This brings me into contact with other practitioners' ideas and techniques, enables a reflective space for me and an opportunity to engage with my own writing - which I'm aiming to do more of.
In this spirit I attended the Breathing Space Conference in North Wales last November organised by poetry therapist, Jill Teague.
Morning in Maentwrog
There were a range of workshops whose titles and descriptions were so engaging and poetic that choosing was difficult. I picked mythic journeys and storytelling, dramatic monologue, memoir writing, and Ekphrastic poetry. This last because I had no idea what it was.
An Ekphrastic poem is described by the Poetry Foundation as "a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning."
In the workshop facilitated by Jill, I chose a postcard depicting The Manneport of Etretat by Claude Monet. Jill asked us to observe or 'behold' the painting we'd chosen for ten minutes. And then to write. The experience of actively looking at the painting took me to a memory of days I'd spent as a child with my family at Durdle Door, in Dorset.
I enjoyed remembering this. The sea was sparkly, the sun was shining, my father was swimming to the Door and back, while my sister and I paddled our feet from the steep, shingle slope in the clear, gentle ripples. Our Mum watched on in sunglasses and full make up - the epitomy of glamour always - from a wool tartan rug, anchored at the corners by large round pebbles.
Later, from that memory, I wrote a poem.