In November we had a fantastic guest session from Rachel Powell about finding your authentic writing voice.

She’s a self-proclaimed feral poet. Despite/because her chosen medium is poetry, her hard-won wisdom was of benefit to writers of all styles, encouraging us all to open ourselves up further when writing and sharing.

She also told us about the performance poetry scene both in the before times and also in our COVID-affected world. I have to say Rachel has been remarkably brave in how her poetry has helped shape her life and also her being so frank about her experiences.

We broke off into groups via the magic of Zoom to discuss what gets in the way of our writing generally and specifically what gets in the way of speaking with an authentic voice.

Rachel’s given her inner critical voice a name, Bob, and so she encouraged us all to name our voices and give them characteristics so we can picture telling them to go away. As I sometimes feel my writing can be clumsy and unsophisticated (and inspired by Rachel’s Cornish location), I chose Gus Honeybun, who was a Children’s ITV glove puppet that brought “anarchy” to many a West Country childhood offering birthday wishes through some impenetrable system of bunny hops. He was a puppet that charmed the young but as you grew older, could look cheap and also delay the start of more mature work like, erm, Home And Away.

While nobody else in my breakout group opted for a puppet that terrorised a pre-fame Ruth Langsford on a regular basis, we all reflect on what might be stopping us express ourselves.

Rachel did a couple of performances for us, which were all fantastic and made me long for a time when we could all head down to the Westcountry to see her perform in person, especially her amazing pterodactyl poem.

These are challenging times – I’m writing this having just come off a Zoom call sorting food for my determinedly shielding mum and it’s both comforting and disturbing that this is how her grub gets to her – and writing can be a way of working through the emotions that you’re going through even if you’re not explicitly addressing COVID in your work.

I know I’m going to try to speak to my inner pterodactyl next time I write.
Read more about Rachel’s work at theslow.life

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