Last year the Director of Bridging Arts, Susan Roberts, contacted me to ask if I would like to provide a poetry workshop at Truro Museum, helping people to explore their personal responses to the Heart of Conflict exhibition about the Cornish experience of World War One.
I visited the Bridging Arts website to find out more about them, and really loved their mission statement. I said yes, please!
Bridging Arts links real people to real issues with real action.
We bring people of different cultures, interests and backgrounds together. We commission work, stage and tour exhibitions, develop educational resources and offer workshops
After the workshop, Susan applied for Heritage Lottery funding to develop the project further, with a series of talks and writing workshops focusing on one part of Cornwall that was of surprising importance in that war – Hayle.
The project was given funding, and the three talks by local historians have already taken place. They were incredibly well supported by the local community. There was standing room only at the war graves talk in Phillack Church; a throng of people at the guided walk around the National Explosives Factory site and a full house for the talk about the 251st Tunnelling Company, who fought deep underground beneath the trenches.
The second half of the project is three poetry workshop days that I’ll be running, in which we’ll explore the same three topics through writing.
My task, in planning the workshops, is to make them
- completely accessible for anyone in the area who would like to see how writing poetry about their own place feels, even if they have no experience of creative writing at all
- suitable for people from outside the town, or who didn’t go to the talks, so will know very little about the history
- engaging for writers and poets throughout Cornwall who just love writing and enjoy the feeling of instant community that comes when people sit down to write together
- effective as stand-alone sessions, so people can choose to sign up for one, two or all three.
These are the things that are in my mind as I ponder the content of my Heroes of Hayle writing days. Planning workshops is a challenge I always enjoy, like any other kind of creative process. But it’s been particularly pleasurable with this project because, as well as learning all about the experience of WW1 in the West of Cornwall, I’ve ended each research trip with a wonderful walk and a pasty on some very beautiful beaches.
If you come on one of the workshop days, you could head to the beach with a pasty afterwards too!
The workshops are scheduled for September 8 and 22, and October 6th. There are only 10 places on each workshop so, although they are absolutely FREE, booking is essential.
More information: https://jennyalexander.co.uk/writing-workshops/