Arvon Creative Writing Weekend – Spring 2014

ENHANCING OPPORTUNITIES Supporting Annual projects at Withington


Article from WGS Bulletin Spring 2014.

Aspiring authors from Withington were treated to an inspirational five-day residential creative writing course over the Half Term break, thanks to the generosity of the School’s Annual Fund supporters. A group of sixteen girls from Lower Fifth to Upper Sixth were accompanied by English teachers Ms Nadine West and Mrs Jill Bowie on the course, provided by the Arvon Foundation, a charity that promotes creative writing. Thought-provoking; enriching; awesome; eye-opening; insightful; exciting; magical; stimulating; engaging; enlightening; soul nourishing; inspirational and literally amazing – were just some of the adjectives used by the students to describe the course which was held at the former home of Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, Lumb Bank in the Yorkshire village of Heptonstall. Set in 20 acres of picturesque countryside, the 18th century mill owner’s house with its Japanese garden, woodland and extensive grounds, was the perfect backdrop for the girls to immerse themselves in their writing through a varied range of workshops run by award winning short story authors Adam Marek and Clare Wigfall. Mornings were spent on a variety of sessions that included writing circuits, word cricket, a metaphor hunt outdoors, discussions on film and music and a focus on the subject of Dystopia. In the afternoons there was free writing time and one-to-one tutorials, with the course culminating in each student writing and presenting an individual piece of work on a topic of her own choice, now compiled in an anthology Pies and Pylons.

Said Mrs Jill Bowie:

“The standard of work produced was outstanding. The course provided an opportunity to write outside the curriculum with no distractions. There was no wi-fi, little mobile signal and a peaceful environment that allowed the girls the opportunity to purely focus on their writing.” Evening meals were cooked by the group, who were split into four teams, taking it in turns to cater for 20 people using ingredients and recipes supplied by the Lumb Bank hosts.“ The girls were preparing two course meals every night including a vegetarian option and were cooking everything from scratch using fresh ingredients. It was great fun and the girls did very well,” said Mrs Bowie.
Arvon was an amazing experience and one that I would thoroughly recommend to anyone wishing to write for a future career,”said Iris Skipworth, a Lower Fifth pupil. Alvira Kumar and Ayesha Choudry – also in Lower Fifth – commented: “Surrounded by 20 acres of striking woodland, we embraced the chance to take the time to focus on our writing. Inspiring workshops partnered with home-cooked meals led to a week we would never forget; from generating ideas to crafting dystopian universes, the week was a truly valuable experience.”

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