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DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF A POET
The Oxford English Dictionary says a poet is a person possessing special powers of imagination or expression. Similarly, the Merriam Webster dictionary describes a poet as one who writes poetry : a maker of verses. : one (such as a creative artist) of great imaginative and expressive capabilities and special sensitivity to the medium. English synonyms for poet interestingly include minstrel, muse, bard, versifier or rhymester, Collins English Dictionary speaks thus of a poet: a person who displays imaginative power and beauty of thought and language etc. Here on Lanzarote, the Spanish have a phrase and a word for it; a poet is a poeta n comun, or a poetisa. Whatever language you speak, you will have your own definition of a poet, so come follow your art down sidetracks and detours all the way to the end of the line.
A friend and former colleague of mine,, Seamus Kelly, is a Rochdale based Irish / English poet originally from the midlands. In 2015 Seamus took the plunge giving up his full time job in sustainable travel to become a professional poet and writer.
Seamus is also a photographer and visual artist and has adopted “onepoetsvision” as a name to encompass all of those artforms.
Seamus posts on social media at:
@onepoetsvision – on Twitter
onepoetsvision – on Facebook
onepoetsvision – on Pinterest
onepoetsvision – on Instagram
Seamus (left) can be found performing and running writing and poetry workshops around the North West of England and occasionally further afield and offers a range or ready made or bespoke sessions details of which can be found HERE.
Having led Weaving Words, Rochdale’s creative writing group, for 10 years, before turning freelance, he has performed his work across greater Manchester and beyond including a high profile performance at the 2015 Eroica Britannia Festival in Derbyshire (a festival of all things vintage and cycling) and having been invited back brought new material to appreciative audiences at the 2016 and 2017 festivals.
Seamus has facilitated and delivered workshops on a wide range of topics including how to find inspiration, the technicalities of writing and a series of high-speed workshops at the Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival. His workshop clients include schools, libraries, creative writing groups, reading groups and community organisations.
Seamus was the originator and one of the commissioned poets for Connect2 Poetry, launched in 2013 that grew from Seamus’ idea for a poetry trail around Rochdale’s 40km Connect2 network of walking and cycling routes. With support from Rochdale Library Service and Cartwheel Arts a total of 35 poems were commissioned to be featured on plaques on the routes, an interactive website and phone app.
I was delighted to be invited to create five poems for that event, and I well remember a day when all the poets concerned, including Seamus and Eileen Earnshaw and Robin Parker, convened to perform in Healey Dell in an event staged by Cartwheel Arts. I hadn´t known Seamus very well until then, but a couple of years later, when I had to leave some contracted work undone to take a sudden opportunity to come and live here on Lanzarote. I was very proud when he accepted my request that he might take over that outstanding work. We had by then delivered a couple of collaborative workshops for adult writing groups, as well as to one or two colleges and schools and, whilst I wouldn´t claim to be as profound a poet as Seamus, I had no doubt we had the same attitude towards our writing and that we were eager to help create pathways for aspirant poets..
Seamus is now also the resident poet and writer with Vibe in Rochdale who’s “Stories We Could Tell” project was the runner up in the Rochdale Diversity Awards 2016. Vibe works with young people including asylum seekers, young people in care and young people with mental health issues, using creativity to empower them whilst developing skills and confidence. In 2021 Seamus is leading the development of a video broadcast called “Vibecast” where young people will record reviews, interviews and short programmes about their interests. Vibecast will initially be recorded and shared through the Vibe website and as young people grow in confidence and technical abilities we will produce some live-streamed content.
Sidetracks and Detours recently celebrated Vibe, where my forming journalistic partner, Steve Cooke (right) is heavily involved. I have known of the organisation, in various guises, for many years and worked with them frequently during that period before I moved here to Lanzarote. Our article was posted last year on 20th December on 20th December under the title of On Artist´s View: Seamus Kelly Shares His Vision and is still available in our easy to navigate archives of almost 900 articles. We also published, earlier this week, the Vibe annual report for 2022 under the title which also featured a short biography of Seamus, asnd the article will remain ion our easy to negotiate archives of over 900 articles.
As an environmentalist, with a degree in Ecology to go alongside an HND in Graphic Design and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, 20 years in IT support, a creative career, 14 years of teaching (including working in an SEN setting) and six years promoting cycling Seamus Kelly is a rare combination of scientist and creative; prone perhaps to thinking (and talking) too much. He has worked in an SEN school for 6 years teaching young people who have severe social and behavioural issues, including young people in care and those on the autistic scale.
He produced his first short collection of poetry “Thinking Too Much” in 2015 with poems inviting the reader to think about life, family, nature, politics, justice, peace and society – the book can be purchased using the links HERE.
Prominent Yorkshire poet James Nash said of Thinking Too Much “Seamus Kelly’s poetry is the poetry of journeys and places.
Sometimes that place is the past and sometimes it is where nature and people intersect. But always it is written with a kind of passionate precision, and with great humanity”
Now Seamus has announced through his social media outlets that April will see an exciting, one day, poetry event at Hare Hill House, in Littleborough.
The morning will offer 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 on 22nd April of Poetry In The Park
Eileen Introduction to Poetry – Eileen Earnshaw
Rochdale poet, writer and workshop facilitator, Eileen Earnshaw (left), 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 an engaging and inclusive workshop where everyone will leave with new knowledge and some new poetry.
Eileen is in fact my favourite of all the poets I actually know. Although far lesser known, I believe Eileen´s poetry, at its best ,stands at ease in the company of the likes of James Nash, Seamus, and even with the likes of Simon Armitage: She has that sharp eye, that compassion and that quietly terrifying anger
Freeform Poetry – Gaia Holmes
Calderdale poet, Gaia Holmes (left), 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
I first met James Nash when I was at Leeds University as a ´mature´ student and attending creative writing workshops in Bradford. He was a quiet and significant presence. In the past fifteen years I have attended a workshop he was delivering in, I think, Bury Met, where I performed Let Him Roll, a lyric by the late Texas song-writer Guy Clark, (right) and was delighted to find James receptive to interpretations as well as originals and also having an awareness of Americana and its story-telling traditions.
When I was working with Pam McKee as Just Poets we attended a James Nash creative writing workshop at, I think, Bury Met. Pam had written a poem of three or four verses with a couple of lines that she was obviously very pleased with, …and so was I. As she read it to the group there were knowing nods at thoise lines in particular, but somehow the piece didn’t´ receive the attention I felt it deserved.
At the time Pam was astonished when James said something along the lines of,… yes, its very good, but as you realise you´re going to have to murder your darlings. Pam didn´t realise at all, and in fact asked hom what he meant by darlings.
He went on to explain to Pam, and to me, and to the group as a whole, really, that the lines that we have perhaps first conveived and which we like and value so much because they were that light-bulb moment, often get in the way of narratives or a cumbersome because to a reader or to a listener they might feel too rhyme-led or contrived.
Faulkner “Murder your darlings,” is a popular piece of writing advice that is often attributed to William Faulkner, but which can actually be traced back to the English writer and surname collector Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. Of course, this expression is not meant to suggest that literally killing the people you care about will make you a better writer. If that were the case, the novels of William Burroughs wouldn’t be complete gibberish. Rather, it is a metaphor for how you should behave toward your writing while you are revising it. The idea is to proceed objectively and without sentiment. Just like you would if you were to kill a loved one.
For example, let’s say you wrote a poem that is supposed to be about a sunset. Throughout you use words like “yellow” and “orange” so that nobody could ever look at your poem and say that it isn’t describing an absolute barnstormer of a sunset. However, once you turn your critical eye to the newly finished work, you notice that in the middle of your sunset epic there is an elaborate description of a moon landing that has nothing to do with the rest of the poem. To complicate matters further, the moon landing is your favorite part. It stretches on for pages in hard-won verse that took you several months to tease out of your tortured soul. The way you describe the astronaut’s helmet alone is enough to make a thousand coma victims spring from their hospital beds and all just start grinding on one another.
Just this one piece of advice to ´murder your darlings´ would take a series of workshops to make understood, and at that moment in time Pam hadn´t understood.
I went home, though, and looked at the poem I had created in that workshop, which, thank God, James hadn´t asked me to read. The title, Nothing But A Summer Storm had come to me in a flash and I thought it was a great analogy of how what seems like a dreadful row between lovers soon give way to happier, sunnier weather, in the way a summer storm does.
I realised as I read it I had never made plain that analogy. The poem was too pastoral and didn´t even have the rise and fall, the storme und drang of a summer storm and there was a couplet repeated couplet in each of four verse;
Its rolling thunder out here under heaven, sure as hell its going to rain.
There´s lighting striking every seven seconds, rolling in across the plain
I murdered my darlings. I killed them stone dead.
I ended up with a better poem.
But Mr. Nash, if you ever read this you should know that those two lines have haunted me for nearly twenty years, I loved them, but I have never, though, found a place for them !
James, (left) hailing from Leeds and Bridlington, is a popular poet, and leader of always exciting workshops, and speaker with eight 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.
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 and his Collected Poems (left), 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.
He is, as too is Seamus Kelly, a quietly spoken man, and an excellent listener, which might just be the dictionary definition of the word poet.
So here is a quick re-cap (ie another e mail from Seamus has just arrived.
On Saturday 22nd April there will be a Poetry In The Park event at Hare Hill House in Littleborough. In the morning from 10:00 to 12:00 there will be workshops led by Eileen Earnshaw (Introduction to Poetry), Gaia Holmes (Freeform Poetry) and Seamus Kelly (Polish and Perfect). From 12:00 there will be a chance to perform/read the poems created in the sessions. The workshops are free but because spaces are limited, you can book by emailing email@example.com
In the afternoon the excellent and inspirational, Yorkshire based poet, and author of 8 poetry collections, James Nash. James will talk about his passions and poetry and will share some of his work from 14:00 to 16:00. Tickets for James’s session are £5 each and you can buy directly from Seamus Kelly on his One Poet´s Vision site or on Eventbrite (details on attached flyer).
You are welcome to contact Seamus to discuss the workshops or other details of the event.
To reserve your place at An Afternoon With James Nash check out