Saturday February 1st 2020


A Day Immersed in Verse Drama and the Spoken Word

Morning in the Elwin Room / Afternoon in the Elwin Room 

For our first meetup in 2020, we are going to have the exciting privilege of working with poet, playwright and drama teacher GRAEME RYAN who was for thirty years Head of Drama at Heathfield School ,Taunton 1998 – 2017. Graeme has authored eight full-length plays for young adults, including Heartland, Brave New World and The Name of the Beast, which were performed at The Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre Taunton. Graeme also directed and performed in productions of Sue Boyle’s Report from the Judenplatz  (2016) and The Letters From Mexico (2017). A contributing member of Bath Writers and Artists since 2017, including a recent poetry performance with Ama Bolton entitled Fathers Lost and Found as part of a day on memoir. He was winner of Teignmouth Open Poetry Competition 2018 and third-placed in Torbay Open Poetry Competition 2017. He performed at Teignmouth Poetry Festival 2017 and 2018 and is a  member of and frequent performer with Fire River Poets, Taunton.

Graeme Ryan

Graeme Ryan

GRAEME will be bringing his drama experience and skills to help participants explore performance as a way of improving and developing their own work. We will also be discovering how speaking aloud can deepen our appreciation of writings by others we have admired and how listening to others read can give us new insights into our own.  Graeme is an accomplished director and will be using the Day to show what collaboration, feedback and experimentation can add to our experience of the written word, whether it is the work of others or our own.


Dear Subscribers and guests,

I’m excited to say we now have seventeen subscribers and guests to the Feb 1st Elwin Room meet-up entitled Voices of Exile and Remembering.

The Royal Scientific and Literary Institute will open from 9.30am and we will start in The Elwin Room at 10am prompt on our exploration of all the material we are bringing for the morning’s activity: Voices of Exile and Remembering. A wealth of powerful and fascinating writing is already promised – with some original work especially written for the occasion – and if you haven’t already done so, it would be great if you could drop Ama Bolton a quick email with the title and very brief description of the piece(s) you intend to bring. (Another song might not go amiss either!)

There’s no need to send the text of the piece beforehand, but ON THE DAY PLEASE BRING SIX COPIES OF EACH OF YOUR INTENDED PIECES. For a lot of the morning we will be working in small groups so it is vital we have enough copies to share around the small groups, and if we don’t have copies the group process will not work. If you can, please bring scissors, glue stick and highlighter pen (but do not buy specially; we can share.)

Do be prepared to edit shared material throughout the morning – one key focus is to develop our performing skills through rehearsal and exploration of key vocal techniques. I really want to give us the opportunity to hear others read our work as well as reading it ourselves, and for each small group to help find the vocal resonance and impact of each piece and each selection of pieces: some editing and cutting/pasting will be a very helpful part of the process!

The morning will culminate in a whole-group staged reading/performance of our newly-devised spoken word piece: VOICES OF EXILE AND REMEMBERING. As our small groups combine we will have the chance to create something greater than we could have individually imagined through the richness of the whole group, trust in the process and the skills we hope to acquire or develop. I feel really excited about what we could create together!

Lunch will be from 1.00 till 1.45pm. Please could each of you bring a contribution for our shared lunch. It would be very helpful for us to stay together as a group for lunch, not least to save precious time for the afternoon. Also, would you mind bringing a plate and cup – and knife/fork if needed? This will mean we are self-sufficient and not reliant on crockery etc from another room at BRSLI which may well be in use and therefore not available to us when needed.

There will be tea and coffee flasks available to us throughout the day courtesy of BRSLI, plus some herbal teas.

At 1.45pm Sue Boyle will kindly introduce our afternoon focus: her stunning verse play Report From The Judenplatz. We will then begin our work as a group on creating a staged performance of this (don’t worry, you will be able to keep the scripts in your hands!) using all the skills, confidence and trust we have been exploring in the morning. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR COPY OF REPORT FROM THE JUDENPLATZ – we will be starting on the version for itemized voices on Page 15. Please do get familiar with the script – it’s only nine pages and it will enrich your experience greatly in the afternoon if you’ve read it aloud a few times at home first. You will start to appreciate its cumulative power (and incidentally, it will give you an idea of the sort of atmosphere we could create in our morning work on Exile and Remembering). I’d love to experiment with some choral speaking at certain points

Les Benson 1 Feb

At around 3.30pm we will start our performance, so you can see time is of the essence! I anticipate it will last about twenty to twenty five minutes. There will give us time afterwards to receive feedback from our small invited audience, grab a quick cuppa and share our thoughts with the group before we finish at 4.30pm.

I’m looking forward to it!

Morning session: call for contributions


Some starting points for inspiration are at the end of this post. 

Shorter pieces (around 200 words, in any format, or artwork) will of course work best, and we will need to edit as we go along, but sharing the rich material you bring in order to create something unique will be a special experience.

H.-A.-Imagoschew-Exil-3-300x249 (1)

Contributors & Guests
VERONA BASS : Japanese Maple by Clive James; Leaving the Farm by Dinah Read; Shakespeare Sonnet LXXIII.

LES BENSON ( guest)


AMA BOLTON : a found poem of exile; own poem Elsewhere.

SUE BOYLE : Themes of Exile in The Venice Book, Italo Calvino : Marco Polo’s Grief from Invisible Cities, poems from Ezra Pound’s Cathay and ‘By the waters of Babylon…’

EILEEN CAMERON : Remembrance Sunday 2019

CLAIRE COLEMAN : He Asks for Salt, Video of my Father.

ANN CULLIS  (afternoon only, not performing)


MARILYN FRANCIS : Leaving Home from Dylan Thomas’ Adventures in the Skin Trade; \Tourist: Dromahair, Co Sligo by Billy Collins; Arrival 1946 by Moniza Alvi; Like a Beacon by Grace Nichols.

MORAG KIZIEWICZ : abridged extract from her memoir A Walk in Deep Time. Canadian Boat Song (anon)

ANDREW LAWRENCE : Exile from Normality

MIRANDA PENDER : Her father’s exile to a forced labour camp in 1940.

ANN PRESTON : Closing passage James Joyce short story, The Dead; Jewels in My Hand by Sasha Moorsom; Gorky’s The Artist and His Mother by Charles Causley.

AMANDA READ ( guest)

SUE SIMS : Home, by Warsan Shire (British-Somali poet)

JANET SNOWDEN : The beginning of Mike’s journey into exile

JUDE WISDOM : Images of Migration & Somerset folksong, Waley, Waley, as arranged by Benjamin Britten.

Not able to attend

from GRAEME RYAN:  Curator of Feb 1st meet-up day

Voices of Exile and Remembering : a few starting points
The experience of exile lies at the heart of so much writing, from Dante to Brecht, from Andrea Levy to Chimamanda Ngoze Adiche; from the award-winning Vietnamese poet Ocean Vuong to Wordsworth, in his exile from the wisdom and transcendent visions of his childhood.
And of course we are all exiles in one way or another: from the natural world, from our true selves, from our ancestors and heritage, from our childhood and in some cases the lands of our birth.
In his poem Piano, D H Lawrence writes:
‘In the flood of remembrance I weep like a child for the past.’
and Sylvia Plath in Tulips concludes:
The water I taste is warm and salty , like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.’
One current Kurdish exile, female poet Bejan Matur writes of a refugee people, like those who haunt our nightly news bulletins:
‘Birds hovered between earth and sky./Now the tribe cannot possibly survive/they said and flew away./We believed the birds/in their flurry,/that the tribe would not survive./With the tremulous souls/of all migrant peoples/we peered about us./First at the mountains/then the plain.’
Exile is universal, and Remembrance is a source of both pain and consolation.

Above: sculptures by Lorna Brunstein and Mohamad Hafaz

Interested in joining our group as a subscriber? We have vacancies for 2020.
Use our contact form to get in touch.

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