Monday, 17 May 2010


Robbie Burton who runs the Cross Border Stanza of the Poetry Society organised a workshop day at Llangollen, at Plas Newydd, the former home (and now museum) of the Two Ladies of Llangollen. Appropriate, since, in their day, many well-known poets and writers came here to visit these two infamous women.

Robbie had invited David Morley to come and lead the workshop and it was one of the most challenging and hectic days I've ever attended. We were set wonderful tasks: sent out into the grounds to interview a tree or other item from the natural world; sent out again to make an attempt at imitating the rhythm of bird song in our poems; again to create a new form, either in syllabics or possibly a concrete poem by using some form of mathematics in our writing about natural things. We had the use of a Sonic Explorer for the bird song exercise - a very simple machine like an ear trumpet with head phones that greatly amplifies sound - and this was a joy to use. Suddenly a single song comes through loud and clear as if you've never heard it before; just like being present at the Creation itself!

We finished the day by making poetry installations in the woodlands; I worked with Martin Zarrop and sent him scurrying about for pebbles, ramsons, leaves and twigs and together we made the three-line three-word poem pictured above on the right.


We had to use a rough crochet for the song bit as we ran out of pebbles and time (David set the strictest time limits on all our activities!)

Pictured centre is Robbie's own installation, a poem about Crow Castle which refers to Dinas Bran, the castle on the distant hill opposite these standing stones in the centre of the lawn at Plas Newydd.

And left is David himself pointing out the spider's web that someone else's succinct installation (two words only: Spinning Workshop) led to.
The day ended with an amazing happening: one of the group, Diane, sang to us, a beautiful song and a beautiful voice. She stood on steps by the cafe and filled the air with her singing.
What finer end to a poetry day could you have? I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it but I have to confess I could hardly get out of bed this morning: I was exhausted! But it was really well worth a little fatigue.

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