Living in the land of Ted Hughes

This week I was lucky enough to spend six days on at Arvon writing course at Lumb Bank, Ted Hughes’s old house. In the words of one of my friends, it was ‘totally amazing’. The scenery of Yorkshire was as beautifully dramatic, the house was comfortable and homely and the isolation inspiring. I loved it.

The view from my room, the Logshed

Every morning we had three hours of tutorials with our fantastic tutors Frances Leviston and Paul Batchelor, who are both published poets. My favourite exercise consisted of creating an alter-ego poet and then writing one of their poems. Not only was this fun and a good exercise in distancing yourself from your own work, but also gave me an idea for a future short story.

In the afternoon we were free to write, read or just relax with a walk in the countryside – it was blissful. We were also treated to individual tutorials where we could ask Frances and Paul about work we’d brought with us. This was incredibly useful and I learnt that the most effective poems aren’t crammed with big ideas but concentrate on detail.
An exercise on prose poems left me none the wiser but I did enjoy writing first lines. I expanded on this and this is the poem I wrote:

What do you see?
Just pause and look at all this
That could be beautiful and make your skin alive
That could draw gasps and silent joys
See what is around you and how it could
Stitch its wonder into your mind’s eye
Could take you away from yourself again
If only you would pause
And just look at all this

I also visited the grave of Sylvia Plath, and learnt how to cook a Moroccan vegetable tagine. It was the perfect week. I will post my other poems over the coming weeks – enjoy!

Sylvia Plath’s grave

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