Courses

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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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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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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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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‘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…

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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 —…

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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,…

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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…

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We Cannot Stop the Rumbling Trains

I live in Nanjing, just down the road from the Chaotian palace and, in the other direction, the Hanzhongmen section of the city’s ancient wall. This section of the wall is mostly in bits now, but it’s a lovely spot, opening up into an area for gathering with friends. As the sun sets on the…

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The Convergence of Languages in Latinx Poetry

One of the elements that makes Latinx poetry so rich is the many cultures that come together in a single poem. The convergence of cultures can take on many forms, and for Latinx poets, who come from a wide range of backgrounds, the results are endlessly varied. In the forthcoming Poem(a)s Studio: Reading Contemporary Latinx…

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Writers, Retreat

Fall back, poets! I’ve got the supplies in; you need only bring yourselves. I’ve designed Writers, Retreat as a wild tour of the remote huts, palaces and wind baffles used by poets and artists to keep their notebooks from the elements and their writing from interruption. We’ll pay Dylan Thomas a visit in his ‘house…

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In Praise of Complexity

I’ve recently been reading Peter Brook’s The Shifting Point. I often go back to this book, reading about the world of theatre as a way to think about poetry. In the chapter entitled ‘Shakespearean Realism’ Brook talks about how we intuitively accept from a young age that our mind is constantly moving from one place…

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Only Love

Other than being a poet, I’m also a high school and middle school English teacher. A student asked me the other day what my “writing truth” was and it stunned me. It’s a funny phrase, “writing truth”, and it was an odd question, but I knew my answer immediately: the heart. Everything I write is…

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On Finding Our Why

When the Poetry School asked if I’d like to run a course of my own choosing, I asked myself what I might have needed support with at some other time. As it turns out, commissions and residencies can be transformative ways of learning about your own practice. Having undertaken a number of these last year,…

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Tutor Academy – April 2019

Put a spring back in your poems’ step, and see new inspiration bloom at our brand new Tutor Academy! This spring we have collaborated with  Martha Sprackland, editor at Offord Road Books, to co-curate a week of exciting half-day workshops led by ten poets who are teaching for the Poetry School for the first time. We are…

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Family, Politics and Poetry: What Ties Them All Together?

With the holidays been and gone, family is on my mind. I haven’t been ‘home’ for Christmas – that is back to America – for nine years. When I was a kid, my brother and I were given rules on the day – things we should and shouldn’t say. My Dad knew not to drink…

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Why the sonnet?

Why the sonnet? Because it is one thing. Because it is many. First of all, the many. Petrarch in the late Middle Ages, Terrance Hayes in Trump’s America, Camões, Shakespeare, Goethe, Baudelaire, Lorca and thousands of other poets across the centuries in their different cultures and languages: who would pretend that their poems are anything…

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Interview with Mark Waldron

Maria Lewandowska interviews poet Mark Waldron, author of The Brand New Dark (2008), The Itchy Sea (2011), and Meanwhile, Trees (2016), who will be teaching the Advanced Poetry Course at Poetry School next term.   Maria Lewandowska: What are your plans for the workshop, and what do you want to focus on with your students?…

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Come Back Early: Revisiting and Revising

This past year or so I’ve been moving house more than is usual. A combination of short-term jobs, travel, and parental flitting has meant that, since late last summer, I’ve had to recalibrate my thoughts about my possessions, my relationships with material objects and with (literal) baggage. Some former objets d’art, treasured through the years,…

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A Dweller on the Plains: the Poetry of Walking

I haven’t always loved walking. As a child, I saw it as an unnecessary distraction from reading. It was only when I lived in central London and could walk everywhere that I started to enjoy it as a mode of transport. I walked back home from events in the evening, noticing the vivid flashes of…

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Technicians of the Sacred: The Poem as a Magical Event

‘Magic is the very essence of it all. It’s spirit, the life force, that creative, inexplicable power which we all possess and seek to express in the world. How well we manage to do that is a totally individual matter.’ – Lucius Mattheisen   In the contemplation of magical space, what emerges is just how…

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What Is a Poem?

Does a poem have to rhyme in order to be a poem? Does it have to have line breaks? Does it have to be about metaphysics or can it be about tin openers – can it be about both? Is a poem still a poem when it is ‘deliberately opaque’? What about if it’s been…

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The Double-image of Poetry and Photography

Creative mediums are not indefinable. They have essential elements that mean they are not something else at root. But their practise is not best served by recourse to the ‘it is whatever you want it to be’ line of thinking. I mean, that’s fine, of course – people can think what they like – but…

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What is Science Fiction Poetry?

Poetry often confines itself to the ‘real’ world, the world of nature or the city, relationships or the inner life. It is a counterpart to the novels of literary fiction which deal with these themes. But what about the themes covered by so-called genre fiction, speculation about the future, or life beyond the Earth? There…

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Someone Else’s Shoes: Poetic Monologue

Poetry is escape. The bloke at the desk there, not moving at all, not even seeing us as we step into his room now, but staring into space, tapping perhaps his pen against his teeth, or leaning now to squint closely at a sheet of paper, alive with these squiggly, wriggly marks which contain all…

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