On 31st January, two of our members, Cherry and Kuli, attended a workshop run by local publisher Offa’s Press. We headed off to Pant, a village near Oswestry in Shropshire, in time to start the workshop at 10:30. Luckily, although we’d had some snow and ice in the few days beforehand, the morning shaped up to be mild and sunny.
We started the day with a workshop in Pant village hall, where we discussed poetry on the theme of winter by Western poets. The favourite of the day was Snow Joke by Simon Armitage, which is a ‘gossip’-style poem about a man who ignores police warnings and drives across the Yorkshire moors in the snow, only to become trapped in his car in a snow drift.
They all certainly gave us something to think about when examining how to represent the season in words. For a completely different flavour, we moved on to the next part of the workshop where we looked at tanka, a traditional Japanese form.
Tanka are 5 lines long, have a juxtaposition of images (usually one from the poet’s surroundings and one about the poet themselves), and use a ‘pivot line’ between the first two and last two lines, which means the poem could be reversed and still make sense.
We practiced writing tanka about winter to get us accustomed to the form. We had to draw on our experiences of winter, either recently or winters past we could remember.
We broke briefly for lunch to get our strength up for the walk. We went a similar route to last time we were there – through the limestone quarry over Llanymymech Rocks – all the while taking in the winter surroundings. There was plenty to be inspired by, from the gorgeous view at the top, to the snowdrops just coming through.
Although we had to leave at 2pm, the day continued with a further workshop in the afternoon, to work on poems inspired by the walk.
Once again, Offa’s Press delivered a first class personal learning experience, and both our members are keen to go back for the next poetry day, to be arranged for later in the year. You can see our girls’ work on the Offa’s Press website here, alongside other poems from the day.