Latest Writing Projects

Over the next couple of months I’m excited to be involved in several writing projects in Rochdale borough.

Photo of Seamus with projection of Van Gogh painting


Firstly I will be working with Cartwheel Arts to deliver a project for Deeplish Community Centre as part of their 35th anniversary celebrations. I will be working alongside local artist Rahela Khan and am looking forward to seeing the work we can produce.

Secondly I will be delivering a workshop for a group of young people as part of the same project in Deeplish.

Thirdly I am starting prepations for some brand new creative writing sessions for young people aged 5 to 11 themed in the Paris Olympics taking place this summer. These will be delivered with Your Trust, and i will be bringing a completely new slant to the topic.

Finally I am working on a special commissioned poem for release in the summer – as yet I cannot divulge more, but it is Rochdale focused and I look forward to working with the commissioning organisation. Its a big one and I’m really excited to develop and share it when I can.

A busy few months but there will still be time to continue with my own writing projects and working with young people at Vibe Rochdale.

Open Mic, Littleborough, 15th May 2024

Following the successful return of the open mic session in 2023, I will be compèring an open mic session as part of the Littleborough Arts Festival at The Red Lion in Littleborough on Wednesday 15th May 2024.

The session will run from 7.00pm to 9.00pm, although the landlady will be happy to continue serving drinks until closing time.

Image of a microphone

All welcome and the event is free of charge. There is likely to be a good mix of poetry and spoken word plus music and singing to make an enjoyable evening. Those wanting to read, perform, play or sing please let me now when you arrive and I’ll add you to our list.

You are never alone in the forest

My next linocut print will be based on Silver Birch trees. Today I started with some sketches in a sketchbook and then made a couple of versions in Procreate. The trees often look as if they have eyes so I came up with the title, after that I thought whether to add some eyes into the dark areas.

The next stage will be to draw onto Lino, carve and then print which will hopefully be completed over the coming week.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the prints will work out.

2023 was a year for….

Writing, Editing, Compiling, Drawing, Painting, Designing, Illustrating, Facilitating, Photographing and of course lots and lots of thinking.

Taking a New Year’s Eve look back at 2023, a productive year. Among the most memorable are the following:

  • Collating, editing and designing the anthology “Poetry in the Park” including illustration for the cover
  • Leading a series of workshops for “Poetry by the Canal”
  • collating, editing and designing the anthology “Poetry by the Canal”
  • Cover illustration and design for “As You Were” an anthology from Falinge Park Writing Group
  • Delivering 15 creative writing sessions, based around my story “My Wild Wolf Adventure” for children aged 5 to 11
  • Delivering a range of new creative writing workshops to local Creative Writing Groups
  • Selling art alongside my wife selling vintage at Hand and Treasure in Hebden Bridge Town Hall
  • working with young people to create new poetry at Deeplish Primary Academy
  • Creating graphics for use in an excellent short film by Harry Wheeler
  • Reviewing a range of events and performances for All Across the Arts
  • Writing and sometimes plenty of new poems
  • Working on a brand new personal project, a narrative book length piece regarding liminal spaces with poetry and illustrations – this may take some time….
  • Creating new artworks including, and sometimes combining, traditional and digital techniques
  • Supporting the creativity of young people with our recently registered charity Vibe Rochdale

Imposter Syndrome

What is it, why do we get it and what can be done about it?

Giclée print of Pelican - shown in frame for illustration only
Giclée print of Pelican – shown in frame for illustration only

Almost everyone will at some time suffer from the thing we call imposter syndrome.

In strict clinical or psychological terms it is specifically used to describe a situation where the person with the syndrome has a persistent internalised fear and it can often be accompanied by other mental health issues.

In common language the definition is not so rigidly applied and it is essentially the feeling that we are somehow not sufficiently suitable, capable or qualified enough for the situation we are in. Suffering from imposter syndrome makes you feel like a fraud. I believe that it is perfectly possible to feel confident and competent in some areas yet feel the opposite in others. This is the definition I am using in this article.

One of the side effects of this type of imposter syndrome is the need to excessively prepare; for example if you are going to make a presentation to a group of people you would run through it again and again, you might well practice later into the night to be sure you are ready, you might spend the journey to make the presentation running through it in your mind. You may be tired and stressed by all the preparation yet the presentation will still go well but you are then sure that it only went well because of all the preparation that you did.

At a lesser level the feeling might prevent you telling people what you can do. As a professional freelancer you need to tell people what you can do, you need to promote your own abilities; that is tricky when the syndrome keeps telling you that you aren’t good enough.

Among the wide variety of work I’ve done is SOME illustration. I’ve designed a handful of book covers, I’ve been commissioned to produce drawings, I’ve edited books, I’ve created illustrations for instruction manuals and for training courses ranging from photography, digital imaging to bicycle maintenance. I’ve made illustrations for cards etc. Yet when asked to make some illustrations for a film my head shouts at me “you’re not an illustrator, why don’t they get a real illustrator?”

So I tell myself that “people have paid me to do illustrations for them, I’ve made illustrations for various jobs, therefore I am an illustrator” but in my head that nagging voice stills says “What if you can’t do it? What if they find out that you are a fraud?”

Illustration for book cover

As a poet I’ve performed in little open mic venues and on festival stages. I’ve learned how to work the room, how to use a microphone and how to pace my performance. I have run numerous workshops for all ages from 5 to 80+, I’ve led poetry writing projects and produced books.

I’ve had poems published in books and online and I’ve been interviewed for radio programs. I’ve been commissioned to write poems and am paid at a proper professional rate. With all of that I can call myself a professional poet, BUT there is that voice again; “you’ve not had a book in Waterstones, you’ve not been on television, you’ve not Amanda Gorman, Tony Walsh or Alfred Tennyson….”

That voice is sometimes hard to ignore. That voice is the imposter syndrome.

Feeling the need to produce good quality work is not imposter syndrome.

Feeling pressure to do better is not imposter syndrome.

Wanting to be the best you can is not imposter syndrome.

Those things are about ambitions, but handle ambition with care because it can lead to making unhelpful comparisons. Every poet is different, we each have our own styles, our own interests and create our own unique work. Whilst ambition to be better is good, ambition to be the next Armitage, Sissay or Duffy is not so good.

I don’t want to be the next Seamus Heaney, I want to be Seamus Kelly. I want to write, draw and create as Seamus Kelly. One place where I cannot possibly be an imposter is in being Seamus Kelly.

You have to be yourself. You have to stop comparing yourself in a competitive way to others. You have to stop putting yourself down. You have to stop undervaluing yourself, your skills, your work and your creativity.

You have to do all that whilst that voice says “fraud”, and you have to credit yourself for successes. The voice may never shut up, but using facts, actual things you have and can do, to tackle it can make things better.

Don’t be the next Picasso, Mozart, Wordsworth or Neruda – be you, look for the value there.

I’m not suggesting its easy, or that it can be done without help. My help comes from fellow creatives and from my wife. It comes from the person who comes up to thank me after a performance because a poem reminded them of their mother, it comes from faces listening for the next words. It comes from the workshop participant eager to share what they’ve written. It comes from the requests for me to produce creative work. All of those things are needed to quieten that voice, to confidently say “I’m not a fraud”, (and at least most of the time to believe it).

Poetry by the Canal – progress update

A line drawn image of Rock Nook Mill on the Rochdale Canal

Six weeks in and the poets I’m our project have been producing some really good writing. Those new to writing poetry and the experienced poets in the group have found inspiration and have shown great enthusiasm, extending to supporting each other, testing out their poems and sharing them with us. It has been an honour to work with such a great group of poets.

We have also had excellent meetings with, and feedback from, the Canal Rivers Trust and with the Poetry Society and Roy MacFarlane, the Canal Laureate. Although it is too early to give details yet, I can say that we have exciting developments coming up.

With over 30 poems already submitted, and more to come, my work in editing and formatting is now underway and it is actually really quite good fun and inspiring.

There will be one final session before the work is compiled ready for production of a large print book which is likely to be launched early in 2024.

Poetry By The Canal

Having recovered from the Covid, that kept me away from the first session of this project, I was delighted to be back at Hare Hill House in Littleborough to lead today’s session face to face.

The project will run for 6 weeks to create poetry influenced by the area around the Rochdale Canal and Calderbrook from the former Rock Nook Mill to Summit in Littleborough.

Today we talked about thinking like a poet and among the props used for a writing exercise was my lovely compact Metronome (pictured here).

The poets then used information provided, about the famous Summit Tunnel and Rock Nook Mill, as inspiration to start crafting some new poetry.

At the end of the project we will publish a large print book containing selected poems produced by all of the participants.

Today it was great to meet some new writers and share inspiration and ideas. This is a very friendly and vibrant l group of writers and I’m very confident that there will be some excellent poetry to publish.

This project comes from an idea from Liz White who has worked on planning and secured funding so that we can bring poetry writing opportunities to Littleborough and produce work which is available to local people including those with visual impairments.

Writing Workshop – Protest and Conflict

A selection of protest placards for tomorrow’s workshop.

Tomorrow I will be bringing a new workshop on Protest and Conflict to the Falinge Park Writing Group in Rochdale. The group meets every Thursday morning from 10am to noon at the Community Hub in Falinge Park. Everyone is welcome regardless of prior writing experience.

In this workshop we will look at the role of writing in protest and conflict and look at examples from history and more recent work. There will be a focus on poetry but those attending will be supported to write in whatever for they prefer.

The park is just a 15 minute walk from Rochdale Interchange, and for those driving, parking is available in the park for these sessions, just drive in through the gate at the bottom of Sheriff Street and follow the drive to the tarmac area in front of the house.

For more information please contact me on seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk or Eileen Earnshaw on eileen.earnshaw@yahoo.co.uk

Open mic at The Red Lion, Littleborough, Weds 17th May, 7:00pm

Image of a microphone

On 17th May I will be compèring an open mic poetry evening at The Red Lion, in Littleborough, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

All are welcome and those wishing to read or perform should simply let me know on arrival so that I can include them on the list.

The free event is brought to you by Littleborough Arts Festival who will be running a wide range of arts events and activities over the long weekend from 19th to 21st May – details of all events can be found on the Littleborough Arts Festival Facebook page.

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

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.