Jonathan Edwards – Tutor
Sarah Wimbush – Guest Reader
Guest Reader
30th Oct – 4th Nov 2023
Course Date

Other Writers’ Voices: Poetry and Voice

‘The truth is, a writer’s voice is made from other writers’ voices’ – Tony Hoagland.

When we think about poets we love, we often think of strong and distinctive voices: a telling turn of phrase or a linguistic energy which allows the poet to express something in a way no one else quite can. But how is it possible to develop the sort of striking voice that generates poems which sing beautifully? And what sort of experiments can be made with voice to add variety across a sequence or collection?

During the course, we will look at a range of exciting poetic voices, thinking about the way in which formal choices can interact with voice, and also considering how the energy of colloquial language can enrich a poem. We’ll look at poetry on a range of subjects, from the family to the animal kingdom, the world of work to the life of the city.

We will also consider various ways of escaping from voice, thinking about monologues, and the way in which taking on the point of view of someone or something else – perhaps even assuming the voice of an animal or place – can take a poem in a completely new direction. Of course, voice doesn’t have to be singular, and we’ll also look at multi-voiced poems: conversations and playscripts, poems where those who are talked to talk back.

Whether you’re keen to develop your voice, to make it sing more loudly, or to add variety and a range of new strategies to a voice that’s already fluent, this course will provide all the tools for a new group of poems with bold, vibrant, varied voices.

Jonathan Edwards - The Garsdale Retreat Tutor: Jonathan Edwards – Poet

Jonathan Edwards’s first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014), received the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

His second collection, Gen (Seren, 2018), also received the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award. His poem about Newport Bridge was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2019, and he has received prizes in the Ledbury Festival International Poetry Competition, the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition and the Cardiff International Poetry Competition.

He has read his poems on BBC radio and television and at festivals around the world, recorded them for the Poetry Archive and led workshops in schools, universities and prisons. He lives in Crosskeys, South Wales.

Sarah Wimbush Guest, Wednesday evening: Sarah Wimbush – Poet

Sarah Wimbush’s first collection, Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands (Bloodaxe, 2022), is packed with Yorkshire tales of childhood, colliery villages and Gypsies and Travellers.

The author of two prize-winning pamphlets, Bloodlines (Seren, 2020) and The Last Dinosaur in Doncaster (Smith | Doorstop, 2021), her poetry has also been included in the significant anthologies The Roma Women’s Poetry Anthology (Butcher’s Dog, 2021) and After Sylvia (Nine Arches Press, 2022).

She has placed in several competitions, including first prize in the Mslexia, second in The Ledbury and third in The Plough. Other poems have recently appeared in Poetry Wales, Under the Radar, The North, Magma and Stand and she was interviewed by Spelt Magazine in Issue 6.

A member of York Stanza and Doncaster Read 2 Write; she is a grateful recipient of awards from New Writing North and The Society of Authors.


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

Single – En-suite room £945

Single – Shared bathroom £895

Shared Room (2 Beds) £845pp – single supplement £50

TO BOOK £150 deposit payable on booking by bank transfer, PayPal or cheque, to secure place. Balance due six weeks before the start of the course/tutored retreat/untutored retreat.
Please see Terms and Conditions.
Accommodation Professional tutor
All Meals Sheets & Towels
Boots/outdoor shoes/trainers suitable for walking on rough/wet paths.
A waterproof jacket or coat.
Warm Clothes
Toiletries – we do have one hair dryer available
Writing materials: your personal writing preference – laptop, paper, pens etc.
USB memory stick: for printing your work. (We do have air printing so may not be necessary)
Cash: for books on sale (written by tutors, guest readers etc.), alcohol, sundries. The nearest cash machine is in Hawes, six miles away!

Please arrive between 3:00pm and 4:30pm on Monday 30th October 2023
Tea, cake and housekeeping notes 4.30pm
Introductory Workshop 5.30 – 6.30pm
Dinner 7.00pm


After breakfast, 10:00am on Saturday 4th November 2023

LOCATION The Garsdale Retreat, Clough View, Garsdale Head, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5PW
Nearest railway station: Garsdale, on the Leeds – Carlisle line.
For directions, see Find Us section on the Contact page.


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 3.00 – 5.00pm. On this first day, tea and cake are at 4.30pm followed by an introductory/ice-breaking workshop 5.45 – 6.45pm. Dinner is at 7.00pm. All courses end after breakfast on Saturday (10.00am).

Course Structure

Although there will be slight variations, according to the type of course (see below), students can generally expect the following outline:

8.00 – 9.00am: Breakfast

9.30 – 11.00am: First workshop – Students explore particular aspects of the chosen genre and take part in writing exercises to further their understanding and expertise. 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.

11.00 – 11.30am: Coffee break

11.30am – 1.00pm: Second workshop

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.

4.30pm: Tea and cake

5.30 – 6.30pm: Third workshop

7.00pm: Dinner

All students have one individual tutorial of 30 minutes with the tutor in the course of the week which usually takes place at a mutually agreed time, usually in the afternoon.

Each evening, at about 8.30pm, 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 word/literary game. On Friday, there is a reading of work produced during the week.

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 the writing is essentially work-in-progress. However, the aim of the anthology is to reflect a flavour of the work accomplished on the course and to provide participants 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.

Tutored Retreats

These follow the same basic structure as above except there is only one workshop in the morning and participants will have a daily tutorial, four per week.

Untutored Retreats

The only formal structure of the week is determined by meal-times (see above), allowing participants to concentrate totally on their own writing. After dinner, participants in conjunction with the course director sometimes organise evening read-rounds of their work /open mics/music /word games. However, participation in such events is entirely voluntary and people are free to continue with their writing in the evenings if they prefer.