Writer’s Retreats in November

Sometimes creative folk need an injection of inspiration. During November I’m running four short, residential writing workshops at Woodlands House, just outside Settle in the Yorkshire Dales.

When owner, and very good friend, David Sexton and I first discussed the possibility of these overnight writing sessions I hadn’t yet been to Woodlands. After a spectacular train journey, of just an hour, from Leeds, David showed me round the lovingly restored Edwardian country house. And I knew immediately that Woodlands House would provide the perfect getaway for writers. An elegant old building brought back to life by the David’s creativity as a designer, it is set in beautiful countryside just outside Settle.

It was easy to imagine how writers would be inspired there, and the work of a moment [well several actually] to plan for the workshops.

The workshops include an introduction to writing, poetry, short fiction and memoir writing. There will also be opportunities for free writing, and one to one tutorials with me.

With a great bunch of people all keen on writing, I’m expecting to be pretty inspired too!!

Find out more and make a booking on The Woodlands House website or by calling David Sexton on 0113 216 7899.

Life After Life After Death by Felix Hodcroft

Felix Hodcroft
Felix Hodcroft's poems in this collection are full of wonder, beauty and humanity. They are also unnerving and spine-tinglingly unexpected. I am a great devourer of fiction and poetry; I think they help me to understand a little more about the great mysteries of life [and death too]. Hodcroft's poems share some of his discoveries with his reader, all mediated by his calm, non-judging wisdom.

Felix Hodcroft says of ‘Life after Life after Death’ ,

It’s a selection from the poems I've written over the last ten years or so. An important reason why I write poetry is that I need to try and understand and give expression to the griefs and joys, rages and confusions I feel and see within and all around me.

This was my beach-side read on a recent trip to Ibiza amidst a slew of other holiday makers reading brightly coloured airport books. I know which one I'd rather have been reading. Again I can only agree with Hodcroft when he says,

For me, poetry isn’t dusty books in a library. It's here and now, it’s a vital tool in the struggle to connect and to speak of what we really think and feel.

A terrific debut collection [which doesn't feel like a debut at all]. You should read it!!

Buy from Amazon for £5.99.

The Ted Hughes Festival

Ted Hughes Festival Flyer
If you live in Yorkshire there are so many places associated with writers, the Haworth of the Brontes, the Bradford of J B Priestley and more recently the Leeds of Alan Bennett’s memoirs and the York of Kate Atkinson’s ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’.

I can still remember the thrill a few years ago when I got off the train at Mytholmroyd and walked through the village up to Calder High School where I was working for the day.

Because Mytholmroyd to me means the poetry of Ted Hughes.

That morning the whole place seemed full of memories and references to perhaps its most famous son, whether it was the selections from his great children’s classic ‘The Iron Man’ at the station or the sense of ‘his’ landscape and architecture which I breathed in on my walk.

Imagine then how honoured I felt this year to be asked to run a performance workshop, and poetry slam, on Sunday, October 17th as part of the Ted Hughes Festival run by the Elmet Trust. The workshop is from 4.30 to 6.30 at the Erringden Room [Church Street] and the slam from 8pm.

Perhaps you’d like join me there to perform from your own work, or just to enjoy the inspiration and writing of others.


More thoughts on the potential closure of libraries…

Library shelves
One of the things I mentioned in my recent podcast was the potential closure of libraries in local authorities’ attempts to save money. Money which has had to be found to haul us out of the financial ditch left by bankers who have been playing poker for very high stakes with other folks’ investments.

The bankers continue to get paid bonus after bonus, while many local services and charities will in all probability shrivel and die.

I have heard that one small, local authority may have to reduce library branches from about fifteen to five. This is an authority spread through large towns and relatively small rural communities. The old and the isolated and the small towns, for whom the library is a cultural hub of reading and writing groups, will suffer terribly if and when those libraries close. And like a lot of services which will go to the wall in the next year or so, we’ll never get them back...

I would very much like to get your views on libraries and the part they play, or have played, in your life. Join in the discussion on my Facebook Page.