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What’s a Ghazal?

Introducing the ghazal, part 1 The ghazal is the oldest poetic form still in use. The word ‘ghazal’ is pronounced “guzzle” in some languages and “gu-ZAHL” in others, though in both with a guttural “g” almost like the “ch” in “Bach.” Supposedly, the name comes from the sound a wounded gazelle makes as it dies….

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Everyone Hates a Sestina

In defence of the sestina, part 1 Almost every poet has heard someone dismiss sestinas. Perhaps you, yourself, have dismissed sestinas. Sam Riviere, in his review of Christopher Reid’s Six Bad Poets in The Poetry Review, wrote: ‘I dread a sestina as much as the next person,’ taking for granted the inevitability of that viewpoint….

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Meet the Digital Poet in Residence: Kathryn Maris

An Interview with Kathryn Maris

Hi Kathryn! Tell us a bit about your residency with Jason, ‘American English’. Kathryn: My blog posts will be micro-explorations of my idiosyncratic likes and dislikes in poetry, what I’ve observed, and what I wish could change. They will be essay-like in shape and are not to be taken too seriously because I regularly change…

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Re: Drafts – ‘Hey, have you had your hair cut?’

It’s early days for the Poetry School’s latest collaboration with The Rialto poetry magazine. Poets Rishi Dastidar and Holly Hopkins are working closely with Rialto editor Michael Mackmin on a programme designed to teach them about the process and philosophy of poetry editing. Each month, on a new series we’re calling Re: Drafts, they’ll share…

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Meet the Digital-Poet-in-Residence: Jason Schneiderman

An Interview with Jason Schneiderman

Hi Jason! Tell us a bit about the residency. Jason: I’ll be working with Kathryn to think through a number of questions about English Language poetry in the UK and America. We’ll be thinking a lot about form and community. When did you first start writing poetry? What brought you to it? Jason:  I started writing…

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‘Arkam’

This street was once a market where a raven bowed down and pecked a boy’s face. As he fainted the others came to feast. They used to steal walnuts and drop them into the road. Cars broke the shells and they ate the insides. Once they came into our house and tore into our parents’…

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Announcing our 5th and 6th Digital Poets in Residence!

We’re very excited to announce ‘American English’, a twisty Trans-Atlantic twin residency with Kathryn Maris (DPIR #6). Kathryn Maris, who grew up in New York and now lives in London, and Jason Schneiderman, who spent his early childhood England and now lives in Brooklyn, will compare notes on trends in UK and US poetry, discussing…

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‘Pegged Down Square’

As you snuggle down your eyes flutter towards the beauty of REM touching your hair I whisper maybe we should move on from this cracked cold land you dream murmur I barely hear as whining winds whip like bullets through sounding walls quiet you say I delve into thought of our glitzy summer wedding so…

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Pub Chat: Hercules Editions

An Interview with Hercules Editions

In the latest in this series of feature-length interviews with independent publishers, set in our imaginary poetry theatre pub somewhere in Lambeth, we spoke to Tamar Yoseloff and Vici MacDonald, the founders of Hercules Editions… Hello there, Hercules Editions! What are you drinking? Tammy: A bottle of Brixton Brewery APA. Vici: Being an imaginary pub, it serves on-tap…

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‘No going back’

She’s made of a million white-fingered sleights of hand, light-touch lies like slight dust traces. Look, an example: a small metal cage, inside, banked-up, shredded pages of The Guardian, a scum-ringed bowl, no food, no animal. He’s hiding, she’s insisting to her school friend, with a blistering of shame. Like bonfire toffee resisting the hammer,…

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‘Eye’

Always a girl’s name – you knew when she was near from the sweltering clamp of your dress on the skin between your shoulder blades and the thunder ants that flew in from the thick night to thud into the standard lamp’s hot silk shade and fall, milling in its circle of light, depositing their…

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Pub Chat: interview with Burning Eye Books

An Interview with Burning Eye Books

In the latest in this series of feature-length interviews with independent publishers, set in our imaginary poetry theatre pub somewhere in Lambeth, we spoke to Clive Birnie of Burning Eye Books… Hello there, Clive! What are you drinking? Clive: Brewdog Punk IPA. How long has Burning Eye been running? Clive: The first Burning Eye title (Slinky Espadrilles by Ash Dickinson)…

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Open Workshop with Richard Osmond: ‘Written in Juice of Lemon’

Content and form should always be in dialogue. In this new Open Workshop with up-and-coming poet, Richard Osmond, you’ll make this dialogue more explicit, and take it to strange new places. In this workshop you’ll be looking at poems which are designed to be published, broadcast or inscribed in unconventional ways, on unconventional surfaces or…

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Exclusive preview: Butcher’s Dog #4

In advance of our launch this weekend at the Durham Book Festival, we present some quick cuts and choice rashers from the upcoming issue of Butcher’s Dog magazine, co-edited by  Sophie F Baker (from the naughty) and The Poetry School (from the sour). It was a Herculean labour cutting almost 750 poems or so down to 20 odd, but…

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Pub Chat: interview with CB editions

An Interview with CB editions

In the latest in this series of feature-length interviews with independent publishers, we found a warm fireside spot in our imaginary poetry theatre pub somewhere in Lambeth, and spoke to Charles Boyle of the wonderful CB editions… Hello there, Charles! What are you drinking? Charles: Wine, large glass. (Given that we’re going to be here for…

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Ain’t got no style / I’m strictly roots

Recently, I was getting acquainted with May Swenson. I saw her photo and couldn’t resist: Today, she would have a septum piercing and an undercut. A few days before I was reading Women Wearing Clothes – and the question came up: why do some girls have style and others not? On the train, I picked…

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‘Hiccups’

and fall up – Toast crumbs dance on the plate hiccups – surprising as they rise askew through bright morning light to the ceiling, spring clouds of bread midges. Beautiful. Wrong. On the table, spoons, knives jolt and jounce;           pounce upright; fire high, stab plaster. Anchored in my chair, I’m braced,…

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The Profit and the Loss

This is an interesting moment to be thinking about this topic. Exhibit B, at the Barbican has just been shut down. When I was seven or eight, there was a giant house somewhere in London, where my grandmother used to organise events around black history. One night, there was a display of all the implements…

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The Poem Noir

Watched any of these TV shows lately – The Killing, The Bridge, Luther, or Breaking Bad? Or any of the following films – The Dark Knight, Black Swan, or Drive? If you have, then chances are you’ve already come across a version of film noir. Films noir, at their most cliché, are films about ordinary…

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Performance Skills for Poets

How do you stop your knees knocking and your paper wobbling when you perform your poetry? How can you make sure they can hear you in the cheap seats? We’ve got a workshop coming up at the Poetry School with poet and performer Nick Field that will help you settle those questions. Nick writes: ‘I’m really…

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Pub Chat: interview with Valley Press

An Interview with Valley Press

In the latest in this series of feature-length interviews with independent publishers, we put the kettle on for Jamie McGarry of Valley Press in our imaginary poetry theatre pub somewhere in Lambeth… Hello, Jamie! What are you drinking? Jamie: Valley Press is powered by tea – medium strength, with one sugar (if no-one’s looking). How long has…

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‘Free Verse Cento’

There’s a lot at stake on a first line. For novels, the work’s mood is irrevocably set – you know when you read “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new” in Beckett’s Murphy what kind of book you’ve bought. Poetry collections are slightly different. There are multiple points of entry – I…

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1ne / 2wo / 3hree / 4our

I recently set the assignment for my Open Workshop on CAMPUS – which you should read if you have the time or an inclination towards paradoxes – and I thought it would be good to show my own workings, and how thinking about puzzles led to the skeleton of the poem I am about to…

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Samuel Beckett & Poetry

It was not enough to drag her into the world, now she must play the piano. —from ‘Embers’ I remember the first times I encountered Beowulf, Auden, Hughes, Plath, and many others, but I can’t remember the first time I came across Beckett’s work. Was it on the page, in the theatre, on the radio,…

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The One and the Many: interview with Dai George

An Interview with Dai George

Hi Dai. You’re teaching a course for us this Autumn – ‘The One and the Many’. Tell us more about it. Dai: I cooked up the course as a response to some aspects of poetry that have been intriguing me for a while, to do with how we address ourselves and/or other people in any…

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