Retreats

Retreats

Retreats

Graham's Poetry Retreats may last one day or up to four days and can be residential or non-residential. If you would like Graham to run one of these for your group, please get in contact.

TIME TO WRITE

Most people who write – for a living or for self-expression and pleasure – say that the difficult part is getting down to it. Either they can’t find the time or they need somewhere congenial to go. Local cafes used to be good, but some have closed lately. And then there’s the constant distraction of digital civilization . . . 

It’s good to be somewhere quiet in the company of others who share your needs and interests. What if that somewhere is also rather special, and the company reassuring, and the opportunities for getting down to it can be for hours at a time? And there’s some guidance and feedback available if you want them, and good food provided and peace on

 

tap? Then it can seem possible to write about almost anything with much more ease than elsewhere. 

Graham Fawcett will offer some signposts and give a few examples to help the process forward two or three times a day. One-to-one feedback will also be yours to ask for. Group feedback (optional) can provide constructive support too. And the retreat setting is so conducive to being in the right frame of mind for putting pen to paper.

All you need bring with you is a genuine desire to write poetry or prose or both, something to write with, and something to write on.

"Thank you for an amazing weekend, really inspiring".
Sue Howse (Dorset)
after Time To Write at Othona West Dorset 2021
"I found the retreat life-changing both in the experience of the place and its beliefs and practices, and the gifts of your wonderful scholarship and inspirational teaching. Thank you with all my heart."
Geraldine Cousins (Hampshire)
after Time To Write at Othona West Dorset 2021

THIS FEATURE IS IN THE PROCESS OF BEING COMPILED

Here are some more examples ():

READING AND REFLECTION

Poetry and the Soul

Poetry and Hope

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul”, wrote Emily Dickinson, catching the sense we often have that hope is a fledgling bird of a feeling which keeps us company at moments when we feel vulnerable and in need of the ability to rise on wings out of where we are.

   Of course, hope can bring with it other precarious feelings too, like longing, and so there is the risk of disappointment, something the Canadian novelist David Plante was washing his hands of when, on being asked what he was planning to give up at New Year, he said, ‘hope’.  Besides, longing, like hope, may be misguided: T S Eliot wrote in his second Quartet, ‘East Coker’, “I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope, For hope would be hope for the wrong thing”.

    But perhaps, when we feel hope is not to be trusted, birds may know something we don’t, as when Thomas Hardy wondered whether, through the ‘happy goodnight air’ of an ‘aged thrush’ at a dark and chilling time of year, trembled ‘Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew/And I was unaware’.

    So – hope is a bird, and hope is what birds know and can inspire in us. In this, poets are like birds: they absolutely understand hope as they do love. They know hope can be summoned in any emergency: “O bright-eyed Hope”, called out Keats, “my morbid fancy cheer;/Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:/Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,/And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head!”

Poetry and Hope is a gentle and reflective poetry retreat designed to create plenty of space and time around some of the finest, most thought-provoking, and most inspiring meditations on hope to be found in poems from any time in history and anywhere in the world.

Poetry and Silence

Poetry in Silence

Rare are the opportunities in daily life for sitting together with others of like mind and reflecting aloud and in silence on the same poem. The rooms and spaces in this retreat will, in their subtly different ways, be selected as ideal for our individual and communal responses to a poet’s revelations both off the page and in ourselves. 

Graham Fawcett will put before us a wonderfully wide range of poems, well suited to being read and reflected on together, and carefully chosen by him to harvest the qualities of silence in our location. For writers of poetry,  Poetry In Silence will offer prompts and pointers to how we may go on to use these poems as mentors for our own work. For readers and writers alike, Graham’s signposts will lead us to whatever fresh reading we may feel we want to do in the work of each poet and in the worlds of thought and feeling each of the poems has helped us to inhabit for a while at least, unprecedentedly and in silence.


Poetry and Discovery

Poetry and Strength

The experiences of those who love poetry clearly suggest that reading the right poem at the right (or even the wrong) moment can leave us actually feeling stronger. Is that how the poet meant us to feel?

Is it that the feelings and thoughts which poems can generate in us (unexpectedly different from, or remarkably similar to, the ones we have ourselves) are simply proof that there is another way of thinking and feeling, or that we are not alone, and this is what we take into ourselves as strength?

There are poems – we have read them gratefully, marvelling – which talk directly to us, as though with us specifically in mind; and these, and those which instead thrill us with an otherness till then completely off our radar, feel as though they contain higher doses of that completely accessible strength and to read them is to swallow the inner-strength equivalent of delayed-release vitamin C.

In this retreat, Graham plans to create the conditions in which we may best be able, as individuals and together as a group, to absorb the strength-giving powers of poetry. We will also read and explore poems which illuminate the very nature of both inner and outer strength as it can be described in action.

Through reading, discussion, and reflection with or without a pen and paper in hand as you prefer, and as readers or writers or both, we will hope to penetrate the mysteries of a poem’s pacing and crafting, the unfolding episodes of its drama however big or small, and the invigorating powers of a poet’s fearful and fearless vulnerability along the testing valleys, up the sharp inclines, and across the open country, of examined or bewildered or challenge-grasping life – whether human life itself or the life of a feeling or idea.

Each group session will be designed to allow for us freely in our own way to contemplate and thoroughly enjoy all the strength we feel being given to us from the page; and, since there are many kinds of strength in us as in poems, everyone, however quietly spoken, will be heard as much as you would like to be. You are encouraged, too, to bring with you a poem or two in the reading of which you have already felt, or better understood, strength itself.

Poetry and Narrative

READING WORDS AND LOOKING AT ART

Pictures Making Words

WRITING

Do Words Choose Us?

Thinking back, we may still remember our first encounters with the written word, our own or in books or both. 

Turning the pages of novels, stories, diaries, memoirs, biographies, and collections of poetry, we will have been left feeling differently enough about ourselves that sooner or later a greater sense of vitality and common desire may have encouraged us to try out our own voices on the quiet, safe silence of a blank page. 

But have you also perhaps wondered from time to time how our words come to us? We say, even without thinking twice about it, things like, “You know, it suddenly struck me that” or “Before I realized what I was saying” or even “the characters” or “the poem seemed to take over” or maybe only to ourselves, “I must write that down”. What is happening in those moments ? And do we, often enough in our writing, allow them to happen, rather than being self-burdened with a sense that we really ought to write something, or why don’t the ideas come, or, dolefully, I haven’t written anything for ages . . .   

No matter how little or how much we have written so far in our lives, and absolutely no matter whether we have published or not, the desire to hold our written voices up for others to listen to or read can be valuable to us, however uncertain we feel about the value those others may find in it. 

Do Words Choose Us? is designed to help you explore how it is that one moment we are staring at something we find “difficult to put into words”, the next brushing that difficulty aside as we feel ushered into a fluency. We will read and write and talk about it all. There will be plenty of quiet moments for writing and reflection. And most importantly of all, you will only need to write the way you personally feel and think.

Waking Up and Opening Out on the Page

Have you ever felt that you would like to write a poem today, or any day, but have nothing to say in it? Or that you are brimming over with words and ideas but cannot imagine how to make anything out of them, let alone a poem?

Or even that you have written poems time and again before but they always seem to be much of a muchness?

We writers (we human beings, for that matter) can spend much of our lives in a sort of coma which feels either empty of words, flooded with them, or just plain stuck and unable to open out.

If any of these feelings rings a bell with you, then this retreat may be able to help you find answers and explore the possibilities which await you just across the river – and there’s a bridge!

Time to Write (see above)

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Photo: Othona, West Bay, Dorset

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