Tag Archives: BBc Wildlife Poet of the year

Talking with poets

Penglais woods, above Aberystwyth. Walking the bluebell trail with Chris Kinsey, April 2017. Photo: Kaite O’Reilly

For the past few years I have been undergoing a slow transformation, partly documented in this blog. It has been sedate but determined, rather like the growth of lichen on a tree,  so perhaps a better term might be evolution…

For years my performance texts and plays have been described by reviewers as ‘poetic’ and my writing as having a ‘lyrical’ quality. When I won the Ted Hughes Award for my version of Aeschylus’s Persians in 2011 I almost argued with the judges, asking how could I win such a prestigious award when I was a dramatist, not a poet? (Thankfully the judges were sage enough to ignore my protestations, insisting in their wisdom I was indeed a dramatist and a poet, despite my cries ‘But I don’t write poetry!’)

Many conversations on this subject have followed over the years, some referenced in this blog. I often wondered if my resistance was not towards poetry  per se – I have too many learnt by heart to be considered a poetry denier – but to the idea of me trying to write it. I also suffered from a rather limited definition of what poetry might be.

As my resistance (fear, perhaps?) weathered away, I became aware of how many of my new but close friends were practising poets. When I became seriously ill in 2015, I found what I wanted to read was, of course, poetry, perhaps because, as Robert Frost put it: ‘Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

My friend and poetry-whisperer Chris Kinsey has accompanied me along this journey, generously sharing reading platforms (at Oriel Davies where she was poet in residence) as well as work in progress. Interesting articles on form are sent my way, along with illuminating quotations on writing alongside her extraordinary engagement with the natural world in language. It was a masterclass in itself and a great privilege to witness the creation of her latest pamphlet, Muddy Foxpublished by Rack Press. We ruminate on process, often – to my huge pleasure – when walking along hidden tracks in different parts of Wales. As a former winner of the BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year, she is  attuned both to the natural world and ways to express it. We exchange work and encourage each other in our writing, but never once has she suggested I try writing poetry, not even covertly… (I am confident in asserting this, for as a playwright, I am skilled in detecting subtext and ‘what lies beneath’).

Aberystwyth from above the town. Walking the gorse trail with Chris Kinsey April 2017.

So it is she, alongside Samantha Wynne Rhydderch and Gillian Clarke who have and continue to patiently incubate my on-going evolution as someone who now experiments with poetic form. I have wonderfully stimulating lunches with Sam overlooking Cardigan Bay in a cafe which was previously the post office where Dylan Thomas sent his manuscripts to London – a detail we both find entertaining. The hours disappear in our varied and diverse conversations on live performance, poetry, writing, the voice. Gillian has recently become a more formal encourager, meeting me for ‘masterclass encounters’ as we coin them, part of my Creative Wales Award, granted by the far-sighted Arts Council of Wales (read about this incredible initiative here).

It is only now I am beginning to fully understand the power and influence of talking with poets. These conversations guide, stimulate, provoke, engage, and encourage growth and change. Talking to poets (particularly along the by-ways of our beautiful Ceredigion) should be available on the NHS.

 

A Sense of Place -Oriel Davies Writing Competition

 

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‘A Sense of Place’ Writing Competition 2014, Oriel Davies, Newtown, Powys, Wales.

The Oriel Davies writing competition returns between 17 May – 25 October 2014 with the theme A Sense of Place, convened and judged by Chris Kinsey.

Writers are invited to submit pieces throughout the competition period that focus on ‘A Sense of Place’. Entries should be poems of up to 50 lines each; or prose pieces of up to 1000 words each. The winning entry will be featured on the gallery website and social media, and be read to an audience at an event in late autumn. Shortlisted writers will also be invited to participate in the readings.

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Amanda Farr, director of Oriel Davies writes:

A Sense of Place’ is our theme for this year’s writing competition. We are really excited to be presenting this competition in particular from our rural context in Mid Wales, known widely for its distinctive sense of place, landscape, language and culture. We are also pleased to welcome Chris Kinsey, a fantastic locally-based poet and our writer in residence 2011 – 2013 as the competition convenor and judge. We look forward to reading the entries…

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This year’s writing competition will be judged by Chris Kinsey who was Oriel Davies’ Writer-in-Residence 2011-13. She is the author of 3 poetry collections: Kung Fu Lullabies and Cure for a Crooked Smile published by Ragged Raven Press and Swarf by Smokestack Books. Chris was BBC Wildlife Poet of the year in 2008. She also writes a regular Nature Diary for Cambria and won Natur Cymru’s last prose competition, ‘Inspired by Nature’.

For full competition entry guidelines download the competition flyer: http://www.orieldavies.org/sites/default/files/Sense%20of%20Place%20flyer_Layout%201.pdf

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