What they say


For 26 years now (2017) I’ve been facilitating workshops, writing and personal development both, with literally thousands of lovely people – often in amazing places. This is a sample of the 100s of almost-entirely-unsolicited testimonials that have come in (for feedback specific to the online courses, check out this page). Where quotes are not attributed, it’s because I’ve only just recently started (2015) keeping notes on which comments come from which workshop.

‘Although I’ve had the privilege of learning under some truly great teachers, some of them academics, some spiritual guides, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more rewarding learning experience…’ (Participant on online courses & Iona retreat)

‘Roselle has an extraordinary ability to get you to write.’ (The Guardian)

‘I hugely enjoyed last Saturday and it felt like a return from the wasteland to the river.’ (Poetry group participant)

‘Thanks for [another] brilliant day! I always tap into amazing things at your workshops. It’s so life affirming in such dark times. Incredible people, incredible writing.’ (Poetry group participant)

‘Roselle’s deep and thoughtful humanity, her affinity with nature, her skilled handling of material and participants, her inspirational writing and readings created a deeply healing and creative space.’ (This from the Writing the Bright Moment course 2015, but the participant is a regular on my weeklong retreats.)

‘I want to thank you for our time, which was enriching in every way – the people, the place, the writing… everything! As you know, the whole Iona experience is the highlight of my year, and I hold a large chunk of it to my chest! Hard work for you, but so rewarding for us. And the fellowship is so precious… thank you again for your inspired leadership and lovely presence on Iona.’
(Participant on the ‘returners’ Islands of the Heart week 2017, and on all but one since it started in 2000)

‘Wow! What a week – what a beautiful, wonderful, inspiring, stretching, expansive, fun, intimate week. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Without you, your skills, knowledge, inspiration, experience and very ‘beingness’ the week could never have been what it was – MAGICAL!’
(Participant on the ‘newcomers’ Islands of the Heart week 2017)

‘I want to express a heartfelt thank you for the course on Iona – it was a good experience for me on many levels. The journey though long was rich in meetings, impressions, kindness and sharing. The course days were inspiring and validating for me, and I loved all the time and space to write and also share in the group. You are a warm and  skilled facilitator which made the whole experience very natural and organic. I also enjoyed meeting the other course members and value all the different conversations I had…’

(Participant on the ‘newcomers’ Islands of the Heart 2017)

‘I just wanted to drop you a quick line to say how much I loved the week on Iona. For me, it was the perfect combination of inspiring writing sessions and great company. I would very much like to come again next year.’
(Participant on the ‘newcomers’ Islands of the Heart 2017)

‘…thank you for another wonderful week on Iona, it’s quite unusual how it stays with us for so long after we return. Most trips away start to fade after a couple of days back home and the only reason I can think of for this difference is the way that we reach deeper there, both in our relationship to the island and with each other. I feel we enter places that bond us and that bonding creates an extra dimension, something more than simply being in each other’s company and in a stunning landscape. I am so grateful for being able to be part of this group and for how you welcomed me aboard…’
(Participant on the ‘returners’ Islands of the Heart group 2017)

‘I just wanted to thank you for an amazing week. One of my fears about coming again this year was that it couldn’t possibly live up to expectations, for last year was pretty much one of those life-changing, or life-giving, moments. But I was so wrong… I hadn’t written at all since last August but now I have come away [with] words. A good start! The way you hold a very safe and intimate space for the group is, I’m sure, pretty unique. Thank you for welcoming me into it so warmly.’
(Participant on Islands of the Heart, Iona, 2016)

‘A huge thank you for another exhilarating, fulfilling week on Iona… What is so special is the way you bring all of us likeminded (mostly) but diverse individuals and inspire such a tangible sense of acceptance, empathy and belonging. I arrive home feeling affirmed both by the group and myself; feeling that things are really possible. It’s a community quite unlike I experience anywhere else… an avalanche of energy pouring forth from you, the group, the place.’
(Participant on Islands of the Heart, Iona, 2015)

‘…you must know how much I enjoyed the week and how much I valued your inspired input – you’re an absolute star and everyone says so! What you have to offer is completely unique – that really hit home when I was sitting around in Oban yesterday reflecting on the Iona “experience”. You’re always so clever at opening the lock gates without causing an overwhelming gush of self-indulgence. The week was invaluable to me and has sparked lots of little epiphanies, not to mention quite a few pages of emerging ideas… Yesterday in Oban, I was still writing and looking out at the sparkling sea and those lumpy crags, already wishing to be back there in Iona… So – again – a hundred thanks for masterminding such a wonderful experience with so many good (in every sense!) people.’ (Participant on Islands of the Heart, Iona, 2015)

‘Heartfelt thanks to you for a spectacularly inspiring week.’
(Participant on Islands of the Heart, Iona, 2015)

‘I am slowly coming down from the Iona high… I was unbelievably happy to be back with Islands of the Heart, and what a privilege to develop such warm and lasting friendships from the course…Thank you for your unfailing inspiration and for your skill in holding us together as individuals and a group, in both our fine and our squally weather; and for being your dear and lovely self.’
(Participant on Islands of the Heart, Iona, 2015)

‘Thank you for a stimulating and fulfilling five days.  The retreat gave me just what I wanted and some things I did not know I wanted! … Giles Fraser’s piece in The Guardian last Saturday focused on the theme “the arts should be one of the places to challenge the idea that our political and financial masters have a monopoly on what counts as established reality… something we used to call vision, a sense that the world could be otherwise…”  On Iona I was reminded of a much wider world where creativity flourishes.  A salutary reminder. Thank you.’
(Participant on Islands of the Heart, Iona, 2015)

‘I just wanted to say how profoundly happy and grateful I am to be have been part of the Iona retreat in 2015. What a supportive, stimulating, transformative environment you created for us all. Can’t wait until 2016!  I know that the effects are still percolating, and I’ve continued to have insights and to enjoy the opened floodgate of new writing. Thank you!’
(Participant on Islands of the Heart, Iona, 2015)

‘[A] terrific week, at the time terrifying and challenging… The notion that we are all engaged in a pilgrimage is one that I find obscurely moving and meaningful. I have come to realise that I should be desperately sad not to be there next year, so please can I ask to join the Iona group again in 2016? So from me, many heartfelt thanks for – well, I’m not quite sure what for! For a wonderful week, of course, but also for a seed set growing, a piece of grit slipped into the oyster, feet encouraged, driven, even, to set out on a journey to a destination I can’t foresee.‘
(Participant on Islands of the Heart, Iona, 2015)

‘That was a magnificent day yesterday, thanks so much. I know what preparation and thought goes into running something so smoothly, and you were generous and alert with everyone. More than that, it’s wonderful to spend the day with someone whose values and spirit are so true, as I’m also discovering from reading your beautiful poems. It’s still rare to meet writers driven by soul and heart rather than ego, and [who] stand firmly grounded in years of hard-won wisdom, so I feel very lifted and inspired.’ (Participant on private writers’ group day, Glastonbury, 2015)

‘Thank you for an absolutely wonderful and inspirational workshop… You have lifted my spirits and I can’t begin to tell you how ecstatic I feel!’ (Participant on private writers’ group day, Glastonbury, 2015)

‘…you are still my top writer guide & coach – other small local courses, just haven’t had the sensitive depths I required – so often they miss your quiet ability to draw creative goodies from the depths.‘ Long term occasional participant on residentials

‘I want to tell you how much that truly amazing weekend touched me. We did more in those two days than ever happened on [other much better-known courses elsewhere], and my high expectations were far exceeded…. You’ve helped me refind my belief, my courage and my voice, and I am profoundly grateful. Thank you for your full heart and your wisdom.’

‘I found the day very useful. I left with renewed energy and motivation to complete my “novel in progress”. The day was intense and you did work us hard but I was too absorbed in what we were doing to feel tired. I really enjoyed sharing our work and getting feedback from the small group of other novelists, it was amazing how often we all made the same mistakes or agreed on our feedback. Hearing your observations about my writing and the structure of the day that you provided has really helped me achieve clarity about finding a direction for my novel. And reading out my work, although scary, was incredibly uplifting.’ (Participant on Novelists’ Bootcamp 2016)

‘I hope you agree that the weekend was a triumph and I’m pretty certain that everyone else would agree. You have an amazing ability to foster the sort of compassionate and empathic atmosphere in which we can relax and share our concerns with confidence and honesty. It is a rare thing and it always works. As the days go by, the memory of the experience is enriched and clarified. As I said then, my thirst for writing is alive, despite much work to do in every aspect.’ (Participant on Novelists’ Bootcamp 2016)

‘[I] just wanted to say a huge thank you for the enlightening workshop. I gained such a lot from it and the support of the participants was amazing, reassuring and just what I needed. It was lovely to spend a day in such wonderful and friendly company. The questions you asked us to ask ourselves were very helpful in giving me a focus and a plan to work through for the rest of the year (and the rest of my life).’
(Participant on Threshold day, Jan 2016)

‘Thank you for yet another heart-warming core-challenging workshop. Our shared love of this wonderful planet and the compassionate energy pulsating through our group must add a small drop of hope to the greater whole… know that you have again added to the positive side of the ledger.’
(Participant on The Inward Flame weekend, Jan 2016)

‘Wow. How can I sufficiently thank you for last weekend. It was an amazing journey in so many ways and I hope the start of a longer journey… Thank you for being such an compassionate and inspiring woman. Please can I book a place on next year’s weekend.’ (The Inward Flame, Jan/Feb 2015)

‘It was transformational. I hadn’t imagined that week could be so powerful. I think it was the best week of my life. I’ll be back next year.’ (Participant on the 2014 Iona course)

‘Thank you so much for this year’s retreat! I’m just back from a wonderful few days with my family following Iona and am feeling all filled up and nourished on every level. You led us through another wonderful week – I know it takes a lot out of you, so you must know just how much we all feel we have received and carry home with us to enrich our lives. It’s a very special gift you share with us. You’re a rare woman, Roselle, a rare woman…’ (Participant on Iona 2014 retreat)

‘Be proud and enlivened. Look what you have inspired, how you bring us to the well. You are the real star of Iona. I have not stopped writing since. I am on fire… This has been a wonderful journey. Awesome. Thank you.’ (Participant on Iona 2014 retreat)

‘…most of all I welcome your empathy, your concern with things that really matter, the questions you ask of yourself and all of us, the need to ask questions, to live a life examined. As I’ve said in the past, it’s like meeting for coffee with a like-minded friend. And it keeps me writing!’

‘Thanks again for all the inspiration and empathy I’ve had over the years since I first read your wonderful column in Mslexia. That, this [blog] and Iona have changed my life – helped me to keep going on the difficult journey of self-awareness and individuation.’
(both the above from a regular course participant and reader of my blog)

‘…just read the poems [from the workshop] and amazed anew… Thank you Roselle for helping us to break new ground, a really stunning, fruitful and memorable day.’ (Participant on private writers’ group day, Glastonbury, 2015)

‘An enriching, stimulating and hugely enjoyable course that has helped me to become more aware of the poetry in life as well as the life in poetry. Roselle’s notes are informative and insightful and although the assignments can be stretching they are always inspiring and rewarding. Her feedback is invaluable – sensitive, practical and encouraging; she is a very motivating teacher! I’ve loved it!’

‘That was an amazingly stimulating weekend – thank you so much for your always imaginative approach.’

‘I really loved the weekend – possibly the best of its kind I’ve been on. I was high as a hawk most of the weekend… thank you for making these times-out-of-time happen – it’s a special gift you have, to say nothing of the attention and work required.’

‘A very big thank you for such an inspiring day.  I loved your approach: the way you used your knowledge and understanding to create a real feeling of momentum. It felt incredibly useful.’ (Thresholds/Inward Flame 2015)

‘It was a wonderful weekend and just what I needed – thank you for your guidance and inspiration. While I can’t say I’ve written every day since the retreat, I’ve written most days, which I’m happy with and I feel as though something really shifted in me.’ (Inward Flame as above)

‘A basketful of thank yous for a wonderful weekend. A delicious combination of relaxing, challenging, inspiring, enchanting, terrifying & nourishing.’

‘Magical, extraordinary, transformative, captivative… even these descriptions are not enough to describe the weekend. It was utterly wonderful… Thank you for making it happen, again and again and again…’

‘I have to say that zen poetry weekend with you [and Martin Pitt] had a profound effect on me… it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done…’

‘Of all the writing tutors I have worked with, Roselle is by far and away my favourite. Her open-hearted approach, generosity of spirit and easy wisdom conjure a magic among those that work with her, transforming ordinary objects and experiences into things of beauty and ordinary writers into the best that they can be. Her retreats are not just about getting away and writing, they are about tapping into who we really are and writing from a place of authenticity and genuine depth.’

‘Brilliant. I arrived feeling like a lardy suet pudding past its sell-by date, & went away feeling like an organic fresh fruit salad! Just brilliant!’ & ‘Contact with you is like having a blast of organic  electricity.’ (I THINK that’s a compliment…R.A.)

‘A huge & solid thank you… I was high when I got home & it’s lasting… it’s better than being in love!’

‘I have taken part in a variety of workshops & readings over the years, & nothing can compare with the magic atmosphere of Fire in the Head!’

‘My soul needs me to be at your poetry sessions.’

‘In her enlightened way she charms her way in past our fiercest defences to drag out by the ear a torrent of passions.’

‘…a fabulous course. I got so much out of it in so many ways, & since I got back my head’s been buzzing with new ideas & words.’

‘So many gifts from you – sensitivity, perceptiveness, clarity, support, keys to unlock dark rooms & let the light in… one of the many virtues of how you teach is that you offer many alternatives: if the first loose end doesn’t unravel then another one will… so I’m not so frightened of being unable to start, which is yet another of your gifts.’

‘Thanks so much for your teaching and wisdom – it was really very, very good (and extremely reinvigorating at a usually blue time of year)…’

‘I still think writing my first novel on your first novel writing course was probably the happiest time of my life.  Dear Roselle, you are such an inspiration.’

‘I’d been trying to find a way into the subject matter for some time, and nothing seemed to work, and then suddenly it opened up. You provide the sort of space in which things like that can happen. Thanks for your inspiration, your time, care and creativity. It means so much to all of us.’

‘I thought I was coming on a writing course. Now I realise it’s really about how we live.’

‘In searching through my notebook/journal I found pieces which you had enabled me to write. And I realized even more deeply just how precious your courses were. Because of you, I felt safe and inspired to write things that now when I read them, I am amazed I shared so openly of so much, with a group of relative strangers. I reflected upon this, and realized it was due to you that I could reach greater depths within myself, than I would otherwise have done.’

‘I’ve just returned from the creative writing retreat with Roselle Angwin at Gardoussel (2013) and am still glowing from an incredibly rich week. Roselle’s zen-based and very gentle approach, all her encouragement and her resourcefulness was just the perfect mix for someone like me who felt quite unsure about my writing when I first arrived. I left the week feeling empowered and surprisingly proud of my own voice. I particularly enjoyed the way Roselle constantly brought in the environment both in terms of landscape, nature, place but also in terms of the other participants in the group as extra resource & inspiration. I’m very grateful to the team of Gardoussel for creating such a welcoming and warm home in such beautiful surrounding: it is brimming with places to retreat with a notebook or computer and with places to gather and share. The spacious rooms and facilities are really supportive for a retreat; and the home made vegetarian and ayurvedic meals made with lots of love and creativity were a real unexpected treat. I really look forward to coming again!’

‘It isn’t easy to put into words what a haven of peace, quietude and relaxation Gardoussel is. Having never attended a creative writing course before this was a revelation for me and I wrote more in a week with Roselle than I have in my life so far. Her techniques, encouragement and critiques set my creative juices flowing and gave me tools to continue my writing when I get home.’

‘I went to Gardoussel kick-start the writing of my book and pick up a few tips along the way. The week was marvellous and truly inspirational, in so many different ways. The exercises in poetry writing fired up my neurons and this improved my prose writing as well. Highlights were the delicious, healthy food, the atmospheric fire pit in the evening, the fun, laughter and the sharing of poetry and prose.’

‘I have been twice to Roselle’s retreat, once on the Hebridean island of Iona and once in the Cevennes Mountains of France and have already come to look forward to my week with her as the still point in my year, a truly wonderful week out of my life during which I can be certain that, with her kind and skillful guidance, I will remember why it is that I write.’

‘We would like to thank you so much for your wonderful workshop. We had great feedback from all who attended and everyone agreed that it was a challenging and creative session. You seem to have a great talent for inspiring an imaginative response, and all those present produced work which encompassed both the creative impulse and a response to the poem we looked at. This, of course, spurs people on to improving and continuing that success…’

‘I’ve been thinking about last weekend all week and reflecting on the exercises, the wonderful conversations, the atmosphere, and of course, the warmth of the fire and the wonderful food. It would be fantastic to do it again next year.’

‘Would love to have a space on next year’s weekend, I loved it!  in fact the glow lasted with me for days.  I felt surrounded by everyone’s spirit I suppose you would call it.  Very warm and cared for.  Thank you so much.  I am still in the mind set, and have not slipped back into my old ways, long may it last. Makes me feel very happy to remember last weekend.’

‘The weekend was, I think, everyone would agree,  extremely worthwhile, a total rejuvenation of the system. Is this the Alka Seltzer metaphor again? (“You are like a dose of spiritual Alka Seltzer: Alka Seltzer for the soul.”) I’d like provisionally to book myself onto three more of your workshops.’

‘Thank you for a wonderful day on Saturday. As always, you created a lovely atmosphere – and what a gorgeous place. I have lots to assimilate now, but I think something shifted during the day itself! I particularly liked the Hero’s Journey work. Something seems to happen when you have to use your imagination – unexpected things come up and unacceptable things can be said safely.’

‘Last weekend was fabulous, please book me onto next year…I can’t quite describe how healing I found the weekend; thank you… I would not have done [what I did] without your constant reassurance that our writing is worth writing.’

‘I’m so glad I came on the weekend, I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like that before… I really loved the weekend and by the third day I felt really at ease and just loved the accepting and expressive atmosphere in the group. I was driving to work this morning and felt a bit odd, couldn’t work out what it was, then realised that I was relaxed!! I’m certainly going to sign up for something soon so no doubt we’ll meet again. Many MANY thanks for a wonderful weekend.’

‘Had a really wonderful time on sunday, it was all I thought it would be, and more, but it slipped by so quickly. you make it easy, your prompts do trigger ideas, possibilities – the magic-maker. am so happy to have my creative space in my mind again and the thoughts and words are still coming so still writing and [will] continue to do so that when i come to Iona next year i will not be saying ‘not written anything for ages’… enjoyed the mandala-making [on sand, ‘The Branscombe Day 2014′] so much!’

‘Thank you Roselle for being able to coax the best from this fledgling poet, even as you urged me to leave the safety of the nest you were still there to catch me, you gave my poetry wings. These past months have been a journey to another world, a world where I didn’t realise I belonged. I will always be grateful for this.’ (Regular retreat participant, and student on Elements of Poetry 2016)

‘I just want to say thank you for all the work you did with us at C’s beautiful home today. You made me wonder why it’s been so long since I put pen to paper. I enjoyed myself very much indeed, and returned home tired but happy and inspired. I look forward to next time.’

‘I just wanted to repeat our thanks of yesterday. C is buzzing, H has already e-mailed to extend her thanks and to endorse the continuation of the group, I’ve been writing this a.m.! You pitched the day perfectly…’

‘I always find [you] to be a tutor with extensive resources, knowledge and an encouraging eye for spotting things in people’s work. Big thanks.’

‘You are a true sennachie, Roselle – a storykeeper of the deep wisdom.’

‘The journey of life is full of thresholds and transitions. Once we become aware of this fact, which may well be later in our lives rather than sooner, we wonder how we stumbled, maybe for decades, from one state of consciousness to the next. Full awareness of this journey brings richness and depth of sensitivity, it means getting on in our life-quest until we are mature to ask the right question – not whether we have led a good life (whatever this may be), nor what we would change if we could start from scratch and had another chance. It is a question (that may vary in the course of our lives) that everybody has to find for him/herself.*

‘In your courses, as I have come to realize, we are guided in our search, and what is more, with you we have a companion at our sides, not constantly there, but watchful and caring when needed, who helps to set directions. Hopefully this companionship is mutual.
The more experienced we are in our striding the more we will be craving for these day, weekend and weekly retreats because they will lead us on and will become our strongholds on our personal path to the Grail. Knowing that we are surrounded by other seekers, and guided by your immense knowledge, wisdom and insightful sensitivity we will not fail to eventually find what we are looking for.

‘Thank you so much, dear Roselle, for enabling this year after year.’

‘Of course I’m coming back [to your retreat] this year. I can’t really afford it, but life is precious, and your courses have changed my life.

‘Thank you so much for your encouraging response. I feel very affirmed by it and it fills me with renewed enthusiasm to continue… I’ve already altered a few things and yes, they work much better. It’s obviously hugely important to me that you’re in tune with [my work]… you’re so incredibly perceptive, observant and objective: all the things essential for good mentoring…’

*(you might be interested in this blog on asking the question – it’s key to much of my work: http://roselle-angwin.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/living-question.html )

One of the participants on the 2014 Iona retreat has written a lovely blog on her experience, here: http://rachaelclyne.com/?p=572

... and I write about Iona every year, in April or early May, on my blog: roselle-angwin.blogspot.co.uk

Gardoussel (Writing the Bright Moment) 2014: there’s a blog on this year’s experience from Kerryn, one of the participants, here. Here are some of her comments:

‘I spent the most amazing week at a writer’s retreat in Southern France called Writing the Bright Moment. It was led by the inspiring, compassionate and very talented author Roselle Angwin.

‘It was an alchemic success of guided mindfulness sessions, clever writing exercises, an experienced teacher and an extremely trusting group of wise women participants. All of this in the most relaxed mountain scenery possible, with organic delicious meals, a masseuse and of course hammocks. This all resulted in a week of deep transformation, learning, growth, vulnerability and healing. Personal and skill development that I could not have imagined when I signed up.’ (NB this is not just a retreat for women writers, but this year it happened to be an all-women group.)

Also Gardoussel 2014:

‘Thank you so much for such a memorable and inspiring Gardoussel writing course!’

‘Thank you for wonderful writing week. Utterly nurturing and inspiring – I enjoyed every minute.’

 

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