Session Six – 21st January 2016 – The Belfry Arts Centre

On a beautiful frosty morning, the Change Minds group braved the cold weather to meet up for the start of our second term, held at The Belfry Arts Centre in Overstrand.

imageMartin Figura, poet and writer, led the session, which began with a short exercise ‘automatic writing’.  Participants were asked to think about the person in their case record and to consider “What connects you to them?”  They then wrote whatever came into their mind, with some interesting results.  Afterwards participants reviewed what they had written and highlighted anything that stood out for them, such as keywords or phrases that could be used as a starting point to develop creative writing.

In the second part of the session the group discussed the use of metaphors in writing and ways of using sensory imagery for description.  Essentially the aim of these exercises was to move away from the factual information of their research and to explore the more sensory creative story that connects the participant to the person in their case study.

One participant said how this process had helped them to look at the person in their case record in a whole new way, writing in a voice from the past, imagining and connecting to their story on a new level.

For inspiration, Martin read aloud a poem:


If you were running, now you are
walking; if you were walking, now
you are sitting down.  I enter
your body as sunlight enters
a forest after a day of rain.
You were on your way to a palm reading,
a new job testing Italian
sports cars, an axe murder.  Do it
tomorrow.  I am the cat rubbing
against your ankles, the hot bath
after an afternoon of chopping wood.
See me as a feather bed, red and
blue silk cushions in a warm room.
Lie down on me, lie down on me.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t important.
Something about someone living or dying or
moving to Phoenix.  Something small, no
heavier than the weight which now
presses lightly against your eyelids.
Close them.  tomorrow might be a hard day.

by Stephen Dobyns

The reading of Sloth generated a lot of group discussion about the use of line breaks and the reasons for these.  We learnt that the use of line breaks in Sloth helps to give the poem its rhythm and that they can be used to create a pause or for creative reasons such as how the poem looks on the page.  We discussed the sensory language used, for example the ‘cat rubbing against your ankles’ and a ‘warm room’.  Also the use of colour and how the description of the ‘red and blue silk cushions’ helps the reader to instantly imagine what the cushion looks like.  The group considered what the poem meant to them, with many different answers and individual perceptions about what this said to them.

Martin explained that ‘Sloth’ is a good example of a poem written in the voice of an abstract noun.  Martin then gave the group a list of abstract nouns to take home and if they wish participants could choose one noun and have a go at writing their own poem, either writing to or writing as that noun.  Some of the words on the list were: generosity; hope; amazement; power; surprise; worry; adventure.

Looking forward to seeing these at our next session on 4th February.