Hamish Wilson – Tutor
Kate Fox – Guest Reader
Guest Reader
2nd – 7th October 2017
Course Date

This course invites the novice writer to engage with the ‘magical transformations’ of metaphor and see the world through a poet’s eye. Using a range of stimuli – the Garsdale landscape, everyday objects, other people’s poems – the course leads students gently by the hand but with joyful trepidation through a range of poetic forms, dipping toes into haiku, cinquains, kennings, riddles, free verse and sonnets. The overall aim, is to inspire participants with the desire and confidence to continue writing poetry long after the course is over.

hamish-wilson Tutor: Hamish Wilson – Poet

Hamish Wilson was born in Cheltenham in 1959. Having won a scholarship to Rendcomb College, he went on to take a degree in French Literature at Sussex University before training to be a teacher in London. His formal education finished with an MA in Arts Education at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

Hamish’s teaching career took him to a variety of schools, teaching a variety of subjects: French, German, English and Drama. A constant, however, throughout all this, was an interest in and love of words.

He began writing when looking for a suitable play to produce at his first school, St Peter’s, a comprehensive, in Huntingdon. Resources and facilities being fairly basic, he wrote a tailor made play for the school and its pupils. Something Rotten in the State of Denmark, a parody of Hamlet, marked his writing debut.

However, he became much more interested in the art and craft of writing when he regularly took a group of pupils from Hitchin Boys’ School to a creative writing centre in Wales. He was inspired by the poet, Gerard Benson, who gave him the encouragement and confidence to develop his writing.

Later on in his career, Willy Russell tutored him on a residential musical theatre course, inspiring him to return to and develop his dramatic writing.

Other works include three plays: A Tale Told by an Idiot, Alice and Eros (part of Twisted Willow’s: Seven Words for Love) and a series of sonnet cycles describing: a journey through France – A Baguette in my Sac; an autobiographical account of the Isle of Wight – Ticket to Ryde; travels in India -Tales from Rajasthan and the Maldives – Night Fishing. His latest sequence: Parallel Lives explores the lives of Dylan Thomas and John Lennon.

kate-fox Guest on Wednesday evening: Kate Fox – Poet

Kate Fox is a poet, comedian and writing and performance facilitator. She has been a Poet in Residence on Radio 4’s Saturday Live, Glastonbury Festival and the Great North Run. Her solo shows include “Poet in Residence”, “The Starting Line”,  “Kate Fox News” and “Good Breeding”, performed at venues including the Southbank Centre, Ilkley Literature Festival the Edinburgh Book Festival, and Edinburgh Fringe. “Good Breeding” was made into a Radio 4 show.

She has been commissioned to write and perform poems for BBC1 (Including 2014’s “Great North Passion” in South Shields and the Great North Run, 2011 and 2015), BBC2’s Daily Politics, Radio 3’s “The Verb”, 6Music and many Radio 4 shows and has performed at venues from Latitude to the Stand Comedy Club, the Soho Theatre to Oakland University, USA and Turku Literature Festival in Finland.

She trained as a radio journalist in 1998 with a Post Grad Diploma from Trinity and All Saints in Leeds and worked as a newsreader and reporter for stations including Galaxy and Metro.

She’s won the Andrew Waterhouse Award from New Writing North, an Arts Council Time to Write an award and a K Blundell Trust grant from the Society of Authors. She has taught and facilitated numerous creative writing. performance and comedy workshops for the Arvon Foundation, First Story, Creative Partnerships and New Writing North. In 2009 she was the only writer ever to do a Cultural Leadership placement and researched writers’ work with young people. Publications include “Fox Populi” from Smokestack Books (2013),  pieces in Bloodaxes’s “Funny Peculiar, Funny Ha Ha” and the “Iron Book of Humorous Verse” and she has edited several anthologies of young writers work.

She has been Poet in Residence for ACE’s “Creative Case North” conversations since 2014 and written plenary conference poems for organisations from the NHS and Bridge North East, to schools, B.T,  BALTIC and Coloplast as well as commissioned pieces for many organisations including Amnesty International, Manchester Literature Festival, Durham Literature Festival, Humber Mouth Festival, the Yorkshire Festival, the Portico Library, Billingham Library and South Shields Library. She runs her own Live Literature gigs and projects including, currently, the ACE funded “Bloomin Words” in Northallerton and Thirsk where she lives.

Radio 4 broadcast her two half hour comedy shows “The Price of Happiness” in June 2015 and another two have been commissioned to air in 2017.

She is currently two thirds of the way through a studentship-funded full time PhD in solo stand up performance and Northernness at Leeds University.

PRICES Fee includes all day and evening tutored workshop sessions, readings, accommodation and full board (not including alcohol).

Single – En-suite room £750
Single – Shared bathroom £700
Shared Room (2 Beds) £650
Non-residential (inc. lunch and evening meal) £500

Accommodation Professional Tutor
Meals Sheets & Towels
Boots/outdoor shoes/trainers suitable for walking on rough paths.
A waterproof jacket or coat.
Warm Clothes
Slippers or equivalent for main house.
Writing materials: your personal writing preference – laptop, paper, pens etc.
A USB memory stick: for printing your work or for a copy of the audio anthology (musical theatre/play writing courses).
Musical instruments.
Drawing/painting materials – sketchbook, pens, pencils, watercolours etc.
Cash: for books written by the tutors, alcohol, taxis or sundries. The nearest cash machine is in Hawes, seven miles away.
START TIME Please arrive between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm on Monday 2nd October.
END TIME After breakfast, 10:00 am on Saturday 7th October.
LOCATION The Garsdale Retreat, Clough View, Garsdale Head, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5PW


The Garsdale Retreat provides an inspiring place to develop as a writer. Our courses offer opportunities for new, emerging and experienced writers. The tutors, all professional writers, lead group work and also give one-to-one tutorials to help the individual student. In the remote and beautiful setting of The Yorkshire Dales, The Garsdale Retreat gives a wonderful opportunity to escape from the daily stresses of life and to draw inspiration from fellow students, tutors and the landscape itself.

All courses start on Monday afternoon, arrival time 4.00 – 5.30pm and finish after breakfast on Saturday, 10.00am

Course Structure

Although there will be slight variations, according to the type of course, students can generally expect the following outline.

Writing Workshops

Each day begins with a morning workshop at 9.30am where students explore particular aspects of the chosen genre and take part in writing exercises to further their understanding and expertise. Tutors also write alongside the students, sharing and developing work with participants. The immediacy of hearing or reading an expert’s emerging work gives invaluable insight and inspiration into the art of writing. All students have opportunities to share their work with the tutor and fellow writers in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment in which individual work is respected and confidence developed.

There is a mid-morning coffee break and the session finishes at lunchtime (1.00pm)

After lunch, participants are free to do whatever they like, such as: relax, go for walks, enjoy The Dales, nap, draw, paint, read or work on individual writing projects.

All students have at least one individual tutorial which usually takes place in the early evening after tea and homemade cake.

Each evening there is an after-dinner event. The precise nature of this vary varies according to the type of course but participants can typically expect a tutor reading on Tuesday followed by a reading from a guest writer on the Wednesday evening. There is an informal activity on Thursday such as a student ‘open-mic’ night, or a tutor devised activity. On Friday, students and tutor take part in a reading of their work from the course-produced anthology. This is followed by an informal celebration where participants are welcome to play music or sing etc. The Retreat has a grand piano, key-board and acoustic guitar but students are free to bring any instruments along with them.

After-dinner events for performance style courses will usually involve workshop performances by participants of work accomplished in the day.

All courses will conclude after breakfast on Saturday.

Writing Course Anthology

An integral part of a course, is the production of an anthology of the week’s writing. Tutors and students have an equal allocation of pages (usually two sides ofA4) and select the work they include. These pages can be illustrated or decorated. Each participant takes ownership of their pages and is free to determine the overall look and style which may be hand-written or word-processed. It is, of course, accepted that work may not be completely polished and there is an element of work-in-progress about it. However, the aim of the anthology is to reflect a flavour of the work accomplished on the course by both tutor and participants and to provide them with an attractive record of their time at Garsdale. The Retreat stores copies of anthologies in the library, providing pleasure and inspiration for future students.

Musical Theatre Courses

These are essentially the same as the writing workshops in terms of the structure of the day. The main difference is that the evenings are devoted to performance of work produced each day. An informal concert of work produced over the week is given on the Friday evening.

Musical Theatre Course Recording

For musical theatre and performance poetry based courses, an audio anthology is produced. Each student selects work they’ve produced over the week to be recorded. As with the written anthology, the audio version is not expected to be a complete and polished work but more of a work-in-progress which reflects the week’s endeavours. A copy of the anthology recording is given to each student at the end of the course. The Garsdale Retreat will archive the anthology, providing pleasure and inspiration for future students.