Find your inner poet
Colin Higgins loved MS-UK Online’s poetry course – why not give it a whirl? In December 2010, after experiencing occasional weakness in my legs while walking, I was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. As you may know, this is a less common form of MS where there are no relapses or remissions, but progression starts right from the beginning.
Within seven years, I was unable to use my legs or arms at all and was completely reliant on other people to help me with most activities. As there are currently no MS treatments suitable for me, I decided that the best course of action for me was to use exercise, assistive technology and, importantly, keeping my mind active.
Early last year, I saw an advert online for an introductory poetry course, run by MS-UK. I had never studied poetry before, though I occasionally wrote short verses for family and friends.
I signed up quickly, thinking that I would really benefit from the mental exercise and chance to be creative, an important part of managing to live with my MS.
The course consisted of eight sessions, one a week, which lasted for about two hours each, with regular breaks. The course was taught virtually. A new link was sent every week to allow us to join the session. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly and diverse group on the course and exploring ideas with them during the group exercises.
The course was led by Georgi Gill, a talented poet, who is, herself, living with MS. She was particularly kind when people’s MS symptoms affected their experience of the course, for instance my personal assistant wrote notes for me, as I can no longer use my hands to write or type and using my head mouse is tricky on a Zoom call!
No previous knowledge of poetry was needed and there was no compulsory homework or preparations. We didn’t even need to share our work with the group, although many of us were happy to do so and Georgi was always available to give constructive advice by email.
We studied different styles of poetry every week, but one of my favourites (and one of the easiest to write) is the Japanese haiku – three lines only, which don’t need to rhyme, but follow the pattern, five syllables, seven syllables then five syllables.
I loved this course. It has inspired me to continue writing and to explore different writing styles. I would thoroughly recommend it, even if you have never written a poem before!
Here’s some haiku I’ve written…
Winter’s nearly gone
And I look forward to more
Time in the outdoors.
Why not join us and start your poetry journey? We’d love to welcome you! The next intro session is in May. Email firstname.lastname@example.org