Monday, 19 March 2018


Today we explored impression writing. We started by listing things we know about, whether that is a hobby, sport or place. We chose one thing and then expanded on that, writing about what makes it special, what it looks, sounds or smells like, how it makes us feel, what it makes us wonder about? We then wrote a poem using short fragmented lines. The aim was to create an impression of the subject or thing without using normal sentences. The beauty of this is that it leaves room for others to create their own meaning from our poems and gives us as writers another way to write about the world around us.


Dancing to a tune
Burning brighter than a light
Hungry as a lion
Dancing with the divine

- Haki Davis


Sligo graveyard by the sea
Yellow-red sunset
Swans on the lake
Quiet town
Flat topped mountain above
The poet writes
Leaves the world a better place
I come to his resting place

- Robert McFelin


dense white
            loitering, lingering
     solid like marshmallow
                     silently creeping
compressing smells, smoke, light.
Heat from body, hearth and home is sucked
Now feeling safe, enclosed, secure;
    like Capetown's Tablecloth, our Blanket

- Karen


another day
graceful hello
gentle touch
kind word
a second to share
a smile
we've done it again
another day

- Molly


Curving up and down
Like waves
Curled in my arms
Light as a feather
It springs into action
My fingers fly
Flickering strings
Sing in falsetto
     Smiling and singing
         Smiling and singing
Dream a little dream
With laughing eyes
Play on you say
Play on.

- Paul

Monday, 5 March 2018

Haiku #2

Haiku is a popular and accessible form of poetry that some members of our writing group were keen to try. They're short (the Haiku) but deceptively difficult to do well. The aim is to use as few words as possible to capture a moment in time. According to one expert "a good Haiku conveys through implication and suggestion a moment of keen perception or insight into nature or human nature". Traditionally there are references to the environment or season, grounding the poem in the world around us. Sometimes they have contrasting or juxtaposing elements that can surprise or make us think differently about something. People often use a 5-7-5 syllable format for each line but this is not as important as the ability to paint a picture with few words, capture a moment and achieving that 'aha' moment. 

Here's a few that the group came up with in today's session. 

Fog obscured land
Above white - blue
Albatross gliding

- Karen

White whiskers twitching
Beady eyes glint, surveying
Patter of feet race

- Rose McCulloch

Poor smoker puffing
Smoking golden tobacco
Poor health of wallet

- Phil Porteous

Fog obscures the beach
Waves rolling to the shoreline
Distant figures turn

Hills glow in yellow
Moments later they are dark
Bird twitters loudly

- Robert McFelin

Ice-cream melting
Very hot day
Damn, not my car

Man standing alone
Should he stay or should he go?
Bloody bus service!

- James Macandrew

sounds echoed around
getting louder and louder
within her head

grass grows all around
mown in intricate patterns
rugby sprigs destroy

- Christine Philp

Monday, 29 January 2018

What is love?

That's right, this week's theme was love, which is a big topic to tackle as it comes in all shapes and sizes, but maybe that's a good thing for a writer? We started our session by simply describing love in poetry or prose. We then worked with the line 'Love is...' which we had to repeat in a poem in some way - such as the start of each line or stanza. Lastly we wrote a love poem to a person or animal - pets being quite a popular subject!


Love is feeling warm and safe
Like a bird in its nest
Or a human family
Gathered in a house around the fire
While winds and rain rattle the dwelling
It feels as if it will last forever
Beyond death

- Robert McFelin


love is tolerant of small wrongs
love speaks out at big wrongs
love is not always passionate
love is enduring
love is candlelight and roses
love is warming old slippers by the fire
love is helping a small child learn to read
love is clipping grandfather's toenails
love is cooking your partner's favourite dinner
love is helping with the dishes
love is forgoing a beer with your mates to buy your wife flowers
love is fixing the dropping tap without nagging
love is a dreamer into the future
love is pragmatic in the present

- Helen Ledger

Monday, 22 January 2018


This week we wrote about birds and in particular writing from the bird's perspective.


heavy foot and claw grasp the ground
thick sinews stretch and contract
head thrust forward, eye bright
beak open to taste the air
why could I not have wings to lift
this heavy body to the sky?
from heaven it came
Earth bright, crackle, spark

- Karen


I am an owl
They call me a morepork
You can always eat morepork
But who, who, who said we
are wise?
Us owls with big eyes
The guru
Who asks who?
Only then do we find
the spirits who are kind
And shut out the evils
of the devils
The owl
Who asks who
Is wise like the guru

- Phillip Poerteous


Ah, there they are again
Fishing rod, tasty bait, two good men
They fidget and talk, sometimes I squawk
Lines a-dangling, one smoking and one sitting
They come here every week
Whatever the weather
Their thoughts of a catch increasingly bleak
After an hour or so they pack up their stuff
Climb in their car
And drive away fast enough
And what of the bait?
Well, I eat it mate!

- James MacAndrew


Waste not want not
Aarrk! Mine!
Get away
I've got this morsel
Hmm, not too bad
Not as good as the chips
I found at St Clair beach yesterday
But better than a bloody worm

And so much choice!
Piles and piles of delicious detritous
Aarrk! Mine!
Clear off buzzards

Men at work
Good chaps
Very kind really
Life at the dump
Is beautiful

- Paul Smith

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Haiku for the new year

Our first writing group for the year started with sharing stories about what we had been reading which was a treasure trove of stories, from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Origin by Dan Brown, a Scottish magazine called The People's Friend, and the Tuesday McGillycuddy children's series, to name a few! Today we share a few haiku written by an artist who, while not attending our writing group, is also a keen writer and reader - thanks Mike! 


Mystery in black
Continuous expansion
Distances extreme


Vital force in us
A miracle to exist
Shared experience

- Michael Duthie

Monday, 4 December 2017

Signs of the times

This week we went for a short walk down Princes Street with our notebooks, noting down words from various signs in shops, on passing trucks, on buildings and windows. It didn't take long to fill up a page, then the tricky part - putting them together into a piece of poetry. Not easy but good fun.


let nothing perish
collect up the moas of designs
that have long celebrated their birthday parties
in the trash sak of history
the warehouse of the antiquated and outdated
is open for viewing
sit and drink your daily coffee
and eat your homemade pies
while the dealers and restorers do their work
patching with needle n thread
the retro clothing store thrives
and the pawnbrokers are alert for a bargain
there are 2nd hand books in custom uniform editions
and a bus stop right outside the studio and gallery
the choice is unlimited and the quality
is guaranteed
anything else is a compromise

- Helen Ledger


You'd be lucky to get a Persian cupid
They're in limited supply
You might get a free consultation
at the Zen attic
If you can pull together some
better moves
Every day is a new adventure
Behold, a new style!
A retro sensation!
Be open, be free
Beware - a wolf in sheep's clothing!
Swigging alcohol in a banned area
As dead souls drink purple rain
Believe me, the visual effects
are electric!
Blue oysters thrive behind the counter
Be bold, it's a sign of things to come
Dial up now for a viewing
Or clear-off before we perish
inside the great sensation
of an invented life.

- Paul Smith

Monday, 20 November 2017

Robbie Burns Poems

For the past couple of weeks we have been working on poems inspired by the life and work of Robbie Burns. Prompted in part by a competition run by the library and the Dunedin Burns Club as part of our City of Literature programme. Not everyone will enter their poems but it has been an interesting challenge. The first two poems relate to Robbie and the last was from an exercise to write a poem describing something in detail (in 5 minutes or less!).


Tho' I loved you dressed in pink
I couldn't believe we fell in the drink
Even tho' you were dressed in beige
I never thought we would be engaged
Tho' the river was swift and strong
I always believed that we belonged
You tried so hard to be my wife
But you couldn't swim to save my life
Now I'm gone, my life cut short
Please still wear the ring I bought

- Haki Davis


Wha' hae to ye, Robbie
we'll drain a wee bit dram
the finest whiskey in the land
fit for the gills o' the bishop
sitting in St Paul's
and looking o'er the image
o' the man that scandalised yon Presbyterians
wi' his women and wine
they'd ha' none o' him near First Church
wi' his respectable nephew as minister

I love to sit by the banks of the Leith
and dream of Scotland's brownish heath
and read of Robbie's sinful ways
atoning for his passionate lays.

- Helen Ledger


You sit so still
Upon your seat
Pen in hand
Birds at your feet

Inspiration is at hand
You see a pretty lady pass
Oh if only you could lie
Together on the grass

And a sip of whiskey
Would not go amiss
What more could he want?
Perhaps a wee kiss

Dreams are free
So the saying goes
So keep on dreaming
Until the rooster crows

- Paul Smith


High in the sky, burning in the sky
Green, blue, yellow and bright
Travelling to Black Jack's point in the night

- Haki Davis


Today we explored impression writing. We started by listing things we know about, whether that is a hobby, sport or place. We chose one thin...