Wednesday 25 November 2020

Review of Sheaf Poetry Festival (2) by Jon Wilkins

After yesterday’s wonderful introduction to the Sheaf Poetry Festival, I was lucky enough to take part in an "Ecopoetry and Found Poetry" workshop held by Carrie Etter and Caleb Parkin.

As I stated yesterday one thing about the pandemic is that it is opening up new windows onto the world of poetry, in this case through Zoom. The Sheaf Poetry Festival is led by Festival Director Suzannah Evans and her fantastically hardworking team of Angelina D’Roza, Brian Lewis, Katie McLean, Ellen McLeod, Amy Smith, and Elle Turner and held over the weekend of November 20-22, 2020.

Prior to the workshop, we were sent some downloadable documents about the threats of climate change and oil development to Alaska.

I will concentrate on Carrie Etter's workshop. Immediately she engaged with the audience and a conversation was started. She explained to me and 24 other participants what Eco Poetry and Found Poetry was.

Ecopoetry is any poetry with an ecological basis.

She spoke of Found Poetry and gave us a definition to work from by the Academy of American Poets (a great resource in itself). They thought Found Poetry was a refashioning of existing text, the literary equivalent of a collage, which is a beautiful thought.

Bringing these two concepts together, Carrie showed examples from the work of Wendy Mulford, Kathleen Jamie, and Peter Reading - all poets I will now engage with as their work seems to be innovative and extremely readable.

Carrie spoke of the four techniques to be used in Found Poetry: Erasure, Interspersal, Dramatic Monologue and Shape and described how they worked in the context of the poem.

Caleb brought up the question of plagiarism and told us we had to be careful but in most cases, we would be covered by free use. The exception was song lyrics as they could cost a fortune if used, but song titles were in the public domain.

Carrie spoke of changing the music of words which is a beautiful phrase and if you contemplate writing some Found Poetry, it is what you should keep in your head.

So we had the Alaskan documents in front of us and the writing began!

This was a pay what you feel festival and easily accessible to everyone and anyone. To access: follow them all on @SheafPoetryFest and visit where the performances will be available after the weekend has finished.

About the reviewer
Jon Wilkins is sixty-five. He has a gorgeous wife Annie and two beautiful sons, and loves to write. He is a retired teacher, lapsed Waterstones’ bookseller and former Basketball Coach. He taught PE and English for twenty years and coached women’s basketball for over thirty years.  He has always loved books and reading. You can read a review of Jon's recent novel, Poppy Flowers at the Front, here. His website is here

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