According to Welsh medieval legend, Ceridwen was an enchantress, who used her magic cauldron to cook up a potent potion that imparted wisdom and poetic inspiration. With this powerful and much-needed cocktail in mind, I was motivated to get up way too early on Saturday morning and set off in search of a centre in west Wales named after her.
The Ceridwen Centre is a wonderful purpose-built centre resting on a stunning hillside in the beautiful Teifi valley, a mile from the main road between Carmarthen and Cardigan. Based on a 40-acre organic dairy farm, it is the ideal place for short courses, team-building exercises, writers’ retreats, or a friends or family get-together. I was there to take part in a Writers’ Day, part of a weekend of events, which included a book launch, a Murder-Mystery dinner and finished with a crime writing workshop on the Sunday. It was organised by local poet, writer and performer Simone Mansell Broome who co-runs Ceridwen Centre.
Saturday’s programme was varied and, with over 40 people in attendance, not all of whom were writers, there was something for everyone, with workshops on short story writing, poetry and writing for young adults, and more interesting people to chat to in between than the day allowed time for. A number of writers and illustrators such as Claudia Myatt and Judy Arnopp had books on display and there were stalls for Cinnamon Press, Honno, Leaf Books and Square magazine with a selection of their books and magazines and, I admit, I couldn’t just browse. They were some serious goodies on offer that this book squirrel singularly failed to resist. Not that I tried that hard, to be honest.
After lunch in the Old Dairy, Sally Spedding, who ran the crime writing workshop the following day, played an extract from her audiobook and, after we moved back to the main building, there were some excellent readings by Jan Fortune-Wood of Cinnamon Press, Nick Fisk of Square magazine and Kate Noakes among others.
I thought the programme of short taster workshops was a great idea and took part in the stimulating poetry workshop led by Kate Noakes. She worked us through a couple of exercises which I’m planning to use again from time to time, although writing with my left hand might not be one of them. That was hard work and I am still trying to decipher what I penned! However, the mind map exercise was excellent and, following the example of her own two poems, Making Rain and Iron, I came away with the basis for a poem that I’ve been working up this week. Ceridwen’s poetic inspiration? I don’t know about that but I found the day interesting and stimulating and it is always good to see familiar faces again, put faces to names I recognise and meet new people.
If you’re looking for a place to retreat to for some quiet writing time or the perfect place for a get together of like-minded friends, then you couldn’t find a much better venue than the Ceridwen Centre. I hope it becomes the writing centre of choice for those of us in the south and west of Wales. It certainly has the setting, atmosphere and potential to fill that role perfectly.
To find out more about the Ceridwen Centre, you can visit the website: Ceridwen Centre. There are upcoming writers’ weekends running from 14th to 16th May and 1st to 3rd October 2010. Many thanks to Simone for organising such an excellent day and for the wonderfully warm welcome and convivial atmosphere. You can also find out more about Simone Mansell Broome’s work and her forthcoming events here.