Urban Arvon – Bloomsbury

15th – 17th July 2011

After having received a writing grant award from Arvon I set off with a notepad and pen on a three day adventure to the historic Gordon Square; the former home of Virginia Woolf. I wanted to get back to basics with the craft of poetry and define my voice within it.

In the first few hours Aoife Mannix had cleverly managed to guide me into being vulnerable in my writing, helping me realize the importance of who you are and where you come from as this is key in having a unique voice. Exercises into writing included what kind of animal I am and why, what kind of animal is the place I live and why, looking at the importance and significance of my name, things that I love or make me angry, my fantasy bed, how my perfect kitchen would taste, my perfect garden would smell, what I would wear and how I would arrive to a party on Venus! Also a great exercise for a playwright or fiction writer: Writing a monologue of a character getting undressed, which is a direct and personal way of embodying that character. I thought this would be particularly useful as an actor.

Aoife helped me realize that I had been hiding behind abstract language and emotive words. Through her challenging and inspiring tutoring she helped me see that poetry is about connecting not alienating. Its about being brave and vulnerable and just saying it as it is. I also now see the importance of editing – to write and rewrite, making sure every word is vital.

Afternoons were spent writing in the beautiful square or exploring art galleries and museums or finding objects for imaginary characters. In the evenings we had the opportunity to hear established writers and poets performing and on the final day we were all given a five minute slot to perform something we had written over the weekend. It was thrilling to hear everyones distinct styles, and the quality of the writing in three days was extraordinary.  When I read two poems I wrote over the weekend the difference was revelatory. The connection I experienced to everyone through my words in that room was unforgettable. A huge, transformative lesson!

I’ve decided to explore performing my poems at The Poetry Cafe and ‘Jawdance’ at Richmix next week!

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