Poetry, Imagination & the Ensouled Life

5 days
DATES IN 2022 TBA; it will be autumn/winter. Expressions of interest invited.

‘An amazing, invigorating, challenging and thought provoking course – am sad tomorrow is the last day.’ (AW, 13th May 2021)

May 2021: I have to say I’ve been overwhelmed by the very lovely things participants said about last week’s course, and the beauty and depth of the work we co-created. It was very inspiring for me to see and hear everyone’s work from each day’s module, and have the discussions we did. Feedback is at the bottom of the page.

NEW IN 2021
A course for novice, intermediate and advanced poets interested in an holistic approach to writing (and living).

The work we will co-create will be immersive, and will unfold through:

Discussions (via Zoom)

What does it mean to live, and write, from soul in a materialistic, industrial and rationalist culture? How can we restore the old bonds between nature and culture in what we read and write, adding resonance and depth to our lives?

The best poetry – and I would assert the best life – involves a good dose each of body, mind, heart, soul – and imagination. It will include the rest of the natural world. It will be rooted in the sensory world but point towards something larger. It will also draw together outer and inner worlds.

Poet-farmer Wendell Berry once said that so much of the poetry he reads has the speaker present but the world absent, or the world present but the speaker absent. (Richard Mabey, that icon of the ‘new nature writing’ world, in a recent interview in The New Statesman, said something quite similar.) Berry’s words will be our guiding light for this week.

There’s something sacred in such work. When we read an inspired and inspiring poem that integrates all these aspects, something in us breathes out, and breathes in more deeply afterwards. When we ourselves have written work that seems to incorporate all this, we feel more real, somehow; taking our place in the family of the world.

This is the ensouled life, and poetry offers an excellent crucible to ‘cook our stuff’. Our relationships with others – human, and the rest of the natural world, the more-than-human – as well as our relationship to our inner world, are central to our quest for meaning, and these too need to go into the crucible. Poetry as an alchemical process that emerges from our exploration of the above is cooked in the depths. It can move, stretch, startle, catalyse, comfort and uplift us, and even transform our life. Indeed, poetry can ‘save our life’, as Adrienne Rich declared.

So how do we do this? And at a time like ours, how can we write poetry that is relevant to the unfolding environmental and other crises while also contributing to a literature of hope with an emphasis on our oneness with each other and the more-than-human world?

The course will have a particular, though not exclusive, focus on our relationship to the rest of the natural world – and what it reflects of us.


We know that reading and writing poetry is therapeutic. In this online course we will be looking at how it is that poets such as Mary Oliver, David Whyte and Wendell Berry and others write work that inspires and even heals so many, poets and non-poets alike. What are the ingredients that speak to us? And, crucially, how can we cook them into our own poetry?

In your company, I’ll be exploring these ideas and relevant poems, and offering tips and tasks, and topics, for your own writing. There will be time for you to share your own work.

On the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I will send you a PDF of the ideas for the next day, and relevant poems or passages for that day’s work. We will then meet up on Zoom each weekday from 5pm to 7pm (approximately – it won’t be longer) BST to talk about the ideas raised in that module, and to share our work, with feedback if liked. I will also be creating a private Facebook group for people to share the work written during the week, and to offer each other peer feedback.

Numbers on each week of this course will be limited to a maximum of 12. If applying, you need to know that the week is very intensive, and you will need to set aside about 4 hours a day. Ideally, you will take the best part of the whole week to deepen and dwell in this soulwork.

THE FEE of £175 is payable in advance, and is non-refundable. (1 concessionary place is available for someone who could otherwise not participate in this course.)

‘Roselle, thanks beyond thanks. You gifted us so simply such vast and rich possibilities of coming in, stirring and rising. I had no idea it would be such a waterfall, such a windfall of stirrings and listenings – and the powerful witnessing and feeling of words rising. I feel I have been on some desired Iona of my imagination and heart for 6 months, so richly inspired, willingly surprised and delighted by ALL that Roselle you offered us – and then by everything you all made surface, brought into circulation, shared among us. I have been so moved, in every facet of my heart and mind. Thank you all so much.’ Jill L

[LATER] ‘Roselle, I haven’t thanked you enough yet! It was such a rich, powerful, inspiring, enabling week – I am so grateful. I had no idea it would travel so far and with such treasures among us all, nor that that exquisite quick of language would respond to those prompts and unfoldings that you offered us… nor that such a compelling group of women would bring such fine, fine, intriguing glimpses and moments so alive among us, held and lifted by your wings. Thank you so much for a… brimming course. I dove in and held back outside life all week so I could swim and relish the water. And that I did! Thank you again’ Jill L

‘Thank you for this wonderful course, Ro. As I knew it would, it’s stimulated me to write a load of new things.’ Clare W

‘What a wonderful week this has been, Roselle – I’m enjoying this course so much…a deep bow of gratitude and sending out feathers of hope that we find a way to continue.’ Pam W

‘What an incredibly rich and rewarding time of sharing. Like others, I started the week feeling very diffident and anxious. By the end, I would count you all as my Anam Cara (soul friends). I very much hope that we will continue our special connection, created so beautifully by Roselle’s guidance and encouragement.’ Olive M

‘This morning when I first awoke I felt a loss, a sadness that there were no zooms today which were so full of amazing stories, ideas, creations, a wonderful tapestry of words. When I got up the house felt strange, as if I were coming back from a holiday and seeing everything again as slightly changed…’ Christina J

‘An amazing, invigorating, challenging and thought provoking course. I feel so full of gratitude, so thank you all – such an amazing group, and of course most specially Roselle…

Even on zoom
I am supported, nurtured, held.
I am broken open
to new possibilities,
moments of glory and transformation.
Broken open to myself, others and to the world.’ Ali W

‘… have woken early as instructed by Mary Oliver and am missing you all already. What a transformative week in the company of such amazing women. Love and gratitude to you all for such rich sharing. And Roselle, your ability to pull it all together is awesome.’ Gabrielle O’D

‘Such a special week!’ Melinda A


After you’ve taken this course (or even if you don’t), consider signing up for The Poetry Lab, a peer feedback group, which will help you to burn away the dross of first drafts until pure gold emerges.

You might also be interested in the opportunity to work one-to-one with me in my long-standing Elements of Poetry online course.

A few times in the year I offer Writing the Bright Moment – poetry, nature and mindfulness weeks, currently online.