Mouthy Poets do Arvon

4 Dec

So amid the Shropshire hills and dales, we settled in an old country house to write poetry, to laugh to cry, to eat and talk. If we weren’t writing we were talking, not talking, then eating, not eating then crying, not crying, then laughing, not laughing, then sleeping…

The Hurst

Monday we arrived, unpacked, ate food and drank wine, then wrote speed sonnets till almost 11pm – this our introduction to Roger Robinson.

Caroline Bird invited us to write our hopes and fears for the week on two pieces of paper. We kept the hope, but threw our fears into the wood-burning stove and watched as they burned.

Tuesday we breakfasted and headed to the Foyle Studio, home to a bat, a grand piano, a poetry library and some tables and chairs – here we began our work in earnest. Under the careful tutelage of Caroline and more from Roger, we began a new period of our poetry lives.

After workshop comes lunch (a continuation of the workshop, but with food added in), after lunch comes writing time, talking time and one-to-one tutorial time, after tutorial time comes cooking duty (for some each day) then dinner and after dinner comes the evening session.

On Tuesday evening we were treated to readings from Caroline and Roger.

Wednesday was a reading from guest Nick Makoha, a whirlwind of an evening which carried on into the small hours of the morning, where we shared our real hopes and fears, stripped away the artifice of writing and got back to what really makes us tick, or not tick in fact – if you have never been ‘Nick-ed’ this sounds straightforward, but once ‘Nick-ed’ you’ll never forget it.

Thursday was covers night – where we each chose a poem, written by another poet and read it to the group. Because the breadth of poems and poets was so huge, we thought we should share some of the poems with you – so here goes, a list of who chose what:

Anne: The Annunciation by Sylvia Kantaris.

Cleo: The Devil’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy.

Raisa: The Necklace by Doreen Pears.

Matt: Lindisfarne by Antony Dunn and Meeting Point by Louis MacNeice.

Jim: The Sarah Connor Poem from Love in A Time of Robot Apocalypse by David Perez.

Maresa: In the Temple by Sakti Chattopadhyaya, This Earth by  Jivanananda Das, Graffiti by   Sukanta Bhattacharya and Moment by Vincent Guiliano.

Laura: Telling by Laura Hershey

Georgina N: Dust by Rupert Brooke.

Deborah: The Boy Who Could Lay Eggs by Caroline Price and At Pegasus by Terrance Hayes.

Bea: Hibakusha by Don Carroll and Walling Her In by Imtiaz Dharker.

Simone: The Suitor by Adele Geras.

Ioney: When by Sue Stewart.

Roger: Revenge by Taha Muhammed Ali and My Father’s Love Letters by Yusef Komunyakaa.

Caroline: The Fragrant Cloud by James Tate.

Emily: If I Could Tell You by W.H. Auden

Georgina W: Dr Frankenstein Explains by Dave Calder and Don’t Believe The Wife by Jim Greenhalf.

Panya: And Now The End of The News by Derek Butress and Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka.

Larnelle: Mother and Son and Dreams Deferred by Langston Hughes.

Anieka: Suitcases and Muddy Parks by Lemn Sissay

A really moving selection – go and Google, or trawl the library and read some of these.

On Friday evening we read our new work which we had laboured over the whole week – every one of us managed to put out a chap book of about ten poems.

We cried, we laughed and we drank gin cocktails made by Debs and Georgina.

A great week.

If you ever get the opportunity..

GO TO ARVON with MOUTHY.

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3 Responses to “Mouthy Poets do Arvon”

  1. Alison December 5, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Sounds like a fantastic and creative week – jealous, much!

  2. perry k December 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Hi, I am thinking of applying for an arvon course and doing some googling wound up on this page. I need some information if thats ok with you. eg about whether i can expect to find other young people there and how easy/difficult it is to get a place in a workshop.
    Thank you, and i’d appreciate any other info you can provide. And if you are running this blog on your own i’d like to congratulate you because its amazing.

  3. mouthypoets December 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Hi perry,

    Debris here, founder and director of The Mouthy Poets. Thanks so much for getting in touch and taking the time to read and respond to our blog 🙂

    In answer to your questions;
    -arvon had several centers, all if which run dozens of courses a year. So that the amount of young people in each course on average would need to be a question to a specific centre about a specific course (all info on contacts, courses and centers is on the Arvon Foundation website).

    -one course place usually costs £600ish. If you have that money, it’s easy, just book your place in advance. If you don’t, bursaries are available for individuals but I know less about those. You might need to sift the website and drop and email.

    -our arvon course was very different from ur average course; I got funding for a course just for young people in The Mouthy Poets. This was 50% from Arvon and 50% through our Atta council funding that keeps us Runnig year to year. Mouthy poets then applied for a free place on the course (there were 16 places). We chose the tutors and set the objectives for the course and we are a 11-30yr old collective so it was a young persons arvon.

    But I do know arvon run other retreats with other organizations so if you talk to them I know they will do all they can do get you there!

    And mouthy is a collective of 30 odd young people plus 30 odd alumni so there are lots of us working on the blog 🙂

    Thank you for getting in touch. I hope this has helped?
    Debs

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