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The Gift of a Poem – Julius Smit’s Arvon Week

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On a breezy sunny August afternoon I got off the train at Hebden Bridge with my rucksack and found myself re-tracing my steps of a year earlier up the steep Heptonstall Road on route to the joys of Lumb Bank. Here was the strangeness of familiarity – negotiating the cobbles of Heptonstall, walking past many houses with stickers of yellow bicycles still in their windows, to then stopping for a rest on the seat at the top of the Lumb Bank lane. I had come back for another high-octane Arvon experience; this time a week of poetry with Daljit Nagra and Vicki Feaver.

I met Jack hard at work in the kitchen as I arrived. As usual, tea, cake and fruit were waiting in the sitting room and it wasn’t long before I was deep in conversation with other newcomers. At six o’clock Jill and Lucy gave us a briefing followed by a sumptuous and reviving supper. The week then kicked off later that evening with everyone meeting up with the Daljit and Vicki for an introduction to what lay ahead. As the days slid by we dug deeper into the poems we discussed, the poems we wrote and the poems we spoke. Cooking, writing, reading, talking, wine, and walking in the woods all contributed to the overall rising combustion.

I had come back for more poetry to help me reassess my own efforts over the last few years. By the end of the week, my work had not only become less abstract but had also loosened up thanks to the invaluable one to one tutorials with Vicki and Daljit. On Friday evening we all gathered in the barn for our end of week readings: sixteen poets each given a five minute slot. It was an evening not only of poetry but also of love and of an urge to communicate sounds, words and language. The 2014 course programme billed this course as The gift of a poem. The poems were certainly gifts, all created within that tried and tested chemistry of Lumb Bank.

On the Saturday morning I set off, unwillingly, back to the station, only this time I walked back slowly through the woods following the flow of the river as it tumbled over the Pennine rocks. Construction of a hydro-electricity plant across the river’s surge is currently in progress. It seems a fitting metaphor for Arvon: the continual creation of energy from the rawness of nature. When my poetry batteries run down, I think I’ll come back again for a re-charge.

Julius is an Arvon Friend. Find out about the Arvon Friends community and how they support our work here.

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Radio Drama – Matthew Miller’s Arvon Week

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On Monday July 21st, I travelled down to stunningly sunny Devon to learn about the art of writing…

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‘I’m a writer’ – Colette Watson’s Arvon Aftermath

 by Colette Watson, a writer on the Starting to Write Short Stories week at Lumb Bank 4-9 August…

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Beta readers – the benefits of a critiquing partnership

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Writing can be a lonely business when you’re holed up in the attic hammering out your masterpiece. It’s…

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Use Your Loaf – Vicki Lloyd’s Arvon week

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Vicki Lloyd writes about her week of writing eating at Totleigh Barton… Monday Deepest Devon for Writing for Radio…

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Grants for the Arts and writers

Are you on the cusp of a significant artistic achievement? Are you thinking about the future of storytelling?…

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Tips for continuing writing once your Arvon course is over

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You’ve finished your Arvon course and returned home to your family, work, and a week’s worth of laundry….

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“Instead, I wrote”: Jennifer Watson’s Arvon week

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by Jennifer Watson, a writer on a Fiction Retreat at Moniack Mhor 9-14 July 2014, tutored by Morag…

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ARVON APPOINTS ALISTAIR BURTENSHAW AS CHAIR

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From Ruth Borthwick, Chief Executive, Arvon Arvon is at a very special moment in its 46 year old…

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A Grand Opening at The Hurst offers a way back to the past

An exhibition in John Osborne's study

By Gabriela Blandy, Assistant Centre Director, The Hurst   ‘Don’t leave The Hurst!’ John Osborne was to say…

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“Writing into being”: Anthea Morrison’s Arvon week

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by Anthea Morrison, a writer on a Fiction week at The Hurst  May 12 – 17, tutored by Andrew Miller…

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The Gillian Hush Award – a fully funded place on Writing for Radio

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For the second year Arvon is pleased to present The Gillian Hush Award for writers of radio drama….

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