Storytelling and Writing this week

My Pet T-Rex

Dinosaur picture coloured in by children using pencils.

This week I’ve had a great time running creative writing sessions for children as part of the excellent HAF (Health, Activity and Food) program with YourTrust Rochdale. The children in each group range from age 4 to age 12 and this week we’ve worked with my children’s story “My pet T-Rex”.

We talk about dinosaur facts, we look at my life sized dinosaur eggs and birds eggs for comparison before I tell them my story and then help them to create their own stories. The focus is firmly on creativity and fun and children are encouraged to use their imaginations.

Dinosaur picture coloured in by children using pencils.

some great examples this week have included;

“The dinosaur became sad because the people ran away. I gave him a flower to eat and it cheered him up.”

One girl told of an aquatic dinosaur that could take her under the water, “it was magical, I tell ya!”

A dinosaur as big as the the Leaning Tower of Pisa and another with square shaped eyes.

There were magical dinosaurs that could teleport, read minds, dance, sing and even one with an extendable neck. There were dinosaurs that went on picnics, went shopping or left a trail of squashed footprints through a forest.

Children at my sessions are encouraged to join in with actions and sounds but yesterday one group asked me if they could act out the story. At the end of the session I spent a few minutes working out how we could act out the story and we then had a performance with young people taking the roles of the dinosaur and the children in the story – they were fully engaged and had a great time.

Dinosaur picture coloured in by children using pencils.

When we’ve had our fill of talking, listening and writing there may be time for some artwork or creative colouring like the examples shown in this post. It has been an inspiring week of story telling, more dinosaurs, more imagination and more magic with children from some of the most deprived backgrounds.

if you’d like the children in your school or groups to experience this unique storytelling and writing session please email seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk

I also offer storytelling and writing sessions based on my original children’s stories covering topics including, an ocean adventure, a space adventure, wolves, mini beasts and forest friends. All of the stories have plenty of reference to science and nature, echoing my own interests and my degree in Ecology.

Sessions run for one to two hours and up to three sessions can be delivered during a typical school day.

Is writing really work?

An image of a heavy pen, perhaps writing in blood

Poets and writers; I’ve been thinking about what we do, is it really work?

Sometimes writing doesn’t feel like work. Sometimes getting the words down and shaping them is enjoyable and even relaxing. For many writers poetry is a kind of therapy or catharsis, words flow and at the end the poet feels somehow relieved or better.

But, sometimes the things about which we write can change that relaxing idyllic process. To nick couple of words from W.B. Yeats, the process is “changed utterly”.

Yesterday I started work on a poem, inspired by a single line by E Hemingway, “it was coming down the valley even in the early morning”. My new poem contains a few of those words, but the subject bears no other real relationship to Hemingway’s original writing. Thanks to Eileen Earnshaw for putting those words in front of me.

The subject I started writing about was complex, it was about migration and it was about the two-fold tragedies of a growing cultural attitude and the loss of life as people try to find new homes. The hard part is that the poet actually writes not simple statement of facts but expresses how they feel about them, deep down, inside. The first draft took maybe 20 minutes and a second draft started straight after that. After half an hour I was nowhere near finished but I felt completely “wrung out”.

Over the years I worked in many different jobs and I’ve done a range of sports, but rarely have I felt as tired and drained as after those 30 minutes with my fountain pen and a notebook.

The end of a week labouring on a building site, or teaching young people with behavioural issues, crossing the line of a 10k run or finishing a couple of hours training on the velodrome behind a motorbike; those things all feel near impossible to repeat, yet we go back and do them again when we’ve recovered.

So it is with writing. Today, feeling somewhat recovered, I’ve worked on further drafts and edits and have a version of my newest poem, called “Grains”. Once again I feel empty, hollow, my hands are no longer steady and even re-reading it just now is like being dragged out of sleep when you’ve just managed to drift off. To hear a powerful poem can feel like being punched in the senses, to write that poem the poet must keep on battering those senses until it is ready.

The poem is unlikely to be finished just yet (sometimes I think they never really are) but I might give it an open-mic test run on Sunday evening. It won’t be there to entertain, and I almost feel I should apologise to the audience (only almost though) who will end up feeling a little of what I’ve felt writing it.

So what am I getting at? What’s my point?

It is simply this: writing is indeed work.

If something really matters it may be harder it will be to write about. A poem being hard to write, however difficult it may be, is no excuse for not writing it.

What do you think?

What is the hardest to write?

Poetry in the Park – FREE Writing Workshops – 22nd April 2023

Choose from three poetry workshops running from 10:00am to 12:00noon

Poetry in the park logo

To reserve your place on your chosen workshop please email lizwhitecreative@gmail.com


Introduction to Poetry – Eileen Earnshaw

Rochdale poet, writer and workshop facilitator, Eileen Earnshaw, runs the Falinge Park Writing Group and has led several writing projects in Bolton after completing her BA Honours Degree in Creative Writing at Bolton University. This workshop is suitable for anyone interested in starting to write poetry and those who are relatively new to writing.

Eileen’s track record in helping new writers to gain confidence will ensure and engaging and inclusive workshop where everyone will leave with new knowledge and some new poetry.

Freeform Poetry – Gaia Holmes

Calderdale poet, Gaia Holmes, has won several awards for her poetry and was recently awarded a fellowship by the Arts Foundation Futures, for her place writing. Gaia is an experienced workshop facilitator who always brings positivity and fresh viewpoints to her sessions.

This Freeform Poetry session is aimed at those who want to develop their writing and look at new approaches to their poetry. Participants are sure to enjoy the session and leave with some new writing.


Polish and Perfect – Seamus Kelly

Littleborough based poet and artist, Seamus Kelly, has led a number of successful writing projects including the 2022 Poetry in the Park project in Littleborough with a series of workshops culminating in the publication of a large print poetry book of the participants’ work.

This workshop is suitable for those who have written some poetry and would like to finds ways to polish it and prepare it for publication or performance. The workshop will include techniques for using a microphone while reading your polished words.


Poetry performance – 12:00 to 1:00pm

Following the workshops there will be a performance session in Hare Hill House where participants, and perhaps workshop leaders, will share some of their words.


To reserve your place on your chosen workshop please email lizwhitecreative@gmail.com

Poetry in the Park – James Nash – 22nd April 2023

April sees a new, exciting, one day, poetry event at Hare Hill House, Littleborough.

The morning sees three FREE poetry writing workshops by published poets (further details to follow in my next post) plus poetry performance, followed from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, by an Afternoon with James Nash.

James, hailing from Leeds and Bridlington, is a popular poet, workshop leader and speaker with 8 collections of poems published so far and has been a frequent guest and host at literature festivals. James’ latest collection “Heart Stones” is his third collection of sonnets; information about the book is shown below, beneath the online booking link.

during the afternoon James will talk about his passions, his writing and will share some poems with the audience.

Tickets for this not to be missed event are available now on Eventbrite using the link below, or can be purchased from me in person for just £5.00 each.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

In his third volume of sonnets, James Nash examines urban and seaside environments in a Yorkshire he has known through fifty years living in the North. His sonnets soar over the land – from Leeds, a predominantly Victorian city, to the Wolds in the East Riding of Yorkshire, walking and cycling into the natural world with a pen and paper never far from his hand.

James openly shows his debts to the great poets and writers of previous generations, from Winifred Holtby to Philip Larkin, from Matthew Arnold to Dylan Thomas – and with this sparkling new collection, lays a fresh claim to be named among them. To borrow some of his ​own words, James’ gift is to be a “clear microscope” for our times, finding hope in the many “miracles of detail” that pass through his unwavering gaze; into verses that glow with warmth, insight and poignancy. He thinks his old English master would be quite proud.

Kodachrome to Monochrome – Writers on Tap – 2nd February 2023

Kodachrome to Monochrome – Writers on Tap – 2nd February 2023

On Thursday I will be delivering a brand new creative writing workshop, Kodachrome to Monochrome, for Writers on Tap. Formerly the Touchstones Creative Writing Group, the group now meet at The Medicine Tap in Rochdale on the first Thursday of the month from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.

A monochrome image taken inside chethams library in Manchester.

The workshop will look at tone, colour and details in creative writing with prompts and exercises to encourage some new writing. All are welcome and all genres of writing are encouraged. The picture above is one of a selection to be used as prompts.

Poetry in the Park anthology launched today

Many thanks to all of those who attended our launch today. Extra thanks to Nick from Hare Hill House for making us so welcome and set up to room for us, and I especially admire the upside down Christmas Tree.

With tea and coffee and a table of home made cakes, proving that some of our poets are also excellent bakers, the 40 strong audience settled down to listen to an introduction from Elizabeth White, Chair of Create and Connect who organised the project. Elizabeth spoke about the motivation and aims of our project, the reasons for producing a large print poetry book and thanked our sponsors “Crook Hill Community Benefit Fund”.

Photo of all participating poets and Janet Elmsley with their copies of the book
The poets and Cllr Janet Elmsley with copies of the anthology

Eileen Earnshaw, a superb local poet, and I shared a couple of poems each to give some idea of the range of styles and subjects that we write about and then each of the other poets who took part in the project read some of their work from the newly published book.

The participating poets are; Denise Greenall, Eileen Earnshaw, Elizabeth White, Graham Haynes, Julie Woodrup, Marilyn Allred, Nic Holliday, Ray Stearn, Sandra Buckley, Susan Benton and myself.

Cllr. Janet Emsley, Deputy Leader of Rochdale Council, always a staunch supporter of the arts and her local community in Littleborough, read a poem on behalf of Elizabeth White and also expressed thanks to the sponsors and her hopes that we will continue to see such community based creative projects in the future.

Photo of Janet Emsley, Seamus Kelly and Elizabeth White with copies of “Poetry in the Park”
Cllr Janet Emsley, Seamus Kelly (poet and facilitator), Elizabeth White (Create and Connect)

The book, and the readings, were very well received and copies will be distributed free of charge to people experiencing sight loss, Rotary will include them in Christmas parcels and they will be distributed to care homes etc. and through MeetUp at Hare Hill House.

Next week we will be releasing copies online, freely downloadable, including a version using colours and a specialist font to make it more readable for people with dyslexia.

Elizabeth White said “the launch was really successful, the poets read from their work to a very appreciative audience. Being able to offer a large print poetry book is amazing as there are very few published in this format.”

A photo of some of the audience members listening to the poets
Some of the audience listening to poems at today’s launch

A great event and project, I have been very impressed by all of the writers and thoroughly enjoyed running the workshops and editing the anthology.

Poetry in the Park Launches – Tomorrow 2nd Dec

Hare Hill House, Littleborough

11:00am to 12:00noon, Friday 2nd December

A photo of the open box with a copy of the anthology at the top

A quick glance inside one of the boxes of books ready for tomorrow’s launch.

It is always exciting opening that box and holding a copy of a brand new book in your hand. This one is a special one being produced as it is a large print anthology helping to make poetry accessible to older people and those with some visual impairment.

The work has been inspired by the workshops that the writers attended at Hare Hill House in Littleborough. I’m really looking forward to the participating poets receiving their copies, seeing their words in print and sharing some of their poems at the launch.

if you can get along to the launch you’ll be very welcome and you will be able to collect a free copy of Poetry in the Park and enjoy light refreshment and drinks.

Poetry in The Park Book Launch 2nd Dec 2022


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been editing submitted poems, selecting poems for publication, designing the layout and creating the cover for our large print anthology. After all that creative and technical work I now enter the easier, but tense, phase of waiting for copies to arrive through the post.

Image of the anthology cover with an image of a tree in Autumn and text against a mid green background.

The book, draft cover shown here, will be launched on Friday 2nd December at 11.00am where some of the twelve contributing poets will read selected poems. There will also be opportunity to meet and speak to the poets.

Refreshments will be provided and copies of Poetry in the Park will be available to take away.

All are welcome to attend at Hare Hill House, in Hare Hill Park, Littleborough.

Touchstones Creative Writing Group – an Anniversary

Photography of the entrance to Touchstones, Rochdale

Seven years ago my friend and fellow poet and writer, Norman Warwick, retired to Lanzarote. Norm, part of All Cross the Arts in Rochdale, had facilitated the Touchstones Creative Writing Group every month for some years and the group was going well.

I received an email from the group secretary asking me if i would be able to facilitate their next session in October 2015 as Norm wouldn’t be around. of course I said yes and created a workshop for the group.

Since then TCWG have called in a number of writers to facilitate their sessions and I’ve delivered brand new workshops every few months for the group.

Yesterday I walked through those doors and delivered a workshop about Time and Place in writing.

Seven years and over 20 workshops where I’ve seen members come and go. We used technology during the pandemic, we’ve met in various rooms including the galleries whilst open to the public. I can honestly say that its been a privilege to work with the members and to see how they’ve developed over the years.

So as Norm celebrates 7 years of retirement in Lanzarote, where he is embedded in the local writing and cultural scenes, I celebrate my own 7 years of working with TCWG.

Norm writes about arts and culture, in Lanzarote, Rochdale, and around the world, on his blog ”All Across the Arts, Sidetracks and Detours” at https://aata.dev

All Across the Arts continues to deliver arts and cultural stories, inspiration and events in Rochdale, curated by Steve Cooke with a twice weekly column in the local papers and online at www.allacrossthearts.com

Summer Holiday Workshops

I’ve had an amazing Summer running workshops as part of the HAF (Health Activity and Food) working with young people from age 5 to 11. Your Trust Rochdale, the borough’s cultural and leisure trust, had asked me to deliver sessions following feedback from sessions I had previously delivered for HAF last Summer and at Easter.

I delivered a total of 13 sessions at schools and libraries in Darnhill, Heywood, Middleton, Smallbridge and Kirkholt in Rochdale, and were attended by between 12 and 22 young people at each.

Each workshop involved storytelling, with a new series of children’s stories I have been developing, learning about a topic, creative writing and drawing and colouring matching the themes of each topic. in some sessions we also shared some poetry and children produced some of their own.

The workshops were titled:

My Ocean Adventure, My Space Adventure, My Minibeast Adventure, My Dinosaur Adventure and Endangered – Creatures at Risk.

All of the workshops were very well received and when a 7 year old on my final session (one of My Ocean Adventure sessions) said ”That was a really good story” I couldn’t have been happier.

The workshops are all now available for schools, and other groups, and are suitable for anyone from 5 to 11, including children with special needs. Each session can be run over one hour or two hours depending on ages and needs of the group.

I’m always happy to discuss the sessions I offer and availability and can also prepare bespoke sessions as required for all age groups for age 5 upwards.

Poetry in the Park

A band new project in Littleborough, the brainchild of artist, and writer, Liz White, who realised that many older people and people with visual impairments are not able to access poetry. Based in Hare Hill House I will be delivering a series of 6 two hour workshops using the Park, House, Littleborough and their history for inspiration.

The participants will contribute poems to a collection which will be produced as a large print book suitable for readers with visual impairments. The book will be distributed free of charge to local people with visual impairments. Participants will be supported in writing poetry in terms of style, language, poetic forms and technique.

To book one of the last few places please email: lizwhitecreative@gmail.com

If you have any questions you can comment below or email me: seamus@onepoesvision.co.uk

One World One Chance – Dyslexia Friendly

Dyslexia friendly cover

The book produced with Falinge Park Writing Group is now available online in a special dyslexia friendly version as well as a standard version.

The dyslexia friendly version uses a coloured background and a font specially designed to make reading easier for people with dyslexia.

You can download the book, Free of Charge, by clicking here HERE