Quiet Spaces Creative Writing 

Our creative writing sessions take place on Tuesday evenings from 6 - 7pm. You don't need any experience and we welcome both beginners and more experienced writers - and its free to take part.
Sessions are led by writer Nigel Wood, who teaches participants techniques and methods they can use to write poems. 
Some examples of writing produced in the sessions are featured here.
The poetry session on 24/10/17 explored the theme of the 4 seasons in Manchester's quiet spaces.
Artist Akinyemi Oludele attended the session and represented the seasons in these beautiful paintings. Clockwise from top left: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
On Highfield Meadow
Adele Fowles

 

Feeling the wind on my face
and tasting the rain
Squelching through the slippery mud

and calling my dog to come to me

Resting among the dense trees

counting my breaths mindfully

and being being being here now

Loving blossom leaves, berries,

grasses and trees
Cherishing the changing moments,

hours and months

 

Discovering spiders’ webs that seem lit up by magic 

Lying down in the green green grass
With the dog's lead against my feet

 

In Orford Park
Carl Peploe

 

Sitting one evening in Orford Park 

Watching the sun set in a big red ball 

Then there came an army of quad bikes 

With little Nigel Mansells riding them

They didn’t half make a noise

With their engines.
They made a dog yelp and run off -

What an interruption!

The sun had gone again

So off I went home
To listen to Black Sabbath

Or maybe Alice Cooper

 

Listen to the Birds
Muriel

 

Listen to the magpies 

Listen to the starlings 

Listen to the tits
while eating sandwiches

Eating cake and sharing it

with the birds

while eating the crumbs

out of the wrapping papers

from the bins
left in spots
for the other users
for their needs

 

Platt Fields
Margaret Kershaw

 

In Platt Fields

you can get away from the traffic 

In Platt Fields

you can sit round the lake

In Platt Fields

you can listen to the birds

In Platt Fields

you can visit pet’s corner

In Platt Fields

you can go to the funfair 

In Platt Fields

you can watch the bonfire

 

Piccadilly
Elton Darlo

 

In Piccadilly, Manchester

there is a lot of activity

In Piccadilly Gardens

there is homelessness

In Piccadilly Gardens

there are political demos

In Piccadilly Gardens

there are musicians

In Piccadilly Gardens

there are playing areas

In Piccadilly Gardens

there are water fountains

In Piccadilly Gardens
there are lots of wood pigeons

In Piccadilly Gardens
there are evangelical preachers

In Piccadilly Gardens
there are various places to eat and drink

 

Highfield County Park
Bernadette O’Hanrahan 

 

In Highfield County Park,

it’s fresh and pure air
In Highfield County Park

you can walk for hours

In Highfield County Park
you can feed carrots to the horses

In Highfield County Park
you can ride the horses

In Highfield County Park
you can visit the farm
In Highfield County Park
you see lots of nice people and lovely dogs

In Highfield County Park
you see lots of birds and listen
to them singing –

magpies, sparrows, robins

In Highfield County Park
entering from Highfield Road
you pass the wonderful allotments

 

Prestwich Clough
Carl Peploe

 

In the spring it is fresh and green 

In the summer shady and cool
In autumn full of wondrous colours 

In the winter it is dead and cold

 

You can walk there and feel at peace 

And hear the birds chirp
And see the squirrels eat their nuts 

And the doggies having walks

I first visited it when I was 7

To escape the summer heat
I had a paddle in the brook –

O what a joy that was!

I’ve visited it most years since 

And it always brings me peace – 

The sound of the babbling brook 

And everything is love. 

Four Seasons in the City
Elton Darlo

In autumn you put your slippers on

With falling leaves and blowing winds

Everybody's chin seems to go up a little

Winter in the city -

people are now more scarce

because of the bad weather

and blustery snow showers.

Rough sleepers and the homeless disappear

Spring now on its way

and it's a little warmer on the main street

In the shelter listening to the rhythms

of the falling rain

Heading into summer and the hot weather

My mood began to change

And life seemed brighter

with the sun in the sky

Weaste Cemetery
Carl Peploe

Weaste cemetery in winter

is ever so damn chilly.

I should have stayed at home

and not been so damned silly.

Weaste cemetery in spring -

all the bluebells are out

and off to church

go the pious and devout.

In summer it sizzles

except when it's wet.

There are no cats about -

they're staying in I bet.

In autumn the leaves drop

just like dead bodies

and lie around like drunks

when they've been drinking toddies.

In winter it's all white

with the frost and snow.

You need your woollies on -

it's not really the place to go.

4 Seasons in Marie Louise Gardens
Rae Story

In springtime we venture out again 

In springtime the blossom bursts and the leaves unfurl

In springtime the birds gather sticks and twigs 

and squirrels jump in flight

 

Throwing down a patchwork of blankets

Picnicking upon the freshly mown grass

Clinking of wine glasses of optimistic lovers

under a glowing green canopy of leaves

 

Showering leaves and fluttering and dancing

dying and death and gold and brown

cooling and darker and fireworks and echoes

naked and trees and silhouettes and sky

In winter a sudden bitter chill bites your bones

In winter a forlorn couple sit in silence on a bench

In winter remembrances come easily

Winter's longest night shrouds the hidden birth of a long off spring

In the Park
Adele Fowles

Why do I walk here day after day?

Because it is nearby and open all hours.

Who comes with me to this nearby space?

Sometimes my wife and our dog every time.

What inspires us within this park?

Without doubt the line of gnarled up old oaks.

When is it perfect and when it is not?
It is never perfect, it is perfectly formed.

How do I drag us here in the freezing dead of winter?

With beating hearts warm and living and strong.

Swinton Grove Park
Muriel

What is the sound that I hear?

The birds singing in the trees.

What are the colours that I see?

The green of the grass and the red of the swings.

Who are the people I see?

Families with children playing on the swings.

Where do they come from?

The buildings surrounding, the nearby neighbourhood,

houses, flats and hospitals,

having picnics with their family.

Scribbling the Urban Life
Elton Darlo

What am I doing here?

Just scribbling the urban life.

Why does this interest me?

Well, I love characters.

And these people, are they local?

No, city life is cosmopolitan.

Which means what?

We are all multicultural,

so this would be why I sketch.

Who else does it then?

Those like me who love the city.

Really, this means lots of colour-

of course, that's what I like.

Does the environment inspire?

To me - I am an urbanite.

Could I do better?

No, because I only sketch cities,

so I don't paint the countryside.

OK then, I get that.

Walking
Bernadette O'Hanrahan

What is the grey under my feet?

The concrete on the street.

What is the wet on my face?

The rain starting to fall.

What is the sound I'm hearing?

The wind rustling through the trees.

How do I feel?

Good, in my raincoat & wellies with umbrella to hand.

And who's this walking down the street towards me?

My friend's sister - we hug and say hello.

Postcard Poems

Postcard 1
Carl Peploe

Dear Mirabel,

Having a lovely time in Barbados -

bet you wish

you'd married me!

- Carl

Postcard 2
Elton Darlo

Hi Tom,

How's tricks?

At the moment I'm dripping wet,

in the middle of Market Street.

As you can imagine,

the weather

is disgusting.

I'll be travelling to Old Trafford

on the Metro to punish my wallet

in the souvenir shop.

I'm a big Red so before I go

I'll say Up the Reds

and see you soon.

Postcard 3
Carl Peploe

 

Dear Mirabel,

Having a nice time in Manchester

getting drunk -

I love a pint and a fight!

- Carl

Postcard 4
Bernadette O'Hanrahan

 

Hi Rae,

Having a great time at the Trafford Centre.

The weather is lovely -

sunshine through the roof in parts.

I'm just sitting down at the Italian restaurant

with my son Dwain.

Hope you're well and see you soon.

Why Do I Go To The Park?
Chi Ambekezo

To feel pleased

To feel glad

To feel less alone

To watch the people

To watch the street

To watch the driver in his bus

To watch the cars

To watch the houses

To watch the sun

Princess Road Playing Fields
Elton Darlo

Why did I go to Princess Road playing fields?

They are situated in the Whalley Range area,

near Moss Side and Maine Road football club -

home to Man City in the 60s.

 

Those training there were Olympic wrestlers

and serious athletes

and also famous footballers

like Alan Bowles and Kevin Tully.

The fields belonged to the YMCA

and staged great events.

Here on any day of the week

were fitness fanatics.

This busy thoroughfare of athletes

kept me busy. I love people watching

so that's why I loved

Princess Road playing fields.

HOME in the City
Adele Fowles

What is there about HOME that is quiet?

Quite a lot actually.

Even in the large café on the first floor

there is some space and peace to be found -

looking out of the large windows

to other shiny rooves red and blue.

The cinemas are dark & comfy & rarely packed;

the galleries often have dark spaces within,

showing arty films to watch on benches.

Why Do I Go to Moss Side Park?
Muriel

To see the children in the playground

having their picnic

and feeding the birds with sandwiches

as well as playing on the swings and roundabout

and painting the trees and birds

while enjoying the warm sunshine

Peace
Adele Fowles

Where does peace live?

Everywhere & nowhere.

What is the sound of peace?

A roar a hum a buzz a sound of nothing.

Who knows this peace?

How can this peace be mine?

Just let go of looking

because it's already yours.

Why Do I Go to Prestwich Clough?
Carl Peploe

It's green and peaceful

and has a babbling brook

with the little pied magpies

dipping for food

and it's cool and shady in hot weather

so I sit and remove my shirt

and feel at ease with nature.

When I first went there

one hot day in 1961

I was enchanted by the place.

There is nothing like it in Warrington.

I've been there every year since

in spring, summer, autumn, even

winter, and I still find it magical,

as good as it was 56 years ago

when I was a small boy.

Untitled
Elton Darlo

Because I am a social person

I love the city.

Because when I go in the centre

I meet others like me.

Because of this I enjoy a daily bus ride

to the place I love.

Because I also love walking

I walk round a lot.

Because of this I meet a lot

of different characters.

Because I am a character myself

I gel with others.

Because of these moments happening

I feel happy.

Because one day

I will write about it all.

Because in my life

I have had a lot to write about.

Because in my life

I have had an unusual start.

Because I had five different schools.

Because of this I had a

lack of academics.

Because students over the years have helped.

Because I developed a career

of art and personality .

Because I lived in the street

and was streetwise.

I Used To
Bernadette O'Hanrahan

I used to climb trees

but now I admire them

I used to play snakes and ladders

but now I don't bother

I used to be blonde

but now I'm dark haired

I used to wear pencil skirts

but now I wear baggy clothes

I used to smoke

but now I don't

I used to party a lot

but now very rarely

I used to hate school

but now I miss it

I used to walk a lot

but now I get taxis and buses

I used to have a lot of people around me

but now I don't

I used to be crap at art

but now I'm better

I used to wish I did more exercise

but now I do martial arts for health

I used to watch horror movies

but now I love comedies

I used to go to Blackpool as a kid

but now I don't - too dirty

I used to be married

but now I'm divorced and widowed

I used to wear a lot of make up

but now I wear very little

I used to have animals

but now I don't - and I miss them

Things I Like To Do in Manchester
r.e.b.

Dance to the music in grotty student bars

Walk home with my mate -

too poor to go in cars

Learn about the city and its people

Read about its history

Read about people like me -

dancing, walking and learning

Things To Do in Manchester
Carlson

Watch the flowers bloom

in Ardwick Green Park.

Sit down in Birchfield Park

watching the Asian boys play cricket

Reminding me

of when I was a boy

Things To Do in Manchester
Yak

 

Share time with others

Learn to cope

Enjoy home cooking

Watch the home side win at ice hockey,

basketball, swimming ...

Exercise at the local gym

Teach my ego a lesson,

to always to go to church

Meditate

Drive out to the countryside ...

In Manchester
Carl Peploe

Boozing in Sasha's

Visiting Southern Cemetery

Watching the sun set in a big red ball

Going to social groups

Drawing pictures of Nicholas Parsons

Doing graffiti

Knocking a copper's helmet off

Going to see strippers

Trying to cross Oxford Road

Things I Like To Do in Manchester
Bernadette O'Hanrahan

Going to the cinema at Printworks

Riding a bike in the summer

Walking in the fresh air

Learning art at St Luke's and sitting painting

Visiting the theatre

Taking pictures in the park

Going to the Eighth Day cafe

Walking the dogs with my sister

Admiring the stars

Looking in charity shops

Visiting art galleries

Praying in churches

Going out smiling and talking to people

Shopping in Manchester for clothes

Watching the moon

Things To Do in Manchester
r.e.b.

Breathe the cleaner air in Nutsford Vale

Walk along the canal from the football

Look out of  window at the birds

Chat with the folk at St Luke's

Learn about history

Read about the city

Think about my minor presence,

my miniscule footprint

Visit my old housemate

Remember all the fun we had living together

Make new memories

Sit at home

Memories
Bernadette O'Hanrahan

Do you remember the ice on the trees

that December?

Do you remember the slippery pavement

as we walked to the bus stop?

Do you remember the Christmas lights

and the wreathes on the outside of houses?

Sheer delight in the night!

Do you remember we woke up Saturday morning

and saw the thick snow?

Do you remember the decorations on the ceiling -

Santa and his sleigh at the Trafford Centre?

Do you remember the igloo a neighbour built

behind the fence and you sat inside

as I took your picture in the freezing snow?

Do you remember the toy robin

my mam gave me 24 years ago?

I still have it today to put on my tree.

Winter Memories
Muriel

Do you remember

the slippery path

with ice on the ground?

Do you remember

how the weather

was cold and shivery?

Do you remember

dodging traffic in the snow

on Market Street?

Do you remember

decorating the Christmas tree

with tinsel and balls and a fairy?

Do you remember

putting Christmas lights on the tree

and making beautiful scenery?

December
Carl Peploe

Do you remember a worse December?

There probably was in Victorian times

when kids went up chimneys

and poor barefooted urchins begged for a crust.

The coldest ever December was in 1879

when the poor farmers couldn't feed their swine

and beggars died in the street

and hypocrites went to church -

they were the bad old days

when you were left in the lurch.

Victorian values were harsh:

The rich were rich and the poor stayed poor.

How sodding horrible -

there were no good old days at all!

Haiku

sun shining brightly

last year's white flowers reappearing -

a miracle!

(Bernadette O'Hanrahan)

thirst increases

tuna sandwich calling

bowls cry for lack of grub

(Yak)

sun shining at last

empty pockets

happy days

(r.e.b.)

light through stained class streaming

dust motes whirling

stale smell of unlived centuries

(r.e.b.)

in the garden hanging out washing

looked at the kitchen window -

my late father staring at the hills

(Bernadette O'Hanrahan)

July 12th 1980

in my gran's living room

the ghost of my mother

(Carl Peploe)

granite monolith planted

visible for miles

human hive

(r.e.b.)

weeping at the loss of teddy bear

for teddy was company, a mate indeed

enough to fill the evening

(Yak)

on the flea market

looking for fleas

oh fuck - I've lost my keys

(Carl Peploe)

birds in my garden

must remember to feed them

spring on its way

(Bernadette O'Hanrahan)

grease on fingers

walking steadily with conversation

one pound thirty lighter

(r.e.b.)

went in the pound shop

staff very helpful

smiles go a long way

(Bernadette O'Hanrahan)

human detritus littered

oily sheen on concrete

home calling

(r.e.b.)

I'm going to Prestwich Clough

when the nice weather's here

and the sky's blue and clear

(Carl Peploe)

When I feel sad
Carlston

When I feel sad

I try to find someone to cheer me up

When I feel happy

I try to spread the happiness

When I feel  down

music cheers me up

When I feel good

the words come from my mouth

like the blood flows

through my veins

Happy is a cigar called Hamlet
Yak

When I feel depressed

music is not far away

Joyful is the head

feeling high

Ecstatic is me

when the festive season

is back once again

Selfless is me

following a visit to my local

Sadness is when

Bjorn Borg gives one away

Stressful is when

it's time to return from the football match 

By the Canal
Carl Peploe

bindweed and flies

worms and beetles

puddles and mud

empty bottles and beer cans

discarded food and vomit

fed up and thirsty

wishing my life away

wishing this fucking canal

were the Panama canal

then I'd get bitten by a snake

In Nutsford Vale
r.e.b.

flowers & trees

& stagnation & mud

& litter & grass

& brambles & nettles

& blossom

happy & peaceful

& calm & relaxed

& secure & alive

& thriving

bushes & shrubs

& walkers & dogs

& footprints  &  insects

& birds & cats

& berries

collected & thoughtful

&  free & detached

& breathing & hopeful

& home

I Hate Hating
Bernadette O'Hanrahan

I hate racist people

I hate people sitting in cars running the engine

I hate dog poo on the streets

I hate judgemental people

I hate when the phone rings and I'm busy

I hate noisy neighbours

I hate people who have nothing good to say about other people

I hate nosy people

I hate dirty conveyor belts when I'm out shopping

I hate recycled carrier bags

that sit in trolleys after being on the floor

I hate having my feet tickled

I hate  horror movies

I hate men who hate women

I hate to see poverty

I hate being cold

I hate being hungry

I hate being lonely

I hate bailiffs

I hate being in pain

I hate loud music

I hate some of my past

I hate some of my present

I hate my OCD sometimes

I hate being woken up by outside noise

I hate being fat

I hate being sick

I hate pollution

I hate hating

Canal Walk: Oxford Road to Castlefield
r.e.b.

rolling wheels lead to beeping

idling engines on wet roads

chatter, coughing, feet shuffling

laughter surrounds the swish of puddles

 

distant traffic breathing by the gushing water

the banging knocking bus diesel engine

carries on the wind

 

traffic chatter, chatter traffic

whirring sound from garden

footsteps passing running water

train passing lock 39

 

drip drip plip plop

rumble rumble roar of engines

brakes by the bridge

 

bird squawking, feet shuffling

rustle of wind and water falling

building banging work, train braking

connected at Catalan Square

 

bustling wind over water lapping

clanging coughing train rumbling past

Manchester my Manchester

When I'm Feeling Blue
Carl Peploe

When I'm feeling blue

I go to somewhere shady

and it makes me very lazy,

all the butterflies go crazy.

When I feel like jacking it all in 

then I go and kick the bin.

I feel as if I cannot win 

and I want to drink a lot of gin.

When I feel all knackered up 

I want to drink from God's own cup 

and have a damn good sup 

and go stroke a little pup

When I feel down and out 

and want to hide from some lout, 

there's too much misery about - 

I need a bottle of stout.

When I'm feeling lost 

and all my wires are crossed

the dice are wrongly tossed

and people's eyes are like frost.

[untitled]
r.e.b.

Because of the deafening silence

Because of the noise of the waves

Because of the empty pockets of stillness

Because of the great architecture of land and sea

Because of the rocks and pasture

Because of the goats and gulls

Because I can be the only person

Because it is not remote

Where Am I?
Bernadette O'Hanrahan

I'm in the area twice a week,

I accidentally walk past and sometimes 

have meetings near there.

I do appreciate it - there was

nothing like it in the past.

I walk around and sit near the lily pond 

and sometimes I buy stuff for my garden.

I love it when they have workshops.

You can enjoy food and drink there all the time.

There are great artifacts - canoes and such - 

and much fun to be had by everyone.

You can forget your troubles.

There are lots of flowers, trees and plants.

It makes me feel relaxed and happy 

after travelling, which can 

make me feel quite snappy.

Longsight, Tuesday Evening
Group poem

sun setting red

shining in

through the window

I'm A Lover Not A Fighter
Bernadette O'Hanrahan

I'm a lover not a fighter

I'm a poet 

I'm a writer

I love animals 

I love flowers

I love love 

I love laughing

I love travelling

I love all kinds of music

I love my son

I love my family

I love peace 

I love good food

I love being healthy

I love being happy

I love being nice to people

I love people being nice to me

Out of the City
r.e.b. 

The lapping of the waves 

The sand between my toes

The clear air breathing for me

The stillness of peace

The relief of a long walk ended

The post sandwich satisfaction

The feeling of not wanting

The being in a space & time

Of complete contentedness

Levenshulme in the Rain
Bernadette O'Hanrahan

cold and wet

umbrella and raincoat

cars splashing and people laughing

walking and dodging 

blossom trees and wind

rushing and tired

ringing phone and bags in hands

dogs barking and birds stop singing 

roadworks and flowerbeds 

cars beeping and takeaway smells

hailstones and face stinging

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