By Cyrus Larcombe-Moore Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2016
If poetry was a place, The Hurst would be that home of writing. I have never experienced anything quite like being solely surrounded by like-minded people, and people with the same goals, hopes and dreams of attainment as each other. It is something I will always cherish. To be encompassed by such inspiring vistas, to enjoy good company and learn as much as I did about a craft I hold so dear, was quite magical.
The group sessions, spent with pens held tightly and sat around a table where we were all equals, were at first intimidating but once one understands that everyone around that table is there to push you to achieve more, you relax and words flow from you and from all the other writers too. There is no true silence at The Hurst, for wherever you go you will always find someone writing, and the sound of insistent scribbling is comforting.
Individual sessions taught me the most. The Poets [W.N Herbert, Malika Booker, and special guest Sarah Howe] were kind yet honest and provided us all with valuable snippets – which, when added together from those short periods of time, give you a well sculpted idea of where you need to go, and what you next need to write, or edit, or leave behind. These more intimate one-on-ones are what I enjoyed most and found most useful. No feedback clashed with the other and both [judges, W.N Herbert and Malika Booker] have changed the way I write poetry for the better.
We built a community in the short time we had together at the Hurst. All were friends; late comers felt as if they’d been with us for months; and one always could find support in another member of the group. I’m not sure if we were lucky and came together as a group of people who could simply get on and gel without issue, but it certainly felt I had been friends with each member of the 15 for much more than a few days. I think it was the subtle combination of intimacy and escapism. You were able to isolate yourself completely or remain with a handful of people for days at a time. This dynamic brought a comfort to the friendship, as it allowed us the sanctuary of each other and of being solitary. Truly something I doubt I will experience again and wish I could.
The food was good, the people were wonderful, the location was beautiful and the time I had was splendid. I would do it again if I could, and I would do it again after that and again after that. It was without question one of the best weeks of my life. I have met people I hope to know for a long time, and expect their names to be published in the near future. I tell them we will do this again, and I’m sure we shall. Some bonds aren’t broken by distance and I think the connections made between poets in those few days will remain.
© Hayley Lee Madden for The Poetry Society
The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017 is now open for entries. The top 15 winning poets will attend an Arvon residential course, and are published in a winners’ anthology. 85 commended poets are also published in an online anthology. All 100 winners receive Poetry Society membership, a goody bag and an invite to the awards ceremony at the Southbank Centre.