As someone who writes news stories at work and children’s stories at home, mixed in with the odd rhyme or two and various other bits and bobs, poetry has recently fallen a little by the wayside. So, with a bit of excitement and a little trepidation (it’s the reading aloud of work produced on the spot which often puts me off), I embraced my inner poet last night by attending a free taster poetry class at the Hope & Gloria Emporium in Coleraine.
Led by Scottish performance poet El Gruer, who recently relocated to the north coast and is now H&G’s official poet in residence, the class was however, incredibly enjoyable. Although most of the six of us who turned up had some sort of writing experience, it seemed that everyone was in the same boat when it came to writing poetry and El’s inspirational exercises did just that – inspire poetry out of, well, not much really.
For example, the first task was writing a short poem inspired by three random words we were given. The second part of this (which will be returned to in a future class), was to pick just four or so words from what we had written which we felt conveyed the key message of the piece.
Lesson: myriad words are often superfluous in poetry. Less is usually more and the pauses and punctuation fill in the gaps. (I wrote about a ‘Sleepy hairy break-dancer… don’t ask!)
Moving on, our next exercise involved choosing a button from a box and answering questions about it. E.g. To whom did it belong to, where had they bought it, how did the button come off and how did it end up in a charity shop?
Lesson: characters and stories can easily be inspired by ordinary objects – the object is simply the catalyst for inspiration.
Another task produced what I thought were some fairly easily written yet interesting pieces of poetry, simply by picking the name of someone who means a lot to you, then listing a few of your favourite things and working these into a sentence to reflect your relationship with that person. E.g. The title is the name of said person and each line begins simply, ‘You are…. the breeze that brushes my face’ (ok, not a great example but you get the drift).
Lesson: Quirky, unique and non-cliched poetry can be more easily written than you think.
All in all, it was both an interesting and enjoyable evening and I for one will be returning for more next week. Tuesday night, H&G, 7-9pm…
NB For anyone interested in poetry or writing in general, Pulitzer prize winning poet Paul Muldoon will be visiting the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine on March 20 for a free ‘Life Stories’ discussion.