Workshops & Writing Days

Friday 19th October 2018
Guest Workshop for the Torbay Festival of Poetry on the theme of NEW FOUND LANDS. Some of the most daring and treasured poems arise when memory and imagination work as one.   How else would we have Kubla Khan, The Ode to a Nightingale and  Sailing to Byzantium?  This workshop began with Adam and Eve and a monkey in hot water and delivered a feast of dazzling new work. Venue: Livermead Cliff Hotel, Torquay.


Saturday September 15th All day  Guest Workshop for the Moor Poets in Devon on the theme SHARING OUR BRIGHT FIELDS.

Many of us  feel a shock of delighted recognition whenever we encounter R.S. Thomas’ poem, The Bright Field.  Part of the delight comes from knowing at once that we have bright fields of our own to which we also can turn aside “like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush.” It is part of being a poet to want to share these treasured places with our readers and listeners.  How best to do this? What can we learn from other writers who have done this successfully?   This workshop will be a day of sharing our own “pearls of great price” and taking away inspiration from the poets we work with and from the places we have shared.

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.



Exeter Festival of Poetry September 30th 2017

exeter workshop

In Praise of Brevity

from the festival brochure …

“In poetry, less is (almost) always more. The poems which sing longest and deepest in our memories are often short, but they are also very often the poems which seem to have the most challenging and abiding things to say.  How do good writers achieve this? What magic do they work with words?  Could we begin to learn to do the same?  A workshop to inspire poets of all persuasions and abilities to discover the power that can be released when their already good writing is pared back to the bone.”



Walking Into Words

from the festival brochure…

“Looking for the right words to catch the real feeling of a place is often a way of learning to see it for the first time. This creative writing workshop will encourage you to take pleasure in turning our landscape and cityscape into words and in sharing what you write. Based at Kelston Old Barn, Kelston Roundhill, take your inspiration from the views and the surrounding countryside, or else use the workshop time to reflect on aspects of the Bath landscape you already know and love.  Whether or not you’ve ever written anything before, Bath writer, Sue Boyle will guide and support you.”


The 2016 series of Advanced Cafe Writing Days took place at the Open House Centre in Bath. We explored the idea of  modernism –  not in the sense of ‘experimentalist’, but in the sense of poets trying to find a new ways to express the difficult and complex realities of the modern world. There are report Pages for some of the Modernist Writing Days, accessible by link from list below this display.

Writing Days 2016

March 12th: Whitman, Baudelaire & TS Eliot

April 8th : Rilke, Lawrence & Pound

May 7th : Dickinson, Plath & Berryman

June 11th: Ted Hughes & Modern European Poetry