Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Left to right on this image are: yours truly, the poetry input for the weekend; Sue Harris, singing input; Gitika Partington, likewise; Kate, participant from Sheffield who runs singing groups there; and Polly Bolton, the organiser and singing facilitator.
Sue Harris (Herefordshire) runs singing groups, plays the dulcimer, and does gigs with poet Roger Garfitt.
Gitika Partington creates musicals for children in schools, runs a choir in London and is involved in the Berkshire educational project Sing Up.
Polly Bolton runs the Oak Barn workshops, a choir called Larks, and an a cappella group called Polisumi. She has also created a wonderful CD of her sung version of Housman's A Shropshire Lad, with the poems read by Nigel Hawthorne.
This was a weekend of writing your own songs and it's right to say it was a brilliant weekend. In every photograph I took everyone looks so absorbed and happy.

It began with my workshop, a rapid burst of writing exercises to get people going and I was so impressed by what came out: a lovely poem about the humble dandelion flowering in a Tesco car park; phrases like a branch of birds /the oxygen corridor/ singing the stars to sleep; and some very touching and also funny poems about items of clothing we have loved (or hated). I was delighted with the way the group plunged into the tasks set, and later both delighted and surprised that in the set-aside time for one-to-ones I didn't have a single space left. People brought me songs they were working on, poems they'd written and wanted help with, and lines they thought could be turned into song. It really was a great joy working with them all.
Not only that but when the rest of the time was spent in singing some of the work produced, what a treat it was for me to listen to all these experienced singers harmonising, creating new threads of melody, and giving voice like a million skylarks rising to sing. I'll never forget it! I had a wonderful, wonderful weekend.

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