Moniack Mhor

I have just spent five intense and thrilling days and nights on an Arvon advanced poetry course in the Scottish Highlands.  I am not one for superlatives but they were amongst the most memorable of my life.
Our tutors were Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke and they were fabulous critics and teachers and people, too.

Moniack Mhor - our home for the week

I was quite apprehensive before the course as I'd never been on an Arvon course, or left the children for that long. I hadn't actually expected to get onto it either as it was a selected course and Carol Ann chose us on the basis of three poems we sent in.
We spent many hours working on writing exercises, workshopping our poems and writing new ones. There was much eating and drinking and laughter. The days were too full to sleep.  Every single person was interesting and open and now feels like a friend. I had to keep pinching myself.
The surroundings were utterly remote and beautiful. I found a fat toad and walked in the mountains among heather and gorse. The heather was the purpliest I'd ever seen and you could hear buzzards mewing eight fields away. The skies were enormous and the air sharp. The light went on until midnight.
Once all the necessary trappings of daily life were cleared away, a space was left to be writing and thinking and feeling in. I think of that 'nature ahbors a vacuum' adage - as soon as I came back home,  work, domesticity, school things, emails and bills came pouring back in all clamorous and demanding attention and I am feeling a bit swamped. I hope I can re-capture that space and peace again.
But most importantly, I now feel encouraged to honour the bit of me that writes. To keep feeding it and making the necessary space to work at it. To not let it get crushed. To hear people whose work I love to tell me to keep going, that I must keep writing, was very powerful.


Popular Posts