Friday, 29 November 2013

Photo Writing Exercise

11:59:00 Posted by Louise Barklam , , , , 3 comments
Writing poetry is a real pleasure in my life, something that I enjoy as more of a hobby than in the hope of ever completing a book. Although if that should happen in the future then it's a real bonus.  Since being a part of the Lancashire Dead Good Poets' Society, I have had the honour of 4 of my poems being included in their publications: "A Poets' Guide To Blackpool", "Haunted Blackpool" and 2 poems in "Pelts to Petticoats" which was written to celebrate "Vintage Poulton" for their upcoming Gala.

I left School at the age of 16 with a double "C" Grade for English (Language and Literature) and didn't further my education beyond studying for an NVQ.  My only experience with any kind of Writing Exercise came when the latter book was being compiled.  I had already written an entry for the book but wanted some feedback on it, so I attended the Poetry Workshop hosted by Vicky Ellis dedicated to this book.  It was an excellent experience to receive said feedback, but Vicky also asked us to complete the exercise attached to the workshop too.

From memory, it consisted of:

  • Selecting a photo associated with Poulton-Le-Fylde from one of the books about the Town and taking in all the elements that could be seen. I chose an old black and white photo of the Thatched Tavern Pub. Write down those elements.
  • Place yourself outside the viewpoint of the photo and make an imaginary situation of what you were doing on that day when the photo was taken and write it down.
  • Imagine the colours that could be seen.  I had to use my imagination here. Write those down alongside what they pertain to. 
  • Write down what other things those colours could also be associated with such as:  Brown Soil could also be a Brown Horse, Brown Suit etc.
  • Imagine another Character that cannot be seen on the photo.  Write down who they are, what they look like, how they are dressed and what they are doing.
  • What happens next after the photo has been taken?

Following these guidelines this is what I ended up with:

Thatched Tavern Photo
As I walk to the Churchyard to tend loved one graves
With the Sky so overcast, grey and dull
Colour is injected by a green and gold sign
Brown suits stand by the Tavern, the call of Ale such a pull.
A Photographer stands with equipment poised 
To capture this picturesque sight
Chins up, chests out, hands rested on pocket watches
Masculine dignity and pride show their might.
A girl watches on out of sight and mind
Observing her playmate standing so still
Her flaxen hair shines like the Sun's rays on the Thatch
Keen to re-join prior pastimes, such a thrill.
The Photo now taken, the people adjourn
To tend to livestock or natter over a Beer
Business back to usual behind those whitewash walls
Of The Thatched Tavern bringing merriment and cheer.

It was a very unusual approach for me to take and I must admit I struggled at first, but it opened my eyes what could be done should I ever suffer with writers block.  It would come in very handy indeed.  It not only offers an opportunity to challenge yourself by doing something you may never have tried before, but also the chance to try writing in different styles.  Give it a go.  You may just surprise yourself!

Why not have a look at the Shop tab at the top of this page?  ;-)

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Apologies to Vicky if I have inadvertently missed out any of the steps of this exercise.


Colin Davies said...

Wonderful entry in the publiucation. Goes to show what can come out of poetry exercises.

Ashley R Lister said...

Excellent exercise and excellent poetry.


vicky ellis said...

I'm always impressed when people come up with poetry at a workshop. This is why I prefer to deliver them rather than participate. There's something about sitting in a room full of people that puts me off my stride, therefore I sympathised with you not immediately responding to the exercise. Clearly it worked out brilliantly in the end :)

I reckon any method that gives us a nudge is helpful. Just turning up at a poetry workshop might be all the impetus you need, even if, like me, you can't write anything during the workshop itself.

Great post :)