Stirred: Speculation

Yesterday, Jasmine and Lenni hosted this month’s creative writing workshop in Chapter One, the new bookshop-and-cafe in the Northern Quarter. The theme was ‘Speculation’, based off the theme for this month’s event – ‘Other Worlds’.

Here are the workshop activities if you weren’t able to make it along! (Click the titles for links to the poems.)

'The Starry Night' by Vincent Van Gogh.

‘The Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh.

1. Read ‘Sci-Fi’ by Tracey K. Smith. Write a list poem of the things you think will be different in the future.

2. Look at ‘The Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh, and read ‘The Starry Night’ by Anne Sexton. Look hard at a famous painting and imagine the ‘world’ of that painting. Write a short poem describing that world. (The paintings we used: ‘Limbo’ by Hieronymous Bosch, ‘The Lady of Shalott’ by John William Waterhouse, ‘Swans Reflecting Elephants’ by Salvador Dali, ‘Ram’s Head With Holyhock’ by Georgia O’Keeffe, and ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch.)

3. Read ‘Variation on the Word Sleep’ by Margaret Atwood, and think about the ‘other world’ that is sleep and the world of dreams. Write a poem about a dream you have had, then rearrange the lines in a different order to contribute to a fragmented, dream-like poem.

And, some bonus activities that we weren’t able to get around to (there were quite a few of us and we got a bit carried away sharing all of our creations!):

  • Read the short text about the Egyptian Underworld. Circle five words or phrases in the text. Write a poem based on the concept of an ‘Underworld’, using all of these words more than once each.
  • Read ‘The Quiet World’ by Jeffrey McDaniel. Picture a world almost exactly like ours except at some point in the past things took a crucial different turning point: were phones never invented – do we vote over social media – is there a restriction on reproductive rights? Write a short poem that focuses on that difference.
  • Write down two words or phrases that are places, or times, or states of being – the more different, the better. Then, think about how you might, literally or metaphorically, travel from one of these things to the other. This place of transit is a ‘portal’, and is its own world. What does it look like? How does it feel? Write a poem as if you are discovering it.

If you respond to any of these prompts and you’d like your work included in this month’s chapbook, do send your submissions to by Saturday (25th)! The same goes for anything on the theme of ‘Other Worlds’.

Here’s a group poem of lines taken from our responses to the first prompt, in response to ‘Sci-Fi’ by Tracey K. Smith:

A Google deep dream rendering of Michaelangelo's 'The Creation of Adam'.

A Google deep dream rendering of Michaelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’.

The sky is not the limit. In the future
there will be no Wi-fi and everyone
will have to talk to each other. My grandchildren
will have met their respective ‘ones’ aged thirteen
on Uber-Tinder. The sky weeping low in pain
soon to be an abyss of denied fog. The passing
squirrels, now engorged, will be our predators.
People will be sick, hardworking, or happy
and possessed of ultimate understanding.
Food will be administered from nutritious ink
licked from printed pages. “PERSON OVERDOSES
ON CRYING PILL.” Genetically modified lumps
of meat and organs kebab themselves.
We are large. The earth is not.
The universe expands still.

By (in no particular order other than the order of the register we took):
Joshi Williams, Jasmine Chatfield, Jack Nicholls, Andrew Lawson, Madie Howard, Rafael Nicholls, Lenni Sanders, Helen Heery, Kai D’Argenta, and Sam Rossi-Harries

Thanks to everyone who came along for such a great workshop, and hope to see you all again soon! And if you couldn’t make it along, feel free to use the exercises above and send them in to us too.

Our main event this month is based around the theme ‘Other Worlds’ and our guests will be Dominic Berry and Fielding Ronshaugen. It’s on at the Three Minute Theatre on Monday 27th July at 7.30pm! You can still email us for open mic slots at, and click here to have a look at the Facebook event page. See you there!


The Stirred quad is formed of Rebecca Audra Smith, Anna Percy, Jasmine Chatfield and Lenni Sanders.

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Posted in Events, Jasmine Chatfield, lenni sanders
One comment on “Stirred: Speculation

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The Stirred team at Reclaim the Night Manchester 2015
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