I've recently been asked for some testimonials about my Writing Workshops for teens and adults. So I asked some teachers and people I worked with. Here they are. I have to admit I was pretty blown away by the response.
I am putting these up online and linking to them on the blog in the hope that if people do google me when in need of a workshop, they'll find these.
I suppose now is a good time to say that if you'd like me to provide a workshop you can contact me at uiscebotATgmail.com (I've used AT instead of @ to avoid the spambots)
"I would never have had the confidence or the drive to start writer's groups here in our school had I not seen first hand how Colm Keegan works. He managed to foster an atmosphere that asks young people to be open, to be honest but at the same time he manages to make them feel safe enough to do so. Its a delicate balance but one that he seems to strike effortlessly. Its an expectation young people eagerly rise to. It frees them and what they come up with is a privilege to hear. His workshops and performances were the launch pad for the creation, not only of some amazing work by our students, but more importantly, it sparked a curiosity about their own voice and what they might be able to write and say. He placed a value on that.
He brings a unique skill, talent and passion that is as honest as it is humble. Young people respond in new ways. I noticed many of the young boys particularly watching him in rapt attention. They had never seen or heard anything like that before but it was a voice that they recognised. They surprised themselves because he surprised them. Its in these moments that we want to do more, be more. I've been genuinely inspired and I've learned the difference that having the 'right' writer can make when working with a school.
Following on from our work together, now 20 young people stay after school every week to work on their writing as I humbly attempt to sustain the work that Colm Keegan began."
"A few years after I has escaped the shackles of Leaving Cert poetry and a few years before I wrote my first performance poetry piece, I did a workshop with Colm Keegan. The two are not unconnected. Colm showed me a world of poetry that was accessible, fresh and achievable. He is a large part of why I do what I do."
Stefanie Preissner. Playwright.
"There's always a risk attached to bringing in outside facilitators: will the students engage with this 'stranger', will the students take the opportunity to listen to a new voice? This is especially true when working with kids who might not have a history of academic engagement or whose initial reaction to the word 'poetry' would not be wholly positive.
However, working with Colm has been as close to guaranteed success as I have experienced. He has a no nonsense approach to students and his subject. There is no pretence about his work, either as poet or a teacher. This means that any student is able to see that their experiences, their own life, is something that can and should be written about and shouted about. Colm's passion for poetry and performance and his belief that these are things immediately accessible to everyone has made our students see that their own work is relevant and important. It is this vibrancy and creativity, this facilitating of enthusiasm that really makes Colm stand out."
"Colm Keegan worked with 10 young SpunOuters during their Academy. The concept of the weekend was creating personal and social change. Colm's creative words work shop brought the participants to a place that no other workshops that weekend did. While many participants were skeptical about using words creatively or in poem, by the end of the session all the participants were sharing their words and performing their poems. The session was extremely beneficial in terms of building individual and groups capacities to express themselves creatively, building confidence and getting in touch with emotions and feelings in relation to social and personal issues"
John Buckley, Youth Engagement Officer, SpunOut.ie
"Colm engages the students like few other facilitators. He has an infectious enthusiasm for words and expression, and most importantly, a genuine interest in developing a student's sense of worth through self-expression. He is able to follow the flow of a class session, to follow the lead of of the student's contributions, yet still ensures that each session covers a well-planned content. The students are inspired by him, and often feel encouraged to develop their own creative writing as a result."
"'In the process of writing, we begin to unlock the past.'
This was just one of the pearls of wisdom shared by poet Colm Keegan that made me immediately stop whatever I was doing, and begin to frantically scribble some notes in the background.
A small miracle happened in the library that morning, as group after group of students (mostly reluctant readers and writers), embraced the art of poetry. You could hear a pin drop as Colm’s workshops were conducted with a quiet honesty and humility, which endeared him to students and teachers alike. The poetry was soulful and inspiring but, it was his capacity to relate to every age group and ability level that was truly remarkable. Placing each poem carefully in context, his down-to-earth approach created a safe space which inspired the girls to share their own stories. His poetry performances were understated, yet truly mesmerizing.
Colm amazed me with the ease with which he related to such diverse groups, moving effortlessly between them, adapting his workshop wherever it was required. The rapport that Colm developed with the groups in such a short space of time was exceptional, and the manner, in which he differentiated the sessions, supporting or encouraging wherever necessary, was inspirational.
On a personal level, he was a pleasure to work with, consistently checking in and assimilating feedback from each session, always with a view to improving and enhancing the experience of the students. I would consider it a privilege to work with Colm again, and would have no hesitation in recommending him for any work he might undertake in the future. A drawer full of students’ eagerly-shared stories and memories, which have somehow miraculously morphed into poetry, is testimony to his success."