After my course at Ty Newydd, in November, I challenged myself to put the theory into practice and to invite a group of people, all friends through various writing groups, to come to my house to be Guinea Pigs – so that I could try my hand at being a facilitator, and Monday was the first day of that Guinea Pig Group.
I have arranged 5 meetings and have 10 signed up attendees… actually more than I could have hoped for! (There are only two men, but I think that is the nature of this sort of class – and that I’m lucky any men have signed up at all) Luckily I have a decent sized dining room table and another table that serves well as an extension so I’ll effectively be able to seat everyone around one long table!
In addition to the house group I have a few friends who are following at a distance, that is through email contact, though their experience of the exercises will be very different to those who come to the house.
Monday was beautifully crisp: frosty and a little foggy in patches. I had invited people to come before 10 am, leaving time for settling in, visits to the toilet and glasses of water to be poured, so that we could all start by 10am.
Unfortunately the weather and various other reasons meant non-attendance from a few who had signed up – so we had 7 attendees and me. I know that this attendance pattern is not uncommon of adult education – and that we will have to repeat the introductions again next week, to make everyone feel included and that probably 7 or 8 attendees each week may be a realistic expectation. (I shall just have to think up a different introduction, so the 8 of us who were here today don’t end up repeating ourselves too much!)
The session started off with introductions and then onto ‘what sort of writing group are we?’ and I found that a handout adapted from Ty Newydd was useful here. We discussed what participants may expect and that the aims of the group are that of personal development and creative self expression within the group and with the support of the group. I am not a therapist, but a facilitator and this needed to be clarified from the outset.
And next we established a few basic ground rules. Just the usual stuff about time keeping, allowing everyone a voice, respect and confidentiality – so in this blog I won’t be naming real names, or telling other people’s stories or anything like that!
Our theme today was based on naming, the significance of names and what they mean to us. By the time we stopped for coffee half way through the morning the level of chatter indicated there has been some ‘gelling’ already!
I am aware that I am not yet skilled in several key areas and that I had the tendency to hurry things along, rather than let the group take the lead…. filling the gaps where maybe if I had waited….
Now I’m into planning the second week, taking my reflections into consideration, and reading to support what I’m planning.
The book I’m reading for ideas is ‘Writing Works’ edited by Gillie Bolton, Victoria Field and Kate Thompson. Lots of useful ideas in there.
Scattered around me are more resource books: I didn’t realise how many poetry books I had gathered over the years….
‘Writing Poetry’, John Whitworth,
The Making of a Poem, Mark Strand and Eavan Boland,
The Rattle Bag, edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes,
The Poem and the Journey, Ruth Padel,
52 ways of looking at a poem, Ruth Padel,
Staying Alive, edited by Neil Astley, and
101 Poems that could save your life, edited by Daisy Goodwin.
(This is not intended as an Amazon ad but I thought giving you a link would help those who wish to look at the books mentioned. Other sellers are available :) )