Guest blog: Dr Emma Filtness shares the fruits of her OGSW poetry workshop

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Emma and participants in the ‘open air sitting room’ of Red Cross Garden

We are very pleased to welcome Dr Emma Filtness back to our blog. Following her piece on how to write garden poems earlier in the year, Emma returns to review the erasure poetry workshop that she conducted in Red Cross Garden for Open Garden Squares Weekend 2018. She also shares some of the beautiful work that the session produced.


I had the pleasure of facilitating a ‘found poetry’ workshop in a beautiful little garden in the shadow of the Shard for Open Garden Squares Weekend 2018, with thanks to the London Parks and Garden Trust.

Using old texts about flowers and plants, and armed with Sharpies, highlighters and ball-points, we created a number of little flora-themed erasure poems on our table in the shade. OGSWpoemEFOutlineEditAn erasure poem is one where a poet takes an existing source, usually limited to one or a few pages, and erases the majority of the text, leaving behind select words and phrases that, when read in order, compose the poem.

To finish the event, I read out the winning and shortlisted entries from the Open Squares Weekend 2018 micro-poetry competition along with my two commissioned Insta-poems to an audience at the end of their tour of the garden.

Below, you can read two of the poems I created in the garden as well as one by Cassidy Gillis, a lovely young writer and workshop participant all the way from Colorado. Enjoy!


Ivy-leaved Crowfoot

by Emma Filtness
Source text: The Pocket Guide to Wildflowers (Collins: London, 1978)

terminal,

deeply

floating leaves          cut       submerged   collapsing

out of the water; flowers

in               ditches

floating           kidney-

fruit

floating

submerged               collapsing

‘outline’ as ‘body’

by Emma Filtness
Source text: Mrs Desmond Underwood, Grey and Silver Plants (Collins: London, 1971)

old wood

autumn

bare!

feathery

leaves

grey

each               cut out of       velvet

mauve flowers

grow in whorls

in the house              there is    danger

Stars

by Cassidy Gillis
Source text: The Pocket Guide to Wildflowers (Collins: London, 1978)

A star             to show          rare     is

finding            uncommon

Unlikely          Stars

Each description,                 the degree of rarity

Common and widely distributed         have no stars

One star is

scarce


Dr Emma Filtness lectures in Creative Writing at Brunel University London. Her poem ‘strange light’ has recently been on display at the National Poetry Library as part of the world’s first Instagram poetry exhibition. Follow Emma on Instagram to see more of her poems.

Cassidy Gillis is a high-school student from a small town in Colorado. She writes for her school newspaper, loves poetry and hopes to become a journalist.