Explore the power of the vocative or direct address in poetry
The act of speaking to (rather than of or about) a person, a thing, or an idea opens the poet to a real or imagined Other – and to a new engagement with language. Unfamiliar elements within oneself are called forth and previously untapped possibilities of diction, tone, and style emerge in the process. Through several in-class writing exercises, we will experiment with the dramatic charge and intrinsic potential of this ancient literary device, which continues to play a pivotal role in contemporary poetry. We will consider the ode, the epistle, and the invocation to the muse; the shift in voice that alters a poem’s direction; and the intimate dynamic Martin Buber characterised as the I/Thou relationship. A packet of poems distributed in advance will highlight a wide range of examples, including work by John Donne, John Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Sylvia Plath, Geoffrey Hill, Elizabeth Bishop, Helen Dunmore, David Constantine, Denise Riley, Louise Glück, Simon Armitage, Emily Berry, Lucy Tunstall, Terrance Hayes, and Frances Leviston, along with translations of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, Federico García Lorca, Göran Sonnevi, Wisława Szymborska, and Adam Zagajewski.
Saturday 23 March, 10.30am – 4.30pm.
All classes will be in our offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.
More information about how all our face-to-face courses work can be found on the Face-to-Face courses page.
(Image credit: ‘m kasahara’)
About Phillis Levin View Profile
Phillis Levin is a poet, essayist, and editor. Her newest book, Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin Books, 2016), was selected by Library Journal as one of the Top Picks in poetry for spring 2016 and was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. She is the author of four other poetry collections, Temples and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988), The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), Mercury (Penguin, 2001), and May Day (Penguin, 2008), and is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English (2001). Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, a Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a Bogliasco Fellowship, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Phillis has served as an editor of Boulevard and as an Elector of the American Poets Corner of The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. She has taught at the University of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins University, The Unterberg Poetry Center, New York University, and The New School, and currently is a professor of English and the poet-in-residence at Hofstra University. She lives with her husband in New York City.
‘The tutor on the last Poetry School course I attended was outstanding – well prepared, socially skilled, self-aware and good at holding the group together. Her classes were a joy – reawakening my enthusiasm for writing. Her suggested approach to daily writing has become a welcome habit – a pleasure to complete each day.’