There's always scandal at workshops,
she says, and her steel grey curls nod primly
in agreement. I've seen it all. One year
I had a shared room to myself
all week, while down the corridor
a generative relationship developed
within the confines of a single bed.
At my side, you manage to keep writing
but she's caught me
at a pause; I'm trapped.
On the Lorca course, we had to sit back
while the mentor and her youthful Muse
engaged in open warfare every night.
In the end, the organisers
transferred them to the Annex
out of earshot.
Those twins, you know, the ones
from Croydon, at least they keep it
in the family - a kind of 'sibble' war.
She laughs at her own wit and quite ignores
my feints with pen and notebook.
At Málaga there was a famous actor
incognito but I recognised him
from the start - he used his own initials,
a dead giveaway, you know. I only told
a few of the participants; just Gina, Sue,
Anita and the girls from Hendon...
And back in '98 I met
Steve whats-his-name - you know
the one I mean; it turned out
she was as female as I am
in the flesh.
And now I mention flesh, we nearly
had that nudist nutter here; fortunately
his deposit came in a little late.
Hero worship's nothing new,
the poetry groupies,
and that old ploy, the editorial couch.
(No one's ever caught me there, of course.)
And then, there's always one
whose 'little woman' calls him
every day to check he's wrapped up warm
and eating properly. She never knows
he's out till 3am with some young stud.
Now, have you heard about Charlene,
the brunette with that accent
and the silicone? She's on a roll, now,
set to tell the history of everyone
who's on the course this week.
Beneath the table, I can feel
the warmth of your thigh close to mine.
Resident in Spain herself, Gwyneth has visited the Almassera on several occasions. She won the Torriano Poetry Competition and the Barnet Poetry Competition in 2007. This poem was written on 'Finding the Poem', one of the early courses at the Almassera; it came second in the Scottish International Open Poetry Competition and has appeared in Poetry Scotland.