“You are like the ‘Jools Holland of Writing’; embracing and encouraging such an eclectic mix of styles and genres”. This was the message sent to me a few days ago, by someone in a writing class I have been running for a couple of years; I have just handed it over to a new tutor who I hope will enjoy it as much as I have. I was charmed by this piece of feedback. No one has ever compared me to a big band leader before. I suppose I am pretty eclectic in my tastes and interests when it comes to writing. I like to dabble and play with different styles and genres myself and I encourage others to do the same. I’ve noticed that when you encourage a prose writer to try poetry, and vice versa, the effect can be both challenging and liberating. I like to encourage experiment and I like to entice people out of their comfort zones to try new techniques, or to try on a new form. It’s a little like trying on a new coat; you do not have to wear it out of the shop, just enjoy the feel of it and see how you look in a new shape or colour. It’s a sort of cross-fertilization. The Jools reference is flattering because I like the association with the way he brings diverse musicians together to make music that may surprise and inspire them. The great clanging intros to Later, in which all the bands join in with a chord, often produce a satisfying melding of sounds. I like to encourage that sort of freedom to play, whether with instruments or words. As writers, I suppose words are our instrument. In the past week or so I have heard two people lament that they have been put off writing by teachers who have told them they must stick to one form; in one case because she was not (or so she was told) good enough to try writing in a close form of poetry. I am afraid I do not understand this approach. I shall carry on being eclectic.