DIY Writing Workshop: It’s All About That Slate

Writing Workshops

In this informal series, I will outline some of the previous workshops we’ve created at Verse Kraken for our participants, and give you prompts for you to do your own version at home.

Today I want to talk you through the second workshop we led at last year’s Verse Kraken Writing Retreat. This time, my fellow tutor Tori Truslow took the lead on it. We brought the writers to a small art gallery called Arts Raden, it was opened especially for us. This art gallery is essentially in the backyard of a family home and is surrounded by fields. We brought them there to show them work created by artist Sezny Peron out of slate, there was also another artist exhibiting there, called Fabien Jouanneau.

writing workshop france

Tori Truslow introducing the artists

Tori’s introduced the writers to Peron’s work and also, as additional inspiration, shared with them poems by surrealist poet and artist Max Jacob. As an aside, later in the week, we brought the writers to Quimper where they were able to count how many bridges, streets, and buildings have been named after Max Jacob (answer: I’m still counting…). From the mixture of these influences, the writers created some stunning pieces, here are a few excerpts:

“All the ages of the earth pass as heartbeats to me.” J Starr

“Tapered to a blade, guillotine sharp shaft, the slate is black-beetle shining, groven from ground ancient and fettled, like armour” Quen Took (full poem here)

“the broken ankles of my father’s house / we pull the bones out slowly / and tar them while we sing / this is new // the weight of all this / holds me in place” John Boursnell

Writing outside of the gallery

Today’s workshop

Step 1

Pick one of these works by Sezny Peron, I’ve included a selection from the exhibition that was running below. Tip: don’t overthink this one, choose the one that speaks to you first.

Step 2

Pick one of these questions and try to answer it.

Answer it in whichever format you want to: poetry, play, non-fiction, flash fiction, etc

  • If the sculpture could speak, what would it say and to whom?
  • What was this sculpture’s life before?
  • How could you describe this sculpture only through smells?
  • If this sculpture were music, what would it be like?
  • This sculpture is presenting a Powerpoint at a conference, what’s the topic?

Share your writing with us

We’d love to see what you come up with!

The next Verse Kraken Writing Retreat will take place 4-11 July 2020, find out more here.