Where are we now? A new poetry programme

My virtual poetry programme, The Verandah, is part of the UK/Australia Season of Culture 2021/22. It kicks off in September / October and runs until late into 2022 – high quality timely poetry workshops, masterclasses, debates, readings, mindfulness & poetry sessions – all led by top UK & Aussie poets.  

The theme of the Season is Where are we Now? My take on this is given COVID-19, the immense environmental and social challenges we face both locally and globally, who are we now in relation to our connection with our land and people? How can we describe, challenge or create new connections with our land and people in the 2020s?  Poets are inherently courageous in searching for truth and meaning. Find out more about the wider Season HERE.

First offerings

Coming up:

  • More masterclasses including Mona Arshi on the modern Ghazal.
  • Two showcase readings of Australian and UK poets:  10th October (afternoon/evening Australia, morning UK) headlined by one of Australia’s most prestigious poets, Sarah Holland-Batt.
  • Poetry & Mindfulness sessions.

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Choose your Poetry Bliss: March // April // May 2021

  1. Reading with fab poets from right across Australia & the UK – warmth and wit from our shared ‘virtual verandah’ with Rita Tognini, Coral Carter, Sundra Lawrence, Tineke Van der Eecken, Mala Anthony-Ranu, Kathy Armstrong, Patricia Foster McKenley, Glen Hunting, Joe Duggan, Bell Selkie Lovelock, Jenny Magann, Cath Drake. Fabulous Aussie poet Jaya Savige is our guest feature reader.  John Kinsella describes Jaya’s recent book Change Machine as ‘one of the finest volumes to come out of Australia in two decades’. Jaya is also the poetry editor for The Australian newspaper.  Not to be missed! Sign up HERE Free, 20 March

2. Small group monthly poetry feedback sessions start in May (6 sessions per term) – for practicing poets. Contact me to apply. Make your good poems even better and take your craft to a new level. These are hugely productive, warm and super enjoyable groups. Is there anything better?

3. Dive into Poetry, introductory workshop and series of 5 (monthly sessions) for those who are relatively new to reading & writing poetry or those who want to take another look at what poetry is, why it matters and investigate some of its key features and techniques. 18 April, onwards.

4. A series of six weekly sessions of Mindfulness & Poetry Uplift , short peaceful refreshing sessions to feel good, listen to poetry and boost your creativity. We conclude with an optional session of writing together. Each week focuses on a theme related to wellbeing that also sets creative sparks flying for a freewrite. Sign up and drop-in – pay by the session or in a block. Six Tuesdays, 23 March to 27 April.

5. Masterclasses with the best teachers – currently these are sold out, contact me for waiting lists. More coming soon!

  • Poetry with Fire in its Belly: Poetry Masterclass Malika Booker will explore how to be bold, daring and to stay with your poems for longer with more depth. Learn from a poetry master on how you can write about weighty, political, social and often personally difficult issues with authenticity and passion.
  • The Ghazal, an Exploration of Form & Culture: Mona Arshi, a writer with exquisite delicacy and natural poetic fair, will explore one of the oldest poetic forms, the ghazal and how it compares to the sonnet and is radically different to western traditions. MORE TO COME.
  • Dive into imaginative worlds with Caroline Bird

Coming soon… Prose poetry and other masterclasses, Introduction to Poetic Metre & Scansion, Poetry courses for beginners and practicing poets, including new ways to write about nature and the environment. How can we bring nature and the environment more into all of our work with new fresh and urgent perspectives?

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New Year Programme launched!

Hone your writing craft with some of the best teachers, reflect on your writing goals and be inspired with fellow writers from both hemispheres with these high quality workshops.

1. Mindfulness and poetry sessions GMT 8am (see link for Australian timing). Short drop-in session to give you a wellbeing & creativity uplift, followed by a writing exercise – starting again 2 February

2. A more substantial Journaling and Mindfulness Workshop to press REFRESH on 2021 on 10 January. This is suitable for everyone, not just writers, to reflect on the strangeness that was 2020, what we’ve learnt and what we want to take with us into 2021.

3. A New Year Writing Shake-up on 21 January with new and old friends from across northern and southern hemispheres. This writing marathon includes quick-fire visual prompts and wordy challenges to keep your pen moving, find fresh perspectives & surprising ideas for new poems and stories. Loads of fun!

4. Poetry Masterclass One – Activate your Poetry with Dr Dai George Thursday 11 February 2021. The power of your poetry comes through the verbs, the actions. Expand your knowledge, trip up your writing habits, refresh your poetic approach and be more conscious of where the action is by working closely with verbs!

5. Poetry Masterclass Two  – Creating Dramatic Effect in Poetry with Glyn MaxwellMonday 22 February. 2021 TS Eliot Prize short-listed poet and playwright, Glyn Maxwell will show you how to use dramatic techniques to write engaging poetry – through close readings of canonical poems, enjoyable writing exercises and games to you dial up the drama and strengthen voice and character. 

6. Poetry Masterclass Three – Jump into imaginative worlds with Caroline Bird – Monday 15th March. A rare opportunity to join the 2020 Forward Prize winner (one of the biggest prizes in the UK) and poetry prodigy who had her first collection published by a major publisher at 15, in a small intensive workshop. Explore imaginative blocks and ideas for jumping off into exciting poetic landscapes led by vivid imagery. Find surprising and arresting imagery from the first line and enter worlds that are very real and captivating.

7. Plus a new intensive poetry feedback group launched in the New Year.

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Coming up later in the year: More mindfulness, writing workshops and poetry masterclasses by Malika Booker, Mona Arshi, Carolyn Bird, Mimi Khalvati, Paul Hetherington (University of Canberra), Cath Drake and more. These workshops are mostly in the morning UK-time in order to join up with writers in Australia.

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Forward Book of Poetry Reading

Each year the Forward Book of Poetry publishes a crop of the year’s best poems. Here’s a chance to hear from some of the gems from 2020. FREE

Wednesday 9 December 2020, 7pm, Sign up HERE

Poets whose books were launched during this pandemic year will read poems from the Forward Book of Poetry 2020 and their new collections. Buy their books for Xmas:

Colette Bryce, The M Pages

Cath Drake, The Shaking City

Matthew Francis, Wing

Maria Ferguson, Alright, Girl?

Mina Gorji, The Art of Escape

Katherine Horrex, Growlery

Shane McCrae, Sometimes I Never Suffered 

Abegail Morley, The Unmapped Woman

Julian Stannard, Heat Wave

Maria Taylor, Dressing for the Afterlife

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Collaborations!

Appearing in Magma 78 is an extract of a 40-minute piece (video to come) of I Dream of Houses all the Time, a jointly written dialogue-in-verse by poets Cath Drake and Jocelyn Page, written across distance and time.

Two voices, two women from opposite sides of the world, Australia and the US, move to London. One is married for the second time with kids, and the other is single, never married with no kids. Relocation and the approach of their middle years bring a swirl of reflections on home, safety and belonging with its swings of luck, choice, intention, relationships, family, stability, doubts and ambitions. The women’s inner thoughts intertwine as a year passes and fortunes change. Stories are unearthed from childhood to the present day. Who is listening?  Can we ever really reach other and expect another to understand our experience?

Poetry masterclasses and small group workshops

Three stunning poetry masterclasses this October will help craft you your poems with some of the best teachers around: the art of syntax (with Dai George), lineation (with Mimi Khalvati) and nature writing (with Cath Drake).

Small group workshops, for those serious about honing their poems over six months, are starting in November. Join a supportive and inspiring group to see you through summer or winter (depending on which side of the world you are on). Whatever the next few months bring us in these uncertain times, immersing in your poetry and collaborating internationally with other poets will help!