Writing Changes Lives – 3 x 1 day Saturday workshops
Dates: Jan. 28th, Feb. 4th & Feb. 11th 2017
Venue and time: Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir from 10.30am to 4.30pm
These are my own writing workshops, based on the work of Pat Schneider, and ‘built on a trust in the inherent talent in people and trust in the power of writing as a process’. Anyone who has written with me I think understands how that is proven over and over as we write together in the workshops. Something wonderful happens when people gather and write in a space safe enough to take risks. For more background I highly recommend Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others, (the quote above is from this book) – it is in many local libraries and in the Book Centre, Waterford. As always these writing days are suitable for anyone beginning, or beginning again, to write. Please contact me directly to book a place or to ask me about the workshops – I would love to hear from you.
Time: 10.30am to 4.30pm
I am running this as a benefit day for The Story House and the proceeds raised will help Nollaig and myself to put plans in place for the next residential course, open to anyone who wishes to write.
‘Write about what you don’t know about what you know’ (Eudora Welty)
My workshops, Writing Changes Lives, will start again on Saturday, 23rd January for 8 weeks in the tearoom in Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir. I like to keep the emphasis on playfulness and discovery, the essence of creativity – it doesn’t matter if you are beginning, beginning again, or at some other stage in your writing life, I guarantee you will experience a renewal of your creative self.
If you would like to join me or to find out more please get in touch with me through the contact page. We will start at 10.30am each Saturday in the tea-room and the fee is, as usual, €150. If you know of anyone who might be interested please feel free to spread the word.
I will, as always, be basing my work on the Amherst Writers and Artists’ philosophy – that ‘the teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem’.
The poet Adrienne Rich gave the instruction to ‘Send out your signals, hoist your dark scribbled flags’.
If you think it’s time to hoist your writing flag my autumn series of writing workshops will start on Saturday, 26th September for 8 weeks, in Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir, open to anyone who wishes to write. The tea-room of the theatre on those Saturday mornings becomes a special creative and energetic writing space. If you want to find out more get in touch with me through the contact page here – you can read what previous participants have said here
Dear President Higgins,
You are about to start a historic visit to the United Kingdom and I have no doubt that the schedule planned for you and Mrs. Higgins during this trip is interesting and full.
In a recent article in The Irish Times you raised some interesting questions. “What is necessary to human flourishing? What human capabilities does Irish society encourage, genuinely enable, or block?” I suggest that you may find some answers to those questions if you include in your visit a meeting with John Moat and a visit to any of the four Arvon houses in the UK. What is The Arvon Foundation? In its own words “Arvon is a charity that works to ensure anyone can benefit from the transformative power of writing.” Don’t you find that wonderful? That anyone can benefit? John Moat, with the late John Fairfax, founded what became Arvon over 40 years ago in Devon. To date there is nothing comparable in Ireland that offers a residential experience to anyone who wishes to write, away from everyday distractions, responsibilities and habits and that also actively engages with schools and many underserved communities. Nor one with the simple apprenticeship model of Arvon, each 5 day residential course led by two experienced writers.
Instead in Ireland there is an ad hoc provision of writing courses, writing centres and writers augmenting their income through teaching. Indeed I offer some of these courses myself. Arts officers here strive to support all the creative arts within increasing budgetary constraints and a public discourse that veers between questioning the relevance of the arts and attempts to yoke the arts to an economic project. The support available to a writer too frequently depends on the area in which they live. The writers I have worked with over the past few years have shown me again and again the value of the process of writing, how the sudden discovery as the pen leaks words onto the page changes lives in a myriad of minute ways. It’s about writing but it’s always about more than writing. When I lectured in Adult Literacy Studies in the past, particularly in the area of Family Literacy, the class always came alive when I introduced them to creative writing, to story, using the method developed by Pat Schneider, founder of Amherst Writers and Artists. Pat has written that “Art is the creative expression of the human spirit, and it cannot – it must not, for the sake of the human community – be limited to those few who achieve critical acclaim or financial reward.” I think you appreciate better than most that if appropriate conditions are put in place then creativity, and people, can flourish. For example, it is likely that there will be an increase in the numbers of writers emerging from north Dublin because of the existence there of Fighting Words and the work of Sean Love and Roddy Doyle. There will consequently also be many, many more young people in that area growing into adulthood with increased confidence in their own voice and their ability to express themselves. As Gianni Rodari said:
“Every possible use of words should be made available to every single person … not because everyone should be an artist but because no one should be a slave.”
There is quite a list of Irish writers who have taught on Arvon courses, from the late Seamus Heaney through Paul Durcan, Anne Enright, Carlo Gebler, Hugo Hamilton, Patrick McCabe, Shane Connaughton, Medbh McGuckian, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Thomas McCarthy, Colm Tóibín and others to Leanne O’Sullivan and Julian Gough, yet none seem to have brought back the spirit, the idea of Arvon to Ireland. I find this very puzzling. Seamus Heaney judged, with Ted Hughes, the very first Arvon poetry competition and was a patron of Arvon until he died. An essay of his is included in a book called ‘The Gist: A Celebration of the Imagination’, recently published in acknowledgment of the work of John Moat. Also included as an appendix in this book is Ted Hughes’ ‘Arvon and Education’ in which he says that “we have to acknowledge what is perhaps not much acknowledged – that far-reaching inner changes, creative revelations of our inner self, the only part of us with any value, are usually triggered in the smallest fraction of time.” If there is to be one piece of writing that I would press on you to read in relation to the importance of developing a residential writing centre here, modelled on Arvon, it is this essay by Ted Hughes.
In ‘Renewing the Republic’ you wrote that “Unlike the characters in a play, we can change the script of our lives. We can reflect on the choice of selves, societies, masks and fictions. If we lock the arts away for an occasion, for an evening, for an indulgence, we lose out on much of their potential for the future, and for their revelatory and pleasurable potential now.”
Now to return to your recent questions: “What is necessary to human flourishing? What human capabilities does Irish society encourage, genuinely enable, or block?” Establishing a residential national writing centre in Ireland would serve as the tangible symbol of a belief in the importance of writing as a vital part of the creative arts and also provide real support for developing writers of all ages. There would also be opportunities for cultural tourism. It would provide a focus for the development of a community of writers, teaching opportunities for writers, and also “ensure anyone can benefit from the transformative power of writing”. It is my belief that many people in Ireland, indeed Irish society as a whole, would benefit and flourish from such a development.
It’s time to polish up your poems – the 2014 Brewery Lane Poetry Competition is now open for entries! The closing date is Friday, 14th March and results will be announced at the Brewery Lane Writers’ Weekend, which will be held in Carrick-on-Suir on the weekend of April 11th – 13th. This year’s judge is Richard Hayes, Head of the School of Humanities, Waterford Institute of Technology where he also teaches on the Institute’s English degree. In addition to the overall award there is also a category for Emerging Writers, those who haven’t previously won a prize or been published. We hope to encourage new writers through this category and also the rising generation of writers through the schools’ category, which is confined to secondary school students in Carrick-on-Suir schools.
Get in touch with me through the Contact Page here for an Entry Form and the Rules for Entry (see below) or email brewerylanepoetryATgmail.com and get ready to send in your best work!
‘… only two things can be said to be common defining characteristics of a poem: 1) the language is intensified, and 2) it gives the reader a complete experience.’ Pat Schneider
or as Emily Dickinson said, ‘If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.’
I will be starting my 8 week series of writing workshops in Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir on Saturday, 1st February 2014. This is traditionally regarded as the first day of spring – an auspicious day to sow some seeds of creativity.
As always, everyone who participates will generate fresh first drafts during the workshop. If you wish to further develop your writing and learn how to bring it to a new level there will also be the option of bringing a later draft of a manuscript for response to myself and the group. The method I use to support writers and their writing is the Amherst Writers and Artists method as developed by Pat Schneider and described in her book ‘Writing Alone and With Others’. Writers learn not only about craft but also experience the pleasure and satisfaction of writing, without damage to the creative ego of the writer.
After my workshops you should feel encouraged as a writer and always feel more like writing. Read what others have said here. If you would like to know more or to book your place please get in touch with me through the contact page.
Dawn Sewell McKeever has written an interesting essay in Glimmer Train on becoming a writer, noting how often in her life she was sidetracked from writing.
Maybe you have been sidetracked from your writing just once too often. Is it time to make a definite commitment to put pen to paper? If you are living in the south-east my Saturday morning writing workshops will start on 1st February in Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir. These workshops are informed and inspired by the work of Pat Schneider and are suitable for anyone beginning or beginning again to write. You can get in touch with me here.
They are all gone now aren’t they?
We’ve well and truly crossed into 2014 – decorations are down, chocs are history – and now here are dates and details that should be of interest to all you writers in or around the south-east:
And if all of that doesn’t give you the urge to crack open your notebook straightaway and grab a pen I don’t know what would!
Last week was one of good news. I learned that my poem ‘Searching the Shadows’ was named as a finalist in the 2013 Pat Schneider Poetry Competition, judged by Dr. Sue Walker, Stokes Distinguished Professor University of South Alabama and Poet Laureate of Alabama 2007 – 2012. It’s great to be surprised like this, having totally forgotten that I had entered the competition.
And the other bit of happy news was the safe arrival into our family of baby David Tomas whose arrival makes 14 month old Éamon a big brother! As you can see below Éamon, who stayed with us while the main event was taking place, likes to keep in touch and insisted on getting in some writing practice 😉
Hi Mam, Dad and baby David,