Nettlecombe Court, a 16th century estate on the fringes of Exmoor National Park, provided a spectacular setting for our summer residential in July. Sixty talented First Story students from London, Oxfordshire and the East Midlands spent five days writing with six of our writers: William Fiennes, Alan Buckley, Salena Godden, James Dawson, Anthony Anaxagorou and Kate Kingsley.
Workshops with each writer meant students experienced a range of exercises and activities: one day, seeking inspiration in memories associated with food, the next, writing poetry in response to classical music. Students spent the afternoons working on their writing, walking in the countryside, playing rounders, and rehearsing for a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
No less than 450 poems and stories were written during the workshops and tutorials. The week culminated with each student reading their work aloud to a spellbound audience of writers, teachers and fellow students.
The following poem was written on the summer residential:
by Rhianne Dobson
Sleep is not needed when you meet these people.
Talking about the most random things.
Debating which book character is portrayed best by actors.
Shouting like animals when we’re not supposed to.
Fun is how I would describe this.
Reading, writing and listening to the work we produce.
Meeting new people and feeling comfortable enough to share.
We all have a common bond
Poetry, short stories and novels.
Maybe not all of our futures but certainly our now.
I’m glad I met these people because I know now that life is
still fun without signal, parties or alcohol.
But with people we meet and the words we speak.