Writing Groups in Devon


Blog posts : "The Tiverton Poetry Group"

Exploring the Devon Dialect

The Tiverton Poetry Group monthly meeting is always a surprising affair. The chameleon nature of the CreaTiv Hub, means you never know what you are actually walking into. On occasions our meeting has been held amid art exhibitions, photography and the hilarious children’s art centre time, when we ended up holding our meeting on a kiddie art table complete with beautifully vivid matching chairs.

The surrealist nature of the room reflects the surrealist nature of the group.  In what other context would a group with such disparate former lives as a postman, PhD student, life coach, author, teacher, air force corporal, and book shop owner all meet under the cover of darkness than to discuss poetry?

Last night we walked into a rainbow coloured treasure trove of vintage clothes. The atmosphere oozed with their memories of lives once lived and now discarded.

The past is indeed a foreign country and this month’s meeting delved into Devon’s poetical past with readings from John Keats, a one-time resident of Teignmouth, slightly risqué poem ‘Where Be Ye Going, You Devon Maid?’   and Rudyard Kipling, a Westward Ho! man, poem ‘The Gardener.’ We also ventured into the near past of Devon folk history with an attempted reading of Crediton born, Jan Stewer’s ‘Home! Home, Begad,’ which proved a highly challenging read.  Here is a section to attempt if you can…

Home! Home, begad. ‘Tis snawin’ an’ blawing’ an’ I be sneezin’ an’ barkin’ an’ me nawse gets nipped off if I aunly putts ‘en outside the door an’ the sky is as black as thinder an’ ev’rything in the shops is dear as zuvrins an’ they voretells ’tis gwain to be the wist winter o’ the lot.

But ’tis home an’ that’s all I cares about fer the present.

I’ve left the warm zin behine me fer a bit, zim-zo, an’ I mus’ zay I veels the cold most jewsive. If I aunly goes two enches away from the vire the ole gewse-vlesh creeps up all ovver me an’ me knees is knackin’ together an’ me teeth is chitterin’.

But ’tis home.

An’ there’s other kinds of warmness bezides the yet o’ the zin. There’s the zight o’ yer awn volks an’ the ole familiar noises which you never did’n use to take no notice of, but now they makes ‘e preck up yer yers like music.

It takes a brave man/ woman to slow your vowels and roll easy ‘z’s and try to speak like a Devonian.

After various levels of dialect success, the group moved on to their own Devon inspired poetry and AOB.

We were delighted to learn long standing member Audrey had won a Haiku Competition with an actual cash reward and people say poetry doesn’t pay!

Group poets P.J. Reed, Trina J. Stacey, and Brian Willis are performing at CredFest17 as part of the Exeter Authors Association ‘A Celebration of Books’ event on Saturday 17th June, Crediton Library from 2 – 5pm.  Everyone is welcome to this free event but spaces are limited.

For further information visit –

Finally, The Tiverton Poetry Group are planning their annual open poetry event at the Independent Coffee Trader, Tiverton with a tentative date of Tuesday 11 July.

More details to follow!

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Romancing the Golden Triangle

The Tiverton Poetry Group met in the lightening evening of a Tuesday night in May. Their dark figures scurrying past the gaze of the orange street lights and into the even darker recesses of the chair circles, hidden at the back of the Hub. It was as though a meeting of the Illuminati had been called, its members summoned. The night time walkers of Tiverton stood for moments and watched through the blazing windows trying to ascertain the nefarious nature of the after dark meetings at the Hub.

This month’s meeting was based on the idea of ‘Pipe Dreams,’ which led to a meeting focussed on dreams, opium, the order of the Golden Dawn, and its possible poet members. Unfortunately, no one in the Tiverton Poetry Group was also a member of Golden dawn or is that what they want us to believe?

The term 'Pipe Dreams', the subject of this month’s meeting, came directly from the fanciful dreams created when smoking opium pipes. Opiates were widely used by the English literati in the 18th and 19th centuries. Samuel Taylor Coleridge masterpiece ‘Kubla Khan’ was probably written whilst daydreaming on his opium pipe.  Lewis Carroll, although not known as an official opium user himself, made clear allusions to drug use in ‘Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.’  As the centuries passed the term has developed to encompass any dream which is unlikely to be achieved.  However, to dream you do not need a pipe and several outstanding dream based poems were read including,

A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe

“Who knows if the moon’s a balloon” by ee Cumings

And Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The rest of the evening was spent listening to new dream based poetry written by the members of the group and written without relying on even as much as an aspirin.

Steve Dawes read from his book Gravel and Gemstones.

P.J. Reed read from her latest collection Flicker, poetry based on the flickering images of characters, countryside, and casual thoughts of two years spent watching life in Devon including,

he dreams of monsters

stories float on empty pages

and his wife talks on

little ginger dog
smiles and snores his happy dreams
duvet occupied

nighttime once more and
lonely moon asks for a friend
my bed lies empty

The theme for next months after dark poetry meeting is poets with a relationship with Devon, which should yield some surprising poetry.

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Trouble in Rhyme

The Tiverton Poetry Group had an exciting meeting discussing the meaning of poetry and the highly controversial topic of does poetry have to rhyme to be true poetry? This is always a highly emotive subject. When the topic was suggested at the end of the last meeting, a hard-line rhyming poet stood up, announced that poetry has to rhyme and left… exit stage right.  

And so, the two poetry battle lines were drawn.

One of the arguments for the superiority of rhyming poetry states that it is the true form because it is the oldest form. Unfortunately, this case disintegrated under the attack of Beowulf, the oldest surviving Anglo-Saxon long poem, consisting of 3182 alliterative lines written between 975 and 1025 which has no end rhyme.  

Looking further back into the annals of ancient Greek history and reading such great works as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey or Virgil’s Aeneid, it was soon apparent that the works contained no end rhyme but a regular meter in the form of a dactylic hexameter.  However, the ancient Greeks and Romans did know of end rhyme, for example, there were rhymes in The Wasps by Aristophanes, they just choose not to use them.

Historically, rhyming poetry was a  more populist poetry form. It was used in nursery rhymes and ballads as a form of memory aid, helping a largely literate population to recall and pass on important events, history, and lessons.

Poems containing end rhymes only gained popularity with the rise of modern poetry in the twentieth century.

Consequently, the supporters of the ‘traditional’ rhyming poetry needed to change sides quickly in the traditional poetry debate to become modern rhyming revolutionaries.

Meeting the Two Factions.

After the historical origins of the poetry types had been fully explored both types of poetry came under heavy flank -

Non- rhyming blank poetry was labelled as mere prose, not requiring much skill and of ‘killing poetry’

While rhyming poetry was ‘poetry slammed’ for being simplistic, childish with clunking rhymes that destroy the meaning behind the words.

So what was the conclusion of this epic poetry battle?

In the end, both parties agreed that there were great poems on both sides of the poetry battle lines, and also inferior ones too and what really mattered was the skill and power of the poem and not its rhyme scheme after all.

The next poetry meeting is on dreams and pipe dreams which no doubt will be a much more chilled-out meeting…

Book Releases from our members.

The poet, author, and haiku activist P.J. Reed has published exciting a new collection of senryu and haiku based on her experiences of the Devon countryside and her meetings with some unique characters along the way. This collection is beautifully illustrated with colour paintings.

An idea gift for poetry lovers everywhere!

For more details see-

Festival News

Two members of The Tiverton Poetry Group – P.J. Reed and Trina J. Stacey will be performing their work at CredFest17 as part of ‘A Celebration of Books’ by the Exeter Authors Association.

Exeter Authors Association is holding a book celebration as part of CredFest17 on 17th June from 2-5pm at Crediton Library. This will be a highly interactive, free event to celebrate writing in Devon. There is room for only 80 visitors in the venue, so please arrive early to avoid disappointment. 

The Performances- Local authors and poets give ten-minute readings from their books/ poems.

The Workshops-  A series of workshops will be running alongside the readings. These are available for anyone to join.

Tables-  There will be 'meet and greet' the authors with tables running alongside the performances and workshops. Guests will have the opportunity to meet an author and buy books!

 For more information about ‘A Celebration of Books’ see

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A Celebration of Irish Poets

As usual, it was a very welcoming and warm (referring to the people rather than the venue!) gathering of Tiverton Poets for the February meeting. This group has the magnetism to attract a lovely collection of individuals each month who are willing to share their own works and those of their favourite poets, and have a mutual thirst for learning more.
We delighted in sharing our chosen poems by Great Irish poets of which there are many! The diverse tastes of those present meant that we experienced masterpieces ranging from Yeats to Spike Milligan and many more between including Seamus Reaney, Oscar Wilde and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (a very Gaelic name I am relieved not to have to try to pronounce). 
A process that proved quite reflective for the group, the topic of new beginnings for our own poems prompted thoughts and accompanying verse about letting go of the past and how we feel about starting afresh. Perhaps the most powerful symbol of re-birth the mystical Phoenix made an appearance as did contemplating whether a new beginning can occur from a terminal building...indeed why not?
After dismissing some more 'alternative' ideas for the next meeting (to the quiet disappointment of some!) we settled on the following:
Tuesday 7th March at 8 pm at CreaTiv Hub
Write 2 poems, 1 rhyming and 1 not rhyming on a choice of 3 themes - Time/Animal/Street 
And share a poem(s) on the chosen theme from a well-known poet.
Hope to see you there!
by Trina J. Stacey

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The Welsh Poets

The Tiverton Poets braved the cold January winds, to meet in the CreaTiv Hub, Tiverton. Over Christmas, the CreaTiv Hub had been magically turned into a pop-up art shop, with the walls decorated with pictures and paintings from local artists, which really brightened the place. I was particularly impressed by one painting of a wave in vivid blues. Hopefully, there will be a pop-up bookstore soon as Tiverton has no independent bookshop.

After a quick art review, the serious busy of poetry was discussed, with readings from many of the modern great Welsh poets including Harri Webb, W.H. Davies and, of course, the great Dylan Thomas.  

Past Welsh poetry was also examined with a reading of  "Trouble at an Inn" (in Welsh Trafferth mewn Tafarn), a short poem by the 14th-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, who wrote an amusing account of his night time misfortunes trying to meet up with a serving girl for a brief romantic encounter, which unfortunately, never quite happened! 

Poetry is also written by the people, by unknown writers throughout the centuries. Those work often dies with them. Therefore, to celebrate the unknown Welsh poets, I introduced the work of my great uncle David Mogridge, who was a miner born in the Rhondda Valley in 1907. He died of injuries sustained through mining but he was an avid poet, his poetry reflecting the thoughts of his time. One of his poems was the,

Seven Stages of Womanhood


First the babe in swaddling clothes

Playing with her baby toes.


Second, the prattling child

Untamed, and almost wind.


Third, the gawky schoolgirl

With complexion, clear as pearl.


Fourth comes the artist fine

Whose face will ne'er decline

For want of touching up.


Fifth comes the foolish flapper

With all her foolish chatter

Flirting with all who come

Choosing out of romance but the crumbs.


Sixth comes the wife and motherhood

which sobers her for good

that is if she's as she were born

and not of womanhood is shorn.


Seventh comes the tottering grannie

Feeble of sight but cannie

Love may be gone, romance is passed,

and soon she'll find her rest at last.


The Seven Stages of Womanhood is a  poem, I feel we can still relate to even in the twenty-first century.

After our Welsh adventures, the poets presented their own work on surrealism - which proved highly surreal, insane and creative!

Next month the Tiverton poets will be exploring Irish poets and will write their own poems based on the concept of new beginnings.

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Tiverton Poets Go Surreal

On Tuesday The Tiverton Poetry Society met in the CreaTiv hub in Tiverton to discuss the fascinating subject of surrealism. 

What is Surrealism?

"Three men riding on a bicycle which has only one wheel, I guess that's surrealism."(Dong Kingman)

Surrealism emerged as the direct result of the publication of André Breton’s first Le Manifeste du Surréalisme(Manifesto of Surrealism) (1924). In this manifesto, Breton presented two definitions of surrealism,

1) Pure Automatism

Automatism is the use of techniques, such as automatic writing, self-induced hallucinations, and word games like the exquisite corpse to make manifest repressed mental activities. 

2)  Philosophical Surrealism

The surrealist view of reality and expresses the surrealist’s desire to open the vistas of the arts through the close observation of the dream state and the free play of thought.

Modern surrealists can be seen  by their use of personal juxtapositions, placing distant realities together, so that the interconnections between them were only apparent to the creator.

Several very interesting, magical and creative poems were read including works by the great modern poets Selima Hill and David Gascogne.

In the second half of the meeting, the group read their own work based on the concept of spirits with work ranging from haiku, limericks, blank verse, micropoetry and automatic writing. The atmosphere for spirit work was greatly enhanced by the dark evening and a machine which made the sound of a hidden intruder coughing at spookily irregular intervals.

This is an active, fun  poetry group and ideal for people who want to learn more about poetry.

The next group meeting is on the theme of Welsh poets and poets have been challenged to write a surrealist poem to share with the group!

by P.J. Reed

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The Tiverton Poetry Society and the Romantics

The Tiverton Poetry Society had a fascinating meeting discussing the emergence of one of the greatest literary movements, the rise of romanticism.

Romantic poetry is the poetry of the Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century. It involved a reaction against prevailing Enlightenment ideas of the 18th century and lasted from 1800 to 1850, approximately.

Romantic poetry contrasts with neoclassical poetry, which is poetry of intellect and reason, while romantic poetry is the product of emotions, sentiments, and the heart. Romantic poetry is a reaction against the set standards, conventions, and the traditional rules of poetry. 

The great works of William Wordsworth,  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, P. B. Shelley, William Blake and John Keats were read and discussed and their sometimes tragically early deaths mourned. Who knew Byron led an army against the Ottoman Empire? Or Shelley had a Viking funeral?

Then as a complete change of pace, the poets of Tiverton read their own poetry encompassing the list of random words written last week. The weird words certainly elevated the poetry into new directions creating some very unique poetry!

Nest week they are venturing into the world of surrealism and bringing in their poems about anything to do with the word "spirits."

New members are very welcome to pop in with a poetry book and enjoy a night of pure poetry indulgence.


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The Tiverton Poetry Society (October 2016)

This October, The Tiverton Poetry Society met in the inspirational surroundings of CreaTiv, Tiverton. It was a very good turn out with an exciting mix of poets and writing styles ranging from romantics to haiku to horror poets.  

The first part of the evening involved a discussion on Poet Laureates, their history, and examples of their poetry. One of the stand evening poems was by the American Poet Laureate, Billy Collins and his emotional poem entitled,  I Chop Some Parsley While Listening To Art Blakey's Version Of "Three Blind Mice."

The second part of the evening was a chance for Tiverton's poets to read their own work regarding the theme of ''webs" which turned out to be a deadly mix of poems regarding black widow spiders, the evils of the world wide web and the effects of drugs on spiders web making abilities. 

The theme for the next meeting will be writing poems that include some of the following words: Bananas, Jelly, Murder, Despotic, Big, Book, Reflection, Limbo, Go, Now, Work, Money, Ball, Water, Winter, Thought, Gold, and Sapphire.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

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