‘A great, dark, soft thing’: Poems of the Night

‘A great, dark, soft thing’: Poems of the Night

Deep-dive into poetry's dark side

‘Night from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light.’
– Carl Sandburg, ‘Window’

This course explores the ‘great, dark, soft thing’ that is the night. Nighttime has variously been associated with mystery, danger, desire and serenity. For the artist, night and its accompanying dreams often function as sources of nourishment for the imagination, when the weary mind opens to uncharted possibilities. To access the unconscious mind, the renowned surrealist painter Salvador Dalí would wake himself with a key that would slip out of his hand and clash against a plate on the floor the moment he fell asleep. Night is a time of dreams and unconscious experiences but can also be a time of insomnia and fear. Cradled between dusk and dawn, night is a liminal or in-between space, one ‘broken across with slashes of light’ from the moon or stars or, in urban areas, sleepless streetlights. Reading work by poets such as Emily Dickinson, Rainer Maria Rilke, H. D., T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood and Carol Ann Duffy, among others, we will write poems of and at night in order to pierce the darkling deep of our own imaginations. If you have ever lain awake at night wondering about the boundless darkness swaddling the world around you, then this course is for you.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Thursdays, 7-9pm GMT, first live chat starting 16 May 2019. 

More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.

Image credit: James Loesch

About Anna Veprinska View Profile

Anna Veprinska’s full-length collection of poetry, Sew with Butterflies, sold out of its first print run in four months. She holds a PhD in poetry after trauma, specialising in poetry after the Holocaust, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina. In 2016-17 she held a Fellowship at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. She has taught for York University, the Poetry School, and the University for the Creative Arts.

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