I have been running poetry workshops at Whitby Folk Festival for quite a few years now, and I love being part of the festival, which is a rich weaving of a range of wonderful music drawn from many traditions, with storytelling, spoken word, instrumental and singing workshops, dance displays and so much friendship and exuberance, it’s very hard to explain to non-regulars.
My sessions are free-standing, so there is no need to attend every one, and are aimed at any stage of writing, whether a beginner or an old hand. Although I focus on poetry, many of the exercises also work for flash fiction. This year the sessions are starting at 1 p.m. and ending at 2.20, and take place in the school. I always provide paper and pen, as people sometimes decide to come along and give it a go until the day.
There is always a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and coming to a regular workshop like mine, is the best way to make those friendships the festival is famous for building. I do have some regulars, who look forward to it every year, but it’s always marvellous to see some new faces.
The sessions start on Sunday and run daily, culminating in a final workshop on Wednesday, at which everyone is given a two poem slot, to read either their own work, or a favourite poem. I will give a short reading from my work also.
I put a great deal of planning into my sessions, and I am pleased to say that some of my attendees have gone on to be published in poetry magazines. One completed an M.A in Creative Writing, which he said he wouldn’t have thought of doing without these workshops.
I hope to feature some of the poems written in 2017 workshops on this blog after the festival.