Courses

‘Sound Poetry and Performance Technique’

One of my favourite things to do in the old days was to take my friends along to the experimental music and poetry night at The Klinker in Dalston, which at the time was in a pub that was then a bit grimy but nowadays is, predictably, very posh and full of people who wear hats and…

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Dear Diary: an interview with Laura Barnicoat

An Interview with Laura Barnicoat

The Great Diary Project is a repository for unwanted diaries of any date and kind. In the pages of the 2,000+ diaries collected for the project so far are the most remarkable details of everyday life, often overlooked in the history books. In preparation for The Poetry School’s Summer Workshop ‘Dear Diary’ at The Bishopsgate…

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The Anti-Poetic: an interview with Julian Stannard

An Interview with Julian Stannard

Hi Julian! Tell us more about your course, ‘The Anti-Poetic‘… Julian: Calling the workshop ‘The Anti-Poetic’ is a bit of a conceit. I want to see if we can write poems we might not normally write. These workshops explore what might be called (paradoxically) the anti-poetic, namely the writing of a poem which somehow escapes…

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Love, Death, Art, Time and Nature: an interview with Sarah Corbett

An Interview with Sarah Corbett

Tell us more about your new course, ‘Love, Death, Time, Art and Nature…‘. What brought you to the subject? Sarah: I was asked to do five sessions that would appeal to students at various stages in their development, so my idea was to take five ‘themes’, and to treat each session as a unit in…

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‘Liberating Poetic Chaos’

Sylvia Plath worked hard at her poetry throughout the 1950s.  She studied, read widely and mastered a range of poetic techniques, writing hundreds of poems.  Her work received awards and prizes, was published in magazines and Plath was regarded as — and regarded herself as — a ‘success’.  However, by 1960, Plath had become dissatisfied…

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This Enchanted Isle: reading W H Auden’s ‘The Sea and The Mirror’

Shakespeare’s The Tempest contains a potent mix of the worldly (politics, power, parenthood) and the other-worldly (myth, magic, monsters). In the mercurial spirit Ariel and the earthy, ‘monstrous’ Caliban, elemental forces are given free rein to express their desires, while Prospero delivers some of the most famous lines in all literature:                                                  These our…

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Poetry and the Brain: an interview with Helen Mort

An Interview with Helen Mort

Hi Helen! Tell us about your upcoming course, ‘Poetry and the Brain’. It seems a far cry from Division Street… Helen: For the past three years, I’ve been studying for a PhD at the University of Sheffield, thinking about whether neuroscience and contemporary poetry might have anything interesting to say to each other. It turns…

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‘The Poetry of Money’

Check down the back of your sofa for coins, what do you find? Coppers, shrapnel, cents, francs and thrupenny bits? Your handful of change could be the basis for a handful of new poems – The Poetry of Money is a forthcoming workshop with Claire Crowther. Claire is the current poet in residence at the…

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Where It Begins: an interview with Nii Ayikwei Parkes

An Interview with Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Where does a poem begin? How does a poem not exist and then suddenly, miraculously flare into life? This Summer, poet, novelist and editor Nii Ayikwei Parkes will be unpacking what it means to think like a poet. In his new online course, Where It Begins – a course for new poets, Nii will be…

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New Definitions and Neologisms: the Poetry of Dictionaries

Retiring to the canopy of the bedroom, turning on the bedside light, taking the big dictionary to bed, clutching the unabridged bulk, heavy with the weight of all the meanings between these covers, smoothing the thin sheets, thick with accented syllables—all are exercises in the conscious regimen of dreamers, who toss words on their tongues…

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YOU, The Movie – Horror, Western, Romance, Noir and Disaster Poetry

How many films have you watched? Ten? A hundred? I imagine the figure is likely to be in the thousands. All those Sunday afternoon matinees, those trips to the cinema, the Shakespeare remakes shown in class, the teatime classics, the 10pm premieres, and the hours spent on Netflix binges certainly add up. I bet you…

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Re-writing the Map

Maps, like poems, can mean different things to different people. If I were to draw a map of my neighbourhood I might include completely different things to my neighbours, or the lady in the flat upstairs. I would be sure to include the homes of the friendlier local cats, the house with the boarded-up windows,…

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‘Dream On: Waking Up Your Poems with the Phantasmagoric’

  So with one bound, Jack was free … and he woke up to find it had all been a dream. But when do you wake from the book of the dream, shrug it off with a cold shower, a shot of black coffee? There can be no forgetting; even after the fire the archives…

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‘No laughs please, we’re poets – can comic poetry be good poetry?’

I can vividly remember the first time I read a poem in public. It was at a writing workshop at the University of Warwick, full of earnest young women and men who sat around in the cafeteria between lectures dressed in black, discussing the work of the Modernists and stroking their beautiful chins. We’d been…

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Spring 2015 courses (in one line or less)

LONDON – SHORT COURSES Poetry of Place with Roisin Tierney – where do you come from, where are you going to? Writing tasks and workshopping based on a broad definition of ‘place’ Routes into Poetry with Tamar Yoseloff – the best course for beginners, starts in the Spring and continues till the Summer Defining a…

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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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