A subterranean poetry workshop

On a gloomy November day in 2015 we ventured below ground to explore Willoughby House Cave in Nottingham.

This day-long poetry workshop gave participants a unique opportunity to experience one of Nottingham’s more exclusive caves, not normally open to the public.

Seven fellow writers travelled with Mark, and “Creative Cave Consultant” artist Jo Dacombe, on a journey from Nottingham’s upper world into one of its many hollows-beneath.

The caves multiple sandstone chambers were ‘haunted’ by writers for the morning. A read around of poetic lines by torchlight in one of the cave’s pitch black chambers, was a memorable, nape-tingling experience. As one participant commented; “The experience of reading in the caves was awesome! The atmosphere was perfect.

Nottingham Writers Studio was our retreat for the afternoon. Jo was also on hand throughout the day to impart her experiences of, and heritage information about, the extensive system of caves beneath Nottingham. We discovered for example, that Willoughby House Cave is also known as ‘The Druid Cave’, and that there are many fabricated stories about what it was used for.



This intriguing venue proved a very fruitful source of inspiration. You can browse an anthology of poetry inspired by the workshop, below:



Our thanks go to the staff of Paul Smith, and to Nottingham Writers Studio, for all their support with the workshop.

The Cave Voice poetry workshop was part of a Write Here residency, and was part funded by Writing East Midlands.