Renovations and Transformations – Writing and The Tetley

One of the things I find most encouraging in all the ups and downs of being a writer is when people approach me or email me to say they are enjoying my blogs.  This month I’ve had some lovely feedback on my work and wanted to start by sharing some of it.

About the Morley workshop The Art of Poetry

‘I felt your unpressured style and generous supply of inspiration released something all ready and waiting to come out!  And it’s the first time I’ve ever read anything of my own in public.’

About In Bloom, the Morley commissioned poem 

‘I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed reading ‘In Bloom’ on your blog.  I think you’ve succeeded so well in making a unity from ‘submitted phrases’: a very tender and moving unity, I feel.  I really like the way you move to and fro in time, interweaving past and present.

I like the way you move to and fro in time, interweaving past and present. Often, I feel [crowdsourced poems] don’t survive the occasion of their making but I think yours does because of the deeply felt monologue you’ve created.  I feel the empathic evocation of women’s lives embedded in time and place has been a source of inspiration for you.’

Lovely, hey?


You may remember that I sent the first few chapters of Skybound to five agents in September and had received one rejection by the time of my last blog.  This morning I called the three who welcome contact after 6-8 weeks (it has been 9-10 weeks) and am waiting for a response as to where my novel is in the submissions process.  One agency website states that you shouldn’t contact them even if you don’t hear a reply.  The receptionist I spoke to at another agency said it might be worth contacting them again in January if I haven’t heard anything.  With this sort of time frame, you can see why it is wise to make multiple submissions!

In the meantime, I have been working on another edit of the rest of Skybound, which I am ¾ of the way through.  During this edit, most of the changes have been related to the cadence of the piece rather than structural or content-based changes.   That there is little more I can do without further input reassures me that the novel is ready for a professional pair of eyes. Let’s hope the sample interests one of the agents I have contacted enough for them to want to see the rest of it.


I’ve only performed once this month and that was as the guest for Leeds Trinity University at their Trinity Open Mic night.  It was great to attend an open mic with such a diversity of acts – there was music and drama as well as poetry for the delectation of the audience who were mainly youthful undergraduate students.

They treated me well and it’s a night I can definitely recommend.  Find more about them at their Facebook page  We didn’t have much luck (again) with the video camera but here are a couple of photos.

Becky at WordSpace
Becky at Trinity audience
With audience at WordSpace                                          


This month I submitted two of my poems to Michelle McGrane’s website protesting against rape and rape culture.  Both That Room and Paisley Quilt were accepted and I am proud to have been part of such an important global movement.  There are some incredible poems and images on the site, all dealing with this prevalent and painful issue
which are really worth looking at but be warned – some will find the material traumatic.

Busy with Skybound and family-related issues (all good), I haven’t written any poetry this month but I have been thinking a lot about my existing body of poetry and have developed my ideas as to what the shape and themes of my first collection might be – initial thoughts were for a purely art-related collection.  With a view to obtaining publication, I’ve sent some work off to the Cinnamon Poetry Collection Competition and am still waiting to hear from both Faber New Poets (response has been delayed until January because they have been so oversubscribed) and Mslexia (end of November). I’ve also applied for a Cinnamon bursary for a mentor with a view to them supporting me to form a collection over a twelve month period.

Forthcoming Workshops

The first six months of next year are bursting with exciting workshop projects so I’m going to be spending much of December planning how to tackle those.  What’s also nice is that I have a few workshops coming up that are open to members of the public rather than targeted at particular groups, which means I may get to work with some of you again.

I’m particularly enthusiastic about being involved in the most exciting thing to happen in the Leeds art-world for some time, the new incarnation of the Tetley building as an art gallery.  The Tetley opens to the public this weekend, beginning with a series of labour-themed exhibitions, talks and workshops.  Find out more here

The Tetley Events

Sunday 1st Dec 11.30 – 1.30pm FOUND POETRY with writer, Becky Cherriman

Look out for interesting words and play around with texts discovered in the Tetley to transform a plain old beer mat into a poetic work of art.

Fee: Free

Sunday 15th December, 12 – 4pm Working Words: A Creative Writing Taster Session with writer Becky Cherriman

In this explorative creative writing taster session, we will take The Tetley Building and the Fear of the Surplus exhibition as a starting point.  Through a series of creative writing activities, we will explore our own attitudes to labour, to scapegoats and to the surplus.  Expect to experiment with a variety of forms including autobiography, protest poetry, free writing and fiction.  Expect to have fun.

Suitable for beginners. Places must be booked in advance. £15 per person.

Becky Cherriman will be leading a 6-week course in 2014 which would extend ideas and techniques explored in this taster session.

Thursday 23rd January – Thursday 27th February, 6.30- 8.30pmWorking Words II: A Creative Writing Course with writer Becky Cherriman

Through a series of creative writing workshops, we will be exploring The Tetley as a place of the past, of hidden histories waiting to be uncovered.  We will explore it as a place of the future where imagination is woven into its walls, furniture and artefacts, and as an exhibition space that raises questions about our present, our past and our relationships with ourselves and the world in which we live.  Using the exhibitions and the building as a stimulus, we will incorporate the vocabulary of machines, of work and of visual art in a range of forms from poetry to short stories and autobiographical prose.

The course is open to beginners and more experienced writers and will be held within a supportive and stimulating environment.  Writers will be encouraged to share their work and to give feedback to other group members.

Places must be booked in advance. £60 per person.

N.B. Tetley events can be booked by calling 07930 236 383

The Hepworth Wakefield Events

Book Club January 16th 7-8.30 pm: Swastika Night by Katherine Burdekin

In this session we will look at Swastika Night, a novel contemporary to many of the works in the Albert Wainwright collection display. Wainwright has been described as having ‘a love affair with Germany’, his later sketchbooks providing a historical document of the rise of National Socialism and the Hitler Youth Movement. He is also known for his portraits exploring 1920s and 1930s ideas of beauty and for an artistic interest in adolescent sexuality.

Burdekin’s book deals with male sexuality and the male gaze, providing an interesting comparison with Wainwright’s artworks. First published in 1937 under the male pseudonym of Murray Constantine, Swastika Night is a dystopian science-fiction novel that imagines what might happen to the world if Hitler won the war.

January’s book club will start with a brief introduction to the Wainwright exhibition then lead to exploration of links between the novel and the exhibition. Further discussion will focus around relevant themes such as 1930s concepts of race, nationality, masculinity and femininity, cultural values, power and the authority figure, war, hierarchies and class.

Other books you might like to explore with relation to these topics include Brave New Worldand The Island by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, Love on The Dole by Walter Greenwood, Goodbye To Berlin by Christopher Isherwood and Autumn Journal by Louis Macneice.

Please bring with you a copy of the book or material from it. You will need to have read at least some of the literature that we will discuss.

Places can be booked by calling the Learning Team on 01924 247398.

Fee £3

Sat 22 & Sun 23 Feb, Sat 26 & Sun 27 April 2014, 11-4 pm (room is closed 12.30-1pm for lunch) Family drop-in workshops

Fun creative writing activities for ages 3-11+ inspired by the two Philip Lorca diCorcia series The Storybook Life and Heads.

Further details to follow

9th March 2013, 10.30-4 Adult Writing Workshop:  Just One Of Many Fictions

It has been said of Philip Lorca diCorcia that his photographs create ‘just one of many fictions’. In this practical creative writing workshop, we will look at how the artist represents others’ lives through photography and to what extent his photographs tell the truth. Exploring the narratives diCorcia offers us, we will use them as the basis for writings about ourselves and others.

Places can be booked by calling the Learning Team on 01924 247398.

Further details to follow

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