Immrama, Lismore Festival of Travel Writing here in Co. Waterford has become one of my annual highlights and more than anything I look forward to the Writing Workshop which is held on the Sunday at the close of the Festival.
This year we were treated to Paul Clements, who lives in Belfast, and who has vast experience as a writer, journalist and tutor. As I drove to Lismore from Tramore, listening to Leonard Cohen’s Greatest Hits, I wondered what this One DayWriting Workshop on Place and Landscape Writing would have in store.
Paul Clements, with his soft Northern accent, is one of those people who has the gift of putting people at ease and waking up senses in a hypnotic way. He transported us – twenty or so strangers – out of early morning Lismore up to the Vee Road – where we fanned out to make ‘nibble notes’ about the vista that opened up ahead of us – Tipperary kissing Waterford. Twenty-five precious minutes to absorb …..
Back at Lismore Heritage Centre, we wrote about our observations for fifteen minutes. I suspect everyone was expecting that we would be sharing our jottings. But, no, Paul Clements is a man who believes fervently in learning from ‘the masters’ and thus began a new journey. We were introduced to delicious extracts from writers that Paul Clements has come to admire and who have been, and remain, teachers to him. Reading aloud, absorbing descriptions that flowed as poetically as the tiny streams at the Vee, hearing startling metaphors through accents as diverse as the styles before us; returning through each other’s lenses to the Vee Road ~ an afternoon that opened up paths, valleys, hues, sounds, ideas, scents, imaginings and strangers like no other in my experience.
Immrama 2012 may be over but the the seeds sown by Paul Clements yesterday are only beginning to settle in the moist soil and those of us who shared the experience have new worlds, pages, margins and friendships to explore.