Stirred Workshop Margaret Atwood

This month’s belated workshop is online only due to my being delayed in Norwich.

Set a timer for five ten or fifteen minutes if you are feeling brave and free write until the timer stops. This means you just keep writing anything for that time, no line breaks, no plans, no trying to take control and no crossing out. Think of this as like laps for your pen and and your mind. We will be using the first line of the Handmaid’s Tale to start us off

” We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.”

For further discussion of this line see here:

The Tv adaptation is on Channel 4 9pm Sunday.



Backdrop addresses cowboy
Starspangled cowboy
sauntering out of the almost-
silly West, on your face
a porcelain grin,
tugging a papier-mâché cactus
on wheels behind you with a string,
you are innocent as a bathtub
full of bullets.
Your righteous eyes, your laconic
people the streets with villains:
as you move, the air in front of you
blossoms with targets
and you leave behind you a heroic
trail of desolation:
beer bottles
slaughtered by the side
of the road, bird-
skulls bleaching in the sunset.
I ought to be watching
from behind a cliff or a cardboard storefront
when the shooting starts, hands clasped
in admiration,
but I am elsewhere.
Then what about me
what about the I
confronting you on that border,
you are always trying to cross?
I am the horizon
you ride towards, the thing you can never lasso
I am also what surrounds you:
my brain
scattered with your
tincans, bones, empty shells,
the litter of your invasions.
I am the space you desecrate
as you pass through.
Use cinematic imagery, particularly the fakery of it to write a poem about a relationship, this can be any kind of relationship at all from lovers to pot plants.
And lastly this poem has been used in a workshop of Stirred’s before but it is too wonderful not to include. Read They eat out
They eat out
In restaurants we argue
over which of us will pay for your funeral
though the real question is
whether or not I will make you immortal.
At the moment only I
can do it and so
I raise the magic fork
over the plate of beef fried rice
and plunge it into your heart.
There is a faint pop, a sizzle
and through your own split head
you rise up glowing;
the ceiling opens
a voice sings Love Is A Many
Splendoured Thing
you hang suspended above the city
in blue tights and a red cape,
your eyes flashing in unison.
The other diners regard you
some with awe, some only with bordom:
they cannot decide if you are a new weapon
or only a new advertisement.
As for me, I continue eating;
I liked you better the way you were,
but you were always ambitious.
Borrow the two line stanza structure ending in three lines and write your own poem about a supernatural/superbeing in a mundane situation.

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

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The Stirred team at Reclaim the Night Manchester 2015
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