“Thanks to the poetry group I have become the biggest fan of poetry and I write every week. Good luck with the group, I really enjoyed it.” MA Art History Student and Sprint 2018 participant.

Listening to the group presentations on the final day of a Sprint course that I delivered last year at the University of Essex, I was struck by how creative and passionate the participants were about their experiences during the week, and felt enormously proud to have played a small part in facilitating their transformation. Most of the students on the course were not studying creative subjects, so it was quite something to witness outpourings of poetry, drawings and even a short play! I love how Sprint courses inspire students to share their thoughts in new, and imaginative ways. As a Sprint trainer (and previously a Springboard trainer) I always feel inspired by the workshop content, so, in the same spirit, I started a small writing group, with some friends, and I invited the students to join in too. Our group have since met seven times, and it’s lovely to see everyone’s confidence grow in their writing. The group is formed of individuals of all ages who just love to scribble a verse, short story or song, and appreciate an outlet to help them hone their craft and get some feedback. We’re not experts by any means, and the group exists simply to provide support. I strongly feel that there is a lot of great writing going on, but it’s often hidden away – by writers too shy to share it. The Art History student quoted at the top has since graduated and moved on, but emailed me to express her gratitude for Sprint, and for the writing group. Her work was powerful and lyrical, and I was privileged to hear it pour out, and to help inspire her new love of poetry. Just like on the Sprint course, everyone benefits from having a realistic goal ahead of them, and the writing group meetings have helped us to focus on creating new writing – in order to share it with others, get inspiration about sources of guidance, via Mslexia, for example, and now, we’re even in discussions about creating our own anthology. It’s far easier to ‘stay in our lane’ and not experiment with new ideas, initiatives or events, especially if you are scared no-one will turn up – but the rewards are exciting and worth reaching for. I hope that we will continue to write together in Colchester, and maybe, one day, even get published!

Helen Ivory
Faculty Employability Officer (Humanities)
University of Essex

Views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd

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