words, words, words

Usually when I go somewhere different, I come back with lots of photographs I can use on the blog.

lights and reflections

This weekend, though, I have been away at a conference. I took very few photos, but have returned with my mind awash with words.
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looking for guinea pigs

True, the small furry rodent in the picture is a squirrel, not a guinea pig, but surely that further justifies the post title, which says I’m looking for guinea pigs.

I need them because I’ve just published an online video course – The Essential Poet’s Toolbox for Readers and Writers – on Udemy and I need some students. (If you don’t know about Udemy, it’s got lots of interesting courses in all sorts of areas from lifestyle to business to technical, some free, some not. You need to create a user account, but once you’ve signed up for a course you have access to the content for ever without paying any more.)

The Essential Poet’s Toolbox for Readers and Writers takes a non-technical look at modern poetry, grouping the tools into five main areas: metre, form, rhyme, layout, and sound. It’s gone on sale at £35 (for 2.5 hours of video lessons) but I’m giving away discount coupons.
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word games

Dog walkers

If you get a group of writers together, it’s pretty much impossible to come up with a definition of poetry that they will all agree on. One of my personal favourites describes poetry as “the genre where the writer has more control over the presentation on the page than the layout artist does”, but I’ll admit it isn’t tremendously helpful.

This quote from Phil Roberts is another of my favourites:

The most complex and ‘adult’ word-game of all: the poem.

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critical thinking I

The idea of critique and criticism** has cropped up on a number of occasions recently, including at the poetry group I attend. There, it seems clear that some of the less experienced writers feel they shouldn’t be commenting on, let alone criticising, the writing of the more experienced group members.

poetry books
I think they are wrong for two quite different reasons.
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workshop discussion

I’ve been thinking about workshops recently.

workshop bench and tools

No, not the sort that illustrates this post, but writing workshops for the commentary, critique and creation of original texts.
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‘it gives us the other’

The abstracts have been published for the sessions at the It Gives Us the Other poetry and translation conference & workday to be held in Nottingham in April.

I suspect some people will wonder who on earth I am and what I’m doing leading a workshop there, so they’ll Google my name and some of them will end up here. (Although I don’t think there’s anything on this blog that explicitly says who I am, the Googlebots are cunning little spiders and have managed to make the connection.)

So, just so that things are made a little easier and a little clearer, I’m gathering together a few relevant posts here:
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the bright side

Half empty wine glass with marina backdrop
Half empty?

I was at a writing workshop this weekend and one exercise involved writing about our childhood homes. When the first few pieces were read out they involved anecdotes of family arguments and illness etc.

Some of the people involved grew up during the War, so it’s not surprising that there were some bad memories, but the tutor commented that her experience shows the vast majority of people will write something negative. I suppose this ties in with the fact that first memories are often of some traumatic experience.
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