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The best poetry workshops out of town

Yesterday -- that's right, a sunny Sunday -- I spent six hours in a back room of a friendly country pub built out of salvaged earthquake materials 20 ks out of the Christchurch. What ever for? For kick-starting my Muse, of course, with around 12 other disciples of poetry, at Lincoln's wonderful newest pub, The Laboratory. Kick-starting the Muse was the name -- and the game -- of this particular workshop I was attending. By the end of the day, I had four promising first-draft poems to take home with me. Four. How many poems do you write on any good writing day? Well then, let's talk about Joanna Preston's workshops, the-most-productive-of poetry workshops.

'The Classroom' at The Laboratory, Lincoln. The classroom doors are salvaged from a Christchurch school.

They are also the most educational, mind-expanding and feel-good classes in and out of town that any aspiring, jaded or muse-free poet could ever hope for. And word has got around. People in her class came from as far as Dunedin and as wide as Temuka and Kaiapoi to be inspired to write limericks, lyrics and poems that include maypoles and underwear (often related). The results are often mind-blowingly good. After giving us some models of the kind of thing she wants from poets like Billy Collins to Seamus Heaney to Viola T Paradise (yes you read that right, and you should see the poem), we are given half an hour to give it a go. We share our results and usually there are at least two or three poems that floor us. All the more astounding given that they are first drafts. Those of us lucky enough to be living in Christchurch will often hear many of these poems in shiny new polished outfits performed at the Canterbury Poetry Collective's Spring Reading Series. Many others turn up in journals and anthologies all over New Zealand and further afield. Where would Canterbury poetry be without Joanna?

CPC Spring Reading Series

Joanna runs her poetry classes throughout the year in Christchurch and Lincoln. The next one starts March -- '2017 -- an Odyssey by Anthology', which is one of her famous 'Reading for Writing' workshops. Not only a chance to sample contemporary poetry from across the globe but to increase your knowledge and craft of poetry. Her handouts are copious and informative. I have been to many poetry workshops over the years but this one really is the best little poetry workshop in town. Don't miss out. Book online at The Dark Feathered Art, and check out her blog too.

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