Clydebuilt by <p&p>, under a Creative Commons licence
Mentoring. It’s one of those words people think they know the meaning of, but are perhaps a little fuzzy about what it means in practice. When done well, mentoring takes place within an intellectual framework which is pedagogic but not didactic, authoritative but not dogmatic, inclusive yet discriminating. In writing, a mentor is a sort of wheel-tapper, seeking out cracked tones in a way that lets the mentored also hear them without needing to be told they are there. The competent mentor in creative writing knows how to build on what is working and how to specify not only that a phrase or line succeeds but how it succeeds.
The Clydebuilt Mentoring Programme is a mentoring scheme for new poets, which has successfully running for a number of years. It evokes the now vanished institution of shipyard apprenticeship. Almost all my male relatives of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations were products of that apprenticeship system.
The system was simple. You left school and started in the yard the next working day sweeping up, making tea, running to the bookies, until you were 16 and could be apprenticed to a tradesman and for the next five years you learned your trade by working alongside, watching, listening, and asking questions.
Of course, the analogy is approximate, but the ultimate products of the cultural activity of apprenticeship were complex steel structures, often of colossal size, cultural products of creative, collaborative human activity. What is literature if not the product of that same type of activity? Here, mentoring can make a vital contribution.
The Clydebuilt scheme, the brainchild of poet Jim Carruth, is an attempt to create a place to hone emerging talent. Soon, you can judge for yourself how successful we have been. We have a collection coming out, north light – The Anthology of Clydebuilt 3, which collects together a number of the poets who have come through our scheme. To mark the launch, poets featured in the collection will perform at the Scottish Poetry Library on October 6 at 1pm. It’s FREE to attend. Poets performing include Nuala Watt, Eveline Pye, Samuel Tongue, Irene Hossack, and William Bonar. It will be a great celebration, of Clydebuilt, and of poetry itself. Please come along.