Plog 19th December 2011

December 19th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

On St Nicholas Day I was asked to deliver a Writing Workshop at the Pierian Centre’s closing ceremony. It was a day full of rich creative variety and an honour to take part.

I had chosen to work with the subject ‘definitions of Pierian’, so my workshop was entitled: ‘Word: imagining the unknown’ and I was anxious to find some genuine Greek myths, to avoid presenting superficial possibilities. Thus began a frantic search for Classics students to interrogate. Understandably, they were too busy trying to produce essential essays on eroticism.


The library must have been overloaded with books on the Muses, or ancient mythology; but none of my searches uncovered anything directly relevant; so I resorted to a Google enquiry, aware that this would not provide participants with anything they would not have had easy access to themselves.

The fact that each of us can carry out creative writing independently at any time does not increase the likelihood that we will. One of the benefits of attending a Creative Writing Workshop is the opportunity to switch off incoming information and have the chance to fully explore our own resources for a set amount of time.

Alexander Pope wrote:

“A little learning is a dang’rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.”

from ‘An Essay on Criticism’ by Alexander Pope (1709)

There is something empowering about being independent for a few minutes with permission to express ideas we normally only dream of and it is such a privilege to share the words of others, when these words come from a place of reverence.

But let’s return to the original question: what is ‘Pierian’? It turns out that King Pierus of Macedon had nine daughters. It is not clear whether their mother was Antipe or Euippe. This may have been a desperate bid for a son and heir; but it was daughters he begot, and these were keen to outshine the Muses.

The Muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who were not so easily overthrown. The Gods took pity on Pierus’s daufghters, however, and turned them into birds.

Unpacking this nutshell to feed a roomful of hungry creatives was a challenge. Perhaps you would like to start a poem with the words: ‘In the beginning . . .’ It would be great if you’d share it with us here.

Imagining the unknown, inspired by any one of the nine Muses has enormous potential. Here they are:

Or maybe you could suggest what the guy above is inscribing on his writing tablet. It looks just like a laptop to me, and it would be fun to imagine what he might be writing to us across the centuries.

Clio and scoll & maybe giraffe?

Or what is that object in the bottom left-hand corner? A giraffe or a lectern?  In November I was appointed to serve on the committee of Lapidus South West: creative words for health, well being and personal development.   It is exciting. I shall keep you posted.

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