Mouthy Move Into Arvon. Make It Their Home.

2 Jan

The thing that Arvon will forever do best, is provide writers a space crammed with excuses to do nothing but the thing they must: write. A library of poetry, sprawling hillside view, a sturdy writing desk. Phone/internet signal largely out of reach. A daily structure that mixes communal workshop with private hours generating and editing everything they may have needed the focused/forced space to get through.

Second time around, Arvon did not disappoint. With the Totleigh Barton site seemingly even more intimate and homely than the welcoming Hurst’s of last year, Mouthy settled in within minutes. Conversations crawling from bedroom to barn, a buzz of expectant writers with notebooks/laptops clasped to chest.

For me, when you ‘finish’ a poem, especially one carved from a deeply personal place, you want to hurl it to the world like a beacon searching for a familiar face. Throughout the week, the stories that were revealed required more than applause, more than a ‘one poem down, however many more to go’ ethos. They needed hugs and hand holding. So did the writers behind them. I was moved by the amount of supportive, caring conversations happening amongst Mouthy’s initiated without any prompting from our tutors, or listed as a post-workshop request, throughout our stay. Be it checking in with someone seeming especially quiet that day, asking someone if they feel like crying all day today too but it’s okay that they do, simply going over a poem and asking them the question: what is it you want to say?

My time at Arvon this year is something I’m still processing, but one thing I am clear of right now is this affirming reminder: The Mouthy Poets will always, seemingly instinctively, have each other’s backs.



One Response to “Mouthy Move Into Arvon. Make It Their Home.”

  1. Debora P. Gillespie January 5, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    I try to get things across to the students by example, not by concept. On the other hand, the simple exhortation “be original” can slam things open. I tell them papers can be messy, this is a workshop, no time to rewrite for beauty’s sake, scratchouts show you’re thinking. Well make ’em pretty later. I also find that down-to-earth explanation, in detail, or sound nuances and, within the kids’ experience, other fine points as well go over readily with them. Matters such as the vowel progressions in the “Red Wheelbarrow” piece, or say, the connotative values in Denise Levertov’s poem of things found on the beach.

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