The Wonder Workshop – and a new precept!

Prepping my Wonder workshop. Under supervision!

A few weeks ago, I was asked by Clare County Library would I give a poetry workshop based around the book Wonder by RJ Palacio.  Halimah, a teacher from Ennistymon Vocational School, had approached them with the request.

At first, I was hesitant: writing poetry around another book? Would that be restrictive? How to cram a  workshop around a few hundred pages when I’ve only got 90 minutes to do so? And I don’t have children. Wonder had slipped under my radar. I watched an interview with the author on youtube.

I told Dolores in the library service that I’d develop something around several themes, especially that of bullying. [Coincidentally, this week the call-in show on our national radio station is full of adults talking about bullying: their own or their children’s; even now-grown-up bullies who have sought out their childhood victims to apologise. These discussions and stories are happening while their children are in school.]

The other thing I said was that the children would have to have read the whole book!

Well, I needn’t have worried on that score. I soon learned from a Facebook post by Banner Books in Ennistymon that this was very much a community read.  A ‘One Book, One Community’ project in fact.

The One Book, One Community has a programme of events around Wonder:
Readings with local primary schools
Poster competition with local primary schools
Ennistymon Vocational School afternoon tea book club on 13 November at the Falls Hotel & Spa
EVS Poetry workshop on 14 November [That would be me, I guess!]
EVS Coffee morning on 19 November
Wonder film showing at the Falls Hotel on 22 November to round off the whole project.

AND SO … tomorrow I head to Ennistymon to give two workshops to over forty First Years from Ennistymon Vocational School. It’s a couple of firsts for me: my first secondary-school poetry workshops, and the first time that I’ve specifically designed a workshop around a theme – let alone another genre of writing!

Thanks, Ennistymon and thanks, Clare County Library Service. It’s good to be pushed beyond our comfort zones. That’s today’s precept. I’m sure Auggie would approve.

Image result for wonder book

Culture Night & Che Guevara

A great weekend, altogether.

Last Friday was Culture Night in Ireland – and the goodies on offer were only legion!                       My contribution was reading poetry in two different parts of Clare.

Firstly the Clare Poetry Collective linked up for a reading in the Library in Ennis, with contributions from the floor, including Michéal FitzGearailt – a young man from whom we hope to hear more.

Then it was zoom! off in Might Aphrodite the Blue Polo, back to North Clare and the Salmon Bookshop & Literary Centre in Ennistymon. I joined Eleanor Cummins at 7pm for round two. The shop was cosy with rugs, and lovely lights, and the audience was warm and receptive. Everyone first said what their favourite poem was. Then Eleanor and I read some poems. Thanks Ellie, for having me over and, ‘Get Well Soon, Jessie!

Saturday saw me back in the car, motoring down along the coast to Kilkee. The Clare Poetry Collective had a gig at the Che Do Bheatha Festival.  Is it not the best name for a festival that you’ve ever heard?

Well, Irish people will get it.

Che mural , Kilkee
© Karen J McDonnell

The rain stayed away until we got into the Sweeney Library – which was fine with us.  We read turn and turn about, with contributions from the audience.  Thanks to Anne at the Library for delaying closing up until the last Che-themed poem was read! We really enjoyed ourselves, and it was lovely to meet up with friends from out Moyasta way.  A well-deserved chowder and brown bread in Bay View; where I stayed as a tiny tot with Grannie  (now changed, changed utterly!).  Then it was home again to the Burren.

All in all, a stimulating weekend. And lovely to be invited to participate. Thanks, lads.