Yesterday saw the first of my workshops at Room with a View, in Broadstairs, Located in the upstairs room of friends, in a space we Caribbeans would call a gallery, the window offers a panoramic view of Broadstairs at different levels, which is unusual, as we think Thanet is flat; and there are teasing side-view glimpses of the sea. On my first visit I fell in love with this view which offers a reverse outlook to a house across the way I almost bought back in the 80s and many a time regretted I had not. Now here was a chance for some recompense, with the kind offer from my hosts to use the space for creative purposes. Hence, ‘Room with a View’.
As it is a small space, I did limited advertising, inviting friends and fellow writers on my facebook page. I soon had bookings – the space will comfortably seat 8 and I took 10 bookings, following the airlines’ strategy of over-booking – and what do you know? 2 people couldn’t make it so there we were – a comfortable 8, one brave man amongst us women.
I chose the theme from the window itself, and what it represented, looking outwards from within, and opened with references to Archbishop Terry Waite’s incarceration in the Lebanon and the postcard that reached him, sent by a woman called Joy, of an image of John Bunyan (The Pilgrim’s Progress) in prison, with window, pen and paper, none of which the Archbishop enjoyed in his solitary windowless confinement, but a postcard which nevertheless offered hope. My other reference was an image of The Lady of Shallot, the tale of the cursed lady in Tennyson’s poem, condemned to viewing the world through a mirror and weaving what she saw, until her passion for the Knight Lancelot drove her to the ultimate sacrifice. We discussed the line ‘I am half-sick of shadows’ and its links to being a writer.
We then looked at a poem by Maggie Butt, ‘Honour’: from the anthology, In Protest, 150 Poems For Human Rights,
I watched you on the news, your glowing clothes.
The camera caught the graceful way you clapped
then panned to a young man, too close for modesty
and the story was of a village court, and sudden
disappearances, of punishment for being too close
to video, on the public stage of internet.
How could you know the camera was the
wolf in grandma’s clothes …
The poem reflects on the disappearance from the news of the village girls caught clapping to music too close to a male, a scene captured by camera, the wolf.
We focused our writing on inner and outer worlds, freedom/captivity, windows and apertures as necessary passageways to an external world which both promises and lures. Going out into the world is a vital need, even though we have to face the wolf, who unfortunately can even step inside the presumed place of safely. Poems of incarceration, of hospitalization, of yearning, dramatic monologues from varying points of view including vegetables and scarecrows, were among others that surfaced, and three hours passed quickly with a pit-stop for coffee and mince pies.
We ended the workshop with a nod to Christmas, writing haikus from the perspective of a Christmas bulb, whilst maintaining that theme of confinement and liberation. Here’s mine:
After a long sleep he stirs
uncurls his limbs
breaks through the earth with longing
I’ll be offering another workshop in the spring.