Thursday, 26 September 2013

Writing Workshop, 25 September 2013

PictureCreative Writing Workshop for Adults
Wakefield Library

2-4pm Wednesday 25 September 2013

Writer and Poet John Irving Clarke and Wakefield
Museum Curator John Whitaker

Presented in partnership with Wakefield Libraries

John Irving Clarke is the author of ‘After the Storm’ (Macmillan) and ‘I Was Ready to Fall in Love’ (Currock Press). He is the Chairman of the Black Horse Poets, founder of Currock Press and co-organiser of the Red Shed Poetry readings. for details of further workshops.

#WakefieldLitFest           @Wake_Lit_Fest

Attended this workshop yesterday and it was inspiring to see the fascinating artefacts from Wakefield's past which influenced the creative writing done at the workshop. 

We started with writing four separate things on brightly coloured card, e.g. a time of day, the colour of something and after swopping them with fellow attendees, used them to make a poem.

Mine was:

When my feet first touch the ground
Roses wilt too suddenly
The price of beauty or the lack of sun
As it's yellow, green as bile
Is blocked by the lady with the shopping bag

John Whitaker then showed us a Celtic head which is normally on display downstairs in the Museum.  It came to the Museum in the 1980s, having been found in the 1970s in a rockery in Chapel Thorpe, near Wakefield.  It is believed to date from the Iron Age with a Yorkshire Brigantes connection as the people believed that the head's had supernatural/superstitious power and were healing/spiritual icons.  We speculated that it was someone of status, if not a spirit person, and John told of some of the history of the Brigantes and the Romans.

John Irving Clarke suggested that we think about our creative writing from the point of view of the inanimate object and let the artefacts we see in our Museum tour inspire our pieces.  There were indeed some amazing objects and themes, including the selection from Charles Waterton in the 1800s, the history of the police and Wakefield Prison (including the Mulberry Bush connection) and the 30 year fight by Sheila Capstick to enable women to play snooker in Working Men's Clubs.

After our tour, John shared some poems with us to show us the different techniques, e.g. Carl Sandburg's Fog (see below) with its economy of form but perfectly captured metaphor:


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbour and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

John challenged us to write a quick metaphor for weather and I came up with this:


The blizzard comes
It's flour tears falling
as a crying sieve

We were then left to come up with some creative writing of our own and at the end of the session we shared prose, poems and even a short story with our fellow attendees.

I chose the cobra that Charles Waterton had killed using his own braces, which is displayed in a glass case:


Waiting for the shadows
to lengthen to a threat,
I wait in my invisible prison,
you see me here, but yet

You do not feel the fear
nor shiver at my touch.
The grey of decomposition
could never dull my lust.

When it came, it was forked
the chains around my neck,
coiled as hollow ribs,
just another to collect.

Hold fast to this moment
before the jaws of truth can bite.

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