Inspirational Writing Workshop – Longton Church



I have run writing and poetry workshops in a wide variety of venues to a wide variety of audiences, including children,  prisoners, and pensioners, to the committed, and curious. This was my first workshop at Longton, it was open to Church members, and those who had never visited the Church before. People with Faith often enjoy the language of scripture, the lyrics of songs and hymns. Yet the nature of Faith is intensely personal, and is rarely bounded by a belief in a single religious group. Expressing ourselves, rather than just absorbing teaching, can be a liberating experience.

The group that assembled for the day was enthusiastic and attentive. As the day wore on their latent talents emerged and shone. My method was simple. Engage everyone in a discussion about the possibilities of poetry and writing, enthuse and inspire with a rhyming and word association exercise, and then put what had been gleaned to the test by listening to a guided meditation by co-workshop leader Jane Osborne, and then writing about it.

In the afternoon we had fun, and surprised ourselves, with list poems, then explored two short poetic forms, Haikus, and Cinquaines. The former is a traditional three line Japanese form with nature its usual milieu, the latter a five line form, useful for nature and place, created by American writer Adelaide Crapsey in the early 20th century.

Haiku  are short poems that use sensory language to capture a feeling or image. They are often inspired by an element of nature, a moment of beauty, or another poignant experience. Haiku poetry was originally developed by Japanese poets, and the form was adopted (and adapted) by virtually every modern language, including English. The secret to writing great haiku is to be observant and appreciate nature. The form is three lines, seventeen syllables, split 5/7/5.

Fan Piece- Ezra Pound

O fan of white silk,
clear as frost on the grass-blade,
You also are laid aside.


A Cinquain  poem consists of five lines and one topic. Its invention is often attributed to the early 20th-century American poet Adelaide Crapsey.   But Crapsey’s Cinquain is a variation on similar, previous Italian, English, Spanish, and Japanese structures. Those few extra lines and syllables make all the difference, and  Cinquaines on a topic can be linked in multiples, classically as a Cinq Cinquaine. Her form comprises five lines, twenty two syllables, split, 2/4/6/8/2.

Niagra – Adelaide Crapsey

How frail
Above the bulk
Of crashing water hangs,
Autumnal, evanescent, wan,
The moon.


Lichfield– the Lichfield Poets

A cinq cinquaine

Doomed Dominion
Prey to Viking plunder
Loyal to the King in time of War


Fine square
Market Bustle
Martyrs scream for mercy
Punters pause and procrastinate
No sale

Tribute on land
The wand’rer lost at sea
So far from home missed from his hearth

Upon water
Under the world where
Shadows are playing at the art of

Three Spires
Reaching skywards
Grey Stone fingers grasping
The heavens seeking salvation
Kings sleep


Both forms were largely new to the group, but all workshoppers were soon producing multiple examples of a very high standard. It did not matter if the forms were going to be widely used in the future. What did matter is that everyone became aware of what they were, and how they could be used, if needed. They are ideal when time is short, and a writer has a single idea, or emotion, they wish to express.

We then closed the session with another guided meditation from Jane Osborne to inspire further writing.

The objective of any writing workshop is for the participants to write, and write they did, here is a selection of poems by course members during the day, in random order



Jane Osborne


Blossom sings from Rose

Melody measured by love

Mood altering essence



Dewdrops whole and fresh

Before day break’s rise

Sun glow warms heart’s rise



Sense your fear friend

Heart racing, wide eyed, no run

Blacksmith grips the hoof


Rob Stevens


Wedding bells peeling

Vows cut across summer sky

Confetti dissolves



A new silent pond

A second frog springs forwards

Splat! Winter ice.


Fay Smallman

The  silent sun rays

Closed briefly by a shuttered cloud

Once passed, shine again


Nathan Smallman


Belching pottery

How silent under blue sky

Weeds sprout from the bricks




Jane Osborne


The boy

A man to be

More lessons, joy, growth

Boy man


Rob Stevens

For Cathy Grindy


With the whole world

Or the badly parked car

Measures out my humanity

And fails

Paris 1983


and Bateaux Mouche

Red wine with water flows

Leaving two tipsy travellers


Fay Smallman

In to

The sunlit sea

Flies the dark shadow of

A feeding bird, long beak agape

And strikes


Nathan Smallman

Victoria Pot Bank


Morning Chaos

New day starts in earnest

The clatter of the steam engine





List Poems

Jane Osborne

The beating heart, affirming all is well inside, even when outside rains

The breeze, profound, gentle, yet powerful enough to force nature forward.

Jasmine sweetened by the sun

The ugly criticism of others from an insecure voice

Reach within me to allow creativity to flow

Thanks for the love you gave me to grow wise

My son, daughter, mother, father, particles of the universe

Great bear, for presence, silence and wisdom

Victorian ways of structure, culture and fear.


Rob Stevens


The space between heartbeats

Melted butterscotch

Eventual success

A rebellious pen

The tv remote

You here now

The first spring lamb

The birth of two sons

Listen more, talk less.


Fay Smallman


Kaikoura, where the mountains meet the sea

The flutter of a butterfly’s wings’ The scent of a rose

Good choclate

The silky fur of my cat


My mother

A mongrel dog

The day of my wedding

To listen more, work less, enjoy life.


Nathan Smallman

Only place where you can see the wonder of the milky way galaxy on a clear night.

The brush of your feet when walking thro grass covered in morning dew.

Freshly made coffee.

Marmite spread thinly over toast.

A soft silk robe

My light weight bicycle

Sydney harbour


Dawn O Connell

Touch the sky

Touch the trees

Push the trees

Feel the wind

See the path

See the bees

Mother nature, mother earth

The path strewn with bracken and sawdust

Push the trees, feel the trees

Feel the strength, the energy

From the soil feel the earth

Connected, united as one

Black and white, young and old

se before you as life unfolds

Like a new life as it fits into the world



Dawn O Connell – List Poem

In a group  of spiritually minded people

My grandchildren running, playing barefoot

Sweet peas

A banana pancake

Flowers with perfect petals

My knowledge

My son and mum


My 40th birthday

Don’t be so serious- enjoy life

Diane Blundell – List Poem

Clearwater beach when the sun goes down

Wind chimes in the gentle breeze

Rose garden in the summer sun

A fresh fruit smoothie chilled

My family and grandchildren

My notebook and pen

My Dad’s Dad, never met him, lovely man

My dog  Lola

Native America in the last century

Relax and don’t stress about anything

Diane Blundell – Haiku

Radiant light shines

An angel appears in view

Peace knows no limits

Diane Blundell – cinquaine


Appears in view

Shadows steal the skyline

Daisies raise their sleepy heads



Gary Longden

Made here

Pots and porc’lain

Fashioned by nimble hands

Wedgewood found fame amongst the smoke

In Stoke


Bright glare blazed outside

Patio bricks oozing heat

Our Saturday treat


Bob Stanley’s Poems


Home at the end of the day

A baby gently snoring

Rain caressing a lavender plant

My wife’s cooking

My dog curled up on my lap

Nothing – I eagerly await the adventure

The Pope to discuss the futility of his calling


The Elizabethan era

Go   with your dreams- some will come true


Calming chants

Soft disguised colours



No thoughts of the here and now

No space

No time






the still cool calm

of a cold winter’s night

Broken by the hoot of an owl



The old oak tree stump

Rotted, ravaged by weather

Home to creatures small



Is it green, purple

Does it linger

change shape



does it drift in the ether

soar to the heights

fall to the depths




sanity or insanity





unseeing yes

guardian of us all

spirit is

what was- but

Where is your spirit?

Seven Stages of Victorian Pottery Making- Nathan Smallman
The average life expectancy of a Victorian Pottery worker was 46 years.
Poems written in the Cinquaine form
Throwing and Turning
Throw down
Centre the clay
Knuckle up grows taller
Woman on one legged dancer
Moulds filled
Wait for a while
Skin to form, moulds to tip
Sponging and fettling pots on shelf
Kiln fired
Saggar Making
Tap, tap
Knocking, knocking
Roll the jig, cut the clay
Saggar maker’s  bottom knocker
Glaze mixed
Thimbles to dip
Held with finger and thumb
Shake of the arm, swish of the wrist
Colours mixed
With oil of cloves
Squirrel hair cut liner
Lithographs to print and apply
Fired low
Flat cap
Climb the ladder
Saggars stacked, ware inside
Shovel the coal and light the fire
Oven bricked
Ware count
Fill box with straw
Be careful not to chip
Otherwise will end up on tip
No pay!
Victorian Pot Bank
Morning chaos
New day starts in earnest
The clatter of the steam engine
The Water Closet
Garde d’leau
Thomas Tywford
Disease no longer spreads
Through water like the plague of old
Loo flushed
The Potteries Cat
Curled up by bottle oven
Creamy milk lapped up
Belching Pottery
Now silent under blue sky
Weeds sprout from the bricks
©Nathan Smallman


The Bird
The sunlit sea
Dives the dark shadow of
A feeding bird, long beak agape,
And strikes
© Fay Smallman
The Kiln
Curved kiln,
Glowing embers
Conjuring pots from clay,
Magic fire now extinguished and
Grown cold.
© Fay Smallman
Golden heart
Gold heart yours
Gold heart mine
Gold heart for all to shine
Share the love of God divine
And give the love to yours and mine.
© Fay Smallman
The pots workers’ ‘whites’,
Blanched whiter still by clay dust,
Like clouds, now gone by.
© Fay Smallman
The silent sun’s rays
Shuttered briefly by a cloud,
Once passed, shine again.
© Fay Smallman


My Journey

Here I am on a golden path

Guided by my mother

We walk together and have a laugh

And think a lot about each other


In the distance there is a manor house

Blue pink yellow and orange

Such delightful rooms

Where we can reminisce and talk


The grounds are full of lovely flowers

A sweet sweet smell all around

My mother set playing the piano

Building up some tremendous power


Now it is time to return back

A purple cloak around us all

A fine time we had together

Bye bye for now walk strong and tall



It can be a long lonely journey

But hope is always there

Emotions are  up and down

And just need to be sorted


Friends are always very kind

And understand my feelings

But eventually spirits are lifted

And I feel as if I am gifted


Its time to move on

And try to break all barriers

The way forwards is very clear

Be happy smile and be free
























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