Category Archives: teaching

Admiral’s Tea Party Workshops

I have been holding some community workshops for the Admiral’s Tea Party – to collect stories and feelings from local people about the Lower Lines, which will feed into the final piece. In the first workshop, we made poems using traditional Kentish words. Another workshop is still to be arranged – keep your eyes on the Wordsmithery and Paint the Town Facebook pages for info.

vulgar tongue


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Margate is


Photo of the Wordsmithery team

Wordsmiths at work

Wordsmithery have been hosting pop-up writing retreats as part of this year’s Margate festival, in the shelter where TS Eliot wrote parts of The Waste Land.

Here is a collaborative poem written by Margate passers-by on 10 September. We will be back in the shelter this Saturday. (More info.)

Margate is…

Margate is…

A place. Homely.

Margate is…

My retirement,

Walking the dog

On a stretch of sand.

Margate is…

A wonderful place to live,

Modern then charming:

The derelict facade of Dreamland

And the Turner, like sliced off flats.

It’s sunny – I like the views

… But it smells funny.

Margate is…



On a sunny day, a place to swim;

On a windy day it’s like living on

the edge of hell.


Margate is…

Happiness, beautiful

A lovely coastline, lovely people

In Margate…

You’ve got to be careful

It’s stuck in the ‘60s… the ‘70s maybe

We’ve started the Christmas shopping.

The Turner’s like Minecraft

Or like sails.

It’s diverse,


full of historic cultural gems

My beloved Margate…

Light, space, sand, huge skies.

Horizons, possibilities.

Much maligned,

It’s really on the up.

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Bolton drama workshop

Visual Minutes by More than Minutes

Visual Minutes by More than Minutes

In April, I organised a readthrough of My Mind is Free for Bolton schools, sponsored by Greater Manchester Police’s Challenger Initiative. Along with a Manchester based drama practitioner colleague and some local actors we performed a script-in-hand reading of the play, followed by short drama and writing workshops, to help the young people start to examine the thoughts and feelings the play stirred up.

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Word tennis

photo of a creative writing class

Creative writing class in action

Word tennis is a writing warm-up exercise I use sometimes in creative writing classes to break the ice and get everyone in a writing mood. The results are usually a lot of fun and each person puts their own spin onto the game. I always say that the sillier the piece of writing is the better, though often the results are really good!The way to play is to read out about 10 words at 30 second intervals. The words should be incorporated into a piece of writing. It doesn’t matter if a few words are missed out, though best to try to include them all!

Here are some pieces from three of the students on a creative letter writing class I led this week, as part of the ‘Letters Home’ project and exhibition, to show how different the pieces can be that come from this simple and fun exercise.

The words:

Leaves / Brown / Fire / Roast chestnuts / Frost / Woolly jumper (or cardi) / Cold / Dark / Puddle / Home


The autumn leaves covered the ground like a brown carpet majestically woven and gleaming in the evening sun as if on fire. All you needed to complete the dream was roast chestnuts which will make you forget the frost outside. Sitting comfortably in front of the TV in a woolly jumper, not minding the dark and cold outside takes you into another world.

I watched as the little girl jumped up and down in a puddle as her mother shouted, ‘hurry home’.


Leaves are falling, red, yellow, brown… falling from tress which are brown. Our trees are falling too. The fallen trees become wood for my fire. I would roast chestnuts on it but it is enclosed in a box, a wood burning stove. Great when the frost is on the ground early morning. I am wearing my hand-knitted charity shop woolly cardigan as I write. My body is warm but my thoughts are sometimes dark and cold. A puddle reflects the same dark and cold in the world. And we long for home… the warmth, the light, the welcome.


‘The train leaves at 11.20 0n the dot, darling, so we have to hurry!’

‘Yes, I’m just getting my brown bag from the wardrobe – I’ll be with you in a tick!’

‘Look there’s someone outside lighting a fire in the old drum…’

‘Yes’ she said, ‘I know, he’s selling roast chestnuts.’

‘That’ll be good to warm us! It’s laying down a thick frost outside.’

‘We’ll have to wear woolly jumpers in the Lake District.’

‘Yes and it’ll be dark and cold when we arrive.’

‘Come on love, I’m out the door – and mind the puddle as you step out.’

‘OK honey, hope it’s just like home from home.’

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Creative writing – using archives to inspire

Workshop poster I jointly led a creative writing workshop at the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre on 11 July.

The idea of the workshop was to find out how to use the Archives’ amazing collection of local information as a basis or inspiration for a short story.

The three hour session was attended by a group of 13, and comprised of writing exercises and a time for the participants to research and begin writing their own stories.

Here are some of the interesting and inspirational local facts (and fictions) we discovered…

Noted 19th century artist and patricide Richard Dadd was born in Brompton and murdered his father near Cobham, before calmly walking back to The Crown in Rochester and washing his hands, before fleeing for France!

In 1661, Transylvanian prince Cossuma Albertus was buried at Rochester Cathedral. According to Samuel Pepys in his diary Cossuma was murdered by his own coachman near Gad’s Hill. Rumours still persist that the unlucky prince was a vampire!

On D-Day in 1944, an American bomber crashed on Corporation Road in Gillingham after a mid-air collision.

And then there’s the legend of the Medway Bogman… Neck broken, lolling backwards, hunting dogs straining at the leash from either arm, hangman tattoo on his shoulder, haunting the streets of Medway in the dead of night. This mysterious legend, myth or outright lie, (from Medway Towns, Ottaker’s Local History Series, 2001) tells the story of a mysterious Neolithic zombie who may or may not have been involved in a child’s murder in the 1930s, and may or may not have escaped from Eastgate House during the war, never to be seen again since the 1950s when an exorcism was carried out at Upchurch.

Witchcraft, wife-selling, ‘beastly intoxication’, a ventriloquist in court, and a female bargeman are all other local factual stories that could inspire fictional stories!

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