Advance Poetry Retreat 2015
Every year, I have the enormous pleasure of getting together with a group of children’s poets. This was organised in the beginning by Roger Stevens, after talking to Brian Moses about how isolated children’s poets are. Roger decided to invite a group of children’s poets to a retreat so they could meet.
That is how I found myself in Shropshire at my very first Poetry Retreat in 2009. We had a wonderful time – discussing poetry, reading poetry, writing poetry, and talking about the state of children’s poetry and how to promote it; we also did a lot of singing and dancing and drinking wine.
We found we got on very well indeed. We called ourselves the Advancers, as we want to advance to cause of poetry, not retreat!
Since then, we alternate spending a week in the country and a long weekend in a city.
We have just the right number of poets to make a wonderful group, although, strangely enough, Brian Moses never made it along, despite it being his original idea.
This year, in May -Tant-ta-RAAAA! He made it for the first time, and it was lovely to include him at a last.
Sometimes we combine our retreat with a mass poet visit to a school! This year was one of those – we visited Mile Oak School in Brighton on Friday. It was great fun. Divided into pairs, some of us did a workshop assisted by another poet for support and feedback – my partner for a shape poem workshop was the wonderful Jan Dean.
These are some of the brilliant shape poems written on the day by the children during our workshop – which took place on the top floor of a double-decker bus!
I call these poems ‘tribbles’, a noun subject, a verb, and another noun or phrase with a noun in.
We had a wonderful time at this excellent school.
There were a lot of wonderful dinners. Brighton is very liberally endowed with delicious places to eat.
And on this occasion, talented poets. On the left, front to back, Joshua Seigal, Andrea Shavick, Roger Stevens, Jan Dean, on right from back to front, Rachel Rooney, Michaela Morgan, Cheryl Moskowitz and Jane Clarke.
On Saturday, we went for a wander round Brighton. Some of us were more grown-up about this than others.
This is Jane and me on the carousel.
And while we were on the carousel, Joshua looked after Lola.
We visited ‘The Lanes’ and ‘North Lane’ and went to some excellent exhibitions. We bought books, of course. Here we have Sue Hardy-Dawson, Jane Clarke, Roger Stevens, Joshua Seigal, me and Lola.
Then, to round off the day, we went to ‘The Book Nook’, National Children’s Bookseller of the Year, where we joined them in a glass of bubbly to celebrate their win, and then all gave readings and performances of our various poems to an audience of children. It must have been the most children’s poets ever at any one time in a bookshop.
This is when Brian Moses came along to meet us – L-R, Rachel Rooney, Roger Stevens, Brian Moses, and Sue Hardy-Dawson. Oh! and Lola.
It was a tight squeeze but we managed!
We also met a young poet, Evelyn, who has written her own poetry book, sold in aid of Children in Need – it sold out on its first print run! Excellent poems which we all enjoyed.
And here are all the poets – back row; Brian Moses; Andrea Shavick; Evelyn; Roger Stevens; Sue-Hardy-Dawson; Joshua Seigal; Me; Jane Clarke; and Rachel Rooney. Front row, Jan Dean, Michaela Morgan and Cheryl Moskowitz.
So, after one more delicious dinner, that was the end of another Poetry Retreat. Looking forward to next year now!