2020: first WfCW dates, Poems on a Sunday Afternoon, @Down_Arts Courses and more local writing activities! #downpatrick #lecale #ballynahinch #countydown

A new year and a new decade – much inspiration for the writing activities and some forthcoming diary dates.

New dates for Words for Castle Ward

For your diary, our next dates are:

All saturdays, 11am to 12.30pm (with a tendency to run on a bit..)

– 11 January (feedback)
– 8 February (New writing)
– 14 March (feedback)
– 18 April (feedback – please note 3rd Saturday as the previous falls on Easter weekend).

Venue: The Education Suite, National Trust Castle Ward.

Further information about the group HERE. If you are on social media like our FB page HERE.


Date for your diary: Next Poems on a Sunday Afternoon (Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick) is on 02/02/2020 – World of Equals Theme (more info to follow). Followed by 26 April 2020 featuring Linda McKenna on the occasion of the publication of her first collection (Doire Press, 2020). Further details on Down Arts Centre’s website.


Winter/Spring Writing Courses at Down Arts Centre

Wednesday is writing day at Down Arts Centre. The first 2020 instalment of two great creative writing classes begin in late January (22 January) for ten weeks. Creative Writing, 7-9pm, facilitated by Dr Catherine Kelly, is a workshop-based class for all with an interest or a practice of writing, whether poetry, prose or playwriting. ‘I have a story in me…’ (1.30-3.30pm) is for those with an interest in writing for children. Author/artist/illustrator Kieron Black will help you get your story from daydream to workable plot! Info/booking on 028 4461 0747 or in person at the during Centre opening hours. Find further details on Down Arts Centre’s website.


Ballynahinch Library Group

A monthly group has started up in Ballynahinch Library. Facilitated by author Kerry Buchanan, the group is open to all levels and abilities and meets the second Monday of each month from 12noon-13.30pm. Enquire at the library for further details.



The River Mill Writers’ Retreat

Need some time out to progress your writing or background research but can’t go too far? The ultimate Couty Down writers’ staycation, The River Mill is on the Ballyclander Road (between DPK and Killough) and offers both retreat opportunities and one-day or longer workshops. Check out the website for details of what’s available and what’s coming up in terms of courses. Details HERE.



WfCW dates, Poems on a Sunday Afternoon, @Down_Arts Courses and more local writing activities! #downpatrick #lecale #ballynahinch #countydown

Autumn Season round up of development opportunities for writers in the area as has become my custom! Here are a selection of activities welcoming participation.

New dates for Words for Castle Ward

For your diary, our next dates are:

All saturdays, 11am to 12.30pm (with a tendency to run on a bit..)

14 Sept (Feedback) 14 Sept (Feedback), 12 October (new writing), 16 November (feedback – please note not 2nd Saturday), 14 December (feedback) 11 May (Feedback), 8 June (New Writing), 10 Aug (Feedback), 14 Sept (Feedback)

Venue: The Education Suite, National Trust Castle Ward.

Further information about the group HERE. If you are on social media like our FB page HERE.


Poems on a Sunday Afternoon

Our next Poems on a Sunday Afternoon is on 29 May, 2.30-4.30pm at Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick with the usual warm invitation to share your own work. In our featured spot is Gerry McCullough whose first novel, Belfast Girls, (Night Publishing, 2010), was a #1 bestseller on paid UK Kindle. It was republished in 2012 by Precious Oil Publications, who went on to publish 14 other books by Gerry, including 4 collections of her popular stories of the lovable rogue Old Seamus (available in Amazon paperback and Kindle editions). In addition to her prose work, Gerry is an award-winning and widely published short story author and poet. She lives just outside Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, is married to singer-songwriter, writer, radio presenter and publisher Raymond McCullough, and has four children.. All welcome. The event is free to attend and no booking is required. More information: http://www.downartscentre.com

Date for your diary: Poems on a Sunday Afternoon is on the move for our November session. Put a hold on November 17 for a second celebration of all things CS Lewis at Kilbroney. Times and further details tbc.


Autumn Writing Courses at Down Arts Centre

Wednesday is writing day at Down Arts Centre. The autumn instalment of two great creative writing classes begin in late September (25 May) for ten weeks. Creative Writing, 7-9pm, facilitated by Dr Catherine Kelly, is a workshop-based class for all with an interest or a practice of writing, whether poetry, prose or playwriting. ‘I have a story in me…’ (1.30-3.30pm) is particulary for those with an interest in writing for children. Author/artist/illustrator Kieron Black will help you get your story from daydream to workable plot! Info/booking on 028 4461 0747 or in person at the during Centre opening hours. Find further details on Down Arts Centre’s website.


New Group in Ballynahinch Library

A new monthly group has started up in Ballynahinch Library. Facilitated by author Kerry Buchanan, the group is open to all levels and abilities and meets the second Monday of each month from 12noon-13.30pm. Enquire at the library for further details.



The River Mill Writers’ Retreat

Need some time out to progress your writing or background research but can’t go too far? The ultimate Couty Down writers’ staycation, The River Mill is on the Ballyclander Road (between DPK and Killough) and offers both retreat opportunities and one-day or longer workshops. Check out the website for details of what’s available and what’s coming up in terms of courses. Details HERE.


Not the queue for Words for Castle Ward 🙂 – Antiques Roadshow being filmed here in July.


WfCW dates, Poems on a Sunday Afternoon, @Down_Arts Courses & more local writing activities! #downpatrick #lecale #ballynahinch #countydown

Loads happening around here for those developing their writing skills. It’s great to see all that’s on. Here are a selection of activities welcoming participation.

New dates for Words for Castle Ward

For your diary, our next dates are:

All saturdays, 11am to 12.30pm (with a tendency to run on a bit..)

11 May (Feedback), 8 June (New Writing), 10 Aug (Feedback), 14 Sept (Feedback)

Venue: The Education Suite, National Trust Castle Ward.

Further information about the group HERE.


Poems on a Sunday Afternoon

Our next Poems on a Sunday Afternoon is on 12 May, 2.30-4.30pm at Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick with the usual warm invitation to share your own work. In our featured spot are selected readers from the flagship Queens Writers’ Group, including John McAlister, Mary Montague, Ray Givens, Martha McGonagle. All welcome. The event is free to attend and no booking is required. More information: http://www.downartscentre.com


Summer Writing Courses at Down Arts Centre

Wednesday is writing day at Down Arts Centre. The summer instalment of two great creative writing classes begin this week (1 May) for six weeks. Creative Writing, 7-9pm, facilitated by Dr Catherine Kelly, is a workshop-based class for all with an interest or a practice of writing, whether poetry, prose or playwriting. ‘I have a story in me…’ (1.30-3.30pm) is particulary for those with an interest in writing for children. Author/artist/illustrator Kieron Black will help you get your story from daydream to workable plot! Info/booking on 028 4461 0747 or in person at the during Centre opening hours.


New Group in Ballynahinch Library

A new monthly group has started up in Ballynahinch Library. Facilitated by author Kerry Buchanan, the group is open to all levels and abilities and meets the second Monday of each month from 12noon-13.30pm. Enquire at the library for further details.


Deep Down Arts and Wellbeing: Lived Experience Arts Festival (11-19 May)


From 11-19th May 2019, County Down based ‘Deep Down Arts and Wellbeing’ celebrate the mental health benefits of creativity with partners Voluntary Arts, Get Creative and The Ivy Bar. The theme for the festival is Keep Holding On. The programme includes Poetry NI, Natalie Smith, Kate Smeltzer, Leigh Stirrup, Kev Hatton, Rebecca Magee, Eve Williams, Beverley Healey and other wonderful artists for a programme of music, poetry, creative writing, visual arts, comedy and film beginning on 11th May with a Darkness into Light walk and finishing on the 19th May. There will be a group participating in the Get Creative Createathon at the Ulster Museum on 18th May, when they will provide creativity for children of all ages. All this at a low cost and with the added bonus of a chance to raise funds for Ards Suicide Awareness Group. Programme details HERE.


The River Mill Writers’ Retreat

Need some time out to progress your writing or background research but can’t go too far? The ultimate Couty Down writers’ staycation, The River Mill is on the Ballyclander Road (between DPK and Killough) and offers both retreat opportunities and one-day or longer workshops. Check out the website for details of what’s available and what’s coming up in terms of courses. Details HERE.



Next Words for @NTCastleWard session & @deepdownarts callout

Want to iron the wrinkles out of your writing? A reminder that April’s Words for Castle Ward session is on this Saturday (13 April, 11am-12.30pm, Education Suite, Castle Ward) and it’s a feedback session. Do let me know if you will be there on wordsforcastleward@gmail.com (no need to let me know if you can’t make it!). More about Words for Castle Ward HERE.

Dates for your diary. The following Words for Castle Ward session is the 11 May (feedback) with Poems on a Sunday Afternoon, Down Arts Centre on the 12 May.

Call out from Deep Down.
Paula Matthews has asked me to pass on details of the following call:

Call Out for poets or songwriters who want to showcase their work at our Deep Down Gets Creative: Lived Experience Arts Festival. All are welcome to read or perform in a relaxed setting and you can choose to add to the collection of works our poetry friendship table enjoy at our monthly meetings. The theme of our Get Creative mini-fest is ‘Keep Holding On’.

This will be a community spirited event welcoming those with lived experience of mental health to celebrate the healing power of creativity. We will be in an alcohol free room with disability access.

If you wish to attend and read please email us at deepdownarts@gmail.com by 15th April 2019 as spaces are likely to become limited.

deepdownarts.com/new-l-e-a-f/

Venue: The Ivy Bar, 14 Castle Street Newtownards
Date: 16th May 2019
Time: 7-9pm
Cost: £3
Suitable age: 18+

Image: Laundry exhibition at Castle Ward

The Politcs of #Handwriting – #lettersfromladyn

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Day 2: Operation ‘Legible’

This is the latest plan of campaign. I approach making my handwriting legible like I do giving up coffee or cutting down on food that I like but isn’t a friend to me. I take a run at it from time-to-time. This latest tour of duty has to do with the fact that for months I have been losing useful handwritten ideas and poem lines due to the fact that I can’t read my own handwriting. So I’m slowing down, enlarging the words. Don’t be alarmed if you receive a card or letter from me with larger writing..and, even more surprisingly, that you can actually read.

Learning Cursive

Having mastered the production of individual letters of the (English) alphabet, we progressed then to ‘joined-up’ writing. My happiest memories as a school child was filling the ‘special’ notebooks which were lined like music manuscripts. I was not, despite my enthusiasm, an ‘a’ student.

Don’t forget your trowel if you want to go work

My second class teacher advised my parents to get me out gardening to strengthen my fingers. Nothing worked. In college nobody ever borrowed my notes (when I was bored I’d take notes with my left hand which were much more readable). In one workplace, a colleague told me that she wouldn’t respond to anything from me unless it was typed. That my handwriting has disimproved from there is not, you might say, a good thing.

Just what kind of handwriting am I producing?

So I’ve slowed down and am paying attention to the formation of the letters. And I notice an odd thing emerging. I loved cursive the moment I learned it. But I’m wondering where the system I learned originate from. What was behind its choice by An Roinn Oideachais?

By the time, I learned Irish, it had been standardised out of all sense of being a separate language. Only the “síneadh fada” remained and it was even reduced to a fada in the language of our learning.

I was in my late teens when I came across Irish script. A book in our kitchen at home. Yes, my mother told me – that was how they learned to write Irish in school. In my late teens, I sat down and learned a new kind of cursive and imposed it on my English handwriting. (Read more about an cló gaelach here) . A teenage affection as much as anything.

Joined-up Writing

Now looking at my writing, I am seeing the strangeness of the hybrid going on between the two systems. The first system I learned is more fluid to my hand so I’ve kept the fluid aspects –  it’s more rounded which suits my way of being in the world – and, of course, it has all the English letters. The Irish system is, in honour of where it came from, very beautiful, illustrative, if a little angular to my way of being. Both have the hint of tails that come in from the left as sort of ‘go faster’ stripes. And going faster, while still reflecting who I am not only in the sense but also in the manner of the writing, has always been part and parcel of my handwriting.

Handwriting – the personal is political

I haven’t said that much about recent developments vis-a-vis the Irish Language Act here. I have used the Omniglot website example of Irish script above – it’s the Universal Declaration of Human Right.  For me, rights to language are like women’s rights or rights to create marital partnerships according to one’s actual preference for partner etc – they just are. It feels like fighting to have skin. Very strange arguments ensue when you try to prove that you are entitled to your own skin. Then purism, we know already, is not a useful thing in language or anywhere. In the middle of it all, all the nuances of the discussion are there in the words, from internal realm to hand to page – the ink flowing – and those tails of beginning letters are an extension of the blood flowing in the veins.

 

 

Creative Writing Courses from @Down_Arts Centre #Downpatrick #Newcastle

I know we are still a little way from the winter solstice, but there’s a feel of renewal in the world of words, and creative writing activity, in this part of the world which makes me very happy.

While I’m looking forward to ‘Words for Castle Ward’ getting back to business early in the New Year with some, hopefully useful, feedback on new writing and new writing generation, it’s always lovely to have local opportunities to learn new skills or get other perspectives on writing/genres.

6tag_300817-175745If you’ve gotten the new Down Arts Centre brochure through the door, you’ll have noticed three adult Creative Writing courses are listed there.

(1) Creative Writing Workshop with Dr Catherine Kelly (Weds, 17 Jan for ten weeks, 7-9pm, £45/£40 conc). Welcoming back this very popular workshop for all genres from this reputed author and playwright. I know quite a few people who have taken (and returned to) this course and speak very highly of it.

Venue: Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick

(2) Creative Writing with Paula Matthews (Mons, 15 Jan for ten weeks, 7-9pm, £45/£40conc). For those closer to Newcastle, poet, playright, children’s author and all round good egg Paula Matthews will be exploring creativity and how to use writing to tap into our resilience. This course will conclude with a digital journal to showcase the work created within it. We were delighted to launch a volume of poetry by Paula at the last Poems on a Sunday Afternoon.

Venue: Newcastle Centre, Newcastle

(3) ‘I have a (children’s) story in me…’ (Tues, 16 Jan for ten weeks, 1.30-3.30pm, £45/£40conc) author/illustrator Kieron Black takes this very interesting new course to help you get your story from daydream to thumbnail sketch to workable plot. This course for adults concentrates on the creative writing aspect – don’t worry if you aren’t an illustrator though I suspect if you can whip up a sketch or two that would be lovely as well. Kieron is also facilitating an illustration-focused story workshop for teens during this first season.

Venue: Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick

HOW TO BOOK A PLACE

Info/booking line: 028 4461 0747

Find all class/performance/exhibition listings on the Down Arts Centre website.

AND

(4) Power of Words: Holocaust Memorial Day Workshop & Poems on a Sunday Afternoon

Not a course, but I’ll be facilitating a one-off morning workshop based on material from the Holocaust Memorial Trust material around this year’s topic ‘The Power of Words.‘ (Sat, 27 January, 10am-1pm, FREE, advance booking required. Places = 12). Participants are invited to share their words at the following day’s ‘Poems on a Sunday Afternoon’ at Down Arts Centre. I’ll blog separately about this, though.

Venues: Down County Museum / Down Arts Centre

 

Words for Castle Ward Events @NTCastleWard #BookFair this weekend.

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These are challenging times – and all I can offer by way of comfort is guilt-free shopping therapy for book-lovers. Castle Ward’s wonderful new-to-you annual Book Fair happens this weekend. As always there are books for every age, stage and taste. People tend to bring their own boxes. Donations and proceeds go to supporting conservation at the Natioanl Trust’s Castle Ward property. Events are free but normal NT admission charges apply. Bring the family – as there are activities for children on the general programme as well.

Words for Castle Ward Events

10 June

10.30-12.00: New writing workshop on the theme ‘Open Book’. Free to attend. This workshop for adults will suit all – from beginners to experienced writers – and all writing genres. Expect to come away with some new writing! Venue: Education Suite

12.15-12.45: Impromptu reading in the Stableyard Cafe. Back by popular demand, Words for Castle Ward writers share some work at the Cafe. Enjoy lunch or a coffee and creative written work. Venue: Stableyard Cafe

15.00-16.00: Launches of new works by Castle Ward authors. Join Malcolm Kidd, Terry Hickland and Olive Broderick as they launch new novels and a volume of poetry. With an introduction and readings. Books will be available to purchase on the day*, with some refreshments. Venue: Lord Bangor’s Sitting Room, Castle Ward.

All are free to attend, do let me (Olive Broderick) know if you will be attending the workshop at wordsforcastleward@gmail.com

 


*Except ‘Night Divers’ which is available online HERE and will be available at the Belfast Book Festival launch on the 17 June.