Discovering Poetry

We can all write poetry!

This course is shortly coming to a close in mid-July.  It’s had a lovely mix of students attending and ably led once again by Wendy Ann Greenhalgh.

It’s a course is all about individuals exploring their relationship to poetry and the process of writing it. Wendy believes that poetry is something that comes quite naturally to all of us. Through reading lots of great poetry, and participating in some fun, accessible writing exercises – writers soon find that despite whatever ideas they might have had to the contrary, writing poetry can be enjoyable and easy. By the end of the course her participants will have a built up a tool-kit of useful writing skills and a knowledge of simple poetic techniques, so that they can develop ideas, draft and finish a poem for themselves.

Wendy often works in this way with her writing students – breaking the process down and making it accessible and a joy to take part in.  Last week some of the students found themselves sitting on the floor creating a first draft of a poem by rearranging strips of paper, each with lines already freely written by them.  They’d underlined the parts of their original text they liked the best, wrote them out again and cut them up into strips. Then they had fun reordering their words, until they ended up with a first draft. All this assisted by cup-cakes and muffins!

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Creative Mindfulness Q&A

We’re very excited about the Creative Mindfulness weekend workshops and new 5 week course that Wendy Ann Greenhalgh is running at Evolution next year. You’ve probably already have heard about mindfulness meditation, but might be wondering what creative mindfulness is and what it involves.

So we asked Wendy to explain, what is creative mindfulness?
Wendy: I see it as a way of exploring and coming into the present moment through the act of being creative. By immersing ourselves in a creative activity, becoming absorbed in it, we become more mindful. By intentionally bringing greater awareness to things like drawing or writing, they become more spontaneous and enjoyable. Creative Mindfulness is a relaxed, playful way of discovering and experiencing our own creativity.

And what is mindfulness?

I think of it as both an action and an attitude, or if you like as a state of both doing and being. When we choose to practice mindfulness – the doing part – we pay close attention to what we are experiencing in the present moment, concentrating on the breath, the body or perhaps a creative activity to help us stay focused and aware. When we are being mindful, not just in meditation, but also when we paint, draw, write, walk, talk – we are in the here and now, in touch with our bodies, senses, thoughts, emotions – and these are the perfect conditions in which creativity and wellbeing can flourish.

How have you combined mindfulness with drawing, writing and photography?

The courses and workshops have grown out of my own experience of mindfulness as a creative practitioner. When I started practicing mindfulness meditation, I noticed that the qualities I associated with it – feeling totally absorbed and present in the moment – were what I also experienced in my creative practice. So it made sense to me to combine them and teach them together. I’ve found that combining mindfulness and creativity unlocks something special. When we simply explore creativity for the fun of it, in a relaxed and open way with no end product in mind, we tap into the joy of creativity without the doubting voice, the inner critic, restricting us. And in the act of doing we connect with our expansive self in a state of mindfulness

Do people have to be experienced artists, writers or meditators to take part?

Not at all, the classes are suitable for everyone. For mindfulness or creative beginners, it gives them a way in. And experienced writers, photographers and artists will find that combining mindfulness with an existing creative practice can make it feel more like play again – so they can enjoy the process without worrying about the end product.

Do the classes include mindfulness meditation?

Yes, there are a couple of short meditations (about 15 minutes) at the start and end of each session so that people can ground themselves and get a little experience of what it’s like to just sit with a mindful attitude. The creative activities effortlessly flow out of the meditation. So if someone hasn’t mediated before this is also a great place to start.

Can people mix and match the five weekend workshops with the five week course?

During the Wednesday afternoon course we’ll explore a different medium each week – drawing, writing, photography, collage and clay – and integrate mindfulness practice in a creative context. On the weekend workshops we’re able to go deeper with each medium. So yes, people can do as many as they want to, because it’s about mindfully exploring the creative process instead of producing a product.

If someone has a creative project can they bring it to the class?

The sessions are more about enjoying the creative process, we’re not coming with the intention of creating a finished product. We’ll be experimenting with a particular medium, mindfully, in a supportive, non-critical environment. However people tend to find that creative mindfulness helps them approach their personal projects in a new way. And certainly for anyone who feels creatively blocked, these sessions can be a great way to gently get things flowing again, in an unpressurised and enjoyable way.

Sounds exciting, these classes are sure to fill up. If people want to find out more about creative mindfulness and book a place, what should they do?

They can visit my blog for more information and book directly with Evolution Arts either online or by calling 01273 204204.