Review: Spread The Word Workshops

Spread the word, London’s writer development agency, has recently opened up its workshops, making them even more accessible for people outside London, disabled people who find it difficult to attend, and those who cannot afford travel costs. It’s also reaching out to those in formal paid work who require workshops to be more flexible. A third of the writers who engage with Spread the Word class themselves as disabled and another third as coming from a marginalised socio-economic background.

The Fiction Pool was invited to attend one of the new online workshops, a poetry class with Mary Jean Chan, a BAME emerging poet about to be published by Faber and Faber.

The workshop took place on Slack which was very easy to use after reading a short introductory booklet. It facilitated discussion in an orderly way and no-one seemed to struggle with using it.

There were three handouts over the six-week course, all of which were very challenging and in-depth. There were exercises to stretch the ambitious but others to do if you wanted to keep your poem simple. Participants could give feedback to just two people every fortnight or more if they chose to.

The other course participants were highly engaged and talented and this facilitated a good rewarding learning environment.

At first the tasks seemed daunting but the course materials were so encouraging poems were soon assembled as creativity took hold.

The next online workshop with places available at the time of writing is ‘Heat & Light: Writing through the summer with Ella Frears‘ in July.

Spread the Word says: ‘Ella Frears is a poet and visual artist based in London. She has had work published or forthcoming in Poetry London, Ambit, The Rialto, POEM and the Moth among others and was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize 2017. She is a trustee and editor for Magma Poetry, and was a Jerwood/Arvon Mentee 2016. She has completed various residencies for Tate Britain, the National Trust, the New Forest and most recently she was Poet in Residence at Royal Holloway University. Her debut pamphlet Passivity, Electricity, Acclivity is published by Goldsmiths Press.’

The course is £90 for non-members, £81 for members and £72 for people who are over 65, under 30, full-time students or people on benefits.


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