The first four weeks of my three-month writing residency have been really busy, and that’s definitely what I wanted! Three months may seem like a long time, but when you want to engage with the local community and organizations, as well as develop your own craft, every day counts!
I arrived by bus on 1st October and started by settling in the lovely house of Charles Causley, Cyprus Well. It wasn’t hard at all: I immediately felt at home, and inspired. Once I had chosen my bed (there are two bedrooms here), unpacked, and went grocery shopping, I could sit with my laptop on the desk, facing the beautiful garden, and start working.
First, I prepared for the Poetry Slam Competition, which was happening on 3rd October at Launceston Town Hall. I met with Kate Campbell and Rachael Morris from the Causley Trust who had thought of every single detail. Before we knew it, we were welcoming the audience and 11 talented participants to the competition. Brilliant performances were delivered. We had two rounds and three winners, but most importantly, we all had a great time sharing our love for writing and poetry! It was great to be able to engage with local people from the very start of my residency, during an event where they were the focus.
I then went on to contact various organizations to offer free workshops, all supported by Charles Causley Trust and Literature Works. Access Theatre, an accessible theatre and dance company, kindly invited me to attend one of their sessions on 7th October. It was so much fun! We’re now really looking forward to 18th November, as this will be the day I’ll attend another session, this time to deliver a workshop with Lisa Franklin, my creative partner for the poetic theatre company Gertrude we founded earlier this year.
On 18th October, alongside Andi from the library, I met home-educated children for a lovely poetry and art session at the Lawrence House Museum, where we discussed favourite toys. I took this opportunity to visit the whole museum, as I hadn’t had the time to do so beforehand, apart from a very quick visit. I loved it, especially (you guessed it) Charles Causley’s displays, but also the wide range of domestic appliances, shining a light on technological evolution and historical gender roles. The view from the museum’s garden is also stunning. When the museum reopens to the public next year, make sure you plan a visit!
November and December will definitely bring more joy and art. As a lover of public libraries, I love that I’ll be doing so much there: I’ll deliver a poetry workshop at the library on 16th November 2019, a poetry and Christmas card making session on 14th December, and on 30th November I’ll meet the Library Writing Group for some short story writing. A bit further afield, I’ll be leading a creative writing workshop at Plymouth University on 30th October, and a poetry workshop in French for non-native speakers at the Alliance française of Exeter on 25th November. Plans are also being made to visit Launceston College and help students improve their writing. I love that I get to work with so many different audiences.
Speaking of a variety of audiences, I also want to explore different ways to promote Causley’s work and legacy. That’s why I decided to be part of Launceston’s Halloween celebrations! If you have a child, do come to Cyprus Well (2 Ridgergove Hill) on Thursday 31st October to collect both sweets and poems!
You can also sign up for a very special evening on 4th November, to commemorate Charles Causley’s life and poetry. We’ll share favourite texts and anecdotes, and would love to see you there! Places are limited, so booking is essential: please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So how does the public get to know what I’m up to? Firstly, through local news: I was interviewed by Rosie Cripps, from the Cornish and Devon Post, who wrote up a lovely piece for the paper. Secondly, I’m active on social media, promoting various events, as well as the great International Poetry Competition. Have you submitted your poem yet? You can do so until 11th November, don’t miss out on the chance to have your work read by Michael Rosen!
Finally, as a bilingual writer, I’m still very active on the French scene, even when I’m in Cornwall most of the time: I launched my second poetry collection last weekend in Lyon, and in October alone, I delivered two creative writing workshops in France, one in a public library, and one in a prison. You can clearly see that workshops are something I’m passionate about. To me, they’re very much part of my role as a writer, even when I’m not in residence: I believe they help people find their own voice, and trust that they’re as legitimate as any of us to actually write and take part in the conversation. I hope I’ll get to meet you in one of the sessions I’ve planned as Causley Writer in Residence!