Writing on the edge

Writing on the edge
Speakers: Abi Curtis, JT Welsch

A two-hour workshop, open to all, in which we’ll explore the notion of edges: the borders of conscious/unconscious, the shoreline, space, urban/rural, the edges of lands and bodies.

This workshop was part of York Festival of Ideas.

I don’t think I’ve ever attended a writing workshop before.  I had been putting it out of my mind rather than face the fact that I’d booked onto it.  But nevertheless, this evening I was found, half way between two sets of black iron gates waiting for my friend, my bodyguard.

We started by exploring what the edge meant to people in the audience.   As my immediate thought, and the thought I struggled to get away from, was ‘skin’ I did not contribute to the discussion.

The edge
Boundaries
Cliffs
Shapes
Line
One side or another
Barrier
No man’s land
Undefinable
Pushing boundaries
Sea line, tide line
Approaching
Disappearing
Temporary/permanent
Violation of boundaries
Boundary of reality

This was followed by a discussion about Jacob Polley’s ‘The North-South Divide‘ (the theme for the festival) after which we were asked to write about a time when we crossed a boundary.

The next handout was a BBC article about leaving the solar system.  We reflected on what would it feel to leave the solar system.  I say we reflected, I was busy picking out words from the article to make into a poem:

Leaving the solar system

Space behind
Possibility border

Trapped intensity
Generating
Stars

Probe beyond

New region

We were then asked to write about a time we stepped out of our comfort zone, using words and phrases from our writing about leaving the solar system.  Obviously this would have been easier if I’d done what I was told in the first place!

The final aspect of the workshop was looking at the body.  Given that my immediate thought had been skin, you’d have thought I’d have been right at home with this.  We read ‘The Man with Night Sweats’ by Thom Gunn and then wrote about a time when your body betrayed you.  Oh I had so many examples.  But instead of joining in, I excused myself and went in search of the toilets.  (That sounds like I did so politely, I actually climbed over chairs in a very inelegant fashion.)  Everyone was still writing when I returned.

I wrote:

Writing about the body is an edge I cannot cross at this point

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