Navigate the secrets of rivers real and imagined

‘Never get out of the boat … unless you were goin’ all the way’
– Captain Willard, Apocalypse Now

Inspired by the Poetry School’s recent move to a more watery location, a few miles downriver from Waterloo, Simon Barraclough invites you on board to chart the choppy waters of the role of the river in literature. How have different writers from different eras and in different genres explored and exploited this suggestive, changing, and vital natural phenomenon? What forms has this protean feature taken and what roles has it played? And what role might it play in your own writing? Focusing mainly on the Thames, the course will also follow several more distant tributaries, from Alice Oswald’s Dart to the intensely charged Congo River of Joseph Conrad’s resonant masterpiece, Heart of Darkness. The course will focus mainly on joint reading but there will be writing prompts and homework exercises geared towards producing new work on the theme. Weather permitting there will also be one evening field trip out to City Island, a short stretch of the river under furious development, which currently seems poised between the ancient and the mythic, the gentrified and the bland. We will be dipping into: Our Mutual Friend and Great Expectations (Charles Dickens); Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad); Dart (Alice Oswald); Shad Thames, Broken Wharf (Chris McCabe); Downriver (Iain Sinclair) and more.

5 fortnightly sessions on Thursdays 6.45pm – 8.45pm. 17 January,  31 January, 14 February, 28 February, 14 March

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: ‘Internet Archive Book Images’)

About Simon Barraclough View Profile

Simon Barraclough is a poet, freelance writer, and copy-editor. In 2000 he won the London Writers’ Competition and his debut collection Los Alamos Mon Amour (Salt, 2008) was a Forward First Collection finalist. Since then he has published Bonjour Tetris (Penned in the Margins, 2010), Neptune Blue (Salt, 2011) and Sunspots (Penned in the Margins, 2015). Sunspots also toured the UK in 2015 and 2016 as a one-man show including music, songs and film. In 2014 Simon was writer in residence at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory where he taught, and also edited the anthology of scientists’ poems Laboratorio (Sidekick Books, 2015). In addition to poetry, Simon has published short fiction and non-fiction.

‘They’ve extended my wider reading of other poets, and they’ve given me the confidence to be bolder and more adventurous in my writing.’

– Summer 2018 survey response

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