Week 1

"When you cut into the present, the future leaks out."
  - William Burroughs

Building on examples of erasure poetry, we developed our own in the amazing environment of MIMA's classroom workspace.

Week 2

"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal."
- T. S. Eliot

This week, I've been working with a new group. Over 55s based at The Elder and Hazel Court in Middlesbrough, with support from Celebrating Age and MIMA. The group looked at two forms, the book-spine poem and the cinquain.
Using the spines of books as a starting place, we dissolved a lot of the pressures that can accompany entering the world of poetry as an adult. Just as a sculptor can use clay, or a textile artist can use fabric, the poet can use language as their material to respond to, to describe, to multiply, to annotate and to embody the world around them. Based on Adelaide Crapsey's original designs, the cinquain form (2,4,6,8,2 syllables) has a vignette quality. Using conjunctions creates a circular effect, leading the reader back to the beginning of the poem.

Week 3

"I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished man of letters, I talk like an idiot."
  - Vladimir Nabokov

This week we've been responding to the work of collage artistLerson Pannawit, writing our own ekphrastic poetry. Ekphrasis comes from the Ancient Greek to write "an expository speech which vividly (enargos "which means something like 'bright unbearable reality'" - Memorial Alice Oswald) brings the subject before our eyes" (Leonhard Von Spengel) or, more contemporaneously, is poetry that is written after piece of visual art.
Using Pannawit's collages as a starting place and incorporating opening phrases from the likes of the poet Niall Campbell, Fred Voss and Miroslav Holub, we found our way into new poems.

Here are some examples of Lerson Pannawit's works:


You can buy prints of Pannawit's work over at the Saatchi Art site, here and elsewhere:

Week 4 - Our Final Week

"I hear my being dance from ear to ear."
- Theodore Roethke

For our final week the group requested to work with more visual prompts, so we've been looking at creating maps together. The group took it in turn to draw maps from journeys taken during childhood / early adulthood and to write poems from these maps, turning the convention of "I remember" used in traditional creative writing groups on its head, to encourage others to reinterpret a story and to actively invent.

As it was our final week together, I prepared an anthology of published poems by members of the group to share with family and friends.

Thank you to MIMA, ARC Stockton, Arts Council England and Great Place Tees Valley for supporting this project.