Real Toad Workshops

Imaginary gardens with real toads in them’

from ‘Poetry’ by Marianne Moore

Real Toad workshops encourage new or reluctant readers to feel the joy of contemporary poetry.

In ‘Poetry’, American poet Marianne Moore famously begins: ‘I too, dislike it’. All too often, students (and teachers) are made to feel that a poem is a riddle with an answer locked inside. Rather, a joyfully experienced poem can spark a feeling its reader has never had before or one they recognize but don’t yet have a name for.

I build on my own experience as a practicing poet to help open up poetry and the messy work behind it. Interactive, collaborative, fun and sometimes silly activities aim to tear down the barriers surrounding contemporary poetry, help readers truly engage with a poem and inspire new creative projects. We take the time to feel sound, follow runaway trains of thought, and delight in the weird, the wonderful and the productively nonsensical.

Real Toad workshops can be used to enhance existing teaching programmes or help celebrate events on the literary calendar like Book Week Scotland, National Poetry Day and the First Minister’s Reading Challenge. They revel in the richness and breadth of contemporary poetry, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from Twilight Sessions to P1, and can be happily adapted for mixed ability groups.

Real Toad workshops are eligible for Live Literature funding through the Scottish Book Trust — you can visit my profile here.

If you would like to have a chat about Real Toad workshops and how they might work best for you, please do drop me an email at