Tag Archives: Loss

INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘The Final Write’

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This is Roy’s final workshop, we are delighted with the amazing coverage in these workshops. We are sure you will all agree he has worked extremely hard on this programme. As with all our Guest Writers, time is given for free.

It would be great to see some feedback and response in the comments below, maybe you could even thank Roy by buying his book… the gift would be yours, as ‘Beginning with your last breath’ is an amazing debut collection.

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/beginning%20with%20your%20last%20breath.html roy-bwylb

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Roy Mcfarlen

© 2014 Najma Hush

 

This was an event I performed at ‘Diverse Dancers’ Photographic Exhibition by Najma Hush. This was the first time I watched Roy perform. I did not meet him properly until later in the year (2014) at Jacqui Rowe’s Poetry Bites. I knew a lot about his poetry and work as he was Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2010-11.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/diverse-dancers-exhibition-najma-hush-performance-event/

I had no idea back then that a few years later he would be producing an amazing collection of workshop exercises exclusively for INKSPILL. I am eternally grateful to you Roy and your generous spirit.

– Nina Lewis

workshop-1

In the previous part of this workshop we looked at ‘Missing You’, writing about what is left behind, what we possess after our loved ones have passed away.

We start this next part as a link, so look back over what you wrote earlier and dive in for the final write with Roy.

In this workshop Roy re-visits the poetry of Hannah Lowe and W.H Auden.


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We started with objects at the beginning, so let’s finish with the idea of what we possess after our loved ones have passed away, and again explore beyond the normal aspects of gift, but maybe they left you with a burden, left you with a secret, left you with a joke, left with your beautiful memories; the page is yours.

The list poem comes to mind, where we just list what we have before us but you’re a poet, you have to take the naming of this list to another place, let’s look at the third passage from Six Day in March by Hannah Lowe.

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So this is what I’m left with.

A stained brown cufflink box lined

with stained red silk,

two black elastic loops, one snapped and frayed.

I hold it to my nose, search out

the sweat-and-tobacco smell of his hair, his clothes,

the old yellow cardigan. What’s a life made of?

Fifteen pounds in a post office account,

a notebook scrawled in horses’ form,

one photograph of three Jamaican aunts

in white lace dresses, straight-backed

with clasped hands under a palm tree?

Is there a sense of disappointment with that opening line or is it the sense of weightlessness of life the lack of worth maybe? And so she seeks for something tangible, search out the sweat-and-tobacco smell of his hair… the desperation of loss is felt her, the need to hold on to you every piece of her father’s DNA.

We all know Auden’s stop all the clocks, but how about this lover’s lament

As I Walked Out One Evening

And down by the brimming river

I heard a lover sing

Under an arch of the railway:

Love has no ending.

I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you

Till China and Africa meet,

And the river jumps over the mountain

And the station sing in the street

And then this beautiful gem…

the glacier knocks in the cupboard,

The desert sighs in the bed,

And the crack in the tea-cup opens

A lane to the land of the dead.

And then after all that declaration of love, the reality of life that life goes on

It was late, late in the evening,

The lovers they were gone;

The clocks had ceased their chiming,

And the deep river ran on.


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Exercise

Think of a moment, an everyday situation, walking past lovers by the river, clock chiming in the background. A supermarket aisle, with the Tannoy going off; sitting in a café with the sound of the vending machines; football terraces and a goal being scored; in the stalls of an operatic piece and the conductor taps the stand; think of something of the presence that shows the living, the continuation of life, whilst we remember our loved ones.


 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:

INKSPILL – Introducing ‘Writing Loss’

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We met with Roy McFarlane over the summer (whilst he was Poet in Residence at Shakespeare’s Birthplace). In discussing the theme for our writing workshops we chose loss. Loss plays a part in his debut collection ‘Beginning With Your Last Breath’. If you know the story behind the book, the motivation for his work, it started with loss.

Handing over to Roy…

roy-smokestack-books

© 2011 Smokestack Books


Inkspill Online Writing Retreat

Writing Loss

We’ll be exploring the theme of loss in myriad ways. When writing love, love seems to pour from the heart on to the paper, spilling over the pages on to notepads, back of envelopes and any available space that you can find but in that moment of loss, or that long road to the inevitability of loss, we often struggle, we often refuse to write.

Mona Arshi said in an interview with the Forward Arts Foundation, ‘writing the poems around death of my brother, observing the anguish of a family trying to come to terms and survive was a difficult task, but one I felt I had to negotiate especially if you believe that one of the functions of poetry is to make the unbearable, bearable.’

So for this weekend, we are simply going to write with an abundance, write without the need to worry too much about form but I do want you to be inspired by the prompts and exercises I’m going to share with you, some of which have been the spark behind my writing but more profoundly, just the joy of reading from a cannon of wonderful writers.

There are no fast rules, the only rule is to write, write it your way the best way that you can. I only ask that you write the truth, bare as much of you as you can on the page – being true to yourself. There’s going to be tears, but I hope and pray that there’ll be smiles and laughter.

I’m interested in how far you can spread your net of writing, I’m naturally thinking of our loved ones; our parents, lovers, siblings, children, pets but how far can we go with this, a work colleague, the boss, coach, a teammate, the team, someone moving away that you’ll never see again, so be imaginative and throw the net out and let’s see what we catch.

‘Break on Through’

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It has been over a week since my last blog post, I come to write this post on loss and find that the programming has been updated and content looks completely different for us on WordPress. I wish there was an option to use the old format, but alas, as with life things move on.

A lot has happened in the poetry world, my world and the world since I last posted and although I tend to steer clear of media stories, I cannot let the passing of David Bowie and Alan Rickman go without a mention.

I discovered Bowie as a teen, music first, then ‘Labyrinth’ years later, even tried my hand at creating the jacket worn by the Goblin King and definitely copied the eye make-up! As for Alan Rickman, as I was training to be an actress, he was someone I felt even closer to. First discovered in ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ – what an actor, what a presence, what a voice.

It is a sad loss to the Arts that these two stars have been extinguished at just 69, both dying from Cancer. May they Rest In Peace.

Rachel Green Sammy

Closer to home, the poetry community was rocked on the 5th January by the sad news that a wonderful poet, Sammy Joe, was no longer with us. The outpouring of love since has been amazing, I only wish she could read the heartfelt words. All the events I have attended in the past week have offered words in her memory and I know we will get to celebrate her life sometime in the future.

Lots of people are grieving and my thoughts are with her daughter, Rosie and the family. We (the poetry community) have shared compassion in grief. It has shaken all of us and it is almost impossible to imagine the world without her. It will be a long while before we realise we will not see her again, she isn’t going to turn up at events. It has also made us all wake up and appreciate what life is and how we need to let friends know they are in our hearts.

Which is where Sammy is now, Rest In Peace, my friend. x

bakehouse Photo Credit Janet Jenkins

I struggle to write about how it feels. Helen Calcutt has written a blogpost, shared across social media http://helencalcutt.org/2016/01/06/words-will-safeguard-the-spirit-eternally/ so I am sure she won’t mind me posting it here.

All this loss so early in the year, not to mention tales of friends and families who have lost loved ones over the Festive Season. It has been hard to keep buoyant New Year hopes alive with all this bigger things happening. Sometimes I feel guilty for pushing on regardless. It is what those of us left on the planet have to do though.

Headstrong fragility is the state I wear this week. There are many of us walking in this daze.

Take care out there and tell people that you love them! x

 

The photographs were taken on a poetry day last summer. Walsall Arboretum/ Bakehouse Workshop – Walsall Arts Festival and in the evening Pre-launch event in Birmingham for Arts all Over the Place. Sammy Joe did a lot of work with 1 in 4 Drama Group, like myself she was a poet and dramaturge.