Divine Messengers

Divine Messengers

Open your poems to the perceptive power of dreams

While dreams and visions may be vividly seen, heard and felt, they are often hard to transcribe – particularly in relation to what feels overwhelming or intangible. As a strategy to circumvent this poets have often used divine messengers within dream poems, for example using angels, personification allegory, or prosopopoeia to allow imaginary or absent figures and objects to speak. As a literary device, divine messengers may convey knowledge that is not accessible to the dreamer when they are awake. This course will examine the role of such messengers in poetry as mediators of the imagination to consider how they can be incorporated in written work, what they can articulate and what they cannot. As a group we will look at a broad range of poems in conjunction with critical texts on dreams and the imagination from antiquity, Medieval dream poetry, philosophy and psychoanalysis for inspiration. Dreams throughout time for example have had different purposes – in Medieval dream poetry there is the physical dream (used to diagnose illness), the animal dream (from recent consciousness) and the celestial dream (the predictive or divine dream). We will then write and workshop some poems where divine messengers make an appearance. We will look at texts by Macrobius, Hildegard of Bingen, Dante Aligheri, Chaucer and Langland, Teresa of Ávila, Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, William Blake, John Keats, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, John Berryman, Denise Levertov, Lucille Clifton, Louise Glück, Alice Notley, and Brigit Pegeen Kelly.

Two-day weekend workshop. 10.30am – 4.30pm, 8 + 9 June.

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: Pekka Isomursu

About Lucy Mercer View Profile

Lucy Mercer lives in London and is studying for PhD in Speculative Emblematics. Her poems have been published in Poetry London, Poetry Review and The White Review amongst others. She was the winner of the inaugural White Review Poet’s Prize.

‘Poetry School has helped me feel I form part of a wonderful community. I am a full-time carer for a last stage cancer patient, he is my partner, which makes it impossible for me to leave the house, hence online courses have allowed me to keep my poetry going and keep me writing.’

– Autumn 2018 survey response

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