A Poet in the Making – Finding Inspiration at Tŷ Newydd

Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre Last week I was invited to the Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in North Wales as one of 10 writers selected for the 2019 Literature Wales Mentoring Scheme. After several months of ill-health I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to attend, but the week turned out to be beneficial in more ways than one – providing not only inspiration and development for my writing, but also some much-needed rest and relaxation in a gorgeous old house on the Llŷn Peninsula.   

There were just three of us in the poetry group, working with tutor Jonathan Edwards. He provided plenty of advice and encouragement, setting us some unusual writing tasks and helping us to examine the more technical aspects of the writing process, such as form and line-breaks.

Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre - the libraryI really enjoyed getting to know and working alongside my fellow poet mentees, Nicholas McGaughey and Philip Jones. There were also five fiction writers (working with tutor Katherine Stansfield) and two writers writing in the Welsh language (with Sian Northey).

Although I wasn’t able to attend all of the workshops and talks, I found the information session about the Welsh Books Council particularly insightful, and we also had a very encouraging talk with author Gary Raymond, editor of the Wales Arts Review.

Tŷ Newydd itself is a beautiful old house, originally built in the 15th century. My room was rather cave-like, at the back of the house, but it did feature an impressive thick stone wall. The view from Tŷ Newydd is incredible, and the scenery in nearby Criccieth is stunning. I wasn’t able to get out much, but I did manage a quick trip to the beach for some fresh air and ice cream when the weather warmed up towards the end of the week.Tŷ Newydd in the evening sun

My highlight of the week was the last evening, when we each shared our work – some of us read poems, and we heard snippets from a few novels-in-progress, as well as a couple of songs and a short story.

The year will continue with each writer being assigned a mentor, and I’m looking forward to developing my work further. I wrote a few new poems, began a couple of drafts and now have a clearer sense of areas in which I need to develop, and a flow of ideas that seems never-ending – long may it continue! My next task will be to create a more practical digital filing system to keep track of all my poems. Whoever knew it was possible to lose a poem within the depths of your own laptop?

Find out more about the Literature Wales Mentoring Scheme here.

You can see some more photos on Facebook, though I was too busy relaxing and writing to take very many!Criccieth