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Review: ‘Significant Other’ by Isabel Galleymore

Isabel Galleymore’s debut collection, Significant Other (Carcanet) is a vividly detailed poetic chronicle of some of the world’s most fascinating species. The first poet-in-residence at Tambopata Research Centre in the Amazon Rainforest, Galleymore forages with wide-eyed fascination in search of new poetic ground. Underpinned by the desire to discover new ways of describing the natural…

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Adrian Street, The Early Years

I was fighting for my life even before I was born, nearly strangled at birth by my umbilical cord. By four I was re-enacting Little Bighorn, hunting Custer through the hills of Gwent, while Dad was hunted through Singapore by the Japanese. I gathered pieces of downed German bombers to build my own plane and…

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Psycho Gastro Studio

When I told a friend of mine I was going to be tutoring a course titled Psycho Gastro Studio, they asked me what that actually meant. In response I started telling the following story from my life: Many years ago I was on a bus from Leeds, where I had been visiting family, down to…

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Narrow Road, Deep North

The first time I felt Northern was at the Students’ Union bar of the University of Chester. I’d recently moved there from South Shields and was taken aback when the barman couldn’t understand my order. ‘Do you mean Coors?’ ‘Aye, pint of Coors, please.’ There are two syllables in that particular brand of lager: coo-aaz….

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Queereading

Robin Morgan started her Lesbian Poem with a dedication to everyone who had turned to that poem first in the Contents page of her Monster chapbook. I’d done exactly that, of course. I was hungry. Hungry for anything I could get my hands on to read with a hint of a non-heteronormative narrative or some…

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You are here.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, no matter who writes it, no matter how many times you read it, these words are always true. You are here, wherever that is. So, if you are here, where am I? Here, supposedly. But then, I’m also somewhere else, somewhen else, writing this. Are we here? As people,…

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Concessions & Bursaries – new rates from Autumn 2019

Can’t afford the full price of one of our courses? Don’t despair – there are options available. Please note: that you may be required to provide proof of eligibility for our concessionary rates. Discounts do not apply to our one-to-one programme or travelling workshops. Give us a call in the office (020 7582 1679) to…

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Review: ‘Deaf Republic’ by Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic — framed as a two-act play — takes the reader into a country whose characters move constantly from one stage to another: from the public stage of an occupied town in a time of political unrest, via a local puppet theatre, to that of one’s own home. The first poem of…

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Inter-review: Maria Apichella speaks to Keiran Goddard about ‘Votive’

The poems in Keiran Goddard’s new collection Votive (Offord Road Books) ‘look painful things in the face and tell the truth about how much they hurt’. This anguished and beautiful book charts the rise and fall of a turbulent romantic relationship, ultimately exploring how to let go of someone you love. While eschewing an obvious narrative, there…

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Summer School 2019

Our 2019 Summer School is here! This boiling summer we’ve teamed up with hot experimental indie Boiler House Press to present a scorching line-up of half-day workshops. Put a towel down and reserve your place. Monday 15 July Hydro Lyric: Water & the Self in Contemporary Poetry with Samantha Walton What does it mean to…

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Review: ‘The Fall at Home: New and Collected Aphorisms’ by Don Paterson

Aphorisms are not poems. But the way in which they may or may not resemble poems might tell us something about poetry. The hope is they will tell us other things too. As a poet and critic many of Don Paterson’s aphorisms in The Fall at Home tell us about poems and poets. For instance:…

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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…

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‘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….

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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…

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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…

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‘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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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‘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:…

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‘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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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