[This week’s post is written by CWC member, Jean Grimsey.] Some time ago the five organisers of Poetry Teignmouth and Teignmouth Poetry Festival invited me to join them for a weeklong poetry bash this May in Relleu, a village high in the hills above Alicante.
Christopher North runs writing retreats at Almessera Vella in Relleu. We rented his townhouse with access to the pool, library and olive groves attached to the main house. We would run our own workshops and editing groups, find inspiration and come back with lots of new poems. That was the plan.
I had been to Almessera Vella before, for a week’s course on writing ekphrastic poetry with Tamar Yoseloff, so was delighted to be going back. I even had my old room! The group settled in – a kitty was set up, a massive shop in a very small supermarket was done, we all unpacked, sat down with a glass of wine and then realised just how tired we were. We needed to relax first, poetry would flow later.
There was the pool and the terrace to enjoy, and the village to explore. Last time I was there I only managed to walk as far as Pepe’s bar up the first hill so had no idea of the extent of the village and the other places to explore. This time I set myself goals like walking up to the chapel on the hill and down to the Poet’s House – successfully managed at my own speed.
We spent time planning next year’s Teignmouth Poetry Festival (it’s going to be a good one!) and began to spend more time talking about and actually writing poetry. We had three sessions workshopping each other’s work – so useful, encouraging and inspirational.
And, of course, there was the food: a 4-course lunch (with bread, water and wine) for €7.50, an organised lunch after a talk about the local hermitages or chapels which began with almonds and vermouth and ended some hours later with fresh fruit and a local herb tea, the simple breakfasts and meals we put together ourselves (oh! the cherries!).
You take six people, drop them into a tiny village in the mountains, give them poetry as their link and then add in the Tai Chi one of them offers each morning, the wonderful photographs another one shares, the food, the sun and the words we all wrote as the week went on. These things make memories.