SO:Write is a Southampton-based programme, lead by Matt West at The Artful Scribe. Its aim is to provide activities for all ages, encouraging them to write. Today, I attended their Transformation workshop for poetry and prose. This workshop was lead by Matt, the Poet Laureate for Southampton.
I have been writing on and off since I was about twelve, but have never stuck to it. Last year, I finally picked up my pen again, and have found myself unable to stop. But most of what I write is fairly mediocre, so I am always looking for new opportunities to improve.
The workshop advertised that it would help participants to “explore transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, in a supportive environment that celebrates those taking part”. Now, anyone that goes to university with me knows that I am very difficult student to keep focused. I spend most of my time in lectures and seminars drifting off, or scrolling through Facebook, or reading up on some pivotal point in history. But the idea of “transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary” caught my interest.
The session started with the usual icebreakers, “3 facts and 1 lie”, and then a quick discussion about our where we would like to be with our writing in a year’s time. Matt then asked us all to complete a shortened version of Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages”. This let us clear our minds, and got us started writing something, anything at all.
From this, we began to write. This continued into more difficult tasks, such as writing an emotional landscape, (my personal favourite) writing an assigned emotion into an animal, and writing about an assigned object as if it was a character. Some of these were collaborative efforts, but most involved you working as an individual.
The session wasn’t the shortest, starting at 11.30am and finishing at around 3.30pm. In the midst of uni deadlines, I was worried that this was not the best use of my time, but Matt’s enthusiasm and clever tasks, mixed in with the creative, busy atmosphere of The Art House Café, made each activity exciting, and created a great environment for sharing your work. In most workshops I’ve attended, the participants are much too sheepish to volunteer to read their work, making the session disjointed and, at times, a little painful. However, this was not the case at all today, with everyone happy to share their creations, demonstrating how writing can be beautiful, obscure or funny. Despite my short attention span, and tendency to get distracted, I was completely engrossed at all times during this workshop. Each activity was more challenging than the last, always keeping you on your toes, and each prompt was obscure enough to get you thinking in ways that you wouldn’t otherwise. It unlocked a lot of new ideas for me, leading me to jot down scraps of new poems as the workshop went on. I benefited from this workshop more than I can say, and so much more than I expected.
Southampton always has different literary events going on, whether it be a workshop, performance, or poetry slam. To keep track of these events, visit so-write.org/whats-on/, like Artfulscribe on Facebook, or keep an eye out for events at The Nuffield Theatre and The Mayflower Theatre. Also, check out Hammer and Tongue Southampton, a new poetry slam event starting on 8th of February!