Tagged: creative writing workshops

Dinas Haiku




I regularly ride through Dinas on my bike. Like all cyclists I’ve learnt to expect the unexpected. Not because I’m in Dinas but because I’m a cyclist and people like to surprise us with friendly abuse and other missiles.  Approaching the flats one day from the Penygraig hill, I build up a head of steam when I am more than slightly surprised  to be overtaken by a skateboard. It’s not so much the sheer speed that alarms me, it’s the fact that it’s carrying four small flame haired children. They are hollering and waving like a pack of marauding apaches chasing down the Western Express. I am so convinced that they are about to leap aboard , gag and bind me and commandeer the bike that I overshoot the turning, mount the pavement, career down the banking, trampoline over the railway line and end up hanging over  the riverbank

This time I arrive by car painfully aware that I could be  about to ask a band of renegade apache children to write Japanese poetry. Reputation is a formidable barrier but once inside the community flat it’s blown to bits. It’s a hive of activity; computers, walls and rooms buzz with creativity. And no one is wearing war paint. Community worker Nicola and her volunteers coral a livewire gang of kids into a room with me and my flipchart. However keen they look, I’m certain as soon as I mention haiku they will interpret it as some martial arts command and with a concerted volley of kung fu kicks send me head first through the  flip chart. I breathe in, arm myself with a magic marker and say the word. Silence, then cacophony.

For some inexplicable but probably fortuitous reason I’m unable to pronounce haiku and the word I end up saying  is Christmas and suddenly the magic marker is trailing a blue blur across the pages. The kids unleash a barrage of festive words, images and thoughts and the flip chart flips into overdrive. After half an hour we have a Christmas smogasborg before us. All we have to do is turn it into a poem. Well as Geronimo once said, sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t.  In Dinas they have the magic. In fifteen minutes, a motley bag of random words have been moulded into a freshly minted poem. It might not be haiku; but it’s theirs. I think they’re pleased. I know I am. As I walk out into the night, looking for flaming arrows, I’m sure I see a flash of ginger up on the balcony and what I’m convinced was a hand making a sign of peace. I think I could be a blood brother,







As I drive past the four grey blocks, one of my own begins to take shape.




October the first, an unconfirmed sighting. Man unravelling a tangle of wires from his window.

Haiku Challenge



Watching my tan fade

She tells me Christmas is coming

I turn white overnight.


Summer in the Valleys Kids office in Penygraig and a dreamy conundrum hangs languidly in the air. Shall we ask Larry to pen the Christmas newsletter, or shall we ask a turkey to write a recipe for chestnut stuffing? Speaking as someone who finds Christmas Eve far too early for buying presents, I think the denizens of Valleys Kids would have found the turkey far more acquiescent. But Valleys Kids are a persuasive organistion particularly when their enforcer on this occasion also happens to be my wife, which is why I find myself outside Dinas flats on a balmy September evening armed with a flip chart and a sprig of holly.

To begin at the beginning. That was the problem; and the middle bit, acres of print full of newsworthy information and festive cheer. What did I know about Valleys Kids and I’m about as festive as a trappist monk. Why couldn’t I begin at the end. Save a lot of time and a whole bunch of paper. It didn’t have to be a Christmas newsletter, it could be a Christmas sentence, or a phrase, or even better a Christmas word; a slip of paper that could double up as bookmark. As Allen Ginsberg the beat poet said, ‘maximum communication, minimum words.’, the definition of the haiku the abbreviated Japanese poem. And in a flash of epiphany I had it, stuff the newsletter, I’d write a Christmas haiku.

High Command at Penygraig were never going to buy that, a newsletter written as a three line poem on the back of a bookmark. They trusted me, they’d put their faith in me as a writer of stature, integrity and commitment. The fools; how were they to know my work to date was a delicate blend of shortcuts, deception and outright plagiarism. And I didn’t intend to change tack now.  So if there were lots of haiku, in fact if I managed to cajole everyone in Valleys Kids to write one, it would preclude me from doing a scrap of work myself. Just stroll up to some workshop, introduce myself as some neo-japanese valley wordsmith and before you could say haiku I’d have an epic sprawl of pithy poetry like some modern mabinogion. Perfect. It was like believing in Santa all over again. And as I unhitched my sleigh and prepared myself for a jingle bell journey around the valleys I swear I could hear a familiar chuckle behind my shoulder. Ho Ho Ho.

Schools & Education

Workshop in Cape Town with the incredible Zip Zap Circus

Workshop in Cape Town with the incredible Zip Zap Circus

Coleg Morgannwg Welsh Baccalaureate workshop 2

Coleg Morgannwg Welsh Baccalaureate workshop

The Writer as Teacher

As a complimentary element to my plays and also a completely independent strand, I can also offer and deliver a whole range of  classes and courses based around creative writing and performance for schools and colleges.

I have experience of working in schools with pupils from 8 to 18 covering the whole spectrum of creative writing from poetry to playwriting.

I can mould these classes to any topic on the curriculum and have done so on subjects as far reaching as Africa and apartheid to local history and castles.

Feedback from Parc Primary school children, Bargoed

Thank you for coming to work with us every week
Honoured that you had the time to teach
Amazed at what we have learnt from you
Never knew anything about Nelson Mandela until you taught us
Knowledge you taught us about Africa
You kindly took your time to teach us about Zulu
Out of all these things, which I would remember
Unfair apartheid should never come back
 (Ieuan, Luke & Robbie)

I can be found on the Literature of Wales website: http://www.literaturewales.org/writers-of-wales/i/142779/desc/allan-laurence/

I qualified as a teacher at Didsbury College of Education, Manchester University.


I can  fit courses around the English National Curriculum covering language, literacy and communication. These can cover oracy, reading and writing aiming at Foundation Phase outcomes 1 – 6 and Key Stage 2 Levels 1 – 6.

I can help children develop their communication skills in oracy, reading, writing and wider communication. Effective development of wider communication skills can be explored through gesture, mime and expressing ideas and emotions through the medium of drama and theatre.

I can structure sessions to enable learners to:

  • analyse, structure & organise their work
  • use language creatively – through, prose, poetry, dialogue
  • use errors and unexpected outcomes to develop their learning – through theatre & drama
  • identify patterns and formulate rules through the use of poetry, rapping and dialogue

Workshops will enable learners to communicate through speaking, listening, reading and writing, developing these skills through appraisal of their own work and that of others. Thus learning how to communicate effectively for a range of purposes and with a range of audiences.

Where possible – we will use performance and presentation opportunities to share and showcase outcomes for peers, parents and staff.

Coleg Morgannwg Welsh Bacc workshop

Coleg Morgannwg: Art & Design stimulus on Africa


I have also delivered a package of workshops combining words and pictures with Award winning photophotographer, Glenn Edwards entitled Visual Voice. Glenn is a photojournalist and even though these workshops are particularly attractive to younger pupils, we have geared classes for the older student more interested in the news reporting aspect. Check out Glenn at http://glennedwardsphotojournalist.com



As part of the Mzansi Cymru project I delivered a series of workshops for year 5, 6  and 7 pupils that explored the history of modern South Africa right up to the present day. Focusing on apartheid this opened up issues of racism, justice and equality through storytelling, poetry and factional reporting.