Write Like A Girl is an art project  being run by the talented Helen Cross. Yippee!

Write Like A Girl is an art project being run by the talented Helen Cross. Yippee!

Workshop Number 2.

Helen is the author of novels, stories, radio plays and screenplays. Her first novel, My Summer of Love, won a Betty Trask Award and became a BAFTA award winning feature film. Workshop no 2 was held at Sneinton Market.

We are two weeks in to this project where we are looking at some famous women from Nottingham, authors and poets who have had or are having great success. We need to celebrate their abilities to tell empathic, strong stories reflecting the realities of girls and women’s lives.  It’s also a good opportunity to listen to some well- crafted short stories as we focus on Dorothy Whipple. Her deftly drawn scenarios, rich with sensory detail and symbolism, even as she discusses the domestic arrangements of a middle class household of the thirties or forties, help us to relate to the characters and their dilemmas, reaching across the ages, across cultures and social class. The women are bound by their class and position , by the expectations and oppressions that existed, yet they are vibrant and alive , with their own emotions, foibles and opinions. Yes, naturally some of the dialogue sounds dated, but it is of its time and marvellously written. The women seem timeless in that their hopes and dreams are ours – to be loved and to love, to have adventures, to be seen for the individuals that we are and not discounted as the “fairer sex”. The men are emblematic, yes, but they also are shown to be both good and bad and also symptomatic of the cultural expectations of the time.

Inspiration comes from Helen in the form of excellent tuition on how to devise Location and to make location a central element of a short story.  I am new to looking at the structure of these things, so to me it is fascinating and judging by the keen participation of the 12 or so women there, we are all hooked.

This is followed by quick fire exercises to encourage our writing flow:

– The most amazing view you have ever seen ;

– Your parents’ bedroom when you were a teenager;

– The  view from your window when you were under  five years old.

Later, we each look at a black and white print of an old painting and concoct a story .    Mine is a photo of a cottage garden, the cottage is in the picture, with Beverley Minster looming in the background.  It is all looking a bit Jane Austen , so no surprise that I come up with a character called Lydia who loves to swish her gown against the  pungent mint as she escapes into the hollyhocks away from all the visitors.

Here we are , a a bunch of diverse women, working creatively together , all foraging in our past, reaping details from the present and dreaming up our futures . I am really looking forward to reading some of our best work in the anthology due to accompany the Write Like A Girl project.

 

 

 

 

Write Like A Girl

Write Like A Girl is an art project being run by the talented Helen Cross. Helen is the author of novels, stories, radio plays and screenplays. Her first novel, My Summer of Love, won a Betty Trask Award and became a BAFTA award winning feature film.

Workshop no 1 was held at a Networking Venue, Sneinton Market. Great venue, except not on a February winter’s day when the thin glass veneer surrounding us makes it feel like we are stuck in a snow globe with no hope of movement. I did not remove my gloves, not even to write. This though was the only frozen aspect of the afternoon. Everything else served well to fire us up and get the creative temperature rising.

We assemble around the plain tables, all eager to write and to explore our heritage. Nottingham has, we learn, got some famous women writers to match the much lauded men in talent, passion, output and sales. Yes, these women were feted in their day, they changed things and had their voices heard. There is even a living black woman, Panya Banjoko, who speaks to us all through her poetry. Come on Nottingham, recognise these women, read these women and remember them!

Over the next months we will be congregating to consider these authors in more depth:

Susannah Wright b1792

Mary Howitt b 1799

Dorothy Whipple b 1893

Helen Cresswell b 1935

Panya Banjoko,  contemporary.  

Inspiration is just around the  corner, in this case quite literally as Sneinton Market is not far away.

woman lying on green sofa
Photo by Pedro Sandrini on Pexels.com
A poem for the Brexit debacle.

A poem for the Brexit debacle.

All In A Daze.

We file into the chamber- more debate
Egos have blown up in our red faces
Leaving Europe come what May, oh too late,
Emperor’s clothes are missing, your Graces
Naked truth confronts wicked lies of men
Power grabbers set the country ablaze
David did it with one stroke of his pen
Long hidden and run away from our gaze
No choice now but to make a decision
A land divided needs strength, seeks vision.

Gail Webb

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Concrete Poetry at Bromley House Library

Concrete Poetry at Bromley House Library

I have just returned from the historic members’ library on Angel Row, Nottingham. Contrary to the ethereal address, I was attending a workshop on concrete poetry facilitated by the grounded and warm Kate Genever. And there was cake. Sitting in a book- lined room in an 18th century townhouse full of words proved to be the perfect surroundings for inspiration.

Alan Sillitoe’s personal library beckoned. It does not necessarily reflect his Angry Young Men label, being refreshingly sprinkled with reading material as diverse as An Edwardian Lady’s Diary,  a Jane Austen Memoir and a book on Pioneer Women.  I feel doubtful that his most famous character, Arthur Seaton would settle down with such bedtime reading.  It seems that the Jane Austen tome was a gift from his publisher and as I grapple with it, a hand written note drifts out , hoping Alan will like it and talking about repression and the irony of writing. The irony is enough to galvanise me to write a poem, “ The Life of Pioneer Women” .

Back to the concrete. I should have read the definition before I went :

” poetry in which the meaning or effect is conveyed partly or wholly by visual means, using patterns of words or letters and other typographical devices”

Kate patiently explained and demonstrated the form, yet still I heard only “Poetry” and was in equal parts befuddled and inspired by my fellow participants concrete efforts. I should have been cutting, drawing, glueing, modelling, forming and shaping. A rabbit hole of writing swallowed me whole and words were set down on a pristine page. Perhaps it was because I had walked in with Anne Frank’s line ringing in my ears: “ Paper has more patience than people…”

Bromley House is a house of dreams and words leapt out at me from each book I held. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, I will chisel away at them to sculpt something special.

 

 

 

We Were Not in Love

We Were Not in Love

Love Boshemia❤️

boshemia

Gail Webb wrote this poem during Boshemia’s Made-in-a-Day Zine workshop with Dizzy Ink. The theme of the zine was Nostalgia. Look for more of her poetry in the upcoming ORIGINS issue of Boshemia Magazine. 

WE WERE NOT IN LOVE

We were not in love 

Though we listened to 10cc

Day after day it gave us pleasure

So much we would squeal, sigh

Then flop back on the soft turf

Lying side by side, smiling,

Gazing upwards to another world

Mouthing each word together

Joined in one moment

Friendship

Rising from this musical interlude

We moved harmoniously

Setting about the day’s pleasure

Whether sunbathing in Baco foil

Slathered in cooking oil for best effect

Or making up dance routines

To Rocket Man or Bohemian Rhapsody

Synchronised in mind, action

Intent on our wonderful future

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