It's National Poetry Day 2012 and I'm standing in the foyer at Luton library with poetry in my head and PowerPoint on my USB stick. A bit of faffing later and I'm installed in a room upstairs, wondering whether anyone has booked onto the Poetry Writing Workshop, which I'm running on behalf of The View from Here magazine for Luton Book Festival.
And then in they trickle... an eager bunch of participants, in possession of notebooks, pens and enquiring minds. There's the usual minor disasters, such as having no projector for the presentation I'd lovingly prepared. But we huddle round the laptop instead and most of them can just about see the screen. I use my 'big voice' and get started.
The group's poetry experience is varied, from those who haven't written since school, to those with a secret stash of scribbled poems hidden away, to an active member of the Luton Poetry Society (www.lutonpoetrysociety.com), who meet monthly in the library to read and discuss poetry. All share a passion for words and language and the desire to leave the two hour session with a freshly created poem in their hands.
We use techniques to loosen up the subconscious and allow images and ideas surface, freewriting on the topic of 'stars', this year's National Poetry Day theme. Following a series of structured exercises (based loosely on Pat Boran's 'Mad Poetry Making' from his Portable Creative Writing Workshop) the budding poets find their glistening bits, weave them with magic, suggest titles from the evocative to the absurd, eavesdrop on one another's poetry, redraft and ...
… ta da... read their little gems aloud to the group. Everyone leaves happy and when I look up at the sky later that night, I see things just a little differently.
Published below is a selection of the poems produced in the session, with permission of the authors.
So far yet so close
You speak yet are unheard
Perfection, life as it should be
Bright and ever engaging
The reflection of your brightness in me now somehow dulled by life
You scream ‘ I am life, the soul of the universe the soul of you’
I have never looked up
At the mass of wonder
Above my head shining
Friends point out constellations
I’m noticing the stars
But I can’t see them
I can’t make them out
I feel so ignorant sometimes.
By Katherine Anderson
5 STAR RETAIL *****
Stars on my T-shirt glittering loud,
Reflecting and sparkling, shout from the crowd.
Look at me, look at me, so proud in my bling,
Itching to dance, could even take wing.
Look at me, look at me, aren’t I the bee’s knees
In my Nan’s birthday present, how better to please?
All the stars in the sky just couldn’t compete
With this heavenly ensemble, cool, glitzy and neat.
By Stefanie Waterton
Stars shining so bright – you are so special…
When there’s pain in my heart,
I look up to you and wish we never will part.
When I have to return to the world with the pain and sorrow I feel…
I know I can always return to you because you are so real.
What do you feel when you are up there; oh great Star?
Looking at my life from up above and so far?
The night is lit so brightly with you in my life….
Keep shining so brightly please oh great star….because you take away my strife.
I once wished I was a star.
Shining brightly from afar.
My amber glow above for all to see.
Twinkling, spinning, whirling free.
Higher and higher in the darkness I clamber.
Never losing my grace or wonder.
To take off, to go, to reach for the moon.
My mission to the stars starts with a bloom.
By Tara James
Shanta Everington has an MA Creative Writing and teaches creative writing with The Open University. Her first poetry chapbook, Drowning in Cherryade, is forthcoming with US based publisher, bedouin books. Visit www.shantaeverington.co.uk