Tag Archives: poetry workshops in cumbria

October Residential – Guest Poet

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October Residential – Guest Poet

I’m really excited to announce that Sarah Hymas will be our guest poet for the October Residential Poetry Course.

She is a poet, performer and artistbook maker. Her writing has appeared in print, multimedia exhibits, dance videos, lyrics, pyrotechnical installations, on stage and as an improvised opera.

Host, her poetry collection, is published by Waterloo Press (2010). Her artistbook Lune (2013) was featured in The Guardian Books Blog. Since 2014 she has written immersive stories in Manchester, Lancaster and Marsden, using geocaching, augmented reality, micro print, spoken word and live performance.

She is currently working on another for the Aberdeen Music Hall. In 2015 she collaborated on Ripple, an installation that uses physical poems and augmented reality to illuminate climate change. Her present writing focuses on the sea, its ecosystems and the relationhip between it and us.

Sarah will be joining us for dinner on the Wednesday night of the course, and then reading her work to participants afterwards.  There will be time for questions as well,  and I think it will be a really interesting discussion.  As you can see from Sarah’s biography, her work is very much multi-disciplinary, and she uses both traditional and non-traditional routes to publish her work.  You can find more information about Sarah at her website sarahhymas.net  or you can follow her on Twitter at @sarahhymas

The October Poetry Residential runs from October 24th-28th 2016.  The tutors are myself and Jennifer Copley.  The fee of £424 includes accommodation, breakfast and three-course evening meals, all workshops, readings and a tutorial.  The hotel has a lovely swimming pool and there will be free time in the afternoon for walks along Grange promenade or time for your own writing.  If you have any questions about the course, please get in touch with me directly.  If you’d like to book, please phone the hotel on 015395 32896.  There are still a few places left, but these are filling up fairly quickly. 

Sarah has also asked me to pass on information about a workshop that she is running on Sunday 9th October –  please see below!

The Flotsam and Jetsam of the Bay

Morecambe Bay Partnership invites you to the second in a series of creative writing days with poet Sarah Hymas. Bring along an object or photograph related to Morecambe Bay and spend the day working with Sarah to capture the spirit of the Bay in words.
Write a short story, poem or piece of autobiography to contribute to the living history of the area. Info and booking: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/writing-the-flotsam-jetsam-of-the-bay-part-2-tickets-26921702537
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Change to the Poetry Carousel

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Change to the Poetry Carousel

Due to ill-health, Saskia Stehouwer will not be able to take part in the Poetry Carousel this year.  I hope she will be able to come and  tutor on a future course, and wish her a full and speedy recovery.

The gap on the Poetry Carousel tutoring team will be expertly filled by Scottish poet William Letford, who has  agreed to join us on the residential course this year. The full team of tutors will be William Letford, Clare Shaw, Tsead Bruinja and myself.

William Letford’s debut collection Bevel was published by Carcanet in 2012. He has received a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust, an Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary, and a Creative Scotland Artists’ Bursary, which allowed him to travel through India for six months. He has taken part in translation projects through Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine, and in 2014 a chapbook of his poetry Potom Koža Toho Druhého was translated in Slovakian and published by Vertigo. His work has appeared on radio and television and his second full collection Dirt will be published by Carcanet this August.

Bevel was one of the best first collections I’ve read for a long time, and I’m not only excited about working with Billy Letford on the Carousel, but also that he may have the first copies of his new collection with him, hot off the press!

You can find more information about the Poetry Carousel here.  To book a place, please ring the hotel direct on 015395 32896

 

Here are the details of William’s workshop

Workshop – William Letford
The beauty in the mundane 

I keep a journal, nothing fancy, just a notebook I can turn to whenever I see fit. No pressure, I don’t force myself to fill the pages but over the years the journals have built up and now I have quite a collection. Looking back over the books and entries has convinced me of one thing. I am boring. And I’m sure I’m not alone. In between the birthdays, marriages, rollercoaster rides and funky dance moves our lives are mostly mundane. But that’s where the beauty is. I’d like to invite you to a workshop on exploring the poetry of the everyday. Bring all your boring bits with you.

 

A Review of the 2015 Poetry Carousel

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A Review of the 2015 Poetry Carousel

 

The poet Elisabeth Sennit Clough was one of the 32 participants on last year’s sold out Poetry Carousel.  I asked Elisabeth to write an account of what the experience was like.  If you’ve been debating about whether to come, this is a must-read! Elisabeth is a fantastic poet, and has a pamphlet forthcoming after winning the Paper Swans Pamphlet Competition in 2016.

This year’s team of tutors are myself, Clare Shaw and Dutch poets Saskia Stehouwer and Tsead Bruinja.  You can find more information about the 2016 Carousel here

2015 Poetry Carousel

by Elisabeth Sennit Clough

Cumbria is about as geographically and aesthetically distant from my present home in a West Norfolk village as possible, but a current obsession with poetry retreats compelled me to abandon my husband and three children and travel to Grange-over-Sands for the weekend.

As I trundled my case along the short distance from Kents Bank Station to Abbots Hall Hotel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I couldn’t remove the definition of ‘carousel’ from my mind: 1) a merry-go-round at a fair or 2) a conveyor system at an airport from which arriving passengers collect their luggage.  

On the first evening, we were assigned to groups and stayed in those groups as we rotated through the four workshops (the premise of the poetry carousel being to move around four workshops, each with a different tutor). Like the merry-go-round, it had the potential to be great fun while it lasted – or, like the baggage carousel, it could just go round and round monotonously and I could end up right back where I started (I have an ambivalent relationship with airport carousels). 

My first workshop was with Kim. In my group were fellow MMU student Hilary Hares (whom I’d met on a Teaching Creative Writing Course) and Helen Kay – whom I had never met – but had corresponded with about the Nantwich Festival. Given how small the UK poetry world is, it was somewhat inevitable (and lovely) that I would bump into familiar names and faces.

The coincidences continued: Kim is a huge Philip Levine fan and I used to live in Fresno (where Philip Levine ran the MFA Programme at CSU). Kim adopted the title of Levine’s award winning collection What Work Is, articulating the lives of Detroit factory workers, for her workshop. What exactly is work? Our ice-breaker involved trying to answer that deceptively hard question. Having read poems such as ‘My People’ and ‘A Psalm for the Scaffolders’ in Kim’s The Art of Falling, I could see why work as a subject matter was important to her.

I learned that many people on the carousel had attended previous poetry workshops with Kim – a testament to her engaging teaching style and ability to put people at ease. For example, her workshop helped me find a way into writing successfully about a subject I’d been battling with for years; that is, my own experiences as a teenage factory worker.

Kim describes the carousel as promoting ‘a festival atmosphere in the evening, when we come together for dinner and readings from the tutors and invited guest poets.’ This is a very accurate description: in the evening, Kim read some of her work, along with guest-readers, Jennifer Copley and Lindsay Holland. Lindsay is co-editor of The Compass and one of six poets shortlisted for the 2015 Manchester Poetry Prize. After reading, each poet discussed aspects of her work: Jennifer, for example, has published collections with several different imprints and spoke about that experience, while Lindsay discussed long poems and the significance of thoroughly researching your subject matter.

My next group workshop (the following morning) was with Andrew Forster, the other editor of The Compass. Andrew’s ‘Encounters Workshop’ involved writing about ‘an encounter that made you see things differently.’ This inspired me to write a poem about a migrant farm worker that went on to be accepted by The Rialto. Andrew commented on the strength of voice in the poem and this gave me the confidence to continue developing the poem in the same tone.  

My third workshop was with Ian Duhig. His latest (and seventh!) collection, The Blind Roadmaker (about the incredible Jack Metcalf), is one of those books that I read initially because I was interested in the subject matter, but then found myself reading again and again just to admire the exceptional craft of it.

Ian’s workshop prompted me to take an imaginative leap with my subject matter (it’s the first poem I’ve written that’s set in space!), but this freed my poem from the constraints that were constantly working against me as I wrote. Another useful device for my toolkit involved possibly turning a negative outcome in a poem into a positive one. This inspired me to change the ending of one of my poems to great success. Now, when struggling with an ending, Ian’s voice pops into my head, asking, ‘what would its opposite be?’

My final workshop was with Amanda Dalton. Amanda helped me to focus on the drama in my poetry: where should I place the tension on my dramatic arc, for example? We used postcards as prompts and placed emphasis on movement (or not as in the example of my poem below from Amanda’s workshop). I wanted to capture the idea of stark animal nakedness, the sense of unpleasantness inside and out that I interpreted from Freud’s work.

 

Sleeping By the Lion Carpet

After a painting by Lucian Freud

Like the lioness, I am alert
to the alpha in this female, feigning sleep
in an armchair: how her flesh demands
attention from the artist’s brush.

I know the mind of a woman
like this – the way she plants
her ego on the floor, stands back
and laughs as you trip over it.

Her milk contains so much venom,
her thick-ankled daughters will grow up
to puncture the limbs of prettier girls
with the points of school compasses.

She has named them Immaculate
and Conception. She has no sex –
the artist has painted her:
a fat child with breasts.


Far from ending up right back where I started, the carousel took me to unexpected places. I learned a lot of new techniques, resulting from a combination of different teaching styles melding over the weekend. Several months on, I am still developing poems inspired by the carousel weekend and re-reading my notes. And yes, my head does still spin from time to time with all the new skills and poems I brought home.

Sunday Poem – Maurice Riordan

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Sunday Poem – Maurice Riordan

A couple of my friends have been saying to me for a while that I need to slow down and start taking it easy and I’ve pretty much been nodding, agreeing but ignoring them.  It all caught up with me this week though and when I finished teaching late on Wednesday night I had a headache.  I didn’t think anything of it – it kind of comes with the territory being a trumpet teacher, but when I woke up on Thursday I felt terrible – dizzy, headaches and just generally exhausted.  So I spent the whole day in bed which was nice but I still carried on firing off emails and working so I probably didn’t rest properly.

I felt a bit better on Friday so I went for a five mile run with some friends in the morning and then Chris and I went for a walk round Ulverston.  I raided all the charity shops for poetry books – there weren’t many but I did get a collection by Paul Auster (haven’t heard of him but think I should have), an anthology of ‘happy’ poems edited by Wendy Cope (I like anthologies like this – useful for getting material for workshops), a small book of Japanese haiku, the Oxford Book of Prose and Newborn by Kate Clanchy which I’ve always wanted to read, so not a bad haul.

When I got back home I felt terrible again and went back to bed and slept.  I don’t do sleeping in the afternoon, so I had to concede defeat by this point, and admit that I was ill.
We were supposed to be going camping this weekend for a friend’s birthday but we called it off.  I feel guilty about not going, but the thought of driving there and putting a tent up when I felt like I couldn’t stand for more than five minutes was too much.

So we’ve stayed at home.  It is rare for me to have the whole weekend off with nothing to do, and for Chris to have nothing to do either.  I’ve behaved myself and done nothing strenuous yesterday or today.  I’ve even (mostly) kept off the laptop and have limited myself to reading and I’m starting to feel better.

I am very relieved it is now the Easter holidays.  A whole two weeks off teaching, and I feel like I’ve earned it.   I’ll never forget when I had my first work experience student following me around – by Thursday, he was sleeping in the car as I drove around between schools, and he wasn’t even doing any teaching, just observing..

I’m planning on catching up with friends for the next two weeks and doing lots of running.  Tomorrow I’m seeing my twin sister. She has managed to escape from the animal shelter where she is the manager and is having a day off, her first in a couple of months as well.  On Tuesday morning I’m meeting up with Pauline Yarwood to go through some social media stuff for the festival, and then our website designer is coming to give both me and Pauline a lesson in using the website.  I’ve got a plasterer coming to give a quote to get the middle room of our house sorted out and I’m seeing Clare Shaw this week to plot and talk poetry.

On Thursday I’m reading in Leeds at the River’s Meet Cafe as part of the Read Regional Scheme I’m involved in.  Linda France is running an Exploring Poetry session as well.  I’m considering whether it would be a bit stalker-ish to bring Linda’s collection to get it signed as I’ve not met her before.  I will probably stow it in my bag and see if I can do it unobtrusively!

On Friday I’m running my Young Writer’s workshop – it’s been a while since I’ve seen the Dove Cottage Young Poets so I’m looking forward to seeing them all, and then I’ll go straight from there to Lancaster where I’m reading at the North West Literary Salon, held in Waterstones

Then on Saturday I’m running my Barrow Poetry Workshop – 15 people signed up, so room for one more if you know anybody that is interested.

That might sound a lot, but I haven’t got four junior band rehearsals, 2 days of brass teaching and 3 private pupils to fit in this week, so this is a walk in the park!

Today’s Sunday Poem comes from Maurice Riordan’s latest collection The Water Stealer, published by Faber in 2013.  Maurice came to read for A Poem and a Pint in February, and I bought a copy of his book. I loved this poem as soon as I read it and was captivated from start to finish.

I like the story of it, of course, but I also like the way one thing leads to another, how one pond reminds the speaker of a pond in childhood. In The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, the two main characters find themselves in a ‘Wood Between the Worlds’ filled with hundreds of pools, each one leading to a different world.  This has nothing to do with Maurice’s poem, but it is what jumped into my mind when I read the poem, and the memory of the second pond entered it.

The poem is rich in allusions and associations – the italicised sections recall the children’s son ‘There was an old woman who swallowed a fly…she swallowed a spider to catch the fly..’  There are lots of doubles in this poem as well – two ponds, two foxes, two men crying at the sight of something destroyed.

I also love the images in this – the fact that the absence of the pond is noticed because its reflection on the ceiling is gone, the saucer of streetlight and that wonderful line about the fish possibly being ‘ferried into the dawn by the cormorant’.  It strikes me that there are a lot of wise fish in poems or maybe I’ve just come across lots recently.  Karen Solie has a cracking poem called ‘Sturgeon‘ which you can hear her reading and her fish has the same ‘streetwise’ attitude, as Maurice calls it.

Maurice Riordan was born in 1953 in Lisgoold, Co.Cork.  His first collection, A Word from the Loki (1995) was nominated for the T.S. Eliot Prize.  Floods (2000) was a Book of the Year in both the Sunday Times and the Irish Times, and The Holy Land (2007) won the Michael Hartnett Award.  He lives in London and has taught at Imperial College and Goldsmiths College, and is currently Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University.  Maurice Riordan is Editor of The Poetry Review.

You can order The Water Stealer here from Faber and Faber.

I hope you enjoy the poem, and thanks to Maurice for allowing me to use it.

The Water Stealer  – Maurice Riordan

came to the pond in the night and emptied it.
I woke in the unwonted quiet
and noticed its reflections on the ceiling
absent this bright morning,

the fire outside quenched, the lilies
collapsed in a muddy heap, the neon
of damselflies, the skim of darters and fleas,
of skaters and water boatmen – gone.

Where were the carp? Sunk in the mud
or ferried into the dawn by the cormorant?
Or was it a town fox that chewed
through the tarp so it bled while I dreamt,

while my brain worried old scars,
the saucer of streetlight grew brighter
overhead and neared the huddle of carp
– who’d have jumped and bitten in terror,

gorping helplessly in the poisonous gas.

I mend the leak,and watch the basin fill,
the water not the same water: clear, drinkable,
the year’s clock too far advanced to be reset,
to remake the soup of eggs and insects.

Even so, the lilies untangle and lift
their cumbersome pads off the mud –
weightless and free, like the dancers in the loft
at harvest, when I watched as a child.

But no fish…the fish that came
with the pond that came with the garden
that came with the house that came
with the care that came with the children

And the pond, which no child fell into,
recalled our old pond back in Lisgoold
and heat-struck hours with my cousins
pawdawling in the duckweed and ooze.

I’d begun, since my days are freed up,
to love its little creatures, to scoop
for springtails and ‘water bear’ – the minuscule
tardigrade I’ve seen only on Youtube.

But now a fox has come as a thief in the night
– not the fox that squeezed through the mesh
to the hencoop (which our father tracked and shot),
no, some miscreant, with a taste for fish.

It’s time to cry – to pour tears like my father
in his old age, hammering the armrest
with an arthritic fist till he broke it (the armrest)
crippled because of a cur, a mongrel cur

the dog that barked that scared the mare
that carried the man that reared the foal 

that loved the rider that rode the mare 
that flung the rider headlong into the road 

my old man, as they were galloping home
from Midleton Show, their jaunt every June
without fail till the fall…which would shame
and shackle him, and send him to the grave.

And now I’ve a fox, or worse, for adversary.
I’ve a night of pillage and ruin to bemoan,
robbed of my pond and its innocent creatures,
dead fish to bewail – when lo and behold

a half-dozen or so are scooting here and there
among the lilies (those long gone country dancers)
the streetwise ancient carp, yea risen out
of the mud, and me in floods at the sight.

 

 

Fourth Tutor Announced for Poetry Workshop Carousel

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I’m really excited to be able to announce that the fourth tutor for the Poetry Workshop Carousel, taking place from the 11th-13th December 2015 at Abbot Hall Hotel, Grange Over Sands will be the fantastic Amanda Dalton.  I first met Amanda when I was studying on the MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and she was always astute in her observations, generous with her time and gave invaluable advice and I’m really looking forward to working with her.  Below you will find all the information about the tutors.  Please see the Forthcoming Residential Poetry Courses tab for more information about the course.

 

Amanda Dalton

 

 

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Amanda is a poet and playwright. She started writing in her mid 30s when she was working as vice principal in a Leicester comprehensive school. She has published two pamphlets and two collections with Blooodaxe: ‘How To Disappear’ which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for best first collection, and ‘Stray’. She was selected as a Next Generation Poet in 2004. Her work for BBC Radio includes original dramas, poetry, and radical re-workings of silent movies The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Nosferatu. She has made site-specific work with Wilson+Wilson and Sheffield Theatres, drama for young people and adaptations of work by Jackie Kay and David Almond.  She is a Visiting Writing Fellow (poetry and script) at MMU’s Writing School and Director of Engagement at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre. She lives in Hebden Bridge.

 

Ian Duhig

 

Ian Duhig (6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A former homelessness worker, Ian Duhig has written six books of poetry, three of which were shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize as well as the Whitbread and Costa Poetry Awards. He has won the Forward Best Poem Prize, the National Poetry Competition and was a joint winner of a Shirley Jackson Award for one of his short stories. A Cholmondeley Award recipient and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has taught at all levels from beginner to post-graduate and his university posts include being the International Writer Fellow at Trinity College Dublin.  If you would like to order any of Ian’s books, you can buy them direct from Picador here

 

Andrew Forster

 

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Andrew Forster is originally from South Yorkshire but he lived in Scotland for twenty years before moving to Cumbria in 2008. He has published three full-length collections of poetry, two with Flambard Press, ‘Fear of Thunder’ (2007) and ‘Territory’ (2010), and ‘Homecoming’ with Smith Doorstop (2015). ‘Fear of Thunder’ was shortlisted for the 2008 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and ‘Homecoming’ is shortlisted for the Lakeland Book of the Year Award . Two poems, ‘Horse Whisperer’and ‘Brothers’, appear in the AQA GCSE syllabus.  He has worked in Literature Development for 17 years and until recently was Literature Officer at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere

Kim Moore

Society of Authors Awards June 2011Kim Moore  Eric Gregory Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kim Moore’s first full length collectionThe Art of Falling’ was published by Seren in 2015.  Her first pamphlet ‘If We Could Speak Like Wolves’ was a winner in the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition in 2012.  It was named in the Independent as a Book of the Year, shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award and was the runner up in the Lakeland Book of the Year Award.  She was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer prize by Poetry Review in 2010, an Eric Gregory Award in 2012 and a Northern Writers Award in 2014 and is one of five UK poets selected to take part in Versopolis, a European project aimed at bringing the work of young UK poets to a wider European audience.  Her poem ‘In That Year’ is on the shortlist for the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Published Poem.

 

Poetry Workshop Carousel – New Residential Poetry Course, 11th-13th December

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 Society of Authors Awards June 2011Kim Moore  Eric Gregory AwardsandrewforsterIan Duhig (6)Question_mark_(black_on_white)

Due to an early mix-up with dates between the hotel and myself, Rebecca Goss is no longer able to tutor on the 2015 Poetry Workshop Carousel, which I’m really sad about.  She will hopefully be coming back to tutor on the 2016 course, so please watch this space!

The new dates for the Poetry Workshop Carousel are the 11th-13th December 2015.  Tutors confirmed so far are myself, Andrew Forster and Ian Duhig.  I will hopefully be able to confirm the fourth tutor in the next couple of days or so, and it will be someone as equally fabulous as Rebecca, but fabulous in a different way.

In case you missed my earlier post about this, the Poetry Workshop Carousel will be taking place at Abbot Hall Hotel, Kents Bank, Grange Over Sands.  The course will be made up of a carousel of four workshops with four different tutors.  Each participant will attend a 2 hour workshop with each tutor as part of a small, intimate workshop group.  In the evening, the groups will come together for poetry readings from the tutors and invited guest readers.  I estimate the workshop groups will be between six and eight people.

The cost of the course will be £230.  This includes four workshops, two readings on the Friday and Saturday night, accommodation and all food for the weekend – a three-course meal on Friday night, breakfast, lunch and three course evening meal on Saturday and breakfast and lunch on the Sunday.  The course begins at 4pm on Friday and finishes at 12 on Sunday.

If you haven’t been to Kents Bank or Grange Over Sands before, it is a beautiful place.  The hotel is set in wonderful grounds, right on the edge of Morecombe Bay and a two minute walk from Kents Bank train station.  There is a lovely swimming pool in the hotel and the intention for the weekend is to take over the hotel with poets!  If you have any questions at all about the course structure or content, please get in touch with me via the Contact page.  Places are limited and I’m expecting them to go quickly, so if you would like to book, please phone Abbot Hall directly on  015395 32896.

Over the weekend, I’m planning to put up a draft programme for the weekend, but the start time for the first workshop will be 4pm on Friday 4th December and the finish time will be Sunday lunchtime at 12pm, if you are thinking about booking trains.

Here is a little bit more information about the fantastic tutors who I’ve chosen not just because of their reputation as poets, but also because of their reputation for running fantastic workshops.

Ian Duhig

A former homelessness worker, Ian Duhig has written six books of poetry, three of which were shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize as well as the Whitbread and Costa Poetry Awards. He has won the Forward Best Poem Prize, the National Poetry Competition and was a joint winner of a Shirley Jackson Award for one of his short stories. A Cholmondeley Award recipient and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has taught at all levels from beginner to post-graduate and his university posts include being the International Writer Fellow at Trinity College Dublin.  If you would like to order any of Ian’s books, you can buy them direct from Picador here

Andrew Forster

Andrew Forster is originally from South Yorkshire but he lived in Scotland for twenty years before moving to Cumbria in 2008. He has published three full-length collections of poetry, two with Flambard Press, ‘Fear of Thunder’ (2007) and ‘Territory’ (2010), and ‘Homecoming’ with Smith Doorstop (2015). ‘Fear of Thunder’ was shortlisted for the 2008 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and ‘Homecoming’ is shortlisted for the Lakeland Book of the Year Award . Two poems, ‘Horse Whisperer’and ‘Brothers’, appear in the AQA GCSE syllabus.  He has worked in Literature Development for 17 years and until recently was Literature Officer at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere.

Kim Moore

Kim Moore’s first full length collectionThe Art of Falling’ was published by Seren in 2015.  Her first pamphlet ‘If We Could Speak Like Wolves’ was a winner in the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition in 2012.  It was named in the Independent as a Book of the Year, shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award and was the runner up in the Lakeland Book of the Year Award.  She was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer prize by Poetry Review in 2010, an Eric Gregory Award in 2012 and a Northern Writers Award in 2014 and is one of five UK poets selected to take part in Versopolis, a European project aimed at bringing the work of young UK poets to a wider European audience.  Her poem ‘In That Year’ is on the shortlist for the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Published Poem.

*FOURTH TUTOR TO BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY*

WATCH THIS SPACE!