Dark Angels Note 95

Dearest Friends,

Wonderful to have writer, Sarah Hill, join us this Friday; such tender and reflective responses.

1. Tell us about something you’re working on right now. 

Last year I took part in the Doolally Gallery project with John Simmons, Jenni Wallace and a brilliant crew of Dark Angels. The brief last September was to write and draw something on the theme of spirals and nature’s patterns. I chose to draw a snail but when it came to writing, I found my piece had morphed into something quite different from my starting point – a creature which carries it’s home on it’s back.

With this year’s spring equinox, and an appalling new refugee crisis, I have challenged myself to use the constraint of the original exercise to come up with a new reflection. I’m not sure where it will end up as it is a work in progress but here is the piece I wrote last September.

September swallows, pulled by invisible tides, migrate south
Crossing the channel ahead of the equinox
Scything over sun-ripened Spanish sunflowers
Soaring Gibraltar’s strait into Africa
Family groups chitter chatter
Finding safe passage
Navigating home
Escaping conflict
Clinging to hope
Trudging past summer sunflowers
Carrying home in their hearts
Solo travellers and fractured families, pray
Crossing the choppy channel, seeking safe passage
September’s mirror migration, a tide of terrified refugees.


2. Can you recommend something for us to read?

The beautifully written, Pulitzer Prize and Carnegie medal winning All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I read it several years ago but it is a book that has stayed with me.

Over the last few weeks as the horrors happening in Ukraine have filled our screens and the airwaves, elements of the book, set in the second world war, have come back into sharp focus; the plight of those fleeing – seeking refuge where they can, the training of conscripts that aims to be utterly brutalising, the constant fear of discovery for those who become part of the resistance …but there is so much more to this book. A tale of a blind French girl and a German boy and the power of radio broadcasts to give hope across borders.

I agree with one reviewer (Brad Hopper) who called it ‘a novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned’ and I hugely recommend as an Easter holiday page-turner.


3. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever read or received?  

Many, many years ago when I was starting out as a trainee trade journalist my editor said “Never assume. If you don’t know, always ask the question. Writing (and much else in life) based on assumptions, can really get you into trouble.


4. Share one thing you do when you get stuck.

This week, my ‘getting unstuck’ cure is to do ten minutes training with our rescue dog. To get good results, as well as offering tasty treats, I have to be totally focused and utterly consistent. This is frequently easier said than done but the act of concentration often works to free up my subconscious to work on whatever I am stuck on.


5. What’s your desert island book and why? 
This is such a hard question to answer! However, having determined that my luxury would be endless paper and pens for writing and drawing, I choose my trusty Oxford Dictionary – combined into one volume. I will have The Bible and the Complete Works of William Shakespeare for stories and poetry so, with the dictionary, I can have fun learning new words and challenging my brain to incorporate them into my own stories.

Thank you Sarah. Poignant writing and an ingenious answer to Question 5 😌.



One Space Left on Telling Stories – A One Day Workshop
There’s just one spot left on this one day course. Join Neil Baker and John Simmons to explore new ways of using storytelling techniques in your business and personal writing. We’ll be working with a series of creative and playful exercises to help you make, shape and remake powerful stories. If you’re new to Dark Angels, the day will be a perfect introduction to our approach to business writing and creativity. And if you’ve worked with us before, it’s a chance to try new exercises and recharge your creative batteries.

Date: 27th April 10:30 – 16:30
Venue: October Gallery, Central London
Fee: £275
Grab the last place here.


Online Advanced Course
Jamie Jauncey & Richard Pelletier return in May to guide you deeper into the world of Dark Angels with exercises that build on the Foundation Course and bring a greater focus on developing your personal writing voice.

A mix of live online sessions, fast-paced writing exercises, and time spent on your own, we’ll help you find surprising new ways to explore language, as we draw on storytelling, business communications, fiction and poetry.


The Details
Two-hour sessions, twice a week, for one month.
Dates: each Monday & Thursday, May 2 – 26
UK 5.30 pm – 7.30 pm
US East Coast  12.30 pm – 2.30 pm
US West Coast 9.30 am – 11.30 am

Fee: £795 / E895 / $1095
Full course details are on the website. Contact Susanne to book your place.


Weekly Tuesday Gatherings
Join us for a lovely hour of reading, writing and communing led by Neil Baker. Everyone is welcome; in fact invite a friend along. We meet at 7pm UK time. To join us, click here on the night. There’s no need to register in advance and we’ll be using the same link every week from now on. 

Be well, keep reading, keep writing and know that we’re always here.. 

From everyone at Dark Angels


Also published on Medium.