Winter Programme 2023 draft
‘Hold fast to dreams’ wrote the great poet Langston Hughes. We’ll do the same this season, exploring the way rest, sleep and dreams can instruct, heal and inspire. Join us for morning writing workshops on themes including snowdrops and robins, sleep and sleeplessness, visions and daydreams.
For this season, we’ll host a peaceful hour of writing after our final workshop ‘Daydream’. This is an opportunity to continue writing and reflecting on the theme, and then to share ideas with others.
All our events take place online via Zoom (UK time), and we look forward to welcoming you along wherever you are based.
Tuesday 17 January (6.30-7.30pm) & Wednesday 18 January (7.15-9am)
Our season opens with a gentle two-part workshop on the relationship between rest and creativity. We’ll gather to write together in the early evening, then meet again in the morning to consider the quiet of the season, winter sleepers like dormice and frogs, and winter’s invitation for rest and reflection.
Friday 20 January (7.15-9am)
These dark days of winter are often brightened by the first flower of the year: the snowdrop. Often found in woodland and underneath trees, this delicate wildflower symbolises beginnings, hope and the ability to overcome challenges. A lovely morning workshop, aligning with the new moon on 21 January, on the much-loved snowdrop.
Tuesday 24 January (7.15-9am, virtual on )
Dreams make you be somewhere where you apparently aren’t, render you a character in a story that isn’t yours and that you believe, says poet Alice Notely. Many writers—from Katherine Mansfield to Maya Angelou—used dreams and also nightmares as material for their work. Their subconscious wanderings offered insights, ideas and solutions to creative problems. Join us for a writing workshop to explore the value of charting our dreams on the page, including the practical aspects of keeping a dream diary.
Thursday 26 January (7.15-9am)
Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, Man Ray’s ‘Sleeping Woman,’ Louise Bourgeois’ ‘Sleeping Figure’ and Yayoi Kusama, ‘Endless Love Rooms.’ Painters, sculptors and poets have often depicted women asleep. Some suggest serenity, mystery and how closed we are to imagination, others seem explicitly voyeuristic. In this workshop we’ll explore the figure of sleeping women in fairytales, art and literature, as well as artists that subvert the trope.
Tuesday 31 January (7.15-9am)
The surrealist movement in art and literature was inspired by the mechanics of dreams, Charlotte Bronte said she had the best ideas on wakeful nights, longing for sleep. In this workshop we’ll tap into dream logic and all things uncanny, enigmatic and strange to prompt new writing. We’ll take inspiration from the surrealist painter and poet Dorothea Tanning, who died aged 101 on this day in 2012.
Thursday 2 January (7.15-9am)
Join us for a morning workshop on the cheery robin and its bright red breast! During winter, our robins are joined by migrant populations from across Europe, singing at first light and at dusk, too. We’ll write with birdsong, inspired by this sweet but fiercely territorial bird.
Candlelit Writing Retreat
Tuesday 7 February (7.15-9.30am)
Bring your work in progress, along with a hot drink and candles, and join us for a peaceful writing retreat—with some gentle writing prompts to start. The session will begin in darkness, gather energy from the sunrise and conclude with the light of the morning.
Tuesday 14 February (7.15-9am)
Yew trees can reach over 60 feet high, with some living for more than 2,000 years. As an evergreen tree, it offers red berries in winter and is often planted in churchyards suggesting links to immortality and rebirth. This session will use folklore, myth and stories of the yew tree to prompt new writing.
Friday 17 February (7.15-9am)
A morning writing workshop on visions, prophecy and premonitions. In this session, we’ll meet at sunrise to take words, images and narratives from dreams, and then repeat and transform them into new pieces of writing. We’ll look at examples of visions in literature and in spiritual traditions, such as the female medieval mystics Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe.
Thursday 23 February (7.15-9am)
“One never knows what one may be releasing when one begins to analyse dreams. Something deeply buried and invisible may thereby be set in motion,” wrote Carl Jung. In the early hours of the morning, sleep still hovering, join novelist Rowan Hisayo Buchanan to tap into the powers of our dreams. We’ll use dreams ancient and recent as pathways into the stories we need to tell. The writing prompts will be suitable for both lovers of the fantastical and faithful realists.
Tuesday 28 February (7.15-9am), followed by optional writing hour (9-10am)
To close our season, we’ll host a workshop on the joy and creative potential of daydreaming! Letting thoughts roam free allows space for new insights about the self, other people and your creative work—it’s a great counter to our culture’s obsession with productivity. So, join us for a morning of writing, thinking and daydreaming.