Tag Archives: Roy McFarlane Workshop

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

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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.


writing

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: Workshop with Roy McFarlane ‘Objects to hang our words on’

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Objects to hang our words on – Roy McFarlane

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 – beinroy-3g true to yourself. There’s going to be tears, but I hope and pray that there’ll be smiles and laughter.

… be imaginative and throw the net out and let’s see what we catch.

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In this workshop Roy uses the poetry of;

Gregory Leadbetter

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© 2016 Nine Arches

Hannah Lowe

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© Bloodaxe

Ruby Robinson

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© Poetry Out Loud

 

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© 2016

Carol Ann Duffy.

Details on buying copies of the cited publications can be found in RELATED LINKS at the end of the workshop post.

ENJOY!


Objects to hang our words on – Roy McFarlane Workshop

 

 

My Father’s Orrery from The Fetch by Gregory Leadbetter touches on an object that ties father and son together;

My Father’s Orrery

Is without end.

What a beautiful beginning, the title and straight into the poem is without end, the memories of our loved ones, their name goes on; but there’s a warning

The solar system on the fireplace

spins only one planet around it’s sun –

Mercury, as if now the limit

of what we know, hints at the missing

planets to come: the ache in the equation

their absence makes,

Something’s not right, an incompleteness, and the line the ache in the equation their absence makes. No mention of death but we’re feeling the oncoming pain. A poem about an unfinished orrery draws a picture of the man, the relationship between the father and the poet.

And what an ending about this mathematician, astrologist who has probably taught his son about the universe;

With the planet in his hands, he felt

the weight of his loss, knew he had forgotten

how to put the universe together.

Not only a reference to his father’s dementia but an echo of the weight of loss and the falling apart of the universe when we lose our loved ones. Read the whole of My Father’s Orrey and the book.

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© 2016 Nine Arches Press

 

Hook your poems around the idea of an action, cooking, fishing, knitting, game of chess, let’s have a look at A Man Can Cook from Chick by Hannah Lowe.

You at the stove, the air spiced up with ginger,

nutmeg, clove. I know you won’t turn round

but I can stand here can’t I watch the fire

flaring blue below your pans, your hands

cajoling dumpling, knifing up red snapper,

crushing star anise? You can’t turn around,

too busy with your strange colonial mixtures,

mango roly poly, cocoa bread.

My aunty said ‘Now there’s a man can cook!

I should have let you teach me, long before

you couldn’t eat, before they sliced a moon

of flesh away from you. Now you’re blurred

by steam. These smells will linger in my hair.

I leave you here then, humming as you stir.

roy-chick-hannah-lowe

© 2013 Bloodaxe

 

Or maybe a memorable day throwing Frisbees, a ride at an amusement park, or cornflake cake, as you’ll see in My Mother from Every Little Sound by Ruby Robinson

She said the cornflake cake made her day,

she said a man cannot be blamed for being

unfaithful: his heart is not in tune with his

extremities and it’s just the way his body

chemistry is. She said all sorts of things.

And here begins a conversation starting with a cornflake cake as an item that means so much for this memorable day. Loss can be so many things; in this poem similar to other poems within this collection, the poet is looking at the loss of her mother to mental health or the wider implication of being caught up in the system.

In the park, stopped for a cup of tea in a café

where we had the cornflake cake cut into halves

with the handle of a plastic fork. We saw yellow

crocuses growing a ring around a naked tree

These are the memories, the conversation that are universal as well as being personal, giving us minute details, speaking so many things between the line, memorable unforgettable, poems need to be unforgettable to the poet as well as the reader. She tells us more about their day and ends.

She said she’d been talking to Jesus and God

because she didn’t want to go to hell, although,

she said, correctly, we’ve been through hell

already, haven’t we. She said a woman should

know her place, should wait. She lit a cigarette.

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© 2016 Liverpool University Press

 

And finally Cold from The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

It felt so cold, the snowball which wept in my hands,

and when I rolled it along in the snow, it grew

till I could sit on it, looking back at home

Snowball weeping in my hands sets us up for what is to come, the cold and snow becomes the vehicle to transport us from good times to bad times, so we’re back at home. Windows blind with ice, breath undressing itself on the air, Carol’s having fun with beautiful descriptions. Have fun with, don’t settle for the old clichés, sit for a while and find something fresh and different. Carol’s feeling cold my toes, burning, cold in my winter boots and she switches to her mother, her hands were cold from peeling and finishing with such beauty.

her daughter’s face, a kiss for both cold cheeks, my cold nose.

But nothing so cold as the February night I opened the door

in the Chapel of Rest where my mother lay, neither young, nor old,

where my lips, returning her kiss to her brow, knew the meaning of cold.

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© 2011 Gutter Magazine


writing

Exercise

 

Like a snowball weeping, a cup holding grief, a bible with gold-edged leaves whispering, and I know you’re already thinking of an object that means so much to you and your loved one, but let’s just begin with stretching this object, imbuing it with life, let this object be the vehicle that draws us into your narrative, and then run with it.

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RELATED LINKS

The Fetch – Gregory Leadbetter (which was launched at Waterstones last week as part of Birmingham Literature Festival) is available here http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20fetch.html

http://gregoryleadbetter.blogspot.co.uk/

Chick Hannah Lowe available here http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/chick-1055

https://hannahlowe.org/

Every Little Sound Ruby Robinson available here http://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/products/73653

The Bees Carol Ann Duffy available here https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/carol-ann-duffy/the-bees