Palaces and Poetry

I’ve been travelling up from Brighton to the Poetry School for several weeks. It’s quite a  a pleasant journey overall, the bus from Victoria crosses Lambeth Bridge where one can see the Palace of Westminster on the left and Lambeth Palace on the right.

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I was a bit early today so popped into the Garden Museum nearby.

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It is in a converted church with a lovely stained glass window, a gallery of artifacts,                                                             a book shop and two gardens.

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I even had time for another look at the Archbishop’s Garden, sat in the sun reading my latest discovery, ‘Mary Oliver’ before making my way to Lambeth Walk ten minutes away.


Today is the last session with Tim Dooley. He is a talented poet in his own right and part of the Poetry London magazine team, lecturer, tutor, writer.


This course has been brilliant, it has been like a really good OU module but with the addition of Tim’s gentle approach and good humour. Unfortunately I missed two due to ill health.

However, each week we have been given different poets to focus on, each one highlighting topics such as expression, density, innovation etc. Following group discussions we were given writing exercises linked to the topic. This was a bit nerve wracking at times, one’s mind can go completely blank, but no one had to feed back what they have written unless they wanted to.

Tim even managed to squeeze in a ten minute tutorial for each one of us during the term. I used mine to run through a poem I was struggling with, Tim concluded that only the ending was weak, so I knew where to concentrate my energies.

Poetry courses so often depend on the group  and this one was great, no prima donnas or know it alls, just really interesting people willing to  share and support each other. It was great to note how much better our poetry was by the end of the ten weeks.

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I have come to the conclusion that poetry has as much to do with hard work and editing as it has with inspiration.

Since this post is all ‘poetry speak’, I’ll just add that I still find a poem a day sent by email from the American Academy useful, yesterday’s  Martha Ronk and today’s Carl Adamshick’s  both were particularly good. There is also a little daily resume about how the poet came to write the poem.

I have discovered another useful book book called ‘The Making of a Poem’ by Mark Strand and Evaan Boland which makes understanding form really accessible. I have tried several books on this subject only to get lost in the way the complexities have been described. This book has both the basics and lots of examples and I can  highly recommend it.

Peter and Ann Sansom are really inspiring poets, based in Midlands, they also run courses. Peter’s ‘Writing Poems’ Bloodaxe it a  must have book, for apprentice poets like me, and partly based on his considerable workshop knowledge.  Steve Kowit ‘In the Palm of Your Hand’ really useful when you get stuck, loads of exercises.

No more Pighog press events until September see this last one featured Caleb Klaces from ‘Eyewear’ publishing and Martin Myers, Pighog

But now I guess I need to do some poetry polishing of my own and make the new material shine!

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