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Poetry workshop - The Ex-Communicator

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July 23rd, 2010

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09:03 am - Poetry workshop
I haven't written much about poetry lately. With the stress of job insecurity I haven't written much poetry either. However, on Wednesday I ran a poetry workshop for a street workers' daytime drop-in. It was run by Kairos, the charity I volunteer with. There were about seven women there. There was a big spread of ability from an experienced and published performance poet, to a Portuguese woman with limited English.

I was there for an hour and a half. I spent the first half of the session mainly encouraging them to talk about some of the issues that inhibit people from putting words down. For example, if you are in a bad place (and all of them were in different ways) does it help to externalise these feelings onto the page, and/or to share them? Or do you prefer to move to happier feelings through words? Does self-censorship stop you from putting words down, or make you cross them out as soon as they are there? I was worried that people would not respond to these kinds of questions, but each one resulted in lively discussion. Oh, yes, I talked about imagery and how an object or a sound or something can have emotional connections. One woman later write about the colour yellow, and a dress she wore when she was six, that made her feel like a princess, and which was spoiled.

Many of the women had been in prison and they spoke about how poetry is composed and shared in prison, verbally or on paper, for instance rhyming riddles. I said that reminded me of the Anglo-Saxons. I told them about the riddle about the onion:

I am a strange creature, for I satisfy women . . .
I grow very tall, erect in a bed.
I'm hairy underneath. From time to time
A beautiful girl, the brave daughter
Of some fellow dares to hold me
Grips my reddish skin, robs me of my head
And puts me in the pantry. At once that girl
With plaited hair who has confined me
Remembers our meeting. Her eye waters.

(I didn't remember the whole thing, but it made them laugh, especially with hand movements)

Anyway, we finished by all writing some poetry. I didn't manage to write a single word, but luckily nobody noticed, and everyone read them out. I honestly think anyone would have been touched to hear them.

(8 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
Really glad you did this; this is why you're right for Kairos. :-)
[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It was a blast. Today went quite well BTW. How are you finding your new temporary home?
[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about you and crossing fingers a LOT - glad it went well!!! You were very prepared and you could do the job standing on one leg.

New home absolutely fine. Will give you a ring on the weekend. :-)
[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
What an excellent workshop to have run - it sounds productive for the attendees, even if less so for yourself.
[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
You would have liked it. It was good that I didn't contribute. There was an older woman there, helping out (it was a Methodist church hall) and she wrote a poem about how she liked Staffordshire Bull Terriers. All the women were listening with grave attention and afterwards they were really appreciative of her. It was great.
[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry it's been difficult for you to write recently. Not surprising, but I'm sorry.

The workshop sounds great. You were a brilliant person to be running it, and I hope it was as rewarding for you as it sounds like it was for them.
[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks Glitterboy. I am always surprised by how much people who have had no advantages nevertheless love poetry, in a quite unforced natural way.
[User Picture]
Date:July 25th, 2010 07:38 am (UTC)
That sounds like an excellent thing to have done.

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