Course notes

26th September 2003 at 01:00
Amanda Bergstrom, of Ducie boys' high school, Manchester, finds poetry in motion Course Writing Poetry, by Roger Robinson and Patience Agbabi.Six-day residential.

Provider Arvon Foundation (

Venue Lumb Bank, West Yorkshire.

Cost A special grant from the Arvon Foundation meant it cost the school nothing. The usual adult price is pound;395.

How did you find out about it?

An annual fixture for the English department when I arrived at the school.

Why go?

I'd always loved teaching poetry, but never written any. On this course, you take a group of children, but you participate in the workshops and learn alongside them.

What did it promise?

"A unique opportunity to practise imaginative writing alongside professional writers."

Did it deliver ?

Yes. I could choose the poets who would act as course tutors - so I chose poets I enjoy. They also turned out to be excellent teachers.

High point Having space and time to write; life is too hectic in school.

Course leaders They used their own poetry as a starting point to show us how it could be done. They made themselves available all the time.

Message, motto or mantra

Speak from your experience, not others'.

Best advice

The key to writing poetry is to cut back on unnecessary words. When you think you've pared it right down, look again.

Has it made a difference?

I am more confident teaching poetry. I now write my own material to use in lessons.

Coming your way?

If you're interested in learning alongside your pupils (two teachers, 16 children), contact Arvon also runs a programme of writing weeks for adults, with special teacher rates.

If you've been on a course that others should know about, email

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