Ian McMillan, Elvis, Ted Hughes … I spent this afternoon at the Ready Teddy workshop organised by the Ted Hughes Project and run by Ian McMillan. Ian was as entertaining as always, but what really came through was his ability to transcend the ordinary and to take his workshop participants with him on a flight of fancy which was uncannily grounded in the real and everyday.
The setting of the former Mexborough Grammar School, where Hughes studied, was a gift. We wandered the corridors making absurd but inspiring links between past and present, fact and fiction, imagining Elvis on the trail of his hero, Ted Hughes. People came up with daft theories about off-the-wall things like boiled hamburgers, and outside we discovered ‘Elvis artefacts’ including a wooden heart. We sang Jailhouse Rock to the tune of On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘At to get us in the mood for writing and Ian shared a brilliant tweet he’d received: You ain’t nothin’ but a thought fox.
That’s what Ian’s so good at, getting you to be absurd and creative and not to worry about what you’re writing. I need to type up my poem and then leave it alone for a while before I make any judgements on it, but I enjoyed writing it and that’s what counts. If I’d stayed at home I’d have claimed it was too hot to do anything and probably not written a word.
So, enjoy the weather but don’t neglect the poems. And follow those ideas, however absurd. After all, who knows where they might take you?