Workshops galore!


This week, I have been keeping myself busy with not one, but two writing workshops, so I will begin with the most recent, which took place at the Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre in Limavady yesterday morning. The class (which focused on poetry!!) was led by Irish News columnist and BBC Radio Ulster broadcaster, Anita Robinson and included myself and members of the Jane Ross Writers Group. We subsequently enjoyed a very lively session of composition!

First up, was a group effort to produce a ‘Kenning poem’, something I’d never heard of, but which is apparently a poem composed of two-word phrases which describes something using a metaphor. We came up with:


Door slammer / Mood swinger / Tantrum thrower / Ghetto blaster / Mischief maker / Biscuit burglar / Duvet snuggler / Bear hugger / Heart warmer / Teen!

As Anita said – ‘Poetry is the music of being human’ and ‘the distillation of an idea’.

We moved onto Haiku next, something I’ve become more familiar with recently thanks to El’s writing classes. The simple three-line / 5-7-5 syllable format sounds easy, but can often be more tricky to write than you think! Anyway, the subject was Spring and my effort produced…


Shadows softly fade

Tentative twitterings sound

Nature now stretches

Moving swiftly on to the next challenge and I was greeted with the friendly Cinquain, which I became acquainted with during NaPoWriMo. This, for those who er, ‘forget’, is a five-line poem with the syllable structure 2-4-6-8-2 and our topic was May Day (something I have to confess I know little about!) However…


Dancing children

Peals of joyful laughter

Weaving in and out to music

May Day

Our penultimate exercise was to compose a three-verse piece beginning with variations of ‘I’ e.g. ‘I am…’/ ‘I wonder…’ / ‘I hear…’ etc. I came up with:


I am a writer

I wonder about the thoughts growing in people’s minds

I hear life and want to write it down

I see hope and follow it

I want to inspire

I am a writer.

I pretend that it’s just for fun

I feel though, that with words I’ve won

I touch paper, soft and smooth

I worry about not writing ‘right’

I cry only if it goes terribly wrong

I am a writer.

I understand not everything works

I say it doesn’t matter 

I dream of creating magic

I try to pin it down

I hope and hope and hope

I am a writer.

That was my effort on the hoof yesterday anyway! It could maybe be tweaked a bit but, as Anita said, it probably does tell a lot about me!

Our final exercise (after some tea and biscuits of course!) was to pick an object from a variety set out on the table and then write something about it. I chose an old, chipped metal toy figure of Red Riding Hood… (I don’t know what it is with me and figurines.. I chose a similar object when El did this exercise!)


She reaches, beckons

cloaked in red,


Forgotten, discarded

or lost?

Age etched on her chipped paint

Owner unknown.

So, all in all, it was a busy enough morning but great to meet the Jane Ross writers and Anita – who takes ‘a poem with her pills’ before bed every night! A recommendation for everyone indeed, although maybe not necessarily with pills!


On to El’s class then from Tuesday night! As you can see, I was joined by a little stowaway, but he lay peacefully at my feet throughout the entire session and was good as gold! (Except when it came to looking at the camera!)

We were joined this week with a few new and much welcomed members and kicked off as we did last week, writing in a stream of consciousness for 13 minutes. It’s something I’m beginning to like I think!

Next, it was onto some ‘Mind Mapping’. El dispensed various titles and we had to decide if we thought they would work best as a novel, poem, short story etc and how that would look. There were quite a few interesting ideas for ‘The Following’ – including a cult, a familial tree and an X-Factor-type show for voting who gets to live – Jesus or Barabas! I of course, read out my ‘Chicken and Eggs’ rhyme which er… I ‘forget’!

Characterisation was next and answering a series of questions about two different people linked to an old tennis racquet. Again, lots of different scenarios here! From there, it was onto ‘Voice and the consistency of voice‘ and for this, we wrote a journal entry from the perspective of a 59 year-old man who had just been told his wife had drowned. It was a really good way to create something in a completely different voice to your own and great practice for getting ‘in character’!

I can see this post is getting ever longer so I’ll leave it at that for now!

Well, almost… I had a lovely piece of news yesterday afternoon when I found out that I’d come second in the Blackstaff Press Skypen short story competition! I’m very chuffed indeed and my story will now appear on the Blackstaff Press blog AND I got to pick a free book from their online store. Brilliant!

For those who are interested, you can read it here on Sky Pen 🙂



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2 responses to “Workshops galore!

  1. markman85

    Congratulations on coming second in the Blackstaff Press story competition! You’ve done a brilliant job there.