I am very fortunate that every year I spend a week with Mouthy Poet’s at an Arvon centre where we get to write, edit and read alongside each other and 3 amazing guest tutors who this year are Roger Robinson, Caroline Bird and Jess Thom. I feel like I want to share some of the amazing love I get from these courses by posting some of the workshop exercises that were given to us on my blog. So this is the first blog post in the Arvon series …

Ex 1. Day 1. When the World is not Watching …

-Write a list poem titled When the World is Not Watching, every line should begin with I, then the act you do. There should be no ‘I would’ – you are actually doing all of these things!

-Caroline’s exact instructions were, ‘Write as many as you possible can, it is important in this opening surge to not edge down the slide. Just write without censorship, you can go from the huge to the tiny, the impossible to the mundane’.

-Set your timer for 10 mins and go!

-Here is my example …

When the World is not Watching

I steal all the ham and eat it in one,

I pluck a sunflower petal, run

it over my face till I’m asleep

and I am dreaming of someone else running

a sunflower petal over my face

until I am awake.


I look into my Mum’s eyes an inch away,

until I am crying and she is there

with me instead of God and herself.

I write poems on gold leaves

hide them under autumn

like Mormon hid the plates underlies hoping someone

would love him enough to find them.


I pluck my bikini line, I drink vinegar,

I put fresh underwear and an oversized t-shirt over

my best friend and pull her from an anonymous bed

on a beach and unto my own.

I let the tears slug down her neck.

I slide into the sand soaked sheets.


I bite him, swallow a little blood.

Could be gum or lip, I don’t mind.

I cut each page of the Book of Mormon into

snowflakes, decorate mum’s prized B&Q Christmas tree.

I set fire to the sock & knicker sack.

I fill the attic with flammable liquids.


I don’t tell my parents,

I start smoking in the bathroom,

I hide Malibu under the stairs.

I sleep. I sleep. I sleep. I flush

my alarm down the toilet, I sleep.

When I am rested, for once,


I cover my desk in sunflower petals

lie on it, next to you, when we touch

you can move in this timeless world too.

I paint the morning hairs on your arms

with sunflower, put my ear against your chest

until I can hear the alarm you flushed inside of you


slow. Watch the hair of you

fold down and fleck like sun

on grass, or rain on leaves,

or my head into your neck.

I am awake for once. Eyes

an inch away from seeing.

 In the workshop we all shared our poems immediately with each other – no changes. So if you can find some people to do this with, share them together as one long poem before discussing them!

“We are more than things that we do, we are the things that we don’t do …” – Caroline Bird