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Creative Voices

Published on April 16th, 2014 | by Jennifer Jones


Creative Voices in Paisley: Exploring the Commonwealth with Creative Writing

Below is the third of a series of guest blog posts from creative writing tutor Andrea McNicoll who has been working with community groups in Rutherglen, Dumfries, Paisley and Kilmarnock as part of the Creative Voices programme of activity. 

During March I also delivered four workshops to a group of writers who meet each Friday at the Disabled Resource Centre in Paisley. The group are called “The Magic of Words”, and are led by Jacqueline Sorbie. Each week they set themselves a writing challenge and, after several years, have accumulated an impressive folder of poems and stories. Given that they already write, my task was relatively easy here, and I felt comfortable setting them specific challenges based around the themes of the Digital Commonwealth Project: people, place, culture and exchange.

In the first session I introduced the idea of using all five senses to create imagery and metaphor in creative writing. The group then brainstormed about all the images, tastes, sounds, smells and feelings that they associated with Scotland and being Scottish, and this led to a writing exercise where the participants produced writing about ‘place’. Here’s one example from Stephen:

Porridge Makes You Think

Porridge makes you think
Of days gone by
Of growing up
Of rebirth and nature
Haggis and neeps
Tatties and scones
Butlins and Maplins
Scarborough and Ayr
Girvan and Troon
Largs and Dunoon
Irvine and Oban
Going to Arbroath
Learned all the writing games
Hangman and battleships
Crosswords and anagrams It passed the time
Drawing the diagrams
Stephen Frate
For the second workshop I asked participants to bring in a photo of someone who has been an important influence in their life. Most brought in pictures of family members, and the task I set that week was a piece of writing about the person in the picture, about ‘people’. Here’s Jacqueline’s poem:

The MacSephney Women

Such strong and formidable women
Were the females of the MacSephney clan
Their words and wisdom spoke volumes
Thanks to then this is where it all began.

Handed down from generation to generation
A no-nonsense approach to life
Times were very hard in those days
You had to work hard if you wanted to survive.

They instilled this hard work ethic
Passing it down through the years
Ensuring the next generation would be strong
But never be afraid to show tears.

Good manners and morals were taught
To be self-reliant, strict, but fair
Respecting other’s beliefs and feelings
While still showing how much they care.
These emotionally strong no-nonsense women
Who with one look could say it all
At times no words were ever needed
That’s how it’s always been as I recall.

So I dedicate these words to my family
Especially my mum and my gran
Whose guidance helped me through life
To become the woman I am.

I give thanks to these MacSephney women
Who taught me to be myself, always be true
To stand firmly for all I believe in
My love always I send from me to you.

Jacqueline Sorbie

This poem is dedicated to all the MacSephney women who helped guide me through life. Sweet dreams to you all in heaven.

In the third and fourth workshops I prompted the participants to write poems around the themes of sport, the Commonwealth and the idea of commonweal. Here’s one of the group poem they wrote, which uses the acrostic form:

Living for the Commonweal

C is for caring people
The ones we know and love;
O is for the overall power
That comes from God above.
M is for the meaning of life
As we struggle along the way;
M is also for the many
Who struggle from day to day.
O is for the occasions
When we’re feeling low;
N is for the nurturing
That other people show
W is for the wisdom
Of those who are wily and wise
E is for the energy
That helps us to survive
A is for all the people
Of the Commonweal
L is for the lasting memory
That only time reveals.
The Magic of Words

The last set of workshops are taking place in Kilmarnock over the next few weeks. At the end of the creative writing series, a compilation of writing will be produced in hardcopy – with a digital version available online on this site.

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