Writing Workshop Nuggets

Along with co-facilitating two identical workshops yesterday, I managed to hop into Ange Peita’s “Fundamentals of Creative Writing” workshop. Because sometimes it’s good to get yourself back to basics. I have been juggling so many projects these past six months sometimes you can disappear up your own hole. Ange is Austalian and one poetry form she introduced   yesterday was from a workshop she attended in Oz. Didn’t completely catch her friend’s name.  (May have been Les?) But it is a brilliant five liner. I got up this morning and decided to exercise it for the Poetry Daily.

This is the format. Five lines that go as thus:

  1. A quote
  2. Something about the past
  3. An action
  4. The theme
  5. The future

So I borrowed from Emily Dickinson to start.
“Hope is the thing with feathers”

Went dormant, possiblyextinct forever

Now it is the last precious to take wing

That alights after the soul takes flight

That seeks another morning after each dark night.
Copyright 2019 Bee Smith . All right reserved.


We will be heading back home at noon. Here is a poem I wrote in the workshop about home.


My home is a ship

sailing along the bog road

past hedgerows

navigating through a sea of trees.

It’s woven its sails from birds’s nests,

twigs, cat dander and dog hair.

A southwesterly breeze

is shifting us around so

we’ll not go aground on Cuilcagh,

bashed to bits on glacial erratics.

My home is tiller and cargo,

starboard and portside,

sailing through starshot skies

guided by moonlight.
Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All right reserved.

Swan’s Down

I am still drafting the poem of the day in the darkness. By the time I pull out my laptop (because I always first draft poems in longhand), there is a rumour of brightness. I can see a patch of blue sky below a grey cloud that seems to be drifting north. Looking out into the garden, the bird neighbours are working their way through the suet balls. And waiting on a fence post is my favourite – a blackbird – its beak a real beacon, shining in the day as it slowly brightens.

I am so blessed to live in the most beautiful corner of the world, down the most beautiful lane in Europe (according to my friend Pen), close to two small magical loughs, and near the source of a mighty river, in a chunk of landscape that shows of its million year and more roots. It doesn’t boast. But it knows what it is, and that is a miracle in itself.

But…I digress from poetry practice. Somedays it can be a bit more difficult than others to light upon a subject. Today was such a day. And then I realised that there is that fund of random, weird images from dreams, ones that you can pull out of the furthermost file drawer of memory, but so potent they are never truly forgotten.

Swan's Down

I dreamed of a swan's down hut,
a little haystack mound
of feathers
that I knew was our home.

it's where the soul goes to live
in that downy house on
the hillock
that I knew was our home.

we had to turn away, though
I wanted to linger.
How I longed
to stay at Swan's Down House.

it still will always be home,
that soulful, silent place
of beauty
that I just knew was home.

Some day
I'll hear the whooper cry
flying over the lough
one winter
and fly off with the flock.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Jan Genge on Unsplash

Hold the Space

I was travelling between 24th April and 6th May, which made the last leg of NaPoWriMo2018 a bit frantic and hectic. Travel is a bit of a brutality. Home is the reverse. Travel, however, does instruct. I was surprised by an attack of homesickness and nostalgia for Ireland that seems best expressed by the Irish word cumha. Yes, I missed my man, my very own Green Man, my Joyful Giver; but I also missed the land itself, the Celtic knottedness of home and belonging. It has happened before, but I rather discounted it. It is an identifiable pattern now.

Home is not birthplace or even where I hang my coat. It is the moss and tree limbs, stone, peat and clay of West Cavan. And as I was mentioning visiting Stonehenge and Avebury to a friend who has walked with me on the rocky Cavan Burren, he exclaimed, “What it is about you and stones?!” Cannot quite articulate a rational explanation just yet, Mick. But I have always slipped a pebble into my pocket, left them at graves even though I am not Jewish, gloried in fossils witnesed on beaches, threw an Irish pebble  into my parents’ Pennylvania grave. But wherever I go I play with stone. I found a sort of stone quern overlooking Merlin’s Cave at Tintagel. Someone had placed a shard of slate in it. I built a wee prayer cairn.

Hold the space
Travel breaks all habits. Home is the ritual space. Which includes getting back into writing routine, attending to the work diary, household chores. One can love one’s life. Being away and returning is a bit like falling in love all over again with everything that is beloved.

Hold the Space

On the page

In the room

With the body

Wholly present

Hold out your hands

Feel the atoms on your palms

Like dust motes


What is their rhythm?

Slow your heart

To beat

With them

In time

In that space


Beating in sync

The moment is the magic

Hold it, then

Release that fledgling

Into the wild

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith