the next tutor for another two hour workshop. There will be free time on Saturday afternoon, then the whole group of 32 comes together for dinner and an evening reading from a guest poet. On Sunday morning, each group of 8 moves on to another workshop with another tutor. There’s free time in the afternoon again before we meet for dinner and evening readings from the other two tutors. On Monday, the group moves on to the last tutor and their last workshop of the weekend. We meet for lunch before everyone heads off home. The course officially finishes at 12 and lunch is straight after this.
So that’s the general outline – so although there are 32 people on the course, giving the weekend more of a festival feel in the evenings, the workshops are actually very intimate.
The cost of the weekend is £360 and this includes accommodation, workshops, breakfast, lunch and three-course evening meals.
Below is some biographical information about the tutors. Towards the end of the week, I’ll be sharing information about the workshops that will be running over the weekend -so keep an eye out for this!
David Morley won the Ted Hughes Award for New Poetry in 2016 for The Invisible Gift: Selected Poems and a Cholmondeley Award for his contribution to poetry. His collections include The Gypsy and the Poet, a PBS Recommendation; Enchantment, a Sunday Telegraph Book of the Year; The Invisible Kings, a PBS Recommendation and TLS Book of the year. A dramatic poem The Death of Wisdom Smith, Prince of Gypsies has been published by The Melos Press. David is known for poetry installations within natural landscapes: ‘slow poetry’ sculptures and poetry films. A Professor at Warwick University and Monash University, David is also a National Teaching Fellow.
‘Like opening a box of fireworks; something theatrical happens when you open its pages, and a curtain is raised on a tradition that has been overlooked…Ted Hughes wrote about the natural magical and mythical world; The Invisible Gift is a natural successor…’. – Ted Hughes Award Judges
Steve Ely has published four collections of poetry, most recently Werewolf (Calder Valley Poetry) and Incendium Amoris (Smokestack). His biographical work, Ted Hughes’s South Yorkshire: Made in Mexborough, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. He lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield.
Hilda Sheehan has been a psychiatric nurse and Montessori teacher. She has a collection of poetry, The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood, published by Cultured Llama, and a pamphlet of short fiction, Frances and Martine from Dancing Girl Press. “Like a firework set off in the heart of the culture’s kitchen”. William Bedford. Hilda is the founder and organiser of Poetry Swindon Festival and works as an education officer at the Richard Jefferies Museum.
Kim Moore’s first collection The Art of Falling was published by Seren in 2015. A poem from this collection was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. Her first pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves was a winner in the 2012 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition and went on to be shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award and named in The Independent as a Book of the Year. She is one of five UK poets chosen to take part in Versopolis, a European funded project to bring the work of UK poets to an international audience.