I’ve waited for the dust to settle before writing the final instalment of my what-I-did-on-my-writing-course essay. I figured the gushing was a bit OTT and I needed to come back down to earth a bit.
So. Tŷ Newydd (no, I still can’t pronounce it properly, despite being married to a Welshman and having lived in the country for a brief time during my formative years).
Well, what else is left to say? I had a BRILLIANT time. The place is lovely, the actual building as well as the surroundings. The accommodation was exactly fit for purpose. The tutors were generous and skilled in sharing their love of the form.
I learned a lot about poetry and enjoyed the workshops and the banter. I still haven’t got over the thrill of having my poems critiqued by Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke (did I mention they are the UK’s Poet Laureate and the National Poet of Wales respectively?). I met some very interesting fellow poetry writers, and ate some seriously delicious, home-cooked vegan food.
Even the sun shone on the final day as we raced around the gardens on an Easter Egg Hunt set by Carol Ann. There was an egg and spoon race, then a hopping game, but I settled on being a spectator at that point.
We all had poems published in ‘Song House’ an anthology I will treasure – not least because my words are now in the same publication as those of our highly respected tutors.
I learned to look out for abstract nouns and unnecessary adverbs, to look at the form of a poem on the page, and to weave texture with language to produce mystery rather than obscurity. I also learned to work with rhythm and metre, to kill my precious darlings (no matter how loved they are, if they don’t fit, they have to go) – and to avoid daft nonsense in the style of ‘The Windmills of My Mind’.
The final evening was spent in the Library reading our work to each other (and to David, Gillian’s husband who also shared a poem with us).
Since then, I’ve re-visited most of my poems and realised how they can be improved; that should keep me quiet for a while.
I am trying to think of what were the week’s negatives, because things that sound too good to be true often are. Except in this case.
True, I found the narrow bed a bit tricky (spoiled brat that I am), and the Welsh water had a nasty taste if it wasn’t flavoured with Earl Grey or coffee. How awful, eh? It’s a wonder I coped.
Oh, and I left my phone there. On charge, blissfully forgotten until I was well on the way home.
What? A whole week without a phone? Yep, but that’s another story.
[…] This is the second residential writing course I have ever done, the first being the Spring Poetry Masterclass earlier this year with Gillian Clarke and Carol Ann Duffy (I waxed lyrical about that experience on this blog in three parts: here 1, here 2 and here 3). […]