Thursday, 13 December 2007

Assynt, Oct/Nov 2007

Glencanisp Lodge, near Lochinver, Assynt. (Assynt Foundation
A week long Writing Retreat for some and a poetry course taught by Mandy Haggith and myself.
Mandy's open-air tutorial on observation of detail, and conveying emotion (without stating the emotion) was useful for me as well as the students. We had a well-earned drink (the hot chocolate was fantastic) afterwards at the Achill Cafe which opened up specially for us (part of the Achill Bookshop at Inverkirkaig. I think this tin hut on top of a slight hill surrounded by trees above the valley is one of the most magical bookshops I have ever visited. Do go. Not only the books, but the hats are great.

My own in class tutorials used the work of Alice Oswald, Jen Hadfield and Robin Robertson as springboards for different approaches to writing about nature and place.

It was a very wet week, and we only caught a glimpse of Suilven on the first day, which(who?mountains do seem like people) hid behind mist for the rest. However, the colours of the trees and bracken were brilliant - autumn is definitely a good time to visit and NO MIDGES.

I had hoped to write my own poems too or at least write notes. One poem finished - Hey, Hey, Suilven Blues,heysuilvenblues
and notes taken on terrific waterfall in spate and a gralloching ( so learnt where the word comes from!) - it means disembowelling of a stag - in our case, a hind (the stag season being over). What with an unexpected landfall (tho washed up is more precise) of a fin whale on the coast a bit further north which we hurried to see before the stench got too awful, it has resulted in some gruesome experiences which will certainly make for a different type of poem than my usual nature poems.

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