Nature's Words: Teaching poetry & creative writing

Helen has been teaching poetry in a range of settings for more than a decade. Recent work includes facilitating a weekly group through Frome Community Education; running termly between 2011-15, the group’s focus was on reading a wide range of poetry (from across the centuries and in translation from other cultures), with Helen also guiding her students in writing their own. Since 2015, she has run a highly successful ‘Poetry Surgery’, where participants have been meeting monthly to workshop their poems together; she has also been working individually with students, mentoring their creative development and helping them to find their voices and hone their craft.

From time to time, Helen runs 'Wild Ways to Writing' ecopoetry workshops, sharing her own practice, and where possible guiding participants in outdoor settings. She recently ran 'Words from the Woods', a writing workshop connecting participants with the heritage of Selwood Forest, as part of her residency with the Heritage Lottery funded Last Tree Dreaming project. In May 2016, she also led a seminar entitled 'Art for Earth's Sake: Using poetry to change the world' at the University of Gloucestershire with a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate students, and is keen to work more in this area.

Helen additionally offers tailor-made creative writing and journaling workshops to adults, young people and children, and has extensive experience of working in the field of socially engaged arts, often in healthcare settings, and also within schools. She has regularly collaborated with film-maker Howard Vause in creating poetry film workshops with a range of groups, including adults with dementia and teenagers with autism.


Poetry Surgery

Before I attended Helen’s workshops, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing when I wrote what I called ‘poetry’. After all, I write fiction. Prose. As far as I was concerned, poetry was only meant as an outburst. Yet I was curious – and I am glad I gave in to my curiosity. Helen has been an inspirational teacher, offering her insights and advice with tact and patience. She taught us how to craft a poem, how to develop it or pare it down; she showed us what to look out for and what to avoid. In short, she gave us the tools that would help us express ourselves better. It was striking to witness, over the months, the progress made by many in the group! As for me, I feel I have now at my disposal a new means of expression that complements my work in prose.

B Anne Adriaens

Reading and Writing Poetry

In terms of developing my own writing, I have got a lot out of Helen’s ‘Reading & Writing Poetry’ courses. It has helped support my creative direction, and coming to Helen’s class offers a strong incentive to write and keep editing and shaping something, when you are meeting others who are doing the same and know that eventually, you will each share a piece and get others' feedback. There has developed a focused, good-humoured team spirit. Speaking from a background of 25 years' teaching experience, I also feel that Helen is just the right person to be teaching poetry, as she puts so much into each class and is very sensitive in the way she invites a considered, truthful response to the poems being read aloud.

Steve Small

Helen Moore's warm and welcoming personality combined with her passion for poetry and expert knowledge, make classes both enjoyable and rewarding for those attending. I attended Helen's classes over a four year period and students were given support and encouragement at every ability level within the group.

Colin Coles

Reading & Writing Poetry, Poetry Surgery & 1:1 mentoring

I have known Helen as a poetry tutor and mentor for the past five years, within both group and one-to-one workshops. She has proved a very effective tutor and always provided an excellent service, working tirelessly to develop both new and experienced poets. As a tutor, she is very attentive, approachable and caring about others’ work. She critiques very well, helping the poet assess their work and draw out the best from their writing. In the last five years I have developed significantly as a poet due to Helen’s input. She has helped me understand what I want my poetry to say, as well as the mechanics of how to write a poem. She has assisted my work to evolve and get ready for publication.

Michael K. Smith

I have known Helen for several years in her capacity as poetry group leader, writing mentor and ecopoet. She’s non-judgmental but still manages to raise the level of poets’ work by her constructive appraisal and her powers of motivation. She gives 100% and does this with a warm heart and a great deal of empathy.

Peter Woodcock

Work with undergraduate students

Helen recently led a three hour workshop at the University of Gloucestershire, which included video poetry, performance and writing activities for students. This workshop was a great success, with very positive feedback from students. Helen’s skills lie not just in her ability to write captivating books, essays and poetry, but also in being about to perform her works in highly engaging ways, and communicate the deeper meanings of the works to the audience through excellent social skills.

Dr Arran Stibbe, University of Gloucestershire

Poetry film workshop (collaborating with Howard Vause)

I really enjoyed every aspect of the workshop. I loved the freedom we were given and truly felt that the work we produced was ours and different and original. I felt like we had control over our ideas, but the guidance we were given was very helpful.

Jayne, Year 10, St Gregory’s College, Bath

I now know I can do a lot with the poems I write.

Katie, Year 9

I have really enjoyed the workshop as I have been able to see poetry in a different way. This amazing opportunity has helped me to learn more about poetry.

Tobie, Year 7

I have learnt new skills like the best ways to make films etc, and I have also learnt how to read poems/text with expression and really dig deep in my emotions about it.

Carla, Year 7

Thank you for this wonderful week. It has been a pleasure to work with you, and I really hope that further projects can happen at St Gregory's with yourselves.

Tom Fieldhouse, English teacher at St Gregory’s College, Bath



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