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Review – Like a Tree, Walking by Vahni Capildeo

Vahni Capildeo is an astonishingly prolific and inventive poet, and Like a Tree, Walking, showcases the full range of their imagination. The collection begins with a poem ‘In Praise of Birds’, which captures the spirit of the work as a whole: In praise of high-contrast birds, purple bougainvillea thicketing the golden oriole. In praise of…

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Review – The Voice of Sheila Chandra by Kazim Ali

Kazim Ali’s body of work revitalises how we, as readers, perceive history, narrative, and the lyric. His innovations are captivating, encompassing multiple genres, and swiftly entwining poetry and prose, dramatisation and autobiography. I was especially struck by this a few years ago, when first reading Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (2012), an earlier collection that challenges any particular notion or expectation of genre; a collection…

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We’re Moving to Somerset House Exchange!

We are thrilled to be able to announce that we are moving London-based Poetry School activities from 1 February to our new home in the Somerset House Exchange. We will shortly be sending out detailed directions and course instructions to all enrolled students; we can’t wait to welcome you to this community of arts practitioners in…

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Review – Brilliant Corners by Nuzhat Bukhari, A Blood Condition by Kayo Chingonyi

How do we reconcile conflicting inheritances? Many poets of colour find themselves caught between two roads: the English lyric, whose focus on internal feeling can imply a disavowal of history, and the real histories from which today’s poets arise; histories bent by the home of the English lyric. The lyric and its most apparently ahistorical…

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Poetry Books of the Year 2021

We are delighted to share our favourite poetry books of the year! It has been another challenging year for obvious reasons, but, in spite of it all, poetry has not only persevered but thrived! 2021 has seen the publication of so many incredible titles, both from established names and emerging poets. So, without further ado,…

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How I Did It: Forward Prizes – Holly Pester on Comic Timing

Welcome to our Forward Prizes 2021 ‘How I Did It’ series. This year we asked the poets shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection to explain the writing process behind one of the poems in their collections. In this piece, Holly Pester talks about ‘Comic Timing’ from her collection of the same…

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How I Did It: Forward Prizes – Alice Hiller on Bird of Winter

Content warning: Please note that this piece includes discussion of sexual abuse which some readers may find upsetting. Welcome to our Forward Prizes 2021 ‘How I Did It’ series. This year we asked the poets shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection to explain the writing process behind one of the poems…

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How I Did It: Forward Prizes – Ralf Webb on Rotten Days in Late Summer

Welcome to our Forward Prizes 2021 ‘How I Did It’ series. This year we asked the poets shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection to explain the writing process behind one of the poems in their collections. In this piece, Ralf Webb talks about ‘Love Story: Discourse Goblins’ from his collection Rotten Days…

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Review – Virga by Togara Muzanenhamo

Togara Muzanenhamo’s third collection of poetry, Virga, derives its name from a phenomenon in which precipitation falls from a cloud but evaporates before it reaches the ground. Accordingly, the poems in the collection have a replete and ephemeral quality, depicting fragile terrains of abundant beauty, and the crowning feats of destinies that fluctuate like The…

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‘Tension, Tenderness and Truth: Reading Elaine Feinstein

We asked our tutor Adam Feinstein some questions about his course ‘Tension, Tenderness & Truth: Reading Elaine Feinstein’. This course will be a series of lessons exploring the work of renowned poet Elaine Feinstein. Adam is a poet, critic, and Elaine’s son – who better to illuminate her work? What could a student take away from this…

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At Home in Hauntology

– Here in the garden, I notice change flickering and looping in the invisible lapse of time between my footsteps, bird feet, the silent beats of butterfly wings and the movements of flora. In my passing, I de-head the odd flower, I note a small bud in apprehension and the imminent rain. Mid summer vacillating between now and the ‘not yet.’ I hear the garden in its tumescent silence and sound. Time feels ‘out of joint’ here, as Derrida…

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Review: Ultimatum Orangutan by Khairani Barokka

Drawing on her childhood in Indonesia and her experience as a disabled artist, Khairani Barokka’s second collection, Ultimatum Orangutan, brims with vitality, wisdom, and courage. Moving effortlessly between the personal and the universal, between hope and despair, the poet questions the spaces and times we live in, the relationship between an individual and society, and…

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Breaking into Song — War of the Beasts and the Animals by Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale

What is a dead song? A silent song? A song unsung, unheard, forgotten? In ‘The Body Returns’, the concluding poem of Maria Stepanova’s powerful, playful, ferociously vital collection, War of the Beasts and the Animals, the narrator invites us to ‘Break the frozen earth, touch the dead song.’ The dead press in through the lines…

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What we talk about when we talk about class / class is a slippery thing

Often, the problem of class is a hob ring, you won’t dare to put your hand on it. But it’s there all the same, in the food that we eat, in the air that we breathe, or just around the street corner where we live. Whenever I find myself trapped in a conversation so fraught…

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Childhood: A Source of Praise

I want to take you, very briefly, on a journey I made back in May 2007, to Addis Ababa where I had not been since I was a boy, some 40 years before. I had a photo of my friend Abebe in my pocket, standing with his family in our garden. My first stop was…

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Poetry School Scholarships

In the 2021-22 academic year we have 2 Scholarships available for places in our three-term courses. These scholarships have been jointly funded by the Poetry School and a generous donation from one of our tutors, Wayne Holloway-Smith. One of these scholarships is to be awarded to a writer of colour and the other to a…

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Autumn 2021 – Quick Course Guide

Our Autumn Term is now live and we’ve got a whole host of brilliant tutors and courses lined up, so be sure to book promptly to avoid disappointment. Below is our handy Quick Guide, where you’ll find everything you’ll need to know about our upcoming courses. Face-to-Face 3-TERM COURSESOur flagship weekly workshop groups where you’ll…

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Announcing the Poetry School MA in Writing Poetry Scholarship

We’re delighted to announce the Poetry School MA in Writing Poetry Scholarship for an underrepresented poet. Poetry School is offering a full fees scholarship award (£8,100) to the Poetry School / Newcastle University MA in Writing Poetry for an outstanding applicant who is currently underrepresented in the poetry world. By underrepresented poets, we mean talented creatives who face…

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Review – sikfan glaschu by Sean Wai Keung

Sean Wai Keung’s debut collection sikfan glaschu begins with the disclaimer that its poems ‘should not be taken as reviews – nor should the quality of the poems necessarily be seen to reflect on the quality of any food or place which may bear a similar name’. However, this generous sentiment feels a tad ironic…

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The Fish in the Percolator – on Twin Peaks and Poetry

Twin Peaks may not have introduced me to the concept of mystery, but it did reinforce in me the value of mystery without easy resolution, and the power of the imagination. I’ve been thinking about how that echoes through poetry, and what we can learn from it.  I watched Twin Peaks unfold for the first…

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Summer School 2021

We are delighted to welcome you to our 2021 Summer School! This programme of half-day workshops has been curated in collaboration with the exhibition A Fine Day for Seeing at Southwark Park Galleries. This show takes its title from the New York School poet Frank O’Hara, who bridged the literary and artistic worlds in the…

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Looking at Lichens

Crusty, bearded, lobed – lichens thrive amongst us on pavements, graves and trees and are easily overlooked. Peer closely, run your fingers over a frilled edge or delicate antler – each lichen vibrantly itself in a human-centred world.  Kathleen Jamie has talked of serious noticing – the idea of attention as a form of resistance….

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Review: New Poetries VIII: An Anthology

How to approach reviewing an anthology? Option 1: Dip in at random. Option 2: Read chronologically. Option 3: Begin with a poet known to you. Here’s me letting you into a not-so-big secret: I blended all three approaches when reading Carcanet’s New Poetries VIII. This handsomely designed anthology functions, on the one hand, as radar…

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Review: Beethoven Variations by Ruth Padel

Many collections published over the last few years have fused poetry and biography, invoking historical, mythical, and religious characters. Poetry, in many ways, is the art of conjuring – be it specific images, emotions and speakers, or whole landscapes and decades-long sagas. These subjects, of course, can be either ‘real’ or fictional: often both; sometimes…

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Review – poems for my fbi agent by Charlotte Geater

If ever I needed a distraction, it’s now. I have never needed poems more than I have this past year, as the isolating effects of the Covid-19 outbreak continue to sink in. It’s almost difficult to read Geater’s debut pamphlet poems for my fbi agent (Bad Betty Press) at this time, such is the dark…

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