Peter emboldens aspiring writers in their ability to communicate

May 5, 2013



WELL SPOKEN: I am pictured with Peter Nevland of Spoken Groove, who is touring the UK with a number of creative writing workshops to help increase people’s confidence in their writing ability. Picture by Peter Jaszfalusi.


A MOTIVATIONAL speaker and poet from Texas is currently on tour in the UK unearthing writing talents amongst his clients that they didn’t recognize they had within them.

Peter Nevland, from Austin, was visiting the Grace 2013 event hosted by the Pop Up Café at the Landmark House, Wirral Park Road, Glastonbury.

Peter left an engineering job in 2002 to form Spoken Groove with a guitarist called Paul Finley.

“We started performing for any audience who would listen, giving us front row seats to stories exploding with witty comedy, perseverance through struggle and compassion for the outcasts of society.”

Peter uses his energetic and engaging character to unlock the ability of some people to use language not just capture the attention of their readers, but captivate and unlock confidence in a subject they might have put into the locker for years.4

An array of different writing talents – from experienced teachers to secondary school pupils –  gathered together not knowing quite what to expect but everyone was presented with a blank piece of a paper and a choice of four words – quilt, sunset, Mohawk and underwear.

The challenge was to see how well they use incorporate these words in a form of prose or poetry within a five-minute time frame. The challenge was to imagine a set of circumstances involving the four words and articulate what came to our minds and communicate it with others.

Part of the key to improving a piece of writing, he said, was to remove all the words that are not essential to the imagery and to try and use only one word if using two and to cut out whole sections of prose that doesn’t fit.

Talented writers have the ability to produce decent pieces of work even when they don’t particularly feel that they are. Pieces that writers instinctively like might not be necessarily their best work.

Something that has taken a number of days to assemble might be seen as by an aspiring writer as being very bland but on going back to it a few days later, it can transpire that actually, it was a pretty good piece of work after all.

Peter said: “I begin with one of my own pieces to grab their attention and ask them to tell me what kind of writing it is. ‘Who thinks it’s poetry?’ ‘who thinks it isn’t poetry?’ Different kids raise their hand for each. Then I ask the question that I really care about. ‘Who liked it?’ Everyone raises their hands. I have their attention.

“I turn an old, boring poem into an exciting relevant story. I then perform it, tell the story of how it was written and teach them the same lessons.

“Most of the time I give them four words that don’t seem to fit together and tell them to write anything they want as long as they use those four words.

“For longer sessions, I tell them to choose a topic, write an introductory sentence, and then pass that sentence to the person next to them to use with their original topic.

“The quality of writing is always more than what anyone expects. If time allows the students and teachers perform their writing in front of the class.”

As part of his repertoire, Peter does an authentic impersonation of Shaggy and Scooby Doo, the characters off the famous TV cartoon series. It’s so convincing that it would be hard to tell the difference from the genuine voiceover.

Peter and his wife Vicky are moving on to the Chapel Porth Caravan Site, Truro, Cornwall tomorrow and then heading up north to Burton and Wakefield; going onto London and then to Sheffield and Preston and return to the US at the end of the month.



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