This picture is of the lovely venue for the writing courses in Hexham run by the Phil & Lit. It was a huge privilege to teach poetry there and work with such great people – and also to sit on a session run by Mike Smith: my mind is buzzing with ideas now! The venue in Hexham goes across several rooms and is well-stocked with books. The Phil & Lit is such a fantastic endeavour – whether you’re close to the Carlisle location, or the Hexham one, I can’t recommend it enough. It was great to see people actually join the Phil and Lit on the day, and take advantage of the great materials available.
I love teaching – and talking about – poetry. I was really impressed with the quality of work written on Saturday. What was less usual was the force of emotional impact created by the poems in the workshop – really powerful things, some of (subject matter-wise) seemed even to take their creators by surprise. Bringing poems out is a joy – even if sometimes the raw material is a bit of a surprise. Poems, I think, often become themselves; surprises along the way are all part of the process. If you have attended one of my workshops then you’ll know that I like to build in the time to edit; that in itself is a creative process and a chance to consciously craft – as opposed to unconscious creation, which is a different part of the process.
And then to read at Alston in the evening was an honour. Great poets and great music in a great venue. It was certainly a windy night, but all who braved it enjoyed a thoroughly well put together programme of poetry and music. Full credit to Josephine Dickinson for putting together such a list of performers. It was great to meet other poets who I have communicated with, but never managed to meet – and it was a great opportunity to invite some to the Poetry Symposium. Similarly to our Poetry Symposium there was a pop-up bookshop: how brilliant for poets to get the chance to sell their work; I relished the opportunity to not only hear other poets, but also to have a good look at their work. And, of course, to buy some.