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Reflecting on a Poetry Residency – Fair Field

  I drift between rehearsals staging a peasant’s revolt, watching the actors transform into Money, Holy Church, False, The Pie Seller, and a man running through a dream trying to save the world. I dive head first into Langland’s politically rife, distinctly religious, world. I think about the many problems of today, contemplate the inevitable…

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‘Grenfell’

The average salary in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is £123,000, the highest in the country. The median salary is £32,700. You are burning £50 notes and swigging champagne. No other area in the country has a larger disparity between median and mean incomes, suggesting a large gap between rich and poor. You are…

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‘Henry Harclay’s Ordinary Questions’

It was known that Alexander had fixed gates across the chasm east of the Caspian sea that enclosed those almost people who performed abominations: foetus-eaters, dog-men and the rest. And it was known if even one got through those gates (made by the welding of two mountains) it would be a signal of end times…

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Poetry in Aldeburgh 2017 Line-Up Announced

We’re delighted to announce the line-up for Poetry in Aldeburgh Festival 2017, co-curated by The Poetry School. As Headline Partners for the festival, The Poetry School are offering  an exciting and diverse line-up of workshops, talks and readings alongside Poetry in Aldeburgh’s main programme of events. The festival features headline readings from Cholmondeley Award winners Bernard O’Donoghue and Lavinia…

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How I Did It: Eric Gregory Award Special – Daisy Lafarge on ‘understudies for air’

Welcome to the final instalment of our Eric Gregory Award 2017 ‘How I Did It’ series. We asked the winners of this year’s awards to explain the process their award-winning poems. Last up is Daisy Lafarge talking about her pamphlet, understudies for air – published August 2017. The Eric Gregory Awards 2018 will open for…

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How I Did It: Eric Gregory Award Special – Rachael Allen on ‘Many Bird Roast’

Welcome to this ‘How I Did It’ series featuring the winners of the Eric Gregory Award 2017. We’ve asked each excellent young poet to explain the process behind their award-winning writing. Here, Rachael Allen talks about one of the recurring themes in her work. The Eric Gregory Awards 2018 will be open for entries in…

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How I Did It: Eric Gregory Award Special – Mark Pajak on ‘Spitting Distance’

Welcome to the second instalment of our Eric Gregory Award 2017 ‘How I Did It’ series. We asked the winners of this year’s awards to explain the process their award-winning poems. Here, Mark Pajak talks about the hard work that went into his pamphlet, Spitting Distance. The Eric Gregory Awards 2018 will open for entries…

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Poems

Curated Poems, chosen by The Poetry School Staff.

How I Did It – Eric Gregory Award Special: Richard O’Brien on ‘4 Rue Sarrazin’

Welcome to the first instalment of our Eric Gregory Award 2017 ‘How I Did It’ series. We asked the winners of this year’s awards to explain the process behind one of their award-winning poems. First up, Richard O’Brien writes about ‘4 Rue Sarrazin’. The Eric Gregory Awards 2018 will open for entries in September.   …

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‘Pretty Fish’

The bad sister is lured by gelatinous scales – she slops the good sister’s carp into a pail, but the August sun warms the water, turns it stale. . The bad sister gathers the withered bits: a pelvic fin, a vertebral segment, the delicate inner skin, displays them on her vanity: their bones gleam like…

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Review: ‘Kingdom of Gravity’ by Nick Makoha

Kingdom of Gravity is a powerful debut and deserves a wide readership. Nick Makoha’s reflections on Idi Amin’s brutal rule in Uganda and the equally atrocious civil war that ousted him, which indirectly answer reoccurring atrocities in Syria and the Middle East, are the work of a hugely talented poet, capable of great formal finesse…

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To Be Continued… A Life in Sequences

I’ve written about place for as long as I’ve written poems. It fascinates me. For several years I struggled every which way I can think of to try and put into poetry the plural layers of reality, history, lived experience, interpretations and personal myth that we experience in the places we know well. Often, trying…

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‘Where Light Lives’

the revolving doors have slowed down long enough for the dark side to be revisited. I learn to find a glimmer in a house where barns are filled with grain pantries with preserves where rooms release their scent of wellknown words while wanderlust grows from all the windows I learn to write.

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‘Nine Herbs’

The postman left the first bundle by the gate in your fourth month – red crepe, bound in rope. Inside, a sheaf of rue. Witchbane. When the old landlady came, she helped you pin it above the front door, told you of the local custom. Remarked on its salves: hysteria, a cramping womb. The sickness…

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Review: ‘FIELD’ by Harriet Tarlo

The central premise in these 60 pages of spare, open verse is that a single field is important – culturally, historically, environmentally, poetically – and what is exciting about this collection is how Tarlo brings the reader into relationship both with a field and with the concept of field. During a regular train journey, Tarlo…

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‘Sugar Envy’

I could lick the back bench of austerity, if that would be useful, if that would be something someone wanted somewhere, or I could go day tripping in a house of mould and sin and meet Envy there, and hear about his inability to congratulate mortgages, promotions, mortgages, promotions, awards, mortgages, “I am happy for…

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Review: ‘All this is implied’ by Will Harris

Will Harris distrusts fixed perspectives. At the same time, his experiments on the boundaries of poetry and prose are underpinned by the sort of phrasing that converts lines into permanent memories. In this debut HappenStance pamphlet, he addresses the ambiguity of identity and inheritance. For Harris, who has an English father and a Chinese Indonesian…

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‘The Tryst’

  She sits in the park pulling petals off a daisy will he      maybe you cunt she thinks you cunt  

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Stand-up Poetry Studio: Uncovering a Way Between Speech and Song

The first time I remember wanting to be a poet — I mean, trying to figure out what I could do next in order to immediately start becoming one — was when I saw Philip Levine read at Boston University in 1994. Between one poem about the power dying in the steel mill where he…

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20% off PBS Memberships for Poetry School Students!

We are delighted to announce that we have renewed our partnership with the Poetry Book Society, allowing all Autumn 2017 students 20% off all levels of Poetry Book Society membership (charter, associate and full). Set up by T S Eliot and friends in 1953 ‘to propagate the art of poetry’, the Poetry Book Society is a unique poetry society, providing…

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LETZ MEDDLE ENGLISH: Speaking with Accents & Meddling in English

Each time I walk to the station in my district of Greater Copenhagen, I see LETZ SUSHI in bold white font on the black rectangle screwed to the brick wall. And each time I smile, though I must have seen this sign hundreds of times (I moved to Denmark in 2009). I’m never tired of…

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Review: ‘All Fours’ by Nia Davies

Nia Davies first full collection is ‘salty-lipped,’ kinky and enigmatic. A fusion between the avant-garde and the more accessible lyric, it is a mix of contradictions: open and oblique, filthy and tender, skittish and measured, British and international, serious and, this is what surprised me most, silly. All Fours glitters with knowing and surreal humour…

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Summer School Mini-Interview Chain: Richard Scott interviews Rishi Dastidar

In this second instalment of our Summer School mini-series, Richard Scott’s questions are answered by Rishi Dastidar, tutor of our upcoming course ‘The Minimum Viable Poem‘. Richard: Tell me about a piece of visual art which you love and that might inspire or has inspired a poem . . .  Rishi: Mondrian’s ‘Victory Boogie Woogie’, for…

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Review: ‘Clowning’ by Roxy Dunn

In many of Roxy Dunn’s Clowning poems, we encounter an acutely self-conscious speaker who is struggling to occupy an uncertain space between the safety and familiarity of childhood, and the expectations associated with adulthood that are out of reach. In ‘5AM’ – an aptly liminal time between night and day – the speaker unexpectedly wakes:…

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Review: ‘A Swansea Love Song’ by Stephen Knight

In A Swansea Love Song, Stephen Knight continues his project of seeking to capture on the page, through phonetic spelling, the realities of a spoken Swansea voice, which he began twenty years ago in The Sandfields Baudelaire. The central difference between that pamphlet and this is the step away from dramatic monologue towards a more…

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The Long View, Arnside

The tide was in then out again. So fast it was bewildering: fishing boats flew like leaves, flimsy, unsubstantial, in the streaming gale. The piers grew tall, dripping black weed, the sandbanks breathed and expanded their honeycomb flanks, then, whalelike, plunged again. The vapour they exuded could easily have been children paddling, crouching, digging, growing…

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