Online Writing Week: Poetry | Closer than skin, thicker than blood: writing about real and imagined families | Arvon
Online Writing Week: Poetry
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Online Writing Week: Poetry

Closer than skin, thicker than blood: writing about real and imagined families
Tutors
  • Photo of Jenny Mitchell
    Jenny Mitchell
  • Photo of Roy McFarlane
    Roy McFarlane
Guest Tutor
  • Zoë Brigley
Date Monday July 22nd - Friday July 26th 2024
Location Online

‘My master/father sent me up from South Carolina to Boston as a nine-year-old. My mother’s illiterate silence has been a death.’ – Marilyn Nelson

‘Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, And don’t have any kids yourself.’ – Philip Larkin Description: Mothers, Fathers, Siblings

Often the most challenging and rewarding poetry celebrates, damns or tries to understand the family that raised us, whether biological or otherwise. But how do we write about people who are so close to us and whose pain we often feel as our own? What penalties might be incurred for daring to tell the family secrets, and is it a good idea to bypass any signals to remain silent? How can we use poetry to reveal and conceal the parts of our family’s and ourselves we need to write about but don’t want to shame?

With award-winning poets Roy McFarlane and Jenny Mitchell, you will explore the complexities of writing about family and your place within it. There will be discussions around what remains forbidden, as well as the transformative power of writing with abandon. Looking at poets from the past and present we’ll examine how poetry can help us to change and grow, especially when this might have been forbidden within the family. How can words transform dynamics? What particular cultural/historical perspectives need to be examined?

This course is suitable for all poets who want to challenge themselves to write with more honesty, and go deeper into the rewarding but thorny arena of writing about family relationships.


We’ll help you to make ‘Arvon at Home’, turning your own place into a writing cocoon, capturing the transformative power of our acclaimed Arvon residential courses: two brilliant author-tutors at your service, a caring and sharing group, the time and space to devote to your writing, invaluable feedback, new writing pals, and the unique creative progress that happens in a dedicated week of writing. 

You will be offered the best of a classic Arvon residential week, with a few virtual tweaks. Spot the difference: a carefully balanced combination of tips to help you focus, daily workshops, one-to-one tutorials with both tutors, get-togethers to chat about the day’s work, a mid-week guest reading offer, the celebratory Friday collective reading, and lots of time and encouragement for you to write every day. 

All gatherings, one-to-one or group, will be delivered via Zoom, so you’ll need to have a reliable internet connection. Your Arvon host will offer support as you need it, including any help you may need with your computer set-up. 

To participate, and to get the most out of the week, you’ll need to turn up online for all planned sessions, Monday to Friday. Last but not least, we urge you to read your tutors’ published work before the week starts.

See below for a detailed timetable of the week. 

Online: £450

Concessions: £315

As part of our effort to increase participation in the arts, we offer limited concessionary places at a 30% reduction. You can select this option at checkout if available.

We are committed to making our Arvon at Home programme accessible to as many people as possible.

Across all of Arvon at Home

Masterclasses 

Online Writing Day

How I Write

Online Writing Weeks and Evening Courses

Subject to funding/permissions (please contact arvonathome@arvon.org for more details)

If you have any access issues that we have not covered here, please contact us on access@arvon.org

See here for more access information.

Nothing short of transformative! I can't believe how much we packed into just a few days and how much impact it has had. I'm writing in new styles, new forms, new images, new rhythms!
— Writing Week Participant
I had the chance to speak with two well respected tutors about my work. Being able to do this in one-to-one tutorials was excellent and not reduced in any way by being on Zoom. A good chance for some very good advice. I am now determined to set to work on my writing.
— Writing Week Participant
Arvon courses are always so inclusive, supportive, fun, and instructive. There is something really magical and intimate about what happens during the week.
— Writing Week Participant

Monday

11.00–12.30 Everyone gathers online in Arvon’s Zoom Writing House. Your Arvon host will welcome you and the tutors. You’ll get to meet everyone, ask questions, and settle in. Your tutors will ask you to start thinking about your writing, perhaps setting an exercise.

12.30–14.00 Lunch

14.00–16.00 First workshop with both tutors: Everyone meets online for the workshop, which includes writing exercises, discussion and a comfort break

16.00–16.30 Break

16.30–17.30 Tutor readings: Both tutors read and speak about their work, followed by a Q&A hosted by your Arvon host.

Tuesday

10.00–12.30 Workshop: Everyone meets online for the morning workshop, which includes writing exercises, discussion and a comfort break.

12.30–14.00 Lunch

14.00–16.00 Tutorials or Writing Time: Please keep this time pencilled in your diary. Over the course of the week you will have 2 x one-to-one tutorials lasting 25 minutes (one with each of your tutors). These will be allocated for you and sent to you a week before the course starts. If you do not have a tutorial, we encourage you to use this time to write.

16.00–16.30 Break

16.30–17.00 Closing session of the day

Wednesday

10.00–12.30 Workshop: Everyone meets online for the morning workshop, which includes writing exercises, discussion and a comfort break.

12.30–14.00 Lunch

14.00–16.00 Tutorials or Writing Time: Please keep this time pencilled in your diary. Over the course of the week you will have 2 x one-to-one tutorials lasting 25 minutes (one with each of your tutors). These will be allocated for you and sent to you a week before the course starts. If you do not have a tutorial, we encourage you to use this time to write.

16.00–16.30 Break

16.30–17.00 Closing session of the day

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19.15–20.15 (optional) The Arvon Wednesday ‘How I Write’ reading and Q&A — you get a free ticket to this, as well as access to the recording for a month afterwards.

Thursday

10.00–12.30 Workshop: Everyone meets online for the morning workshop, which includes writing exercises, discussion and a comfort break.

12.30–14.00 Lunch

14.00–16.00 Tutorials or Writing Time: Please keep this time pencilled in your diary. Over the course of the week you will have 2 x one-to-one tutorials lasting 25 minutes (one with each of your tutors). These will be allocated for you and sent to you a week before the course starts. If you do not have a tutorial, we encourage you to use this time to write.

16.00–16.30 Break

16.30–17.00 Closing session of the day

Friday

10.00–12.30 Workshop: Everyone meets online for the morning workshop, which includes writing exercises, discussion and a comfort break.

12.30–14.00 Lunch

14.00–16.00 Tutorials or Writing Time: Please keep this time pencilled in your diary. Over the course of the week you will have 2 x one-to-one tutorials lasting 25 minutes (one with each of your tutors). These will be allocated for you and sent to you a week before the course starts. If you do not have a tutorial, we encourage you to use this time to write.

16.00–16.30 Break

16.30–17.30 A celebratory reading where you have the chance to share some of your new writing. Expect laughter, tears and a huge sense of pride for all you have learned, written and achieved this week. There’ll be plenty of virtual hugs.

And then...

Next steps: The week doesn’t stop here. You now have a writing community. Stay in touch. Share your work with each other, and take it forward!

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