Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Stanza Writing Group visit and Ashbourne Festival Poetry Competition

       Just to say a big thanks to  the Derbyshire Stanza group (from left, Tim, Nick, Carol, Shirley, Jeremy, Alison, Lesley and Margaret), for a lovely welcome and a very enjoyable session last Saturday. Lots of excellent writing, and a lovely mix of interests in serious/comic/ free verse and rhymed. We had plenty of laughter too, which was perhaps not that surprising, given that one of our writing tasks was to write some nonsense poems for the Literature Festival's Nonsense Writing Competition, starting with various models and inspirations including nonsense alphabets, Carroll's Jabberwocky and Milligan's Ning Nang Nong.                     
        Derbyshire Stanza group works in what I think is a really excellent way - it meets up in different venues around the county, with some members always attending, and then writers local to the particular venue coming along too, so lots of new writer-friends and contacts can be made. So, here's the details of their next meeting - it's on Sunday 11th March, 12noon-3pm, at The Brunswick Inn (real ale pub, no car park), 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU. It is a couple of minutes walk from Derby railway station. The meeting will include a writing exercise, poetry reading and a critiquing session of poems-in-progress inspired by the month of March (bring 10 copies of poem). All poets welcome. More information from
      Also delighted to say that there are now details of how to enter Ashbourne Festival's poetry competition, which is running for the 2nd year, and which now has a Young Poets category for the competition - so if you fancy a go at this one, then look at
     Be in touch soon with  more - all best, Matt

Monday, 13 February 2012

At the still centre

So, these 2 trees stand, more or less, at the geographical centre of Derbyshire. Take a map, find the northernmost and southernmost point, measure with ruler, divide by half; easternmost and westernmost, ditto; and here you are. All in the name of following an idea to find the centre of Derbyshire, and go there and write. I found the mixture of rationale and randomness, of known and unknown, really exhilarating, committing myself to the chance of the process. The poem is still at a draft stage, but I think it will turn into a poem that I want to keep, but the journey was exciting - having found this slightly random reason for finding a location on a  map, then deciding to follow the adventure, however odd or unusual the final actual place might turn out to be. As it is, it turned out, by luck, to be a gorgeous natural spot (it could have been carpark/ tesco's/ unreachable/ or anything else) with lots of Derbyshire features, one-man barns, old drystone walls, a boggy half-wild field at the top of a hill, and although of course my map didn't really specify it quite this closely, I decided that these 2 magnificent trees, about 50 yards apart from each other, must surely be the king and queen at the centre.