Arvon – a personal journey into poetry and a visit to Hebden Bridge.


This is a film about my week at ‘Ted Hughes Arvon’ as a student writing poetry. 9 minutes – including a pheasant with attitude, an overview, a Thursday night happening and visit to Hebden Bridge!

Absolutely love the place and the way they go about supporting new writers of all ages!

It was a lovely surprise to discover that our tutors,  Jacob Polley and Jean Sprackland  had written a poem for our anthology too.


The Arvon Foundation is a charity and although the cost is £600 for four and a half days, it includes accommodation, three meals a day, tuition from established poets (workshops and tutorials) and there are grants available for anyone who is really hard up!

Arvon run poetry, short story courses, novel writing, retreats and they are set in four centres in different parts of the country.  Students include novice writers and the more experienced.  The tutors are always wonderful.

There is a rota to cook the evening meal, which is done in small groups so everyone cooks just once a week. I hate cooking, (as those who read my poetry will know)  but everything is provided and it can be fun.

Meeting fellow poets from all walks of life, trying new techniques and sharing your writing away from home is a really good experience.

I have had a few poems published over the years but still regard myself as a novice/apprentice poet,  however,  recently I was told by someone I respect, that  I am a ‘developing’ poet.  Wow! Sounds a lot better!

I have been to five Arvons over 20 years. One was writing picture books for  children, I loved that one. Another was humour in script writing, fun,  but I was not sure how to further develop my ideas and the market for them including the BBC seemed impenetrable. Pity really,  I thought I might be good at it,  especially as I once had a play put on at The Young Vic and I’ve been writing scripts all my life, untutored – our marionettes had to say something after all!

Once you go to an Arvon course you will never forget it! Save up,  ask your family for contributions for your birthday, sell the family silver,  rob a bank, give up eating. No perhaps not the last two – but if you are an aspiring writer do go!

 They were selling these empty tins at Hebden Bridge Station for 60p to help the flood damage appeal. The film indicates some of the devastation and frankly I have to admire their recovery and enterprise.  Sixty pence for goodness sake but I guess every little helps!

It’s very hard to come down to earth after a week at Arvon, for some it’s  still the holidays, or back to work, and/or children to care for.

I’ve been living in my campervan (on the front drive) for three days to make the spell last just that little bit longer.  My partner didn’t mind he’s used to my idiosyncrasies.

Arvon can be  life changing in lots of ways,  it’ s a chance to think as well as write. My  partner and I have just agreed to completely change the house round.

In the meantime, it’s still summertime so its a walk on the beach. Lucky me!

Next week more poetry the world and everything.   Ann

Dear fellow students – you are not in this film except for our Thursday night happening!  I went out of my way to avoid invading other people’s privacy which I believe is all part of the Arvon experience. It would have been good to film the celebratory evening where we read our work but then it was living in the moment and I’m sure cameras would have spoiled it.

Note – More Arvon posts – see categories

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