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Our January session was on Bilston Dozen, led by Keith and Karen.

Bilston Dozen, our poem-a-month project, has been running since January 2016. Keith s...

Bilston Dozen

February 12, 2019

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September 20, 2019

The August session was on the theme of 'birds'. It was led by Karen and attended by Ros, Roger, Fraser, Jackie, Cecilia, Anne, and Steve.


We started by looking at sayings, metaphors, idioms linked to the theme of ‘birds’:

“putting your eggs in one basket”

“wings of a dove”

“birds of a feather flock together”

“a bird in the hand…”


Karen circulated the handouts ‘Birds: Tweets, Cheeps, and Needs - Bird Brain-Storming' and also ‘FYI mythical birdies’ to guide this.


We then experimented with individually writing for five minutes, picking something out (like a single word or phrase) of the text and then writing on that for another five minutes, and then again. This is a prompt technique that can be used to stimulate writing.


We played a ‘fold over’ game where each person starts with a sheet of paper and writes down a response to a prompt, folds the paper over and passes it to their neighbour (so that what has been written is obscured). The prompts we used were:






An example of one of the results was:

Barn Owl

Swooping over a cornfield


A bright emerald brooch


Again this random collection of responses to the prompts could be used to stimulate a consideration of connections? Or of imagery that could trigger a piece of writing?


We then looked at a handout sheet of 4 poems. This includes the Jo Bell poem ‘Kingfisher’.


Ros shared an anecdote about once being on a workshop with Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press (who publish Jo Bell’s work), and who saw the original draft of ‘Kingfisher’ when it was a much longer poem, packed with lots of additional imagery. But the finished poem is shorter, and better for it. The form and brevity recognises the fact that a kingfisher’s presence is ephemeral - it is a startling flash in the landscape. Roger also shared that he’d been to a workshop with Jo Bell once and she had said that you don’t know what a poem is about until the 3rd or 4th edit.


We then spent a good half hour writing individually before sharing our pieces, some of which have since been posted to B12.

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