Jo Bell – Tutor
Vidyan Ravinthiran – Guest Reader
Guest Reader
17th – 22nd September 2018
Course Date

Sometimes a poem stops short of where it could actually go – or rambles around, never arriving at the point. Sometimes we let the poem fall flat because we’re trying too hard to say something important.

This week, you will concentrate on honing and shaping your work so that it is memorable, true and has a real impact on the reader. We’ll look at poems which draw you in immediately, poems with explosive booby traps, poems that stay with you for years – and write new work which hopefully does the same.

 Jo Bell - The Garsdale Retreat Tutor: Jo Bell – Poet/Pundit/Broadcaster

Jo Bell is a poet, pundit and broadcaster. Her work addresses human relationships, deep time and her life on the UK canals.

Known for her charismatic performances, she is a veteran of festivals from Stromstad to Glastonbury, where she was poet in residence in 2010. She writes for BBC radio and her prizes include the Charles Causley Prize and Manchester Cathedral Prize.

Jo is the author of best-selling poetry workbook 52: Write a Poem a Week and co-author of How to Be a Poet. Carol Ann Duffy calls her ‘one of the most exciting poets writing today’

Photo: Lee Allen

 Vidyan Ravinthiran - The Garsdale Retreat Guest, Wednesday evening: Vidyan Ravinthiran – Poet/Writer

Vidyan’s first book of poems, Grun-tu-molani (Bloodaxe, 2014), was shortlisted for a number of First Collection prizes, including the Forward, and poems towards his next, The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here, won a Northern Writers Award in 2017.

Elizabeth Bishop’s Prosaic (Bucknell UP, 2015), his study of that wonderfully gifted US poet, won both the University English First Book Prize and the Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism.

He has also written a range of literary journalism, most recently for Poetry (verse) and The Telegraph (fiction); he is the winner of Poetry’s Editors’ Prize for Reviewing.

He has just completed his first novel, Reincarnation, and is represented as an author of fiction by The Wylie Agency. Vidyan is an editor at the online magazine of poetry and poetics, Prac Crit, and teaches at the University of Birmingham.

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

Single – En-suite room £760
Single – Shared bathroom £710
Shared Room (2 Beds) £660
Non-residential (inc. lunch and evening meal) £500

TO BOOK £150 deposit payable on booking by PayPal, bank transfer or cheque, to secure place, balance due six weeks before start of course.
Please see Terms and Conditions.
Accommodation Professional Tutor
Meals Sheets & Towels
Boots/outdoor shoes/trainers suitable for walking on rough paths.
A waterproof jacket or coat.
Warm Clothes
Writing materials: your personal writing preference – laptop, paper, pens etc.
USB memory stick: for printing your work. (We do have air printing)
Musical instruments and drawing/painting materials – sketchbook, pens, pencils, watercolours etc. (optional!)
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 17th September 2018.
END TIME After breakfast, 10:00 am on Saturday 22nd September 2018.
LOCATION The Garsdale Retreat, Clough View, Garsdale Head, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5PW

Nearest station: Garsdale – direct line from Leeds.


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 workshops 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 – 6.00pm 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:

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, 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 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.

All courses end after breakfast on Saturday.

Poetry Course Anthology

An integral part of poetry courses is the production of an anthology of writing produced in the week. 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.