Sunday 7 October 2018

Review of Everybody’s Reading event – Poetry workshop with John Hegley

John Hegley’s poetry workshop was attended by approximately twenty-five people spanning a wide-range of ages and levels of writing experience.

We began by reading Hegley’s poem, ‘Guillemot’, for inspiration. The poem opens with the following lines: 'I am a guillemot / I use my bill a lot. / I get the fish out of the wet, I eat my fill a lot.'

The group drew up a list of three-syllable words as a starting point for writing. Our list included loveliness, fellowship, anarchy, animals and parallel. We were asked to choose one or more words and to play with language in our writing as Hegley had in ‘Guillemot’. Invited to share our work, without any pressure to do so, we read out our acrostic poems, and poems which incorporated several of the listed words.

Our next challenge was to tear out a leaf shape from a sheet of paper (more difficult than it sounds) and ‘fill it with leafiness’! We continued to write short pieces about elephants, dogs and peanuts on small pieces of paper. Thankfully we didn’t have to create paper shapes of elephants or dogs, just peanut shells! Words and/or drawings were encouraged and appreciated when shared with the very supportive group.

The prompt ‘mistaken identity’ generated a variety of responses: political, surreal, poignant, and humorous. Our last writing topics were hands and footsteps: our words contained within outlines of our hands and feet.

The two-hour workshop was very lively, with lots of humour and music. At the end of the session, our leaves, peanuts, elephants and dogs all came together to create a poetree. In case you are wondering, the elephants were for the trunk and the dogs were for the bark!

About the reviewer
Karen Powell is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies and magazines including Welcome to Leicester: poems about the city, The Interpreter’s House and Silver Birch Press.

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