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Verse Stories: interview with Catherine Smith

An Interview with Catherine Smith

Hi Catherine. You’re teaching a course this Autumn 2014 called ‘Verse Stories’. Tell us more about it. Catherine: I’ve always been drawn to narrative in my own poems – I wrote short fiction first, poetry afterwards, so it seemed a natural progression – and  whilst I enjoy and admire all sorts of poetry, I feel most…

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Open Workshop: ‘It is true that this poem is false.’

After a summer hiatus, our Open Workshops series is back with an original workshop from our new Digital Poet in Residence, Jay Bernard. The thing about life is that it’s a series of mysteries, puzzles, contradictions and paradoxes – our histories, our imaginations, our relationships and our desires. In this workshop, Jay invites you to…

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‘The Day She Dropped’

the trifle, it exploded on the blue floor pain -ting cryptic signs churned in chaos. Raspberries, cream, vanilla custard, glacé cherries, perfect sponge, (home-made of course) secrets hinted by hundreds and thousands no-one would ever understand. The cold glister of broken crystal, the old bowl her ex brought back from Paris at his own risk. She…

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Pub Chat: Smokestack Books

An Interview with Smokestack Books

This month: we spoke to Andy Croft of Smokestack Books in our imaginary poetry theatre pub somewhere in Lambeth… Hello there, Andy! How long has Smokestack Books been running? Andy: Since 2004. Does your personal background lend itself being an independent publisher? Andy: I have been involved in writing projects that finished with a published product for…

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A Name To Conjure With: Reading ‘Mercian Hymns’

When I first started reading poetry as a teenager, poets seemed to come in three flavours. There were urbane cynics living in the fast lane or sulking in the suburbs. There were the everyday poets who were fond of anecdotes and who wandered into kitchens, started listing things and then tried to force an epiphany…

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The Fabric of Cringe … and how to avoid it.

We’re a big fan of Judy Brown’s poetry – here she is reading from her Forward shortlisted Seren collection Loudness – so we are very pleased we’ve been able to tempt her to teach for us this Autumn. Jusy is interested in getting to the nub of how to successfully incorporate details of our modern lives –…

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From ‘As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh’, by Susan Sontag –

This book was recommended to me and yielded good results: Artifice + Reality is an interesting description of death, as well as the cemetery. Cemetery as ideal city is fascinating – curated; everybody obedient. Time effacement — as in, making time inconspicuous? Making the memory ever present / timeless? Last words – almost always trite,…

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Meet the Digital Poet in Residence: interview with Jay Bernard

An Interview with Jay Bernard

Hi Jay. Your residency is centred around an interactive poem – ‘An Untitled Text Adventure’ – that you’re going to build and document over a period of 5 weeks. Tell us more about the project. Jay: I had this idea last year and wanted to make something really ambitious in time for the WWI centenary….

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‘Brother tongue’

This song is for my brother across the water, whose raised eyebrow by email is a flicker in which I do believe. I sing the praises of his silences which sweep up the dead leaves of sound I praise his photos of girlfriends leaning on pillars in temples the light hitting them sideways. For he…

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Animal Magick

It is perhaps not surprising that The Faber Book of Beasts, edited by Paul Muldoon, has been consistently in the top 50 of Amazon UK’s best-selling poetry titles since its publication in 1998. The earliest cave drawings depict humans alongside animals. Creatures have provided the imagination with the essential content for mythologies and allegories; they…

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Transreading Central Europe

When I mention I translate contemporary Polish poetry, I’m often asked: ‘Do you translate Szymborska?’ ‘I might, but I don’t,’ I explain, ‘there’re so many other poets who deserve equal attention.’ By now Szymborska, Różewicz, Herbert, Miłosz and Zagajewski have become household names also in English; they’re fortunate to have some poems in more than…

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‘The Manacles, at Porthoustock’

This is what you gave me, Salvaged from a memory: Watching from the headland. Pointing from the outside in. You named the rocks, Sung them in a circle, Gave them their voice as they stirred in slack water. Penwin; Morah; Maen Voes. And those that came rising from the sea, The finger bones of witches,…

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Announcing our 4th Digital Poet in Residence… Jay Bernard

We’re very excited to announce that Jay Bernard will be The Poetry School’s 4th Digital Poet in Residence, following on from previous residencees Kim Moore, Alex MacDonald and Claire Trévien. Jay’s ‘An Untitled Text Adventure’ starts this Monday 11 August 2014, in which she will write and create a prototype for an online text adventure. These grew…

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The Poetry of Parenthood

The images coming from Gaza at the moment show mutilated and dying children.  It would be tempting to say that as a parent you feel the horror more, but this is smug nonsense: people without children are just as capable of compassion.  What a parent feels is, instead, perhaps more complicated – my compassion is…

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Pub chat: interview with Candlestick Press

An Interview with Candlestick Press

In the 2nd of our new series of feature-length interviews with independent publishers, we took afternoon tea with Jenny Swann and Di Slaney of Candlestick Press in our imaginary poetry theatre pub somewhere in Lambeth… Hello there! What are you drinking? Jenny:  Coffee, from one of those traditional French green-and-gold cups but minus the saucer….

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Scotland small? A Century of Scottish Poetry

Buried in one of Hugh MacDiarmid’s long, later poems (‘Direadh’) is a clear passage that strikes the reader like an angry epiphany:   Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small? Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliché corner To a fool who cries ‘Nothing but heather!’ (…)   MacDiarmid then moves…

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Sharpened Into Absence: poems inspired by the Polar Museum, Scott Research Polar Institute

Earlier this year, the Poetry School collaborated with the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge on a series of poetry workshops. Led by Lucy Hamilton and Lucy Sheerman, students explored the museum’s exhibits, research and artefacts in search of inspiration for new work. Via the first of a new series of ‘CAMPUS Pamphlets’ we’re delighted…

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CAMPUS Pamphlet: ‘Sharpened Into Absence’

Earlier this year, the Poetry School collaborated with the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge on a series of poetry workshops. Led by Lucy Hamilton and Lucy Sheerman, students explored the museum’s exhibits, research and artefacts in search of inspiration for new work. Via the first of a new series of ‘CAMPUS Pamphlets’ we’re delighted…

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The Page of Love, or, ‘Some nice things people have said about us recently’

I would be lost without The Poetry School courses. Olivia Dawson, 2 July 2014, CAMPUS   I have really enjoyed the course and everything Poetry School is doing for the cause of promoting this art … Personally, as I’ve never had any formal feedback/training it has been nothing short of utterly inspirational. Jake Higgins, April 2014,…

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Poetry of public and social engagement

A trawl of the poetry-publishing magazines and presses confirms that there is a lot of well-written, intelligent and sensitive poetry around today. However, much of it is pretty samey — first-person lyric poetry stimulated by occasion, experience and impression. The poet encounters something more or less out of the blue — a landscape, a ‘feeling’,…

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Where do good ideas come from?

Well there’s a doozy of a question. For as long as we’ve been online, there’s been a lot of fervent chatter on the CAMPUS-sphere about where to look for ideas for new poems. Well, dear readers, if we had the magical formula we’d have already shut up shop, moved to the Bahamas and started banging…

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Twilight of the Iguana: interview with Isobel Dixon

Tell us about your workshop …? Isobel: The natural world is a continuing obsession in my work. My last collection The Tempest Prognosticator is teeming with creatures from life and art – from the energetic toktokkie beetle to Damien Hirst’s pickled shark, from Henri Rousseau’s ‘Merry Jester’ apes in their lush jungle, to the poor…

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Poetry School to guest edit Butcher’s Dog #4

We’re thrilled to announce that The Poetry School will be Guest Editor of issue #4, from submissions to launch, giving poets and readers an understanding of the things magazine editors are looking for and dispelling a few myths along the way. Send us your poems! The submission deadline for Butcher’s Dog #4 will be published in…

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Pub chat: interview with The Emma Press

An Interview with Emma Wright

In the first of a regular series of feature-length interviews with independent publishers, we met over a few rounds with Emma Wright in our imaginary poetry theatre pub somewhere in Lambeth, asked her about the early days of The Emma Press and why she believes it’s never been a more exciting time to be going…

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The Great Escape: interview with Chrissy Williams

Tell us about your workshop Chrissy: It’s called ‘The Great Escape’, and it will involve generating new poems infused with exotic locations and unfamiliar imagery. We carry ourselves with us wherever we go, but maybe doing it in a new place, visually, sensually, will yield some interesting results. I’ve got some exciting places to share…

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