On Tuesday  21st October we had the first of two poetry workshops sponsored by the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) and facilitated by Martelle McPartland of Lough Neagh Writers.

The aim of the workshops is to get as many people as possible to write a poem on the overall theme of ‘MEMORY’. The first session is designed to get the participants thinking about memory and the second session to have our poem critiqued and honed with the help of the group. We can then go forward to a one day workshop which will include groups from all over Northern Ireland and for the resultant poems to be submitted for consideration for the Annual Anthology produced by CAP.

Martelle started the session by asking a question:                                                                                                                             “what is the most important thing about poetry?”                                                                                                                                  She suggested ‘be honest’ as one answer.

She said that because sound is one of the most powerful aids to memory she would use sound as the springboard for our work. She then played us four sounds, separately, and after listening to each one we had ten minutes to write whatever came to mind from hearing that particular sound.

Martelle then asked each of us to read what we’d written. There were as many different reactions to each sound as there were people in the room.

The four sounds were:

1)    A Ticking Clock:

2)    Echoing Footsteps:

3)    Wind:

4)    A Crowd Cheering.

The session finished with Martelle asking us to choose one of the pieces we had produced on the night, to perfect it as much as we could, and to bring 20 hard copies on Tuesday night 28th October so that each person at the session would have a copy for more efficient comment and critique. She stressed that we should avoid the use of “I remember” and instead use the words of the poem to evoke the memory in the reader/listener.

I will be fascinated to discover what we have produced from a very stimulating session.

John Monaghan.