Tuesday, 13 August 2013

'WRITE IN THE GARDEN' - Creative Writing Courses, Brantwood 2014


Had a great meeting at Brantwood with Rachel and Howard this afternoon, plenty of ideas for future courses. Like dragonflies we zoomed from one idea to the next, pausing on an imaginary leaf to reflect. We arrived at two ideas for next year: June 20th, 21st & 22nd 'Stimulate Your Writing' with New York poet George Wallace and in November 7th-9th, a “Writer’s Retreat” with a guest writer, to be confirmed.

We thought November was a quiet time, a time to hunker down for winter, go inside, metaphorically and physically, to a log fire, bright in the hearth, gather round of an evening for storytelling and poems, a glass of mulled wine, perhaps, to warm our hands. Spend time on your own writing, share it with the group for feedback and enjoy listening to a guest poet read from their work.

And June, when the gardens at Brantwood are glowing, we can spend time in them with outdoor writing sessions, enjoy the expertise of Brantwood’s own gardener/s sharing knowledge of what’s planted where and why, which plants attract insects and birds and spend time ‘sketching’ your thoughts.

Already poems with a garden theme are jostling in my mind: Sylvia Plath’s ‘Tulips’ Louise Gluck’s ‘Wild Iris’, Ginsberg’s ‘Sunflower Sutra’, or Robert Hass’ “Sunrise."  On the "Write from the Garden" course you can interpret gardens anyway you like and, in response to a variety of writing prompts and stimuli, create new writing.

Here’s the last part of Ginsberg’s take on sunflowers:


So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck
it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul
too, and anyone who'll listen,
--We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread
bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all
beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're blessed
by our own seed & golden hairy naked
accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black
formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our
eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive
riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening
sitdown vision.

Allen Ginsberg
 Berkeley, 1955


Dragonflies seem to be a motif right now. A number of facebook friends have referred to them, and I pondered on this today as I walked around the gardens at Brantwood. At Ruskin’s Pond I stopped to reflect – then realised that that is exactly what I did, because what caught my eye immediately were the reflections of ferns in water. Click click and another click as I took photos disturbed a large, bluegreen dragonfly. It zoomed up from the fronds by my side and whizzed off. Sunlight caught its wings, turned them golden. Now I’m typing this and ideas are flashing through my mind: transformation, shapeshifting, metamorphosis. Turn to my book ‘Medicine Cards’ find this:

“Dragonfly’s shifting of colour, energy, form and movement explodes into the mind of the observer, bringing vague memories of a time or place where magic reigned.” – eds. Jamie Sams & David Carson.

Both "Write in the Garden" and the "Writer's Retreat" will be aimed at allowing time to be in ‘the still hour’


It is not the fire

we hunger for and not the ash. It is the still hour,
a deer come slowly in the creek at dusk,

the table set for abstinence, windows

full of flowers like summer in the provinces
vanishing when the moon’s half faced pallor
 rises on the dark flax line of hills.

- Robert Hass

Geraldine Green 13.8.2013, photos: Brantwood and Kansas Sunflower copyright Geraldine Green