Inner Room is a project that creates space for people to be creative. It is rooted in the Christian faith, welcoming people of all faiths and none. Run by a poet, its focus at the moment is on creative writing.
Inner Room believes that:
- Everyone is creative (including you)
- Everyone can approach universal truths through the particular details of their lives
- Everyone is invited to be creative by a creative God
If this resonates with you, please read on.
* Please note: Inner Room is happening on Zoom because of COVID-19 *
What does Inner Room do?
We’re running two series of poetry writing workshops – The Craft of Poetry and The Creative Process – as well as two larger poetry appreciation sessions –The Saturday Night Reading Room and The Parish Reading Room. Writing workshop participants can also take part in Room2Write, an experiment to help those of us who sometimes struggle to create a regular writing routine.
If you’re interested in poetry and would like to read and discuss it with likeminded people, there are nine places still available in The Saturday Night Reading Room. You don’t need any previous knowledge of poetry. This will run for up to 75 minutes, on Zoom, from 7.30pm on the following Saturdays:
- What is Poetry? (November 21st)
- What does Poetry do? (December 12th)
- Poetry and Prayer (January 23rd)
There is also one place in The Creative Process, a series of three workshops before Christmas with an optional fourth one in January. These Zoom workshops, each two hours long, explore how a piece of creative writing is brought into being, from the blank page to the poem. They are for a maximum of six people and aim to provide a balance between writing time and discussion time. Previous writing experience is welcome but not essential.
Most of the writing workshops already been filled from our mailing list but they may be repeated so do let us know if you’re interested – we’ve started a waiting list for them. The current phase of Inner Room runs from November 1st 2020 to January 31st 2021: there is no charge for taking part but we are inviting donations. Other events are in the pipeline, too, so if you’re interested in the places above, if you’d like to be added to our mailing list to hear of future events, or if you have any questions, please do get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
The story so far
Phase one of Inner Room ran until October 1st, 2020, on Zoom, with a larger poetry reading group and three smaller writing groups, all meeting monthly. Events included:
- What is Poetry?
- What does Poetry do?
- Poetry and Prayer
- Faith, Doubt and Poetry
- English Poetry – an overview
- God, Love and Poetry
- The Creative Process – a series of four creative writing workshops
- Inner Room on Zoom – an online poetry reading on National Poetry Day (October 1)
Inner Room launched in March 2020 with a one-day poetry workshop at The Old Deanery, in Exeter, for members of Devon’s spiritual direction network. Patch a few words together – a title taken from the Mary Oliver poem, Praying – looked at how to use poems in spiritual accompaniment and offered the opportunity to explore the creative process through writing. Prior to that, Inner Room ran a pilot workshop on Poetry and prayer in St Stephen’s Church on National Poetry Day 2019.
Why the name?
Two reasons. It suggests that feeling of inner spaciousness – what psychologists call ‘flow’ – which is such a helpful way of being when you’re creating something. And you may also recognise the reference to the bible verse Matthew 6:6 – which in some translations says: when you pray, enter your inner room and close the door. So we hope Inner Room is a place where you can relax and give your creative self some private space, aware (if you’re a Christian) that you’re in the presence of a loving, supportive, creative God.
The Inner Room prayer
whose Son spoke in story and in metaphor
and whose Spirit guards and guides us,
help us to know in our hearts
that you have created us in your image
to be creative.
May we become like little children:
playful as we learn,
open to the wonder of creation
and trusting in your love.
And may your creativity flow through us
to enable us and those whose lives we touch
to grow in faith, hope and love.
In church jargon, Inner Room is a ‘pioneer lay ministry’ from the Parish of Central Exeter, facilitated by the poet Helen Evans with the support of a team drawn from the parish and beyond, which includes the Rector, Sheila Swarbrick and the Exeter-based poet and novelist, Richard Skinner. It will run initially until Spring 2021 and be evaluated then. It was inspired in part by two courses: Exploring Christian Spirituality, run by the Diocese of Exeter, and Foundations in Christian Ministry, run by the South West Ministry Training College. Inner Room is one way the parish offers the breathing space that’s part of its mission, within its overall ministry of love and reconciliation, and in line with its commitment to being an inclusive church where all are welcomed.
If you’d like to join the mailing list or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Inner Room by email at InnerRoom@parishofcentralexeter.co.uk