March has almost gone and since the last blog we’ve had a fantastic launch for Scan by John Fraser Williams (with a great supporting reading from Rhys Trimble) at the wonderful Palas Print bookshop in Bangor and a week long writing course at Ty’n y Coed Farm near Rowen in Conwy. The course was a superb week – not only did we have gorgeous sunshine in this very special place, but also a group of writers who were committed to pushing themselves – some were just starting out, others much more experienced, but all had the right combination of doubt and determination to challenge themselves and the result was a final night listening to a range of work that marked authentic creative journeys.
It was lovely to meet new people who were taking courageous steps – the metaphor of the week was a blanket that was being crocheted by one participant that gradually appeared less and less and not at all at the end of the week as writing pushed out the crochet hook. It was also lovely to see people we’d worked with on earlier courses and a treat to meet up with Mavis Gulliver who, like me, is writing about slate – Mavis working on a long sequence about the Scottish slate islands as I work away at Cwmorthin. The resonances between the pieces, even the forms that the material suggests to each of us are remarkable and it’s probably the first time I’ve done any of my own writing while away teaching a course – snatched little bits, but with a sense of urgency as Mavis and I bounced ideas off each other.
As well as having a gifted poet to share the tuition (and cooking) with this week – Pete Marshall, author of AGOG, we also had a guest author to entertain us with poetry and prose – Professor Ian Gregson, from Bangor, whose latest book, the novel Not Tonight Neil, is funny and dark and poignant.
It’s been a rewarding and stimulating week, but I am looking forward to my own bed tonight – before going off early tomorrow morning to Glamorgan University for an evening event – Taste of Cinnamon – I’ve got an hour to talk to students about independent publishing, a session hosted by Professor Philip Gross, and then there is an open reading when Philip and I will be joined by Cinnamon poet, Kevin Mills and Cinnamon fiction writer, Shelagh Weeks.
So much packed into a small space of time – and very good indeed to have a small time at home in the midst of it.