I went on an Arvon course and it made time look like raspberry jelly

13 Dec

Ioney seems to have covered most of the weeks itinerary but I’m gonna run over it again for my own peace of mind, cos I’m neurotic and that.

Monday evening was writing. We did fourteeners. Roger told us they had to be finished. We all ran back to our rooms pooing ourselves and writing for hours. We hit the ground running. No poo pun intended.

Tuesday evening was performances from our tutors, Caroline Bird and Roger Robinson, who were both wonderful to be around.

Wednesday was Nick Makoha’s night in every sense. We all cried loads. It was mutually agreed that it was wonderful.

Thursday we performed covers. I did ‘Meeting Point’ by Louis MacNeice, a poem I love and have known for ages and ‘Lindisfarne’ by Antony Dunn, a poem which I found that day and was immediately fond of.

Friday was our performances. I ran out of time, but I always do.

Meanwhile, during the day, we wrote. Loads. And loads and loads. We had no internet. I had no phone reception. I had ideas and paper and computers and that. It was dead good.

What I really got from going on this Arvon course was instruction by experience in how to discipline myself. I learned to value the productive potential of an hour. Lack of access to Facebook was instrumental in this.

Ioney talked about finding new voices and discovering how to write about covered up internal issues. Increasingly, this did become the motif of the week, particularly from Wednesday onwards.

Personally I felt that I managed to reacquaint myself with an old voice that I thought I had shed and saw new purpose in. It was nice. Like meeting one of those friends that you still kind of think of as a friend but never really see any more and then realise than when you do meet up you’ve still got loads in common and can just chat for hours together. Like that. But with myself.

I did also manage to write about difficult personal issues. These weren’t exactly unearthed – I’d considered them before. I’d considered writing about them before – but I’d never actually wrote about them before. On Arvon week I did, and it helped. And resulted in a decent poem.

One of the main lessons I will take from Arvon is to notice when I’m excusing myself from writing and to write through the excuses. What I am still to learn is how to do this without putting my sleeping patterns in jeopardy.

Arvon was a fantastic week. Beautiful surroundings. Top-quality tuition from 2/3 very talented and approachable tutors. Highly productive and enjoyable. Very much recommended.

I feel that going as part of a group I knew so well, that held such similar interests was beneficial. Half the point of the course is the group discussion and analysis as far as I can see.

On the last night, my room-mate and fellow poet Jim asked me whether I’d go again. I told him that I wouldn’t want to attempt to re-create the week I’d had. But with the same, or a similar group, under this understanding, I’d gladly take the opportunity of another Arvon session. It was mint.


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