Session Four : 4th October 2017

Creative writing facilitated by Femi Keeling (née Martin)

This week we had a double bill: as an introduction to the power of creative writing and Femi’s work, we went to watch her performance of ‘How to Die of a Broken Heart‘ in the Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse 

Here, about half the Drawing Connections group were immersed in an hour (quickest hour ever) performance by Femi. No break, just a captivating, pulse racing performance, learning about the loves she has lost and won, and the extreme health condition this seemingly brought on. Listen to her describe this condition in more detail and her experience here : The Achalasia Diaries

The performance was enjoyed by everyone and the following day, joined by those who were not able to attend the performance, Femi was warmly welcomed to the session by all.

Some discussion was had about the previous night, a few jokes, revelations and experiences shared about the outing with those unable to attend. One of the participants described how he had kept seeing the the silhouette of Geri’s Linocut produced the previous week in the shadows of the BT Studio. What do you think (very prophetic Geri!):

Then we practiced the next three moves of Shibashi; ‘playing with clouds’, ‘scooping from the sea’ and ‘pushing the waves’. Relaxed, if a little chilled (Autumn has taken root, no water involved) we returned to the Ecobuild and outlined the days session. The source of which, and the foundation of the Drawing Connections programme,  the poem written by  Max Ehrmann, Desiderata.

Femi began by reading the poem which was a real treat for us all, but especially those unable to attend the night before. Then asked if any particular parts of the poem resonated for members of the group, much debate, both enlightening and encouraging of openness ensued. Reflecting on the poem and our own experiences, Femi encouraged participants to write creatively, either using free verse, or within a framework which she suggested:

“I know…

I know…

I know… etc.

And this I know for sure.”

Once people were comfortable with what they had written, we shared our writings, and the magic ensued. The feeling one experiences, sharing your own writing is one difficult to compare, but it is certainly a tool for developing self-esteem and confidence, and at the same be incredibly revealing, which is a powerful thing in itself.

After this brief, but moving engagement we shared refreshments, then to get some fresh air we took a walk around the woods and pond to clear our heads and reflect on the work we had just done, before returning to do a closing exercise and write the session feedback.

It is amazing what can be achieved in so little time with a group of willing and engaged participants. Especially when done within a safe space, which we have most certainly created between us over these sessions.

Next week I look forward to collectively assessing our works and composing mixed media collages to be printed, ultimately for Garden Display.

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This is the copy of Desiderata, which has traveled with me throughout my life! Now given to me by my mother. Enjoy.

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As ever, immense gratitude for this project is ‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’

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