The Saturday workshops
These one-off workshops should be useful and fun no matter what stage of your writing life you’re at: the idea is to spark off ideas, read, write, and to go home with the beginnings of a poem (or even more than one poem) in your noteboook.
February 23: The Poem is a Question
‘Write what you know’. Generations of writers and even schoolchildren have been given this advice. But what does anyone know? Really? How can you even know what you know?
The other adage, which crops up even more frequently is this one: ‘Show, don’t tell’.
In this workshop we’re going to ignore both of these bits of primary advice, and I’m going to give you two new ones instead:
1. Write what you don’t know.
2. Ask, don’t tell.
And we’re going to approach this process through the lens of John Keats’ theory of Negative Capability. Keats wrote, in a letter to his brothers:
‘…at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously – I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason…’
So leave your irritable reaching at home, but bring a pen and a notebook, and a poem you feel isn’t working very well. Over the course of the day we’ll read poems, talk about the difference between knowing and feeling, asking and telling, and we’ll do some writing.