28 September 2020
Posted by Matt L T Smith
There’s something to be said for the warmth that can be found in a Zoom call in these times. As we open our session to begin this new year of Mayflower Creative Writers I am momentarily so overcome with joy from the sheer warmth of our group that for the first couple of minutes I forget to take any notes… Which is kind of my job… But there’s something about the smiles, good humour and generosity of this group that demands a moment to soak in the energy and feel how welcomed you are. To feel what it should feel like to come home. I snap out of my grinning stupor and dive into my notes for our weekly check in:
We recount our weeks as a cheesy neon sign. This week we are: A lightbulb bursting in the hand, “are you okay?” What do you think? We are madness, daydreams and all things in between. We are a teacher: Here today, gone tomorrow. We are a carousel of trouble and joy. We are student kitchens: you hungry?
We talk about quarantine haircuts. Beth has grown her hair out and is keeping it back with a cat eared headband, the only item she owns to tie back her hair. Antosh shows off his hair being held back by a scrap of cloth cut from an old T-shirt. Harley mentions that their partner asked them to cut his hair for him. He’s now bald. “In quarantine sometimes it really do be that way” Harley says. Or another way of saying that is “It is what it is” which is the first prompt Antosh throws at us for our quickfire freewrite where we write field notes on survival, try to describe what is the opposite of okay, out there in the field, we think about out how coincidence is the space between.
We discuss an exciting new opportunity with the Winchester Poetry Festival. Matt West who runs ArtfulScribe is curating the 2021 festival and they are running a scheme for poets where four mentees will go on to produce their own chapbooks. The mentees will act as digital ambassadors for the festival. Today Matt has tasked our group with crowdsourcing a potential name for the scheme and gathering our thoughts on what we would like from a scheme like that. So Antosh sets us off on a copywriting freewriting task, generating some possible names for the scheme which yielded such gems as The Winch Papers, A Writer’s Value, Alfred’s Alumni and First Verse. Our writer’s talk about what makes a strong mentee programme and say that they would want a mentee programme that continues to help programmers beyond the programme itself, instead of jettisoning them into the wilderness and a place where you can connect with people from a similar field and receive honest and constructive feedback.
We leave things here, filled with possibility at the writing and opportunities to come, and the knowledge of the warm space we have here to return to each week.