02 June 2021
Posted by Megan Laing
On the 6th of May, the Poetry Ambassadors project hosted group sessions run by mentor Caleb Parkin.
The purpose of these sessions was to encourage the mentees - April Egan, Kaycee Hill, and Eve Wright - to challenge themselves and the way they create poetry through a variety of exercises. I was lucky enough to observe and even participate in these sessions as a way of developing my understanding of the value of mentoring.
Caleb’s session was centred around the concept of ‘No Edges, No Walls’ and focused specifically on online museum poetry. The purpose of this workshop was to use poetry and digital resources to explore ideas around objects, exhibitions, galleries, collections, and museums. This led us to consider the different forms in which poetry can take shape that we hadn’t previously considered.
One of my favourite activities from this session was the Impossible Museum task, where we took an abstract concept and applied it to the physical space of a museum. For example, my museum was ‘The Museum of Irony’ and all the lines of my poem were inherently contradictory in some way or another (e.g. ‘travelling circus expeditions - now here permanently’).
By creating a session around the idea of a museum, it naturally got us thinking about themes of identity and legacy. I’d never really considered museums as a building with creative potential when I was younger because I was preoccupied with thinking about the history they held.
I think the challenges set during the session, of turning our work into different formats were especially helpful in making us consider the different forms in which poetry and creative energy can flow. Turning to alternative forms and exercises focused on certain objects are a good way to flex the writing muscle. I think the skills and ideas I picked up in this session would be useful to re-energize my writing should it feel stagnant.
It was also inspiring to dive into imagery a bit more through Wikipedia’s Special:Random function, which took us to a random Wikipedia page to form the basis of our comparison, simile or metaphor. Obviously, not every page we landed on led to something we would be able to use but this helped us to ‘think outside the box’ in terms of the language we used. It also added an exciting mystery element to our work as it was possible to land on virtually any out of the thousands of Wikipedia pages.
By participating in a group session, I found that there was less pressure to create a perfect piece of writing the first time around. Exploring different styles and sharing with one another made it a very enjoyable session.
I think that sometimes there is a tendency to treat writing with too much severity and, in doing so, we restrict ourselves because it becomes less fun and more work. Having group sessions like Caleb’s was integral to refreshing our creative palettes and introducing us to new ways of thinking about our work.
Caleb’s session was followed by a talk from Broken Sleep Books’, Aaron Kent about the publishing process (which you can read more about in last week’s blog).