Blog

All of our Blog Posts

Review: ‘Wain: LGBT Reimaginings of Scottish Folklore’ by Rachel Plummer

Scottish literature of the 20th century particularly is well-known for its humanism and pluralism. You just need to think of the likes of folklorist and poet Hamish Henderson, himself a bisexual man, arguing that poetry and song could help heal divided communities and societies. His most famous song ‘The Freedom Come All Ye’ is an…

Read More

‘Trace’

after a map of the Arabian Peninsula from Al Idrisi’s Kitab Rujar, 1154   I hardly recognise you, naked & nameless, a green path, vital as a vein snaking its way up to ard al iemama.   In early spring, desert thistles align themselves with the stars, a trail of crumbs for a camel caravan….

Read More

The Decisive Moment

‘The real prayers are not the words, but the attention that comes first’ says Mary Oliver in her poem of the same title. Oliver’s detailed exploration of a hawk’s tumultuous flight essentially pays homage to a moment of perception. She leaves out no detail and describes the specificity of the moment with deep respect. Tied…

Read More

Review: ‘Girl’ by Rebecca Goss

Rebecca Goss’s Girl (Carcanet) is concerned with the magic of girlhood and womanhood. The poems consider womanhood’s slow, hushed power, especially how it is inherited, bestowed, understood, and refigured throughout life. In ‘Lightning’, this power is manifested as a natural force that ‘split[s] a tree’, and then trips ‘across a barbed wire fence’ to the…

Read More

‘Sakura, Sakura’

             Aboard a plane before sunrise you find yourself flying over a field of fluff, a hilly country of cumulus clouds, when the alpenglow of March flows in, flooding the cabin, and you’re seven again.              It’s only a week since grandmother died. There’s mud beneath your nails. Your fingertips iridesce with the scales of the goldfish…

Read More

Divine Messengers

Lucy Mercer writes for the Poetry School blog ahead of Divine Messengers, her weekend workshop on the literary use of dreams and the unconscious. Dreams! What interests me most about dreams is that they present worlds that are different but adjacent – and sometimes overlapping – with ours: imaginary inter-worlds, what the philosopher Henry Corbin…

Read More

Review: ‘In Search of Equilibrium’ by Theresa Lola

In Search of Equilibrium (Nine Arches Press) is a deeply felt response to grief and a closely observed portrait of family, heartbreak, survival, and the evolution of personhood. Trauma is a peculiar thing. Once the immediate shock of a traumatic event or episode subsides, the world becomes a different place. For those who survive, death…

Read More

Poems

Curated Poems, chosen by The Poetry School Staff.

Ginkgo Prize 2019 Open for Entries!

The Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry, the biggest international prize for ecological, environmental and climate-concerned poetry, is now open and calling for entries from poets around the world competing to win £5,000 (first prize), £2,000 (2nd prize) or £1,000 (3rd prize). Organised by the Poetry School, and judged by award-winning Mexican poet, activist, diplomat and former president of International PEN Homero Aridjis, alongside…

Read More

The Big Issues

I began thinking about writing this blog on the day of the mass murder of Muslims in New Zealand. Just how do you begin to respond as a poet to something like this? And in the UK, and around the world, there have been similar atrocities. We’re in this mess of seemingly endless Brexit, with…

Read More

‘Phone Call Home from my Daughter in Chiscani, Christmas Eve 2018’

Why I want to write about the pig’s head hanging from a branch                   in the yard, the cat that was beaten for killing a bird, the man who one night lay down on the track, or the dog you found frozen to death in the snow,                   I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because of our paths:…

Read More

‘river’

The river is a dark bone, a long narrow forearmwith direction which makes an ease of sorts. The river is a soil-dark bone full of the small, the odd,all the names it wasbefore it was river, all the names. Plucky light flips the surface,larvae hold firm, jellied and hard.Mouths open in the reed beds,longest, oldest…

Read More

Review: ‘Small Inheritances’ by Belinda Zhawi

Belinda Zhawi’s debut pamphlet, Small Inheritances (Ignition), maps out the spaces where the speaker has lived, tracing a way back through the ‘dregs of south east london’ to a childhood in Zimbabwe. The first section, set in Thamesmead and Peckham and titled ‘small inconveniences’, re-maps the streets and estates to reveal the struggles and longings of…

Read More

Pub Chats: clinic

In today’s Pub Chat, we’re joined by Andy Parkes, Poetry School Programme Manager and, alongside Rachael Allen and Sam Buchan-Watts, editor at trendsetting independent arts platform clinic. Hello there! What are you drinking? A pint of Guinness, in nostalgia for clinic’s early days as a workshop group in a noisy Irish pub in South East…

Read More

Poetry of Parenting Playlist: Thirteen For Now

Fiona Benson, author of the brilliant Vertigo & Ghost, and tutor of the Poetry School course Writing Childhood, Writing Parenthood, presents an unmissable Poetry of Parenting Playlist. (1) Kathleen Jamie, ‘Ultrasound’ This gorgeous, unsurpassable sequence in Jizzen (Picador, London: 1999) travels from ultrasound (‘Second sight / a seer’s mothy flicker, an inner sprite’) through the ‘difficult giving’ to ‘the first…

Read More

Announcing the MA in Writing Poetry Scholarship

We’re delighted to announce that Newcastle University is offering a scholarship award for 2019 entry worth £7,400 (full fees) for an outstanding applicant to the Poetry School / Newcastle MA in Writing Poetry. The Scholarship will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who have already accepted an offer of a place for 2019/20 entry…

Read More

Review: ‘Rabbit’ by Sophie Robinson

Rabbit (Boiler House) deals with the struggle to connect in a globalised, social-media age, where our language is overwhelmed by the clichés of celebrities and advertisements, and our conception of friendship, success and love is as a shallow performance. The fierce, plaintive, stylish poems in Rabbit are about the experience of unbelonging and being distanced…

Read More

Get acquainted with Campus

Create an Account with us today to become part of our exclusive Campus for Poets where you’ll be able to start enrolling in courses and mingle with other poets.

‘A great, dark, soft thing’

The day passes and, though not for lack of trying, no words come. It grows dark; I tire with the sun and go to bed. As soon as I have turned out the lights, however, words begin to string themselves together like fairy lights across my mind. They are late – I expected them hours…

Read More

Self, Place, World

Ahead of his monthly course in Birmingham, the city’s poet laureate Richard O’Brien writes about the concentric circles of ‘self’, ‘place’ and ‘world’. Poetry is always a kind of dialogue between the internal and the external. We write out of, if not necessarily ‘about’ in a confessional sense, our personal lived experience of reality —…

Read More

Review: ‘The Built Moment’ by Lavinia Greenlaw

Lavinia Greenlaw’s The Built Moment (Faber) grapples with the slipperiness of time, memory, loss and the downwards slope of her father’s dementia. In two neat sequences, these poems gather together the loose, unruly strands of the aging self, along with the grieving observer, and spin them into something beautiful. The first sequence of poems, ‘The…

Read More

Review: ‘The Gaelic Garden of the Dead’ by MacGillivray

Each new MacGillivray collection should be welcomed for its far-out linguistic verve, spiky music and intellectual dynamism. There are few poets writing today as utterly sui generis in their style – like poets of the British Poetry Revival (and I’m thinking particularly of Barry MacSweeney and his Book of Demons) all we can do as…

Read More

Measure a Circle, Beginning Anywhere: Poetry Through a Fortean Lens

Ahead of his upcoming weekend workshop, Extrasensory Perceptions, tutor Caleb Parkin writes on ‘Fortean’ Poetry. The Fortean Times has been my holiday treat for quite some time now. What could be better than spending a journey engaged in the peculiar, peripheral and puzzling? Let’s get some of the stereotypes out of the way: tinfoil hats; incessant alien abductions;…

Read More

Poetry for Change

It starts with words. The lies and the truths. Politicians know how to use them: to deceive, persuade, or both. With new platforms for the arts, poets have the chance to counter falsity, to spread their words more than ever. In designing this course, I looked for poems that called for change: their rich imagery,…

Read More

Review – ‘The Quick’ by Jessica Traynor

At the heart of Jessica Traynor’s second collection, The Quick (Dedalus Press), is a nine-poem sequence commissioned, so the notes tell us, by the Salvage Press, for the 350th anniversary of Swift’s birth and ‘written in response to the provocation, “What might Swift write about now?”’ Traynor’s ‘A Modest Proposal’, like the Swiftian satire it is…

Read More

Review: ‘Kingdomland’ by Rachael Allen

About two-thirds of the way through Kingdomland, Rachael Allen’s debut collection, the text neatly encapsulates some of its key motifs – oppressive heat, procreation, bodily angst – in a single stroke: The day is an oven. I float outwards in a concentric circle. I will know the pattern of your knee. I sit by the river…

Read More

Radical Butchery Studio

“Futurists believed that the constraints of syntax were inappropriate to modern life and that it did not truly represent the mind of the poet…However, the Futurists were not truly abolishing syntax. White points out that since “The OED defines ‘syntax’ as ‘the arrangement of words in their proper forms) by which their connection and relation…

Read More