Mayflower 400 Southampton

ArtfulScribe Free Poetry Workshop weekend

In November 2020, ArtfulScribe, in partnership with Winchester Poetry Festival, offered a weekend of poetry workshops led by poets who’ve made their homes in England from countries including Hungary, Nigeria, The Philippines, and Poland. George SzirtesTheresa LolaRomalyn Ante and Bohdan Piasecki led a series of online workshops exploring themes such as journeys, new beginnings, identity and belonging.

A crowd-sourced poetry reading on the theme of ‘Giving Thanks’ also featured on the weekend of poetry activities.

Identity – Bohdan Piasecki

Forget the accurate and look for the true instead, all by making use of poetry’s unlimited special effects budget. Taking influences from movie trailers to sports commentary, from super-villain monologues to nature documentaries to try and find a new way to write the best versions of ourselves. A workshop to help us find and share joy in who we are.

False Starts and Turning Points – Bohdan Piasecki

This workshop, focussed on turning points, restarts, mulligans, and do-overs. We looked for stories which take a turn, start anew, or suddenly take on new meanings when set in a different context. We  looked for inspiration in existing texts and stories shared from our own lives – we zeroed in on ways to introduce the all important return to square one into poetry as we drafted our own stories of new beginnings.


Journeys – Theresa Lola

In this open access workshop, we exploried the journeys we go through in life, physical and emotional, that lead us to discovery and shift something in us, affect us. We looked at how to write poems that navigate with mystery while revealing the lessons from the journeys we take.

“Thank you so much for making this fabulous weekend! It was such a rare treat to be able to attend three workshops with such highly experienced and exciting practitioners over two days”

Giving Thanks: A Poetry Exchange – Matthew McNaught

One Saturday evening a poetry exchange on the theme: GIVING THANKS was held. Participants brought a poem that they liked, by any living or dead poet, which is related (however tangentially) to the theme. The only restriction: the poem must be written by someone other than yourself. The theme, GIVING THANKS, could be interpreted however you like.

Each person read their chosen poem, and had the opportunity to share some thoughts about it — what you found interesting or pleasing, its personal significance. Others contributed further reflections, and some asked to hear the poem a second time. In this way, we moved around the circle until everyone had shared their poem.

“It’s brilliant to sit in a room of working poets like that – quite moving”

Belonging – George Szirtes

What does it mean to belong? To what? To whom? Is it of comfort to belong to a nation, a community, an organisation, a group with this or that cause, a family, a relationship, or anything else? When do we first feel the sense of belonging? What obligations does belonging impose on us and what do we welcome? Do others feel that obligation to us or should we feel it to others? Which others? Above all, how might poetry express a sense of belonging? Do anthems of various sorts perform that task? And what is the opposite of belonging? Is it the sense of exclusion? The excluding of others or our own sense of being excluded?

These are complex questions and there are plenty more waiting behind them, as always. But how to go about the task? We could recall our own experiences of belonging or exclusion. We could use a variety of pronouns beyond the central ‘I’. What difference would it make if used the first person plural ‘we’?  We could speak for others using ‘I’ or ‘we’ or we could speak for ourselves using the third person singular or plural, or a proper name, or even the second person ‘you’. What difference would it make to use any of these pronouns as voices.

New Beginnings: A Fresh Start – Romalyn Ante

‘Every exit is an entry somewhere else.’ Tom Stoppard

The psychology of new beginnings has been an important aspect of change and personal enhancement. New beginnings and new places usually mean a chance for you to be better, a metamorphosis to happen. In this 90 minute workshop, we looked at how the magic of travelling and new beginnings permeate through poetry and influence the speaker’s narrative. We looked at urban and rural landscapes’ language and imagery to strengthen the sense of place in our poetry. We read the works of Marjorie Evasco, Sonia Sanchez, Suji Kwock Kim, Sarah Howe, and others, to learn how language and metaphors can help us re-imagine our life journeys and explore their meaning.

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