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Thursday, 6 March 2014

Mary Elsmore-Neilson on a Poetry Workshop

At the January Waiheke Poetry Workshop, amidst native bush, gentle rays of sun plus a thunderstorm, (I thought we, our island might float, be blown away) flustered bulky woodpigeons flapping about and bossy, warbling tuis, our creative juices were stoked then flowed. Each morning, us four participants, had to select a verb and a noun from the Mind Gym cup of words and write furiously for five minutes to warm-up.

We stretched our writing muscles just as we would stretch before exercise. Over the week we explored five of the, at least, 21 senses: visual, gustatory, tactile, auditory and olfactory to create sense-mixing imagery.

 We discovered the power of what is not there, ie: how metaphors 'speak' to the reader of a mood, allowing the words to direct the reader's understanding of the words as with Kate Farrell's, (American, b.1946)

                    'The Double Bubble of Infinity'

                    The night before the day of our wedding

                    I dreamed that the universe had a party,

                    All the stars were invited,

                    Beneath sparkling chandeliers, the planets



                    In all its beautiful candle-lit galaxies,

                    Crowded with glass-clinking revellers,

                    The Cosmos was Laughing with

                    Lasting Love and Light.

We saw that Capital letters can add extra meaning, learnt not to use BOMB words which tend to do that to a piece if not appropriate, how motion and active vision can encapsulate the energy/movement of an extraordinary moment whereas words like snow promote a stillness, a freezing static; plus the importance of a good ending, as in Ted Hughes, 'Roe-Deer' (possibly written in the 1960s.)

 I liked Seamus Heaney's comment from 'HOMAGE TO ROBERT FROST,
Frost believed...that individual venture and vision arose as a creative defense against emptiness...'

 Some remarkable poetry was produced as we worked together to deadlines, each of us having a very different style. On the last day we performed to invited guests, along with the other Print and Sculpture Workshop participants. A nice conclusion to our workshop week.

This past Tuesday I was invited to read as part of six writers, which included the inspirational Jacqueline Fahey, at Takapuna Library. It was a part of Anita Arlove's award-winning 'Spit It Out' which premiered in the 2013 Fringe Festival. I chose my 'Soliloquy,' written for a 2012 NZSA monthly competition, which tends to make people laugh with its purplish and lively language and my new 'Master Chef' written during the above workshop. As a Grand Wrapper, A Baby Boomer, I performed this ironic poem about love, as a rapper; a Performance Poet, which was marvelous fun. 

 There will be two more Spit It Out events, all well worth attending. Go to for more details.

The poetry workshop, an annual event, was excellent. It was great to just 'hang' around with words and play. I do recommend the event and now there is a possibility that our poems will be published by the Waiheke News.

Kia pai to ra. Enjoy your day.

Mary Elsmore-Neilson 

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