Raising (money for) the Roof Summer Poetry workshops

As the year turns inexorably towards the languid months of late Spring and Summer, I have some good news, some bad news, and some very good news. All depending on how you feel about the prospect of coming to a poetry workshop!

The bad news is that I have to reroof my house.
The good news is that I am going to be holding four days’ worth of poetry workshops in late January/early February to ease the financial pain a little. (And to keep me out of the way.)
The very good news is that the wonderful people at The Laboratory in Lincoln are happy to let me have the Classroom again at a very good rate. Hooray!

The dates in question are two weekends: January 20th and 21st, and February 3rd and 4th. We’ll run from 11am to 5 pm, with the extremely pleasant bonus of having good food, coffee, and beer on site. Short of getting a masseuse in as well, I don’t think it could shape up any better!

I’m still kicking around ideas for what the focus of each session will be, not to mention numbers, cost, other funding etc. Then there’s the structure. Two two-day workshops? One two-day intensive plus two single-day classes? Or four entirely separate classes? I’m open to suggestions, particularly from those of you who plan to come. (Maybe some of you Dark Feathered Art followers from outside Canterbury might fancy a weekend break?)

I’ve set up a poll at the bottom of this post, so anyone wanting to drop a pebble in the vote bucket can make themselves heard. I can’t guarantee that I’ll go with the will of the people entirely, but I will certainly take it into account. Feel free to leave suggestions, or ask questions.

Some Options.

  1. Poetic Turns. I ran this one as a five-session class back in May last year, and it went really well. There were some gob-smackingly good poems produced. I’d like to offer this one as a two-day intensive, probably covering some of the same things that we looked at then, but also some of the other types of turn that we didn’t get to. The blurb:Why do poems change course? And how do they do it? What can you add to a poem by leaping off in another direction? Based on the book Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns by Michael Theune, this class will examine ways that poems can weave in extra levels of complexity, and prompt us to open our work up to new possibilities.
  2. Poetic Endings. Quite a staple, this one. I first ran it as a double-header in Summer 2012, where we looked at The End of the Poetic Line and The End of The Poem. Linebreaks one day, and poetic closure the next. I also ran the Linebreaks class on its own in Jluy 2014. This would be another possible two-day class. Or a single day, focusing just on linebreaks. The blurb: Arguably one of the most fundamental aspects of poetry, linebreaks are also one of the most neglected. Why do poets break lines? What sorts of linebreaks are there? What effect do they have on the poem? And how about the poem as a whole? Do you tie up all the loose ends, or leave things open? What makes a poem end, rather than just … stop?
  3. Revisioning the Poem. Think of it as the free-spirited companion to Editing 101. A new class, exploring different strategies for shaking up a ‘stuck’ poem. Bring along a poem that you’ve given up on, or that doesn’t seem to be working, and see what we can do with a bit of lateral thinking. (And coloured pens. And glue sticks.) I’ll be drawing quite heavily on techniques from books like Wingbeats and Wingbeats II (both fantastic books) as well as other things I’ve picked up over the years. A single day class.
  4. Introduction to Reading for Writing. A one day class looking at my go-to option: Reading for Writing. A chance for people to come and see what it’s all about as a concept. One poem, multiple ways. Start by doing a close reading; really pulling the poem apart and seeing what’s going on inside. Then moving on to writing exercises – I always say you can apply loads of different strategies to one poem to generate dozens of new pieces, so this would be a chance to show that in action. (We do have this sometimes, when I have a Free-for-all session. Good fun!) A single day class.
  5. Poetry Writing Workshop. Aka,“Jump Start-the-Muse”. A day of wall-to-wall writing exercises. Possibly with some free writing time, and maybe then some critique provided at the end of the day. Or not. A single day class, or a two-day. Either would work.
  6. Editing Masterclass. This one is a bit trickier, because it would have to be more restricted in numbers. (Which in turn will push the cost up, but we can worry about that later.) I ran this one very many years ago, at a private house. Essentially walking participants through the (somewhat insanely detailed) way I go about editing my poems for a book. (Well, the series of steps I used for The Summer King, and then when I edited Helen Bascand’s Nautilus for her.) Definitely not for the faint-hearted, as it is pretty brutal. In theory you wouldn’t have to submit a poem to the process in order to attend, but I would need at least a couple of people to take that leap. Say four to six victims poems and a handful of onlookers perhaps? Could be a single day, or two, depending on the number of poems.
  7. Introduction to Writing Poetry. Leaping to the other extreme, an introductory class for people who want to take the plunge into writing poetry, and fancy spending time learning some of the ins and outs of it with others of a similar level. Low on theory (although hopefully some of the technical stuff will slip in without frightening anyone), high on fun and games. Maybe even something to restrict to newbies only? (Much as I love all of you who are my regulars, en masse you can be a bit intimidating to those who haven’t done this sort of thing before.) Just a single day, this one.

So there you have it. A suite of possibilities. Feel free to offer comments, and if you think you’d like to take part, use the polls and comments section to add your opinion to the mix. I willl apply for funding to keep the costs as low as reasonably possible, but if I have a vague idea of likely numbers it will put me in a better position to draft a budget and so on.

Where there are four dates to choose from, I’ve let you pick two options. (I know some people can do Sundays for example, but not Saturdays.) For the two-day classes, you just get the one vote: the January dates, the February dates, yes to either, or none at all. If you don’t mind what date, go with the “any/either date” option. The ”doesn’t appeal” option is there so that those of you who definitely want to come to something can let me know which classes are and aren’t pushing your buttons. Who knows – if enough people wanted one class, but were split across two dates, I could even run it twice. So think about what appeals, what doesn’t and cast your vote accordingly!

What classes should I run at The Lab this summer?

6 Replies to “Raising (money for) the Roof Summer Poetry workshops”

  1. 1,2, 3, 5 would probably appeal to me. Not sure at this stage what dates would best suit. I would also be interested in poetic forms, if you can come up with some new ones we didn’t cover last time round (or even a repeat of some of those that we did cover)

    1. I’m planning to do a Forms class next year, either the second or third workshop series (so likely May or August, although I don’t have dates confirmed for any of those yet). If I repeated material it would be the things we covered back in 2012 – not sure if you were at that workshop or not. Fairly standard forms, but hopefully with some new approaches to the exercises. Or somewhat refreshed, at any rate. Any forms in particular that you would like to see, or would definitely like to avoid?

  2. Hi Jo,
    I like the idea of weekend workshops. You could have one weekend geared to new writers and one weekend more challenging to stretch others…or you could do sat geared to newbies and sun geared for challenges …whatever you decide you are not going to please everyone all of the time. I will try to get to something. I have been enjoying studying the work of poets from other countries and poetic forms. I’m happy to have more of the same.

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