It's not just a book thing!
Having attended a number of Litfest writing workshops in the last few years, I’ve always found the visiting writers to be warm, friendly and keen to shrink the space between themselves and the attendees, to run a class but also create a comfortable space in which writers can work. Ian McMillan is the absolute master of this – before the session even starts he is busying around the room, chatting about notebooks and projects and making everyone feel at ease.
Throughout the two hours we spend together, Ian seems as excited about writing as anyone I’ve met, brilliantly in love with words and enthused by the process of creating just as much as he is by the end result.
In the first exercise, the group collaborated, writing blind to create some strange and beautiful pieces of work. The poems we made together didn’t make much sense, but threw up some startling images, and created new and interesting rhythms that would not normally occur when setting out to write a poem solo.
Next, we delved into our memory banks and produced a piece of writing based around our description of a room we remembered. Ian guided our writing with different questions and I found that not knowing where we would be lead next brought along some surprising results.
There was time to hear some general writing advice from Ian and to hear about how he ended up (not quite) performing a sonnet praising Domestos inside a giant wooden toilet in Leicster Square. Then it was time for the writer who says yes to everything to hurry on to his next appointment – introducing readings by the winners of the 2016 Guernsey International Poetry Competition.
If, like me, you were unable to get to that event, the winning poems can be read on the Poems On The Move page of the Litfest website, or on various buses around the island.