Wot people say about me... the nice stuff!
Recent poetry competition:
"The musicality of the language and the intrigue of the closing line in ‘Horses always look cleverer than they are’ propelled Char March's poem to the top of the pile."
"I loved your piece in 'Some Girls' Mothers'. I found it really moving. You'd distilled so much into the piece and it just comes alive off the page."
Helen Mort - award-winning poet
"Char March has a fantastic ear for poetry and is just the kind of writer whose opinion you trust. She is an excellent critic and editor of other peoples’ work."
Anne Caldwell - award-winning poet
"Just to thank you for this morning's brilliant workshop. As ever, fun, thought-provoking and inspiring! We all thoroughly enjoyed it."
- Phoenix Writers
"I have been thinking about your poems all morning. Absolutely fascinating. I am so impressed with how you have picked up on details of our conversation and turned them into images & themes. Very moving - research is a lot of things but not usually that. I want to give your poems a high profile alongside our work."
- Prof Louis Appleby CBE, head of the internationally-renowned Suicide Prevention Centre at Manchester University
"Just listened to your play on BBC iplayer and loved it. Tough, vivid and beautiful. Great Stuff."
- Brigid Harbour
'The Thousand Natural Shocks' is wonderful. This is the sort of poetry that makes me glad I can read. From 'Teenage Son Eats Honey' to 'Ridge Walking', and all the rest, they just do it! People talk a lot about warmth, humour, intimacy and sometimes I don't get it - some people wouldn't know these emotions if they stood up in their soup. March's poetry is bloody fantastic, and this book will become one of my friends, to be read again and again."
Keith Hutson - poet and playwright
"You were fantastic! I've never before ENJOYED someone reading their short stories (but you're different)!"
Jane Kitson - writer and performer (after the launch of my short story collection at Ilkley Literature Festival)
Thank you for making this evening’s workshop such a success, it was clear from how everyone embraced each section of the workshop that they were not only enjoying the task of writing but the process of looking into 'the hidden places', a process made so much easier by your clever exercises and enthusiasm. You provided the ‘fizz’ that I asked for in my very first email and I’m very pleased with how it all went.
Geoff Briggs, Project Manager
Signposts Writing Development Project
"Thanks so much for your reading on Saturday – brimful of passion, fire and good humour."
Roy Hutchins of Brainfruit
"Our performance skills have come along with a great leap under your guidance and thought-provoking questioning and insight. We were able to progress from tongue twister warm-up exercises to a 20-minute performance (that included being heckled!) with confidence.
You helped us to look at who we are, how we relate, how to look after ourselves - and our audience - and how we perform. By being professionally focused, gently challenging and just lovely, you helped us get our act together. It was great and has made such a difference."
'Invisible Ink' performance group
‘The Thousand Natural Shocks’ collection is quite astonishing and at the same time tender… March’s poems have enormous strength and force, her wordplay is intelligent; she often surprises by finishing with a wry twist… It’s a first rate collection that gets under your skin, and makes it prickle as your hairs stand on end. Abegail Morley – critic
"A lovely night - and a relief to see a poet who performs with panache and oomph, rather than that portentous, melancholic cadence that we often get!!"
“I enjoyed the creative writing workshop enormously and have been disseminating what I feel I have learned or been provoked about to almost every colleague I’ve seen! This session is the one I have enjoyed most of any staff development week I have ever attended. It has really stimulated me to think about creativity within our curriculum, teaching, assessments, students and our own writing. I would love Char to come back and be the ‘writer in residence’ for the University.”
Ola Ogbuehi, Programme Leader (Midwifery),
Faculty of Health and Social Care, Hull University
" 'Ophelia's Sistas' fantastic at Southwell Poetry Festival last night. Funny, sad, moving - just overwhelming. Now I'm sitting on the bus reading the poems!"
Literature and Reading Development Officer
"I found Char to be immensely entertaining and her work to be very powerful."
MMU's photographer - who came to take shots of me in action, and stayed for the whole performance!
"Char is wonderful. Her infectious enthusiasm spilled over to the group as she brought our handling objects and the themes of the Museum to life. She has an ability to relate to whoever she is working with, and showed great sensitivity whilst enthusing and engaging people of all ages. It was amazing to see the children standing with confidence, performing their pieces inspired by the heritage of the Dales and Char! We can't wait to share the material they produced with our visitors and the artists and craftspeople working on our trail project."
Fiona Rosher – Museums Manager, Yorkshire Dales National Park
"Loved the workshop thank you. It was inspirational, exuberant and good fun!" Moira Brimacombe (The Society of Medical Writers)
“Working with Char on the Watershed project has been fantastic, and has given project participants a really accessible and multi-sensory experience. She demonstrates great skill as a workshop leader, putting people at ease, and inspiring and nurturing their creativity with often profound results.”
Becky Davies, Bradford Museums Education Officer
“I first saw Char on TV and was immediately impressed with her writing, style and facilitation skills (she was teaching Ben Fogle to write a poem) – I tracked her down via the Internet and after a couple of meetings we invited her to the Business School as writer-in-residence for the Centre for Innovations in Business and Management Education. She came to our annual conference and worked with academic staff and then in November she was with us for 4 days working with different groups of students and staff. Her work was mind-blowing as she helped staff and students to think about themselves and their ‘voices’ in different ways.
The Business School has students from more than 100 countries and Char quickly helped students from around the world get in touch with their voices and gain confidence in expressing themselves. My expectations were exceeded – I had hoped that Char would help students develop their writing skills and, in reality, they gained much more from their time with her – she helped them to express themselves, grow their self-confidence and be vibrant, energetic and creative people. We are now thinking of how to work with Char – the possibilities are endless.”
Barbara Allan, Deputy Dean, Hull University Business School
The feedback for this event (Midwifery Conference at Hull University) was excellent, and comments relating to your two sessions were very positive - below are a few quotes taken from our evaluation forms:
'Char March was unbelievably funny and very interesting'
‘It was nice to have Char March add creativity and humour’
‘Char March – wow!’
'Char March – very uplifting!'
'Char March is like a force of nature!'
'Char March – thought provoking and re-energised the room – very funny!!'
'Enjoyed Char March – good idea to inject a bit of ‘comedy’ into the day.'
'Very interesting, fun and motivating. Guest speakers were excellent. A fantastic day, that I thoroughly enjoyed.'
Once again thank you for your contribution and for making the day the success it was.
Yours sincerely, All the Midwifery Team at the University of Hull
"I have to say, last Tuesday's event was such a refreshing change – not just fabulous fun, but a real lesson in how to strip away the stuff that puts some people off, and make the whole thing accessible. That's thanks to you. The singers – and the audience – had a ball.
Lesley Patrick, Community Participation Officer, Opera North
Hospitals are difficult and complex institutions for a writer to make significant cultural interventions. However, Char March created a hugely successful and transformational writing residency for Tonic, the arts programme for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals. Char applied her writing talents and personal charisma to develop a number of initiatives to enrich the experience of being treated, or being employed, at the LTH hospitals. She worked at bedsides with a broad cross-section of patients, gauging their different needs and either making their day with her enrapturing poetry readings or by helping patients craft their own poems. Char compiled a daily menu of poems to be delivered across all wards with patients’ lunch trays for a Food For Thought project. She also worked with two graphic design artists to create a series of one hundred eye-catchingly beautiful ‘poetry boards’ for outpatient areas, liaising with poets to allow the hospitals to use their work. Beyond all of this, Char undertook individual work with staff and patients on an on-demand basis, giving painstaking attention to their particular projects. Char’s enthusiasm, engagement and respect for others, together with her talents as a writer, gave us confidence in everything she proposed followed by huge pleasure in the results."
Gail Bolland - Arts Coordinator, Tonic, Leeds Hospitals Trust
"Char March’s witty, erotic and subtly subversive stories create a rare intimacy with the reader. A collection to savour and a writer to watch." Michael Arditti - novelist and critic
“I absolutely love ‘Something Vital Fell Through'. This is March at her very finest. In a few deft strokes of the pen, the characters feel alive and fully realised. The images are wonderful, and so unexpected; the sense of real physical space is fabulously done. These stories entrance."
Rosie Garland – Mslexia award-winner and novelist
“These brilliant stories burn with a yearning for human closeness, and are balanced by a slyly-observed humour. They speak of the longing – that we all have – to escape the walls of our own skulls.”
Michael Stewart – award-winning novelist
"By turns erotic, tragic, gentle, dark, funny, with more twists and turns than a corkscrew with cramp, each tale creates a world, makes it vivid and real, creates characters you care about, and then does something to it and them that you didn't see coming. I gulped these stories down."
Valerie Laws - award-winning writer
Reader's review of 'Something Vital Fell Through': "The variety is great, mood and tone and different voices. The first one (Twit-Twoo) I’ve re-read a couple of times - I like how economically March manages to get across the shifting sense of alienation; her creation of the wonderful Mrs Thornby; as well as the narrator not being altogether at home in Leeds or in her own body."
“Char March delights in the hidden strengths of words, her poems have a healthy toughness at their heart – the ability to surprise the reader with a candour that forces us not just to feel but also to
Philip Gross (2009 TS Eliot Prize Winner)
“Char has been an inspirational force for our group – she made us believe in ourselves as writers and performers and convinced us that we had a voice, and that that voice is worth listening to”
Terry Simpson – founder member of Survivors’ Poetry
“I have walked, cycled and talked about this landscape, but when I read these poems, I feel it. As I sit here at my desk in London, my feet are wet, my face hammered by the wind, my eyes see clouds of sausage and mash –all around me is half Yorkshire, half Lancashire. With Char’s collection, wherever you are in the world, you can carry the Pennine Watershed in your pocket.”
Clare Balding – BBC TV and radio presenter
“An extraordinarily sensitive and thoughtful tutor who’s successfully nurtured a whole range of students with widely differing needs.”
Dr Graham Mort, Dept of English and Creative Writing,
Univ of Lancaster
"The children were really excited when I told them we'd be collaborating with a professional poet on this project and their anticipation was richly rewarded! Char was an absolute pleasure to work with and her zany approach captivated everyone's imaginations; resulting in some truly emotive and insightful work. A truly wonderful experience for us all!”
Lorraine Dooley – Class Teacher, Hawes Community Primary School, Wensleydale
"Char? She woke me up! She came to work with our country kids from the local school and somehow I thought they wouldn't engage – how wrong could I be? They RAN with it all !!"
Debbie Allen – Museums Officer, Yorkshire Dales National Park
"I was tickled pink that your wonderful poem about the glorious little Twite made such an impression and has been such an inspiration! It was a pleasure working with you – I loved your work on this project!”
Charlotte Weightman, Habitat Intervention Officer,
RSPB Twite Recovery Project
“You are one of the best writing teachers around, and I've been through a few over the past ten years. But you really got me up off my ass and into the writing chair. So a huge thank you. I really do think that others should be able to benefit from your wisdom and knowledge. The more people that know about you the better.”
Lorraine O’Reilly – recent student
“Char was a pleasure to work with. Her exercises and sessions were always incredibly well-planned and thought-out which allowed my colleague and me to relax and concentrate on other aspects of running the project.
As Char was always keen to encourage my own participation in her sessions, I was in a position to witness her engagement and easy relationship with the pupils. Without exception, Char worked well with all the children participating in the project. They enjoyed their sessions with her and were able to combine having fun with developing their confidence and writing skills.
Char has the talent of being able to be friendly and approachable,
yet, at the same time, she is able to control and manage a large group of children outside of a classroom environment.
I personally learnt a great deal with Char and would very much hope that we will be able to work together in the future.”
Ros Macdonald, Curator – Arts Learning, York Art Gallery
"Char was fascinating to watch as she introduced the children to a
range of ideas to help them enhance their own ideas when writing about their special place. As an adult I was inspired by Char to involve myself in the session by writing my own poem. Char's enthusiasm towards the children and vice versa was phenomenal."
Teresa Metcalfe – Teaching Assistant, Hawes Community
Primary School, Wensleydale
“Char’s boundless enthusiasm to get people inspired by the South Pennines uplands (as part of our Watershed Landscape project) was fantastic. She worked with a huge variety of groups with great results – many of whom had never ever visited the landscape on their doorstep or tried creative writing before. Her work has been
such a valuable part of the project in helping people understand and enjoy the moorlands in different ways...”
Anna Carter, Interpretation Officer, Watershed Landscape Project
“Poetry and creative writing, to many people, may not prompt the best response, so it was wonderful to witness the barriers that Char broke down – giving people a reason and purpose to write and express themselves. The poetry that was written by Char, and those in the workshops, went on display – and prompted many to read a poem and gave them a sense of surprise that they actually enjoyed this medium to stir their emotions!!!”
Peter Fox, Curator, Saddleworth Museum and Art Gallery
“Char is an inspiring and provoking person. She makes you think about your world differently, taking away the corporate thinking and getting back to the heart of the matter – communicating with your audience. I look forward to working with her again in the
Kate Tyson, Press Officer, Hull University Business School
“When Char adjudicated our short story competition there was unanimous approval and admiration for both the quality and quantity of feedback received on each piece, and the advice given to the group as a whole. I was so impressed, I actually bought one of her books (‘The Thousand Natural Shocks’) and, having read it, decided that impulse-buys can be rewarding. We’re now penciling in dates for when Char can run a writing workshop for us.”
Peter White, Vice Chair, Leeds Writers Circle
"These poems brim with those non-identical twin qualities of compassion and wit. Char March presents a landscape fathomed
through the prism of human experience, and human experience filtered through landscape to create moving and engaging work that leaves you wanting more.”
Ian McMillan (poet and BBC Radio 4 presenter)
“Thanks Char, it’s been an excellent course and you have been amazing – very inspirational – and a breath of fresh air after all those previous middle class stuffy tutors.”
Karen Alderson (WEA student)
“This collection (The Thousand Natural Shocks) is wonderful – it blew me away: so perfectly balanced – the emotion, the right amount of distance, the images so telling yet so lightly placed, the language so rich in so many registers, and the voices so individual – and all of them genuine.”
Valerie Laws (multi-award-winning sci-art poet)
“All the comments were very positive! Elaine (headteacher) was very impressed and the staff said they felt inspired to try it out, which is a big positive! Thankyou for all your help throughout the course, I’ve had loads of fun and I’ll be sure to do lots more storytelling in the future.”
Amy Shaw – Reception teacher, Blackgates Primary School
“Char! You wowed an audience made up of completely opposing types – half were young and had never been to an opera before and the other half were seasoned, blue-rinsed opera-goers. I was amazed at how you managed to 'pull it off ' and entertain the lot of them – Opera North certainly got some converts as a result of your presentation since you certainly dispelled any preconceptions that opera is necessarily stuffy.
I was really bowled over by seeing the tears of laughter on the faces of several 'stuffy' opera-goers. The event was all the more amazing given the limited amount of time you were given to get it all together – thank you so much for your patience and good
Gil Richardson, Opera North Fund-Raiser
“Char is a highly entertaining and genuinely original voice – her carefully-crafted poetry patterns together to produce salt, lemon and tequila. Cheers!”
Ian Duhig (twice winner of The National Poetry Prize)
“Deadly Sensitive transports us to the realm of the senses where emotional pleasure and pain intermingle; the twilight zone of
relationships, the should have and could have, from the first altering step to the last twist of the knife. This book combines verbal dexterity with excruciating honesty. Superb.”
Patience Agbabi (performance poet)
“Deadly Sensitive is a splendid collection by poets working in top gear; the poems complement and juxtapose each other splendidly.”
Ian McMillan (poet and BBC Radio 4 presenter)
"This is the best kind of modern work – technically polished, yet insightful and unafraid to confront the issues we all face in today's world. A text worth reading, then reading again and again.”
Joolz (performance poet)
"This is art that can change people’s lives” YEP
“funny, profound and provocative” West Yorkshire Playhouse
“brave and strident poems that convey the precariousness of living” Asylum magazine
“exceptionally good” Studio Theatre, Leeds
"peppered with linguistic gems...powerful, insightful and humorous” Yorkshire Playwrights
“touching and inspiring” Kirklees Rape Crisis
"Evocative, powerful and accessible” Commonword
“You made City Voice memorable – massive thanks”
Director, City Voice, (Leeds Literature Festival)
“The project was a great success. Char is an excellent tutor and related well to our group of Primary age children. She used her skills and experience to motivate and enthuse even the most reluctant pupils to perform their writing with confidence. We were impressed by her skills in working within a contemporary art gallery, relating to exhibitions of a range of artforms including
contemporary glass and performance / video art. She was able to
nurture the pupils’ interpretations of the artworks and develop these into creative and inspired pieces of poetry.
On behalf of Ros and myself, I would like to say a huge thank you for your hard work, commitment and enthusiasm to the project.
We both felt the project to be a great success and very much enjoyed seeing its development over the weeks. We were delighted with how well Shanaz and yourself worked together, your creative responses to the exhibitions, and how well you engaged the pupils with the two exhibitions, different artforms and themes.
Thanks again for a great project!”
Helen Rice, Education Manager, Impressions Gallery
“It was a wonderful evening… the quality of your work was exceptionally good... And what a brilliant turnout!”
Annie Lloyd – Artistic Director, Leeds Studio Theatre
A few audience comments after recent performances:
“I would never normally dream of going to a poetry event, but it’s blown my mind!”
“I don’t know how you managed to tread that thin emotional line so sure-footedly”
“There’s a real love of life in the way you find humour and interest in anything and everything – I left with an uplifting sense of well-being”
“Thank you for an incredibly powerful and moving evening”
A couple of comments from recent students:
“I’ve gained in confidence enormously and your insightful comments have made me really stretch my writing”
“You got just the right balance: being tough on my writing and encouraging and nurturing to me the writer – it was brilliant – thank you”