Pluses and minuses of an amazing day

The two meetup sessions on Saturday 1st June were just as rich in variety, content and excellent preparation and performances as we could have hoped.  Preparation for the morning workshop, in particular, had been so imaginative, so wide-ranging and so thorough that we came out of it brimming with new thoughts on a huge range of topics and  with another full day of poetry discussions and presentations already planned.

Four subscribers – VERONA BASS, ANN PRESTON, SUE SIMS and  JUNE WENTLAND – offered us such excellent papers on their chosen themes that we will be using them as the basis for a Day of Good Poetry in October 5th or October 19th, whichever suits the majority of those four writers best. All them have generously agreed already to make their papers available in advance so that we can come to the Day of Good Poetry fully briefed. As usual, watch this space!

All the day’s presentations were excellent – better I think than anyone could have hoped –  which, ironically, brings this post to the first ‘MINUS’ of the June 1st meetup day.  Which, as so often, concerns the ticking of the clock.

FIFTEEN PEOPLE wanted to make presentations, all of them worth every minute of the time we could make available. And many deserving more. But quite a few of these contributors had also hoped for discussion around their work.  Having time for discussion would have certainly deepened and enriched the whole experience of the day. But since most of these same contributors chose to use every available minute of their time allocation either to present or to perform, this left no time in the programme for feedback, Q&A or discussion of any useful kind. Our day overflowed with wonders, but many people felt disappointed that there had been a little too much ‘the successive sounds of one hand clapping’ and rather too little creative dialogue.

THE LOGIC OF THIS IS PAINFUL.  If a subscriber would like feedback on their work, then they themselves have to design their presentation to create the open minutes this will need.  Presentations will either have to be more compact than they were on June 1st, or we will have to arrange more, smaller discussion-style meetups through the year instead of trying always to provide time and space for everyone.

What most writing event  organisers know already is that the largest part of most audiences consists of people who know that they, too, will get their chance to read. The logistics of the lovely Bath Writers & Artists Group are quite brutal in this respect: we must have enough subscribers to pay our rent. And to get our subscribers, we must offer them chances to read whenever they want to, whenever they want to come.

THERE WILL BE MANY WAYS OF TALKING AROUND THIS ISSUE.  THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW WOULD BE A BRILLIANT PLACE TO START…

One of the outstanding successes of the day – there were many, many, many – was the collaborative Observations Almanac which ANN CULLIS launched for all subscribers to take part in during the month of June.  At least fifteen people – not all of them subscribers who were with us on June 1st – have taken up Ann’s challenge which will be emerging in its performance-ready form on Saturday 20th July. You will be able to follow its progress on the meetup Page for that date.

TECHNICAL FAILURE is always the thing we dread.  Usually we manage to get by.  But on June 1st something happened to the colour values being transmitted from the laptop to the projector in the Lonsdale Room and we had to make do with slides which had entirely ( almost entirely?) lost their blues and reds.  ALI BACON, AMA BOLTON, ANN CULLIS and MIRANDA PENDER have all very kindly checked the powerpoint file via a Dropbox link and found nothing wrong with it. There is nothing wrong with the flash drive when I run it through at home.  PAUL BROWNE is investigating on our behalf.  But it was a decided MINUS on the afternoon, and particularly disappointing for ANN CULLIS and LOUISE GREEN whose presentations in their full colour were so very good.

I am creating a Page on the Header menu for thoughts from subscribers what makes a performance presentation ‘work’ .  Those of you who are editors can add to that Page directly.  If other people like to mail me their wise comments, I will add them by cut and paste.  It will be a very tactful way of helping us all improve our presentations without identifying any particular ones which we feel could have been rather better than they were.

HOPING TO SEE AND HEAR MANY OF YOU ON OUR ELWIN DAY ON SATURDAY 29TH JUNE.  LINK TO THAT PAGE HERE: Saturday 29th June 2019

And just until the new poster starts coming in…… a lovely reminder …..

Untitled 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another cornucopia of good news

So much has happened for the wonderful Bath Writers & Artists since our January post. And so many good things are going to happen soon.  I’ll write up the archive first.  But please scroll down to the end of the post to see some of the events we already have in prospect – and mail in your requests to be included in the first ‘shout’ when it goes out. For any of you following this blog, who would like to join the group, we still have room this year for a few more members. Use the contact form if you want to get in touch.

Saturday 26 January 2019

Terrific final workshop in the morning, with brilliant pieces of writing brought in by SARA-JANE ARBURY, VERONA BASS, SUE CHADD, CLAIRE COLEMAN, MARILYN FRANCIS, LOUISE GREEN, MIRANDA PENDER, GRAEME RYAN, JUNE WENTLAND, SHIRLEY WRIGHT,  and EILEEN CAMERON.

New member PETER REASON joined us for the afternoon to introduce the work he plans to do with us on The Place of the Arts in a Time of Catastrophe. This produced a wonderfully lively discussion across the Elwin Room and set the mood and theme for the dedicated meetup which is going to take place at the end of  March.

We also had time to hear open mic readings from three of our 2018 subscribers who will be moving on  – SUE CHADD, LINDA SAUNDERS and SHIRLEY WRIGHT – and from four of our new 2019 subscribers – EILEEN CAMERON, PENNY GARDINER, PETER REASON and FLORY WISDOM, whose own ‘showcase’ reading has been scheduled for the end of March.

Flory with ms

Flory Wisdom Showcase 23rd March 2019

There was a bitter-sweetness about saying goodbye to such good and longstanding friends, all of whom have contributed so much to our meetups over so many years  and all of whom have such excellent reasons for being unable to sign up for another full year’s programme  of events in Bath.

Saturday 23 February 2019

This was the day for our third  ‘Homeric Afternoon’ which this time had parted company completely for a while from its original brief to read right through The Odyssey.  It had also very sadly lost its foothold in the beautiful Bradford-on-Avon garden where it started out, and had instead to snuggle itself rather tightly into the Southfield living room. ( A move much appreciated by the resident Maine Coon cat. )

Reading right through The Four Quartets was our ambition for the afternoon. We achieved this, along with lively discussion and digression quartet by quartet, but at the expense of leaving quite enough time for the delicious food which had been laid out so lovingly in the kitchen waiting for us to break.  A few of the group had to dash away hungry – something we think we may remedy at our next meeting by scheduling a ‘Homeric Late Breakfast’ instead of a ‘Homeric Afternoon.’

Many thanks for their contributions culinary, thespian and intellectual to VERONA BASS,

Dore_-_the_ice_was_all_around

The ice was all around… Gustave Doré, 1876

CLAIRE COLEMAN, ANN PRESTON, CONOR WHELAN and SHIRLEY WRIGHT. ( Also for their indulgence of the Maine Coon cat. ) It has been suggested that we might read The Ancient Mariner at our next meeting, to continue the redemptive journey theme.  If we choose this, I have suggested we might introduce a new dimension by exploring Gustave Doré’s breath-taking illustrations, many of which are now available to view online.

Incidentally……The ‘Homeric Afternoons’ are open to everyone who subscribes to the Bath Writers & Artists group – depending only on how many an offered private venue can accommodate. Please get in touch if the prospect interests you

Forthcoming Events

The 2019 programme is already richer and more varied than ever as you can march 23 poster pm pdfsee by browsing the calendar details on the header menu on the blog.  The meetup on 23rd March will be one of the most exciting we have shared, with contributions during the day from fifteen talented subscribers, some already well-established members of the group, others new.  A huge thank you to everyone involved in creating this wonderful programme: ALI BACON, VERONA BASS, AMA BOLTON, EILEEN CAMERON, CLAIRE COLEMAN, ANN CULLIS, PENNY GARDINER, LOUISE GREEN, MARGARET HEATH, MIRANDA PENDER, ANN PRESTON, PETER REASON, SUE SIMS, CONOR WHELAN and FLORY WISDOM. Please look at the programme Page to learn more.

and finally…..
advance notices …..

FOUR EVENTS IN PROSPECT FOR 2019/early 2020

PETER REASON will be giving a workshop on Nature Writing later in the year.

CONOR WHELAN will be giving a workshop early in 2020 under the working title  ‘Begin afresh, afresh, afresh’, borrowed from Philip Larkin’s poem The Trees.  This workshop on the theme of renewal will be Conor’s  final appearance as the Bard of Bath.

MARILYN FRANCIS & SUE BOYLE are co-organising a meetup Day on the theme of Childhood on Saturday 21st September and will be messaging out for submissions very soon.

SUE BOYLE will be offering a whole day workshop on Memory, Imagination & Dream sometime later in the year.Screenshot 2019-03-15 at 16.27.37

PLEASE REGISTER YOUR INTEREST IN ALL OR ANY OF THESE FUTURE EVENTS NOW if you would like to get on board. They are open to all members of the Bath Writers & Artists group.

So much to look forward to

Bath Writers & Artists’ News 3rd September 2018

I hope you have all kept up with the marvellous collective post about  the meetup in July.  It has contributions now from thirteen people – VERONA BASS, AMA BOLTON, RACHAEL CLYNE, CLAIRE COLEMAN, SARAH GREGORY, MARGARET HEATH, CAROLINE HEATON, ROSIE JACKSON, MICHAEL LOVEDAY, ANN PRESTON, LINDA SAUNDERS, CONOR WHELAN and SHIRLEY WRIGHT  – to all of whom, many thanks.

For those of you who were spellbound at the July meetup by the Mikis Theodorakis’ song, Ena to Helidoni, and its place in history, here is a link to his own extraordinary performance at the open air concert on the Rosa Luxembergplatz in East Berlin in front of a huge audience just before the fall of the Berlin Wall.   https://youtu.be/QOKBFtKZmOQ

Theodorakis 1987

Bath Writers & Artists has been gathering some very interesting new followers and I am looking forward very much to discovering how they choose to develop their personal Pages on this blog.  Of the original 20 subscribers, I am abashed that only VERONA BASS and SUE BOYLE have updated their Pages in July.  Do check out PETE SMITH‘S new Page.  He is busy finishing a project at the moment, but is managing to come to the Bradford Homeric Afternoons and will soon be featuring with us in Queen Square.  We have also been promised content by Corsham designer JOHN MAGGS. The second Homeric Afternoon will owe a great deal to CONOR WHELAN’S inspired suggestion that we should look at some of the Odyssey and The Waste Land in one afternoon. Reading great literature followed by great food seems a winning formula.  Do get in touch if you feel like hosting something similar to extend the joy.

Plans for the October 6th Programme are well advanced, thanks to the terrific contributions which have already come in from so many of you.  There is a Page for the Meetup on the Header Menu which shows the evolving programme for the afternoon, and another, dropped down from that,  titled Writing the Wilderness where I am collating the stunning variety of concert pieces which have come in.  Do read these as soon as you have a moment, not just for their own sake, but in case you would like to be one of the readers during the meetup afternoon.

There is a Page on the Header Menu for Writing Workshops, which at the moment is looking rather sparse. If you are a member of Bath Writers & Artists and you give open workshops, or workshops to which people can come by special arrangement, please broadcast them here.  My workshop, Sharing Our Bright Fields,  for Moor Poets in Devon is coming soon.  It will be good to have some company on our Page!

BRIGHT FIELDS

I am altering the Header Menu Subscribers Page so that all our Friends, Associates and Followers appear on the same Page with the rest of us. For anyone who doesn’t already know how our regrettably hierarchical system works, it seems a good moment to explain.  Bath Writers & Artists has no public funding.  We raised enough money to rent space for our bi-monthly workshops and meetups by finding twenty wonderful people willing to split the cost.  Those twenty subscribers get a share of the available morning workshops and the privilege of launch readings for their new books.   This makes it possible for the afternoon meetups to be free for everyone. Everyone involved in Bath Writers & Artists gives their time for free, even when they are so prestigious that in other circumstances they would rightly expect to be paid to read.

I’ve recently been asked to write about us ( and had the article accepted ) for the Artemis Journal.   I will tell you more when I’ve seen us actually in print.http://www.artemisjournal.org

Lastly, for the moment, a little plea to everyone who has a Page on this blog.  If you can keep up the habit of monthly updates – inserted at the top – it is so interesting for everyone as well as being a useful little exercise in reflective thought. I have stripped out the preamble about Project 2017 from my Page now, just to give the ongoing text a fresher start. And when you do read Pages, if you enjoy them, please click the ‘Like’ button…..

These are the last lines of a poem by Mary Oliver called Wild Geese ………

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

SUE

 

 

 

 

NOTHING BUT HEADLINE ACTS….

Bath Writers & Artists Meetup 19th May

Yesterday’s meetup of the Bath Writers & Artists group was outstandingly successful and very well attended considering that we were competing with blissful weather, the FA Cup Final, multiple events in the Bath Festival and the Wedding of the Year.

With the dazzling exception of Claire Dyer’s book launch (more later about this) the meetup was devoted to poetry.  The morning workshop focussed on the meaning and uses of form in poetry while the afternoon readings offered a selection of pieces demonstrating how differently master practitioners have employed form in their work. 

The morning workshop participants brought in poems of their own, reconfigured word for word and repunctuated appropriately as prose. The task for everyone was to discover the ‘inner’ form which (visually) had been removed by this exercise. This task brought into discussion the huge question whether the form of a poem is from the outset indivisible from the content, or whether form is a vehicle for taking the first idea of a poem into a further, better place. Does form exist organically in each individual poem, or is it gathered in from the tradition, to enrich and augment the work? Is it the poet’s task to discover the form inside the poem it falls to him to write?  Or is it his task to fit his first thought into a form which pre-exists?  These are not of course ‘either’/‘or’ questions, though it is hard to tease them out without suggesting that they are. The idea of form, perhaps, is like the string on a musical instrument.  The poet and the poem must find the place on the string which will produce the note they want to play.

As it happened, our afternoon poets – chosen, eloquently introduced and beautifully read by Frances-Anne King, Shirley Wright, Claire Dyer, Ama Bolton, Harry Thurston, Margaret Heath and Roger Whelan – gave us a wonderful demonstration of the breadth of possible uses of form in poetry. At one end of the spectrum, we heard Elizabeth Bishop’s much liked villanelle, ‘The Art of Losing’, a famous  example of extreme formality. Intensely concerned with form, also, are the 150 poems in Michael Symmons Roberts’ collection Drysalter which was strongly presented at the start of the afternoon. It was interesting that the villanelle form could communicate itself so powerfully sight unseen, whereas Roberts’ chosen 15 line ‘constraint’ for Drysalter seemed not to have a strong aural existence, but to be more about appearance on the page. This was something we had encountered in the morning workshop when Louise Green’s ballad form poem refused to surrender its form when converted into prose, while Shirley Wright’s terza rima poem kept the secret of its formality until we saw the original poem on the page.

There is a contemporary interest in poetic form as a desirable discipline, or perhaps as a constraint to free the poet from what he or she might regard as the prison of the self.  Michael Symmons Roberts spoke about this at his Holburne Festival Reading later in the day, saying that he did not want to write ‘another Symmons Roberts’ poem’ and hoped that imposing formal constraints might help him to this end.

Conversely, poets sometimes want to subvert traditional forms to show that they are not trapped inside the constraints of history.  This might mean rejecting punctuation, something explored by Claire Dyer in her morning workshop speculum poem, and explored very differently, by W.S. Merwin, whose poems Ama Bolton presented in the afternoon.

The morning workshop had considered punctuation as an element of form – the way it works, with line and stanza breaks, to ‘score’ the poem for the reader, and, by showing a reader how the poem should be read, or delivered, to add to the clarity of what the poem has to say.  The absence of punctuation – visually so arresting but aurally undetectable – is a powerful formal possibility which a future workshop might explore another day.

The Pass on a Poet contributors gave us a marvellous feast of good poetry and I hope many of the pieces will be reviewed in the comments boxes below.  The three poems which remain most vividly with me this morning are Sue Sims’ poem from Hawthornden, George Mackay Brown’s poem about the falcon, and Kei Miller’s ‘Unsung’.  Sue’s poem held me because its subject was simple and powerful, its expression was disciplined and direct, it wasted no words, it knew exactly where to end and Sue has mastered the use of the microphone so that she can deliver her writing as it should be heard, giving her poem an apparently effortless journey from the writer to the listener’s heart. I don’t know whether the Holburne Museum hadn’t provided  microphones for Michael Symmons Roberts and his interviwer last night, or whether for some reason they had chosen not to use them, but the resulting loss of resonance, range  and expressivity throughout that event was quite striking. The poems were entirely audible, at least for me, but swallowed up and flattened out dismally by the space. There is probably a counter-argument that a festival audience likes the sense of privileged eavesdropping on a private conversation, but this is a rather tired formula now and personally I prefer poets to look on themselves as musical performers whose duty is to envelop their listeners in the magic of the sound and meaning produced by their chosen instrument, the human voice. I want to be spellbound (as I was earlier in the week by Ben Okri, and yesterday by Kei Miller) by every syllable. At £10 an hour for the Holburne ticket, that doesn’t seem too much to ask.

To return to the Duncan Room….

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 15.29.05Margaret Heath had chosen three pieces by George Mackay Brown.  I knew The Hawk already and already loved the fierce trajectory of its taut writing and the rigour of its form. I thought Margaret’s reading conveyed the poem’s formality and economy very well.

None of us will forget the last poem of the Pass on a Poet set.  It was Kei Miller’s ‘Unsung’, which we heard, for the first time, read by Kei Miller himself, thanks to a clip I was able to purchase from the internet. There he was, in a still image, above us on the screen while his immaculate voice surrounded us in the room.  (If I had been more technically courageous, we could have had a clip of the live reading.  I am still floundering a bit with the move from my Mac to the Duncan Room’s PC.)  Roger Whelan was then generous enough to give us a live reading of the same piece and to let us share the powerful effect the poem had on him. ‘Unsung’ is a poem calling out to be read – and we were fortunate enough to have a reader knowing how to use the resources of the voice and microphone to deliver what the poet meant to say while also making the piece utterly his own. I hope we will all learn to read to each other as well as Roger Whelan does.

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 15.29.35

If nothing more had happened in our meetup, it would already have been an outstanding day. But we had four more terrific experiences in store.  A truly excellent tea, provided by the Writers & Artists – too generous, as usual, but sumptuous to share.  Sue Sims then gave us a rivetting take on her experiences at Hawthornden Castle, speaking with great poise and accomplishment to her specially created slides. Thanks to Sue’s energy and professionalism, we were right there, at Hawthornden. This was a marvellous example of how good it has been for us to make the expensive move to the technically equipped BRLSI.  Sue and Paul’s presentation of their son Mark’s memoir was one of the highlights of the March meetup. It was a great treat for us that Sue was willing to offer us another illustrated talk.

Finally, our two star launches, with Claire Dyer not only reading from The Last Day, but taking us on a really fascinating journey through the process of successive drafts and giving us insight into the roles of agent and editor.  Claire will be speaking again at the Waterstone’s event on Thursday 24th May in Reading Library – an evening, for anyone within reach of Reading, which should certainly not be missed. We returned to poetry with Shirley Wright’s presentation of her latest collection, Sticks and Stones.  Beautifully structured, beautifully paced, these poems manage to be intricate and powerful, formal yet organically alive, and Shirley’s reading, as always, had tremendous power, conviction, variety and grace.  I hope some audience members will add reviews of our two launch books in the comments box, or mail me appreciations to augment to this post.

Thank you so much to yesterday’s contributors and to the attentive and sympathetic audience members whose presence made the afternoon so special for us all.  Your comments will also be extremely welcome and I will be delighted to add them to this post.

Our next meetup is at the end of July when we will explore the theme of journeys with a particular inclination towards the travels of Odysseus.  RWA artist Malcolm Ashman has just become a Friend of the Bath Writers & Artists group and we will open our July session with an introduction to Malcolm’s landscape paintings ( on slide ) and a homage reading from the Bath Poetry Cafe’s own great journey, The Listening Walk, for which Malcolm provided the cover image, so well loved by us all. I have already received a few other fascinating Homeric suggestions, including one from Lesley Saunders,  and I am eager to have more.   Graphics will be hugely welcome. I think we may already have an exciting offer from Larkhall artist  Jude Wisdom, if her forthcoming exhibition at Chapel Arts leaves her time to share her journey thoughts with us. I am also hoping that Nikki Kenna will be home from her art course in Newlyn in time to contribute to the show.  We will need good readers and this is an advance warning to them both that I am hoping to coax in Margaret Heath and Roger Whelan from among our Friends.  I will send a begging message to everyone very soon. In the meantime, do get to the Emily Wilson Odyssey reading in the Bath Assembly Rooms on Saturday 26th May if you can. ( And, unlike the Holburne Museum, let’s hope the Assembly Rooms provide a microphone.)

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 15.28.01

For those of you who couldn’t join us yesterday, I will post the Pass on a Poet programme notes up on the blog, with a few of the slides, so you can share at least some of the afternoon. I will also ask the readers to send me the titles of their contributions so that we can all revisit them.

And to the well-behaved dog who didn’t materialise….a kindly greeting and a hope we might meet you and your carer in July. As everyone knows, a poetry event without a well-behaved dog is like a well behaved fish without a bicycle.

Please comment on this post, either directly, or by sending me in your thoughts, which I be pleased to post.

Moving Into Spring

Although Saturday 25th February was actually the second meetup of the year, it had a special inaugural quality of its own…..

During January, the PROJECT 2017  blog had filled up with so much inspiring  and challenging material that for the first time we were able to structure the whole meetup day around the ongoing projects of the writers in the room. We are hoping to maintain this pattern for the remaining meetups of the year.

First up was the rich compendium of project writers’ thoughts about deciding which of their poems were most likely to achieve  competition success.  The list was compiled from group work in January and gave the February writers plenty of opportunity for discussion and food for thought.

We were able to apply these ideas to AMA BOLTON’S excellent poem, Fig, which had been highly commended last October in Torbay.  Groups considered Fig as a successful competition entry and took the role of judges explaining the reasons for their choice. One of Fig’s most striking qualities was the poet’s fierce and forensic attention to her word choices.  A piece of writing can only be as good as its weakest word is one of the main themes of this year’s meetups.  Fig, in the judge’s and February group’s opinion, simply had no weak words.

CLAIRE DYER’S project is exploring the ways that words carry meanings below their literal surfaces and the ways in which meanings can come up from the deeps of the mind and heart.  The conscious brain can sometimes be deaf to these subterranean messages so Claire introduced us to an anagram technique to free us from too much attention to the literal.  The music and patterning of her poem Owls was a very effective example of allowing the words to lead a poem’s ‘meaning’ rather than the intended ‘meaning’ putting a  straitjacket on a poem’s words.  Owls appears on Claire’s Page on this blog.

It is only a short step from the idea that words can give us doorways into deeper meanings to SARAH GREGORY’S exploration of the effect of bringing words and images together on one page, giving neither one priority.  Sarah brought seven specially made posters, each based on the same poem, but each combining the poem with a graphic image in a slightly different way.  Sarah has written about the usefulness of the ensuing discussion on her Page.

MICHAEL LOVEDAY had already raised questions about the problems of truth-telling in autobiography.  During the afternoon, we shared poems by several of the meetup writers for whom this was an issue and began to explore the boundaries between fact and fiction, straightforward personal narrative and revelation of the deeper self.

All the themes we explored in February  will play an important part in the April meetup, when LESLEY SAUNDERS will be bringing us into the magical space of her work as a translator and sharing with us some of the detailed decisions a translator has to make.  This close editing is crucial for every writer so we will all be both inspired and (probably) daunted by the experience of sharing Lesley’s work.  There is a recent entry about this on Lesley’s Page on the blog.

Other excellent recent blog contributions to explore….

  • new progress reports from Janet McClean, Marilyn Francis, Verona Bass, Ama Bolton and Ann Preston
  • the new Page from Sara-Jane Arbury outlining her project to create a collection around her neurological condition, with 2 fantastic poems by Norman Macaig
  • the new Page from singer/songwriter Miranda Pender
  • our first musical Page from Graeme Ryan
  • the new Page from writer/artist Paul Michael Browne who will be adding to our Words & Images exploration by introducing us to some of his work with film when we meet up in the BRLSI in June
  • a new Page on successful Pamphlet Submissions first published by the Poetry Business
  • 2 Max Ernst images to trigger experiments with Words & Images (on the Ekphrastic Page )

And, as RSThomas said, “That was only on one island”

We are still hoping to see personal Pages filling up with more project writers’ monthly Progress Reports, and more entries coming in for the Magazine Successes and Competition Placings, and for the upcoming Readings Page. 

It will also be very good to have more Almanac entries month on month, in the manner perhaps of the January contribution from North Devon poet MARK HAWORTH-BOOTH.  I have just added a new Page to the header list –ALMANAC  – to which you are all invited to contribute a brief but brilliant seasonal piece of writing every month.

The April meetup is under construction at the moment.  As well as Lesley Saunders’ translation project mentioned above, ROBIN THOMAS will be sharing his recent Eyewear pamphlet, A Fury of Yellow, which has already been reviewed by AMA BOLTON and SUE SIMS.   We will also ( hopefully) be sharing off piste outcomes from the February meetup with some new ‘anagram’ pieces, some explorations with Words & Images, and pieces inspired by the Böcklin painting, Isle of the Dead, which RUTH SHARMAN posted for us on our Ekphrastic Page.

Happy Writing, Everyone!

Truly Hot Off the Press!

Before many of us got home after today’s meetup, Janet McClean had already posted this poem for the blog!  What a wonderful gift from such an amazing day…. Thank you so much, Janet, and thank you also to everyone who brought such energy, grace of spirit and talent to the Pulteney Room today. 

Door 6516 into Project 17

And so to start

Sitting in this room full of writers

Listening to jewels echoing in the ear

Our lioness urges the pride

To strive for

Truth and excellence

Excellence in Truth

Kindness but no false flattery here

I scribble in pencil

A Papermate with rubber attached

For ease

To erase any clumsy word smudges

And so to start

February the Fascinating Month

Almost a month since the last Project post.  You can see from the way the blog Pages are filling what a creative month it has been.  Here are some February highlights, but this is by no means an exhaustive list!

THIRTY WRITERS are now actively engaged in Project 2017, from places as far afield as Taunton, Wimborne, Exeter, Malmesbury, Reading, Newport in Essex, Glastonbury and Wells.

Singer songwriter MIRANDA PENDER has just joined us as a long distance guest. Miranda is just completing her second album and has written about it extensively on her Page.

PAUL BROWNE  from the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute is planning to let us share and respond to his exploration of the relationship between writing and film.  ( This will be a special, extra workshop session, with details still to be announced.)

Those of us who have been brave enough to keep up with our online progress logs, are now running into obstacles… changing direction…. beginning to discover what our project commitments really mean.  There are eloquent new ‘progress’ entries from LESLEY SAUNDERS, VERONA BASS,  and MICHAEL LOVEDAY, to name three.

MICHAEL LOVEDAY’S progress piece draws attention to one of the core problems we all face when writing personal memoir/autobiography. He puts it very well.   The process of writing and gathering (poems about a relative ) has raised doubts about the viability of my  project. ….Tension and conflict is the stuff of writing, and the writer in me does not have the same agenda as the son. Can I produce a rounded portrait without risking offence? How does one write interesting biography about living relatives?  So many of us have been in this place. We will certainly be visiting this conundrum when we meet up on February 25th.

February’s principal theme is the how writers select the individual words which are the raw materials of everything they  do.  A piece of writing can only be as good as its weakest word.  What does this mean for our poems, our translations, our prose pieces, our magazine and competition entries?  We will have three extraordinary contributions on this, one from LESLEY SAUNDERS who will be drawing us into her experience of translating from the Portuguese, and another from CLAIRE DYER, who is exploring how differently meaning arises from the conscious and the unconscious selves.

Writer/graphic artist SARAH GREGORY will be bringing images to spark verbal responses, and helping us think about how the processes of moving from image to word / word to image really work. How do they feed each other?  How do they qualify each other?  How do they complement each other? How do they conflict?  All these ideas will inform our feedback sessions on the pieces of ongoing writing the thirteen workshop participants will  bring in.

We will also be visiting ANN PRESTON’S project in relation to her fascinating piece about artist Djordje Ozbolt whose work has featured recently at the Holburne Museum.  Please seek this out on Ann’s Page on the blog.  We will be using this as our first portal into the EKPHRASTIC theme which has already appealed to so many writers who have joined Project 2017.

And finally, three marvellously chosen quotes from JANET McCLEAN  who is rejoining the Writing Days this month.

QUOTE ONE :   Instructions for living a life.  Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it. 

QUOTE TWO : Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.” Mary Oliver

QUOTE THREE :  If not now, when?  Anon

a-february-sky

A February Sky