On 19th October Fermanagh Writers hosted a poetry workshop led by Galway poet and tutor, Colette Nic Aodha. Our members as well as several other Enniskillen poets participated and thoroughly enjoyed the event. Our Chair, Tony Brady, tells us a bit about the afternoon:

I introduced Colette to an attendance of 17 at Fermanagh House, as an accomplished poet, Irish speaker/scholar and facilitator hailing from Shrule, Co. Mayo. Colette got under way with a personal reading of a poem by Seamus Heaney – Things I Like.

She proceeded to run a challenging participatory session. Everyone was asked to write an Haiku: they obliged and shared them with the group. Then she set the class a Tenka: they obliged again and read them out to the class. After that we were set to write a two stanza poem of 5 lines in which the words: LAKE – LIGHT – PATH – ISLAND – GLASS must be used. These were then read back – some really creative results were apparent in all efforts.

Next, the class wrote down 8 nouns and 8 active sense verbs. Then we aligned them at random. The point was to see the effect of stream of consciousness as opposed to automatic linking of words which can lead to cliché. Following that we all had to write – within two minutes – a list beginning with the words:  “I wish….” and read them to the group. There was lots of humour and creative interplay.

I was only able to stay till 3.00pm. I left with a sense that something of a masterclass was proceeding. After refreshments, Colette planned to discuss the poems that had been submitted by participants prior to the workshop.

John James takes over the account from here:

John James with Colette Nic Aodha
John James with Colette Nic Aodha

After the break, Colette invited us to contribute our work and read for the group and then she would make helpful comments.  John Kelly punctuated proceedings with his signature piece – ‘Bracket Man’. John, not a man content to fit into any bracket, asked Colette what was the right punctuation in poetry, she replied that full punctuation or none, it was all valid in modern free verse, whatever you as the writer feel comfortable with – she did admit to a personal dislike of the hyphen.  We will leave no full-stop unturned in our quest to find out whether to punctuate our verse or not.

Teresa gave us a beautiful rendition of one of her poignant, yet plangent poets which lingered in our emotional core.  There was some rather lengthy discussion about poetry and how accessible to the ‘ordinary’ reader it should be, it was reluctantly agreed that each writer has to decide for themselves how they should write and up to the reader whether they wished to take the time with the verse or not.

Jenny wrote a beautiful and moving piece about a child’s doll, that was laden with layer upon layer of deep personal meaning, it was an emotive and an important piece for her and it was a pleasure to share it.  Unfortunately we were running out of time and Bob, Ken and Pete had to rush through their pieces, we all wished we had more time with their work.  Marie followed with a piece that was redolent of her subtle thoughtfulness and clever play with words.

I earned the title of ‘Class Creep’, because I wrote a poem about Shrule, our tutor Colette’s home village, earned many snorts of derision and catcalls, but I did get a photo with the teacher and a bag of sweets for being a ‘good boy!’ Colette finished with two poems of her own, really showing the mastery of her craft; responding to a request to read a poem an gaelige; she did, and showed how the power of words can overcome all boundaries of language and understanding, the emotion was steeped in the ardour of the tongue.