On Fire

Aoife Mannix workshops May June 2015 006

Last Saturday, I ran a writing workshop for adults at the Portsmouth Museum. It was a fantastic group of people that included members of local writers groups as well as those who’d never attended a workshop before but thought they’d like to give it a go.

We were using the ‘A Hard Choice’ exhibition as inspiration. We wrote about what physical objects you would save from the flames if your house was on fire. The answers were very touching in their considerable variety but many of them had a connection with wanting to save a personal history and memories of family rather than items of monetary value. It seems we care more for our photo albums than our flat screen TVs!

I then asked people to chose something from the exhibition that they would like to live inside as their home, assuming they could shrink or somehow magically get inside it. Interestingly, everyone chose a different object and wrote poems that showed through beautiful imagery how inspiring these exhibits could be. I was incredibly impressed by the quality of the writing produced and am very much looking forward to it being submitted for the anthology we’re producing to celebrate my residency. The deadline for submission is July 30th and entries should be emailed to Tracy.Teasdale@portsmouthcc.gov.uk. The next workshop will be on Friday, June 26th at 2:00. You’re welcome to come along whether you attended the last one or not. More details can be found here.

Here’s a poem I’ve written inspired by Saturday’s workshop.


If you live with the smell of burial, it’s important to know
where the light comes in, to keep the small authenticity
of past summers in a seaside painting. Saucy postcards
to make you smile in the long evenings as you wait
for those tick tock German bombs to explode.
A home is a treasure chest for grandchildren,
a suitcase full of baby clothes, an old book
that holds your father’s favourite drink.
It is the taste of clocks collecting dust
in the photo albums of our lives
as the flames climb higher and higher.


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