There are 160 students enrolled for the weekend, and a dozen established writers of poetry, fiction and plays working with them.
Apart from the workshops, there are also sessions for them to watch and learn from. Yesterday, amongst other delights, two script-writing Davids - Geary and Armstrong - and chair Ken Duncum had everyone enthralled when they talked about how to transform stories into material for the stage and screen.
What amazes me is how sure these young writers are about being young writers. I mean, a whole weekend doing nothing but writing and reading and hearing from writers - and each day is underway by 9 am! You have to be pretty certain writing is your thing. I did have one student who shot off after sharing his poem, which referenced - rather fantastically - the Pope and Batman, because he was playing sport; but he was back in the afternoon laughing along with the rest of them at the antics of the two Davids.
James Brown (another workshop tutor) said yesterday, we forget how new the students are, and how they are all still trying out different genres and styles. He's right. At that age I identified as a poet and look at me now. But what they do believe they are is writers - well, most of them including my eight (one or two I suspect have been hijacked by the Head of English at their school and made to attend.)
There is enormous confidence in the way these young people throw out a page to the class and say this is a poem or a short story; the way they discuss the shape of the Batman/Pope poem, whether there should be speech marks inside another poem, the consistency of the Irish theme in one story, the need for shorter sentences in another.
One reads Guy de Maupassant, another reads Stephen King.
All in all a stimulating weekend for students and tutors alike. And speaking of nuances, I heard one student declare she had a crush on the semi-colon at the moment. So this is for her: quotes from a Salon.com article called Is the Semicolon Girlie?
Page Rockwell: I love the semicolon. But then, I also love the eyelash curler.For more go here. Must dash - the workshops call.
Catherine Price: I'd never really thought of punctuation as gendered, though I suppose the wink of the semicolon could be considered more girlish and
coy than the straightforward, masculine em dash.
Tracy Clark-Flory: Clearly, men find the em dash a reassuring phallic symbol, while the semicolon reawakens their Freudian castration anxiety. What better way to cope with penis envy than to make frequent use of the semicolon?