Some kind of note on the Arvon course of a few weeks ago is certainly overdue. Matthew Hollis and Colette Bryce both gave useful and encouraging feedback and advice alongside interesting, stimulating workshop discussions and exercises. As the course was billed as being about working towards a collection, it is a tad irritating that they opted to hold the session on assembling a manuscript and approaching publishers on the Friday morning. Since I went to Lumb Bank to focus on forming a manuscript rather than to write new work, the course would have been even more beneficial for me if that session had been held earlier in the week. Nonetheless, it was invaluable. I mean, how often do you get to hear about that process from someone who knows it from both sides--poet and publisher--as Matthew does?
Still, it was a great week. The other participants were a lively, fascinating, varied bunch and I suspect several of us will keep in touch. Among them was Lorraine Mariner, whose wonderfully funny, warm and moving pamphlet Bye For Now was published by The Rialto in 2005. Lorraine, who has the privilege of working at the Poetry Library in London, is also shortlisted for this year's Forward prize for best single poem. Gaun yersel Lorraine!
The crew of the good ship Lumb Bank also contained Alex Pryce of Poetcasting note. Alex--the youngest*, cheekiest and sparkiest of us--recorded as many of us as would brook the microphone, so watch out for a familiar face appearing on Poetcasting some time in the reasonably near future.
Visiting reader for the course was Clare Shaw**, whose collection Straight Ahead is published by Bloodaxe. I hadn't heard or read her before the course. She's an energetic, engaging reader for all that her work covers some quite harrowing, intense ground.
Lumb Bank is also a beautiful place. It's set in a gorgeous heavily wooded valley which looks down towards Hebden Bridge. My paltry set of photos from the week might give you some impression of what it's like. There are more to be found on Lumb Bank's own Flickr photo stream.
Suffice to say it was an extremely useful and hugely enjoyable week. Recommended.
*The oldest had his 81st birthday during the week.