My current workshops are here: https://cathdrake.com/writing-to-buoy-us and here: https://cathdrake.com/poetry-masterclasses/ , plus writing feedback workshops here: https://cathdrake.com/writer-feedback-workshops/.
Here’s some examples of workshops I offer clients (followed by examples of those I’ve run in the past).
Storytelling and writing workshops can be adapted for small or large groups in any venue from a festival tent to a specialist community space or corporate meeting room. I have experience working on community writing projects with vulnerable adults and young people, designing and adapting a programme to suit.
Story central: I also run mini-drop in sessions by setting up in a foyer, waiting area, festival tent or library and help passers-by create inspiring stories.
Writing to Buoy Us: In these unprecedented times with a global pandemic and a climate crisis, across the world people are increasingly suffering and isolated. In this writing workshop (or series of workshops) read, write and share poems that help us in difficult times, respond to the world around us, acknowledge the best in ourselves and others, discover resilience and beauty in the world we love.
Re-invent the Future: Positive creative visions of the future are needed now more than ever. Invent characters, happenings, gizmos and whole new communities. Stretch beyond the predictable, play with positivity, re-invent the ordinary and even sneak into the surreal. Creativity can excite and buoy us in difficult times. Come away with new ideas and a renewed sense of the positive.
Nurturing Nature: Recharge your curiosity and delight in nature and the joy in being creative. (This can be run indoors or outdoors or a combination of both, adapted to the local environment!) I’ve won awards for environmental journalism and ecopoetry, and I have a post-graduate qualification in environmental science.
Mindful Poetry: A workshop combining mindfulness and poetry to feed your mind and body. Slow down and bring attention to the nuances of emotion, senses and the world around us. We’ll translate awareness into words and poems, and nurture sparks of imagination, vibrancy and curiosity. Mindfulness and creativity helps us to de-stress. (I am also mindfulness teacher.)
Fables for a New World: Build fables and re-invents old ones to help us navigate the climate emergency and ecological crisis. Unpin values, habits and assumptions and create new visions, characters, events and stories to heal, change and forge new worlds.
Far from Home: So many of us live far away from where we come from. What’s it like to be far from home? Do you feel torn between two places? How does it shape your experience and identity? Drop into memory and dialogue between here and there. Stretch the boundaries of place, memory and imagination.
The Weight of a Moment: Many poems often hang on a pivotal moment seen, experienced or imagined. Why do these particular moments really matter? How do they take on so much weight that they can reveal something much bigger, and sometimes envelope a world? How can they encapsulate epiphany or change? How do you describe these moments without telling the reader what to feel? We’ll explore their mystery and look at creating and bringing pivotal moments alive.
Writing in response to the climate emergency and ecological breakdown: Writers are vital in expressing the grief, denial, anxiety and urgency around the climate emergency. They also have a crucial role in imagining the future and coping with rapid changes that are and will occur as every part of life is impacted.
Curious Conversations: Step outside of everyday hum drum and join in with bite-sized creative conversations. Share inspirations, create stories and respond to ridiculous and curious questions. It’s easy and loads of fun. Suitable for adults or teenagers. Speed conversations like you’ve never had before. Trust serendipity and your incredible imagination.
Surfing the Creative Current: Surprise yourself, ignore the bossy inner critic, have fun, and gain confidence in your creative muscle. Stretch beyond the predictable, re-invent the ordinary, sneak into the surreal, flirt with freefall and have fun taking your writing to unexpected places. Put aside the editor and critic and let your creativity fly. A good antidote to writer’s block, you’ll find lots of emerging ideas for poems and stories.
Wild Writing: Connecting and responding to nature has never been more important. Recharge your curiosity and delight in nature. (This can be run indoors or outdoors or a combinations of both!) I’ve won awards for environmental journalism and poetry, and I have a post-graduate qualification in environmental science.
Creative Burst: If you need a burst of creativity or think you aren’t very creative then this workshop will help you charge up your natural creativity. Everyone is creative! This workshop will help you stretch your creative thinking in the workplace and other projects you are working on and give you fresh perspectives.
Passion Ignition: Write what you know and what you feel passionate about is often the advice writers’ give. But, in our busy lives often we’ve lost sight of what really fires our belly. Have fun exploring and tapping into the embers and see where it leads your writing, and perhaps even your life choices.
Sense of Place: Places are embedded with memories, mysteries, myth and imagination. Wander through the streets of your town in your imagination. I can also adapt writing workshop to museums, galleries and parks.
Sensory Recharge: We often rush about so much that we rarely get a chance to really experience where we are right now. This workshop is a chance to rekindle our relationship with our senses, become more aware of our environment, and fire-up our writing.
Wordplay: Creative and fun word games that everyone can enjoy.Stretch imagination, spark quick wit, and find those left field ideas you didn’t know you had.
An Appetite for Writing: Recipes, table manners, memorable meals, how to cook an artichoke, grow strawberries, share a mango, make usual mixtures at midnight – food and cooking is central to life, story and poetry. It easily triggers senses, memory and imagination. Whip up a tantilising appetite for writing and expect it to take your writing in all kinds of directions. This workshop can also be served over lunch!
Writing to perform and performing poetry: Write for performance and bring passion and power to your readings.
Poetry and/or short story writing and / or reading groups: Read some inspirational work and get into some stimulating discussions. The best writers read! Groups could be for aspiring writers and/or passionate readers who may not have the time to read novels regularly and join a novel reading group but want to be inspired by literature.
Life stories and oral history: Got a story to tell and don’t know where to start? Find out what makes an engaging and original life story. Do you want to capture your grandma’s story before it’s too late or create poetry or story from your interviews? Capture the essence of time and place by persevering it with compelling oral history interviews.
Creating great interviews: Look at the questions, set up, structure and listening skills needed to create a great interview, and have fun testing it out within the workshop. Interviews can form the basis of non-fiction writing, journalism, family or oral history work, or be pivotal research and stimulation for your creative writing. Everyone has a story to tell and there’s always something interesting to find out. I also run workshops for those who want to improve their skills as memorable and effective media interviewees.
Sensitive interviews: I have a specialism in undertaking sensitive interviews with those who have experienced trauma.
Press relations and PR: How to write press releases, promote issues in the media, undertake effective interviews for media (radio, TV, print, web), plan integrated campaigns, events and launches
SOME OF MY PAST WORK
- Creative writing workshops in libraries, museums and festivals around the UK and Australia for adults and young people e.g. Sutton, Tower Hamlets Idea Store, Lambeth, Beckton, Ealing, Lewisham and Wandsworth Libraries, Keats House, Hackney Museum, Walthamstow Museum.
- Workshops (writing and reading analysis) for writers in Australia over several years. A month-long residency at Katharine Susannah Prichard Writer’s Centre, Perth Australia in 2018 delivering workshops, readings and judging Mundaring Council’s inaugural poetry competition.
- A month-long residency at the Albany Arts Centre in Deptford, included formal and informal workshop activities with hundreds of contributions (sessions with young people and the general public, plus producing community books, performances and readings. Contributors were aged four to eighty, from those with literary experience to those with limited literacy skills or whose first language isn’t English.
- Archway with Words Festival: two full day drop-in workshop events (over two years) where all ages from children to adults could experience a large space with fun writing activities, also mini workshops.
- Buddhafield Festival (three workshops per festival over four years): delivering writing and storytelling workshops to mixed groups of adults, young people and children in a festival tent.
- Produced Formal Verse, a workshop series for advanced and selected writers led by Mimi Khalvati over two years.
- Poetry Booth, a poetry reading group I’ve run since 2013.
- Recharge! & Writer’s Cauldron, workshops for experienced writers to push their creative mettle (one series for Spread The Word and one self-produced).
- Sutton Six: running a series of writing workshops over six weeks with an adult disability group, leading to a performance (for Spread the Word).
- Writing activities for Crisis at Christmas (homeless people) for several days over two Christmas periods – a particularly challenging group to engage. I’ve also run a workshop for BlindAid.
- I’ve co-run writing workshops in primary and secondary schools.
- In Australia, I was a university tutor, and a high school and primary tutor (this included teaching vulnerable and disabled children in children’s homes). I also managed activities at an after school homework centre for Aboriginal children for a year.
Storytelling with charities
- At NSPCC from 2006-2013, I worked one-to-one with often very vulnerable adults and young people on their sensitive life stories. I advised and led training across the organisation on storytelling, interviewing, safeguarding and working with those who had experienced trauma.
- Since then I’ve worked with five other charities on their storytelling strategy, training, story resources and policies. This includes storytelling work in hospices.