Lavender Maze, two toddlers run in circles….

Lavender Maze, two toddlers run in circles….

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I ran a workshop at the Physic Garden at Westgate Gardens in Canterbury today. That’s the garden above. And the sun shone, and the cake came. Look!

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But more importantly poets came too to write with me, some new poets, some already established, some drawn by the plants, others by the words. It’s the joy of the mix always, you can do the same exercise daily with different groups of people and get new results. First off, we mixed body parts with emotions with surprising and beautiful results – Blood is care for others -Fear is red, the moving life force of the body – A heart is a feeling that something good is going to happen… 

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Then inspired by Basho, Jack Kerouac and winners of the Iafor Vladimir Devide Haiku Award, we wrote haikus. ‘Walk round the garden now and write ten!’ I demanded. And they did. Sometimes it’s better to write like that, rather than trying to craft something perfect. We concentrated not on the 5-7-5 rule, but catching a moment, conveying an emotion:

Poets
on toadstools
read Basho… 

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Then after reading them to each other, we wrote our favourites out, turned them into Haiku bunting, which we left behind for others to enjoy and for the wind to blow our words this way and that…

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Next we talked about list poems, and hey, we made a group list poem:

We’d like to be kind,
to counteract disunity,
cure the common cold.
We’d like to find a way
to stop people being so angry,
make a remedy for greed,
and living with uncertainty,
in fact we’d want to stop all disease
and then please, to have a peaceful sleep.

Talking of curing things, round the garden, I’d put buckets of poems as remedies. Please pick one, I wrote…

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and lots of different people did as the workshop was going on… often stopping to unwind one, read it to each other and then take another. That was beautiful to watch.

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For the last exercise, I’d copied Geoffrey Grigson’s descriptions of plants, with their common names. Oh the joy – a poem in the words here alone…

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And what we did was to turn the plants into characters – wondering if they wanted to stay where they were planted – examining whether they might want another life – what their secrets might be. What if … what if…

And did I mention we had cake?

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