Monday, 7 December 2015

Hidden Stories 2

The White Horse at Osmington, nr Weymouth

Today is the last Hidden Stories writing workshop this term. The theme is Home and Homeland - what home means to us, and the journey involved in leaving, returning to and finding home.

The subject is inspired by Elizabeth de Haas who travelled from her home in Holland in the 1940s to be Dorothy Walker's companion at
7 Hammersmith Terrace,  the last authentic arts and crafts house interior in Britain.

We'll be looking at poems by Bernard O Donaghue and ex Fulham Cross student, Safa, who attended the Write 2Be Me project in 2012. This is her poem, Moving To Another Country.

Moving to Another Country 
It's all confusing
don't know what direction
you're meant to go,
everything is different
you're lost.
All the places are strange to you,
moving to another country
that's a lot different from your country.
It's all confusing
don't know what direction to go
I feel lost.
Everything is different to me
all the places are strange.
Moving to a country
that is a lot different from my country,
all my mind is confused.

I also love Bernard O Donaghue's Westering Home. It reminds me of the feeling I experience each time I visit Dorset where I was born, especially if travelling through the New Forest. We used to picnic there and say goodbye to the rest of the family on our way back to our new home in Kent.

Here we are - me with my aunty Margy on the picnic rug, my sister, Mum, great aunties and Grandad in front of Margy's Ford Anglia in 1967. My Dad is taking the photo.


Friday, 20 November 2015

Hidden Stories Creative Writing Project

A year or so ago Arts and Crafts Hammersmith - a partnership of the William Morris Society and Emery Walker Trust  - was successful in securing Heritage Lottery funding for a programme of repairs, refurbishments and improvements to Emery Walker’s home at 7 Hammersmith Terrace and William Morris's Kelmscott House. Both houses look onto the Thames just beyond Hammersmith Bridge and are a ¼ mile away from each other.  

The two men were great friends and worked together on The Kelmscott Press. The HLF funding includes initiatives to encourage local community participation in activities designed to deepen knowledge about their lives, work, interests and relationships. 

In early November, I began work on the Hidden Stories Creative Writing Project  in collaboration with Amy Barlow, year 8 and 9 students at Fulham Cross Girls' School and Simon Daykin from Arts and Crafts Hammersmith. Together we're discovering the stories the houses hold, and through learning about the characters who lived and visited there, we're writing stories both true and imagined. 

These include the stories of Dorothy Walker, Emery Walker's daughter, and Elizabeth de Haas, her Dutch companion, who lived at 7 Hammersmith Terrace and preserved the house as it was when Emery Walker lived there.  It's completely due to the work of these two women (who died in 1963 and 1997) that the house has been preserved as the last surviving example of an authentic Arts and Crafts interior in Britain.

Ms Barlow with FCGS students on the Hidden Stories project

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Sussex Poets competition 2

I was thrilled to receive 2nd prize for my poem Teatime at The Clarkes, in the Sussex Poets Competition, judged by Clare Best and hosted by Brighton and Hove Arts Council recently.

Afterwards in the pizza place with some bubbly
The Awards evening in September was a really enjoyable event with readings by eleven shortlisted poets culminating in a rather exciting reverse order announcement of the prize winners.

Congratulations to Nichola May who got first prize with her poem Bubbles. You can read all the poems here

Teatime at the Clarkes

When Mr Clarke
calls my sister fat,

time ticks slowly
on the big clock.

The sun throws shadows
round the sundial.

Red Admirals freeze 
with their wings shut tight,

flying ants crawl into cracks
and cacti prickle.

Mrs Clarke pours scalding tea
and teacups in their saucers wobble,

and no one
has an appetite for cake. 

by Christine Hollywood


Sunday, 13 September 2015

Sussex Poets Competition 1

I was thrilled to get an email from the 2015 Sussex Poets Competition run by Brighton and Hove Arts Council to say I'd made the shortlist with my poem

Teatime at the Clarkes.

I don't know which prize but they're being announced on Friday 25th September at the Awards Evening. I'll add the poem here afterwards.

This is a welcome boost, as any writer knows, and especially as I've been concentrating on developing my own writing lately. 

I also attended a poetry course with the poet John McCullough recently. John's tuition is excellent and I learn a lot.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Writing for Wellbeing Sussex is a recently established group interested in writing and poetry for its creative, fun, health and wellbeing benefits.

We've begun to meet every couple of months upstairs at the Hop and Vine in Fiveways, Brighton. The format is flexible and ranges from writing together to discussing our work to planning events. Do get in contact if you'd like to come along to a meeting. The next one is on 1st October.

One of the events we're planning is Ted Bowman's  visit to Brighton on Saturday, 26 September, from 10 am - 2pm. Ted is a poet and editor who uses literary resources in his work in loss and grief.  He is a long-time resource for Lapidus and a former board member of the National Association for Poetry Therapy. He lives in Minnesota, USA.

This year Ted will use prompts and guided discussions to explore the theme of Belonging and its implications for life and work.

"Belonging is an evocative and multi-meaning word.  Whether used as a noun, ...a verb, even metaphorically, belonging often links heart and head.  To fit in, to be a part of, to be the property of…close, secure relationships…belonging can mean many things.  Opportunities to explore meanings can be important, stimulating and clarifying. In this experiential session, participants will be invited to explore the layers of meaning the word belonging evokes."  Ted Bowman

Places for this workshop are limited. 
If you'd like to book a place:
m: 0777 3379 526
Cost: £25, Lapidus members £15

Thursday, 11 June 2015

At Ty Newydd Writers Centre

I arrived in a sea fog which made the beach invisible and muted the sounds of Easter Monday holiday makers. Thereafter it was a perfectly sunny, warm week at the The Nawe / Lapidus Writing Retreat at Ty Newydd Writers Centre in North Wales - ripe for gentle distraction activities like winding the coastal path to Crricieth.

I was co-hosting the Retreat this year with Nawe's Chair Liz Cashdan. It's essentially an unstructured opportunity to get away from everything and write. The environment is calm and conducive with delicious and healthy meals provided (all dietary requirements catered for!) by Gwynn and Erin who live on site, and a congenial office staff on hand to help with anything from printing to taxis and local info.

Optional workshops were also available including one on poetry and a novel writing workshop from a published author.   

Liz and I also offered one to ones which allowed time for individual participants to explore aspects of writing and writing for wellbeing.

A highlight of the week was the visit from Jill Teague of Lapidus, who lives nearby in the North Wales forest, to facilitate her Writing in Nature workshop. This gave us an opportunity to focus on the landscape around the centre, encounter nature and its inhabitants and process the experience in writing and words.

Robert Graves' The Welsh Incident begins with the lines

‘But that was nothing to what things came out
From the sea-caves of Criccieth yonder.’

The Retreat is held each year in April at Ty Newydd.  More details are available from Nawe.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Words and Stories

The Care in Mind creative writing group I facilitate meets each Tuesday morning in Canning Town. There are up to six regular members and this week we welcomed two new members.
We've agreed a format which includes some light stretching and relaxation exercise at the beginning, about 10 minutes of journal writing, and sharing words we like or are feeling by writing them in coloured pens on the board throughout the session. 
I choose a different theme each week and yesterday it was Stories - remembering the stories we know, changing story endings and creating our own stories.
Stories we know

Words we like
Each week is full of stories as life is made up of the stories we tell ourselves and each other, and the subjects we've written about include neighbourhoods, animals, favourite places, seasons, names, gardens, people and shoes.
The group also enjoy reading and writing from poems. TS Elliot, Grace Nichols, Langston Hughes, John Hegley, Raymond Carver, Mary Oliver, Wordsworth, John Agard and Norman MacCaig are among the poets who have joined us over the weeks. (See links to specific poems below)
I really enjoy working with this group. Thanks to Care in Mind for asking me!  
Mr Mistoffelees by TS Elliot, Sea Timeless by Grace Nicholls, Judith by John Hegley, Happiness by Raymond Carver, Upon Westminster Bridge by William Wordsworth, Adlestrop by Edward Thomas.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Creativity and Wellbeing Week

New WordWell Workshops are planned for London Creativity and Wellbeing Week which takes place from 5 - 12th June 2015.

The first, Words for Life, is on Friday 5th June with colleague Charmaine Pollard, at the Poetry Cafe near Covent Garden in London. This workshop will look at fun ways we can increase our resilience and confidence using writing.

The Writing in Nature workshop is on Wednesday, 10th June between 10.30 and 12.30pm, in the Fulham Palace Walled Garden.  This is a natural space tucked away between the Thames and the Fulham Palace Road. "Are we in the country?" a child from a school in the centre of London asked when he visited recently for a story writing workshop. It's true. The garden feels a million miles away from inner city stress, even though it's in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

This workshop is an opportunity to be in nature and to use the sights, sounds, smells and feeling of the garden as inspiration for writing. We'll have use of a room in the Education Centre (the old stable block) so even if it's raining we can still write!

writing and nature have health and wellbeing benefits