The group started as a ten week course on writing short stories at Stanhope Community Centre, set up by writer, Chris Powell. At the end of the ten weeks the group decided they would like to continue to meet, in order to develop their writing skills and share their work in a friendly, supportive and fun environment.

Since then, the group has welcomed many new members. Some people attend every week, while others come along as and when they can manage it.

2018 has been a busy year so far!

We had guest workshops from David Napthine (The Writer’s Inner voice) and the outreach team from the DLI on the Poetry of War. Some of us also attended the Holocaust Memorial Day workshop with Tony and Roz Gadd at the Durham Dales Centre in January.

The Autumn sees the group busy with Schools workshops as part of the Young Writer’s award scheme (see link above).

We’ve been commissioned to write some words as part of the Weardale Community Choir project – The Weardale Song Cycle.

October 10th, we are visiting the Sedgefield Book Festival to read some of our comic work – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sheep Show.

And …  The Weardale WordFest is coming up at the end of the month (see link above). Not to be missed!

2017 – some highlights 

It was a horribly wet and cold afternoon, but Stanhope Community Centre was buzzing with life and packed with visitors for the TALKING THREADS exhibition on 14th December. The exhibition was a fabulous celebration of creativity in Weardale that displayed writing from NorthPens alongside the work of four craft groups, also based at the Community Centre – Fibre Folk, The Sewing Group, Tiffany Style Glass makers and the Pottery group. Visitor, Sue Nattrass described it as ‘a fantastic exhibition, both of writing and crafts; showcasing the talents of Weardale’ and Ken Heatherington also commented that it was a ‘most impressive display of talent.’ Each table presented a well thought out, and thought-provoking, artistic tableau that featured extracts from the stories and poems in the NorthPens TALKING THREADS anthology complemented by beautifully made artefacts created by the craftspeople. The cups of tea, mince pies and nibbles also went down well! 
The event was the brainchild of NorthPens writer, Jenny Spooner who, ably assisted by writer and artist Geri Poole, designed and co-ordinated the exhibition with enormous flair and commitment. It was great to welcome representatives from both the Weardale Area Action Partnership and Northern Heartlands to the Community Centre so that they could see for themselves just what a wealth of skill, artistic endeavour, goodwill and support resides in the Dale. 
Publication of the TALKING THREADS anthology was made possible through grants from the Weardale AAP and the Lakes and Dales Co-operative Community Fund. The book launch planned for the end of November had to be postponed because of the snow, but will be re-arranged for a date in the new year. Meanwhile, you can get your hands on a copy via various local outlets (Weardale Gazette Office, Dales Centre, Woodhall’s Greengrocers, The Community Hub in Stanhope; Chatterbox Cafe; No. 42 in Bishop Auckland; Forum Books in Corbridge) or from any member of NorthPens Writers. If you are interested in joining the group, take a look at our website www.northpens.com and get in touch. 



Poetry workshop – A really interesting and challenging session with poet Jo Colley, looking at ways of using objects as a starting point for moving into more abstract thought in poetry. Jo inspired us to spend the next few weeks looking at and experimenting with different types of poetic form in our own sessions.


We visited the THE WORD. A brand new library and National Centre for the Written Word in South Shields, crammed full of fascinating exhibitions, ideas and, of course, books!


As part of the WE ARE WEARDALE creative writing project, Rachael Cochrane ran a workshop on Flash and Micro Fiction for us. We have worked with Rachel on a few occasions now and always thoroughly enjoy, and get a great deal from, her sessions. This time, we used photographs, some of our ownbut mainlyhistoric photographs from the Weardale Museum. Poems by some of the NorthPens writers appear in the WE ARE WEARDALE anthology.


We ran a writing workshop on theme of trees with the children of St. John’s Chapel and Forest in Teesdale Schools at St. John’s Chapel. The children produced some amazing poems and story books; the poems were written on leaves and hung on a ‘poetree’ (made by Ed and Jenny Spooner). We’ve re-created our own NorthPens version so you can see how it worked!


A workshare with the children at Wearhead School and Rachel Cochrane. This was also part of the WE ARE WEARDALE project. We listened to each others’ work and the youngsters enjoyed becoming audio technicians for the morning, recording the poems and stories as they were read out.


NorthPens display at the Upper Weardale Agricultural show

We’ve also covered a lot of ground in our weekly sessions, from poetry to soap opera! The ‘diary’ extract gives a brief taster of the kind of things we do each week, but have a look at our website to get a fuller picture of our many activities.


LAUNCH OF OUR ANTHOLOGY (see events page for details)

Talking Threads


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s