Workshops Are Go

My favourite workshop room from the past couple of years included this emergency exit. It works as an editing strategy, too.

This weekend saw the launch of our Pre-Symposium Workshops. I was very privileged on Saturday to work with an excellent group of writers and I enjoyed watching and hearing the poems that were created. You don’t often get to talk poetry for an extended period – not the writing of it. So, getting people to talk through the creative process means that you (as in I) learn a great deal. Nick Pemberton used to say that he liked going to workshops because it forced him to write something – there’s some recognisable truth in that. And the best thing is that some of the lines written by others stay in your head afterwards. Thank you to all who came.

If you’ve not signed up for a workshop or two and you’d like to be, please go here: If you’ve been to one before, you need to know that all the activities are different in this series – as are the individual focuses. What I’ve kept the same is making sure that there is enough editing time on work, making a balance between some thought-provoking ideas about poetry and the actual writing of it iself, as well as showing some good contemporary poetry from the last couple of years, and the usual variety of stimuli.

Using ‘Google Meet’ was a first for me – it seemed very suited to the purposes: no one had to download anything or use apps, or sign their life away digitally. It also had the benefit of not being Z**m. And the occasional glitch, where it appears, is easy to solve. One really nice facet of conducting the workshop using online software is that watchers/listeners could feedback immediately to the person reading the poem – even during the poem. It often happened that workshoppers used the ‘chat’ function not only to support each other – either by saying what they liked, or by mentioning lines that they thought were great. This opened up something that you don’t get the chance to do in real life! How frequently have you read something at a workshop (or even at a live event) and then haven’t got a clue whether the faces turned to you like it, or dislike it, or whether they were even listening? And you can’t really just walk up to people and ask them what they thought of your poem. At least I don’t think you can. Maybe you’ve tried it and can tell me different. So, there are some small advantages to being online. If there was the demand, I think I’d regularly run online courses (perhaps like these workshops – a short series) – even if we return to doing things ‘live’. My aim, and I am in discussion with other agencies about this, is to be able to run courses in-the-flesh before too long, as well.

Importantly, the Symposium now has one way to fund itself – in as far as we are starting to get costs. The Phil & Lit were so supportive that it was easy to forget that there is a real world that doesn’t do everything for the love of culture alone. Speaking of the Symposium, we are still on. I was very hopeful up to the last seven days of there being nothing to stand in the way of July 10th. I read the news today with interest, scanning for the consequences. We can only roll with events, but I am still planning on the July event. I have a venue (Tullie House). I have a full complement of Featured Writers. We just need to go ahead. And there’s still the matter of the nightjrrs record, which is still not ‘launched’ and should be on Record Store Day this year. The best laid plans… as they say.

This is what unlaunched records look like.

2 thoughts on “Workshops Are Go

  1. If you’re in two minds about whether or not to come to Andy’s workshops, do give them a try! I’ve been to a few – and they are excellent. His approach is friendly, encouraging and enlightening, and I always end up with some interesting poems, which I wouldn’t have written without his prompts and inspiration. You will also be helping to fund the Carlisle Poetry Symposium, which has become an important Cumbrian literary event.


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