Tag Archives: workshops

Poetry Workshop – 23rd November, Scarborough

Very excited to have Nick Makoha come to Scarborough to run a poetry workshop and take part in Rotunda Night on the 23rd November. I was happy to host a post by Nick about his poetry on this blog in 2018: https://scarboroughmysteries.com/2018/04/16/reading-writing-poetry-nick-makoha/

Nick will be facilitating a workshop entitled ‘Writing as a stranger’. It will focus on the ‘metic’ experience and how it influences a writer’s work. The experience is most marked for black writers in the UK and the USA, but do we all have a unique metic experience and perspective that we can use to kickstart creativity and to forge original work? This will be an engaging and provoking poetry masterclass exploring issues of identity and race, migration, exile and ‘foreignness’.

Venue for the workshops is Woodend, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. It will take place on 23rd November, 2-4pm. Places on the workshop are strictly limited and cost £10 each. If you are interested, please contact Felix Hodcroft at feljen@feljen.plus.com.

Nick Makoha is a dynamic young poet and dramatist, born in Uganda, now living in London. His debut poetry collection ‘Kingdom of gravity’ was shortlisted for the 2017 Felix Dennis prize for best first collection and nominated in the Guardian as one of the best books of that year. His poetry has been published in the New York Times and the Poetry Review and he is a trustee for the Arvon Foundation. His poems explore themes of injustice, migration and ‘otherness’, peeling back the layers which constitute our humanity. His particular concerns as a poet include the experience of ‘metics’ – people born in one country, living in another and the challenges and opportunities that experience brings.

Nick will also be performing at Rotunda Night, that evening at the iconic Rotunda Museum in Scarborough. Information and tickets from Scarborough Museum Trust, https://www.scarboroughmuseumstrust.com/rotunda-museum/ 01723 353 665.

 

Writing the therapeutic journey #8: the yoga of writing

The Nab from the veranda at Barmoor

I have just returned from facilitating some writing sessions during a yoga retreat. I have been very fortunate to be a part of three of these retreats run by the Little Yoga Company (http://www.littleyogacompany.co.uk/) and held at the wonderful Barmoor centre on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors (http://www.barmoor.org.uk/).

During my sessions, I invite participants to explore: free writing and whole body writing. I have written a lot about free writing (most recently: https://goo.gl/5exuRx) so I thought I would focus on my ideas around whole body writing.

We often think about writing as a very cerebral activity, but I think if we ignore the part our body has in the process, then we miss out on a lot. The word yoga comes from the Sanscrit word for ‘union’. And what I want to encourage is a union of mind and body in writing, along with a union of self with the universe through the natural world.

I wrote this following the retreat in the Spring: ‘The body has knowledge which the mind has not accepted or is unaware of, bringing that knowledge to the writing hand and onto the paper allows the mind to consider it. This knowledge stored in our body can bring us closer to a more authentic and enriched sense of self.’

The idea that the body stores information is not new, look, for instance, at the work of Babette Rothschild and Kim Etherington. There is some research evidence which suggests emotional response begins in the body and then is given a name by the brain. Whether we are writing for our own well-being or for an audience, tapping into the font of knowing which resides in our body can be useful.

Participants on a yoga retreat are already primed to being aware of what is going on in their bodies. To enhance this, I often start my writing session with a simple body scan. It’s easier to do this standing up with eyes closed, so the focus goes inwards. Take some breaths, then draw your attention to your feet and make sure you are safely rooted to the ground and balanced, perhaps imagining yourself as a tree, your toes delving into soil. Begin to bring your focus up your body, slowly, while still maintaining a steady breath, letting your mind’s eye explore your body internally, perhaps particularly areas where there is tension or pain. Once you have reached the crown of your head, rest for a moment before descending your attention gently and slowly back down to your rooted feet again. Open your eyes. Focus on the first thing you see (if you can do this outside or in front of a window looking out onto some nature, all the better). Sit down and free write for five minutes.

Tree in Autumn colours at Barmoor

It is also interesting to write noticing what is happening in your body. Again do some free writing, perhaps using the prompt of, for example, a pebble or the view of a tree (something in nature). As you write, have a part of your attention on how your body is. Do you grip the pen? Do you draw tension in at certain times? What’s going on in your shoulders? In your back? Are parts of your body askew or wound round each other as you sit?

You might like to reflect back on the results of this focus while writing. See post: https://goo.gl/sucyDu 

I do not know where this exploration of whole body writing will take you. However, it may open up some memories or give some meaning or understanding to a particular health issue. It may help you to define some needs or desires which are not currently being attended to. If you are writing for an audience, it may make your descriptions of emotions and your characterisation more rounded. It may encourage something else entirely to surface. The main thing is to remain open and curious, noticing and kind. See https://goo.gl/a6Wp7e

This is what I wrote following the retreat in May:
Unloosen
the potentials and ‘also’s
in every season of life.

I would like to thank and acknowledge my friend Lesley Glover for the discussions we have had which have helped me formulate these ideas. See her website at: https://lesley-glover.co.uk/

Have you experience of yoga and writing you would like to share?

 

Writing the therapeutic journey #7: Point of View

These blog posts are about exploring creative writing as a support for our mental health and our over-all wellbeing.

With some practice and a fair wind, you are writing more freely and uncovering some emotions which you are finding a way of reflecting back on. There is one particular tool in creative writing which I would like to introduce you to: point of view.

Whenever we start to write, we choose a point of view. Will we use ‘I’ in the first person or ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’ in the third person? It is also possible to use the second person ‘you’, addressing the reader directly, though there is always a narrator behind, doing the addressing.

Changing from one point of view to another can often change the sense of distance in a piece. Try it for yourself. Write about something which happened today, a short incident which may have some emotional content for you, using ‘I’. Then re-write it using ‘he’ or ‘she’ as if you are watching yourself going through whatever it was that happened. Finally try using ‘you’, as if you are telling yourself what happened.

A very simple example:
I went for a walk by the sea this morning, the weather was chill against my skin. I thought about other walks I had taken with a good friend who has since left the area and no longer contacts me.

She went for a walk by the sea this morning, the weather was chill against her skin. She thought about other walks she had taken with a good friend who has since left the area and no longer contacts her.

You went for a walk by the sea this morning, the weather was chill against your skin. You thought about other walks you had taken with a good friend who has since left the area and no longer contacts you.

Once you have done this exercise, consider how you felt doing it and how you feel reading the different pieces back. Have you noticed anything? Generally speaking, I find using third person gives me greater distance and using ‘you’ can feel supportive or accusatory. However, this is your writing and your experience, so go with what happens with you.

Another way to use Point of View is to take another person’s perspective. Maybe you have had a recent encounter which has been uncomfortable for you. Try writing it out using ‘I’ – this is your own point of view. Then imagine yourself into the other person’s body, write it out again, also using ‘I’, but really trying to see the exchange through the other person’s eyes and to feel it through their senses and body. Finally, imagine you are an inanimate object – perhaps a clock on the wall – describe what happened using third person. You are now seeing yourself and the other person from a distance, from the outside.

Have you any experiences of using the technique of ‘Point of View’ in this way which you would like to share?

Healing Words Workshop – 7th March 2015

Growing into Ourselves, using fairytale narratives to reflect on where we are in our journey. Scarborough Counselling & Psychotherapy Training Institute (SCPTI), 1 Westbourne Grove, Scarborough, YO11 2DJ, 01723 376 246, mail@scpti.co.uk

Fees: Early bird before 15th January 2015 members SCPTI £75/non-member £95. Non-early bird £90 (member SCPTI)/£110

A day of gently facilitated writing exercises which will use fairytales as a starting point for exploration and creativity. The fairytales we probably encountered when young come from a long tradition of oral story-telling, where the narrative was taken and moulded by each re-teller at each re-telling. They were vehicles for passing on wisdom, as well as for creating a sense of self and community for the story-teller and listener alike. When fairytales were written down in the nineteenth century, for the most part, they became stuck in the societal mores and outlook of Europe at that time. It is time to reclaim the fairytale for our day, for our lives, for our own journey.

Tutor: Kate has been a writer for 30 years. Her non-fiction, short stories and poems have been published and she has created two audio installations using poetry for Coastival. In 2013, her book Pathways through writing blocks in academic environments was published by Sense Publishers. She is a trained as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. She has been working within therapeutic environments with creative writing for over 10 years. She has run a group for people with depression and anxiety for four years and has been poet in residence for Hospital Arts in North Yorkshire working with terminally ill patients. She has also facilitated training for clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors and writers. She is a member of Lapidus (Literary Arts for Personal Development, http://www.lapidus.org.uk/).

Workshop: therapeutic creative writing 19th July 2014

Come and explore creative writing within the therapeutic context through the wonder of metaphor. We use metaphors all the time, they help us express ourselves and can open up paths to finding meaning and understanding. Through creative writing we can discover more about the metaphors we already use and also find new metaphors which could lead us to greater personal awareness. This one day workshop looks at metaphors in the context of our own self-reflexive practice and of our work with clients.

Scarborough Counselling & Psychotherapy Training Institute (SCPTI), 1 Westbourne Grove, Scarborough, YO11 2DJ. 10am-5pm. Tutor: writer and psychotherapeutic counsellor, Kate Evans (www.writingourselveswell.co.uk)

Fees: SCPTI members: Early Bird (pay before 22nd May) £75/after that £90. Non-SCPTI members Early Bird £95/non Early Bird £110. Apply: mail@scpti.co.uk

Only two days to go to Scarborough Flare

The nerves, the excitement and the continual checking of lists are kicking in now. I am very proud to be a part of Scarborough Flare, a celebration of local talent. It has risen phoenix-like from the ashes of previous years’ Lit Fests, fuelled entirely by the perseverance, the goodwill and the endless volunteer hours of some lovely creative people.

We have put the hard work in that others may enjoy… so come along and see what it’s all about: http://www.scarboroughflare.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Edith Sitwell Legacy

‘Legacy’ is an ‘in’ word right now – the Olympic legacy, the Commonwealth Games legacy and so on. I hadn’t considered a legacy for this ‘year of Edith Sitwell’ but thanks to the Poetry Society it looks like they might be one. Not only have they put up an Edith Sitwell challenge on their Young Poets’ Network, http://www.youngpoetsnetwork.org.uk/2014/03/24/edith-sitwell-eccentricity-and-sounds-new-writing-challenge/, they are also talking about creating a lasting resource on Edith Sitwell for schools. Thus opening up a whole new generation to her poetry and writing.

Scarborough Flare, www.scarboroughflare.co.uk, is also reaching out to young people with their story chair project, encouraging budding storytellers as well as enrapturing children with stories. Check out their website for a fab programme for both readers and writers.