Rambling bushes sweeping
Over sheer-drop cliffs.
Shrieking gulls cry to the sky and
In tiny holes, cleaning their whiskers:
Ever-present mice huddle against the gale
R, Young Writers’ Group, 26th June 2021
Our June Young Writers workshop fell just after the Summer Solstice, so this offered us the perfect opportunity to take inspiration from seasonal themes.
We began by asking participants to write acrostic poems using their names, which led to some brilliantly evocative short poems. As ever, there were many standout images and phrases.
Following on from this, we explored the use of ritual and affirmation by inviting the writers to create something positive that they could then use to reflect on outside the workshop.
Borrowing from long-held ideas about the symbolism in nature, and flowers in particular, we asked our participants to write a love poem using imagery from nature as inspiration.
The exercise that followed this was among the most restrictive we have ever offered – inviting participants to write about a summer night in a garden, without using the words ‘summer’, ‘night’ or ‘garden.’ This was an exercise in producing imagery without revealing too much, one area among many where our writers excel.
Every story has its origin in some form of change, and the exercise that I set encouraged participants to imagine a scenario based on something that they don’t like to be interrupted whilst doing. Their protagonist was doing that activity, when there was a knock at the door.
The story was revealed from that point:
Who was at the door?
Was the protagonist able to return to their activity?
Following on from this, our writers used their new protagonists to create allegories about the importance of night and day or light and dark, and why we need both.
Participants said they found this workshop challenging, but fun. If they enjoyed themselves and learned something, that is a sure sign that our mission has been accomplished.