Channel poems from phenomena just beyond our understanding
The A-Z of Forteana ranges from Ancient Astronaut Speculation right through to Will O’ The Wisps, via bigfoot, cryptozoology, Electronic Voice Phenomena, parapsychology, OOPARTS (Out of Place Artefacts) and ufology. For me, this started with a childhood interest in Essex Ghosts and Hauntings magazine – exploring the reported witch-hunter apparitions in my home village of Dedham. Or Black Shuck, the huge black glowing dog, who supposedly left his demonic claw-marks in the church at St Osyth (and which poet Martin Newell explored in his book of the same name). And, being a child of the 90s, a strict weekly diet of The X-Files… These days, I hold space for such phenomena, alongside a more critical and sceptical understanding of the world. Charles Fort (1874 – 1932) himself was a renowned sceptic and investigator of that which challenged the boundaries of conventional science. What’s at the edges of our understanding, or beyond it, certainly holds appeal for poetry. Indeed – isn’t that what poetry is, or should be? We can trace the gothic side of literary Forteana back to Edgar Allen Poe and to H. P. Lovecraft – and ghostly presences, unexplained phenomena still crop up in contemporary work. But it’s time we fully developed the genre of Fortean Poetry for the twenty-first century. In this course, I’d like to engage with with the world of anomalous phenomena itself, but also to explore what a Fortean approach might offer our writing practices. To remain open, but sceptical, to that beyond our understanding; to experience ‘everyday’ phenomena as once again strange or mysterious; to be mistrustful of the structures around us, like those in the ‘Conspirasphere’ online. What forms might emerge from a Fortean approach: can we challenge the boundaries of conventional poetries?
Two-day weekend workshop. 10.30am – 4.30pm, 11 + 12 May.
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: Mr Evil Cheese Scientist
About Caleb Parkin View Profile
Caleb Parkin is a day-glo queero techno eco poet; a performer, facilitator, educator and filmmaker, based in Bristol. He was second prize-winner in the National Poetry Competition 2016, shortlisted in The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition 2016, commended in the Ware Open Poetry Competition 2016, first place in the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017, and shortlisted in the Bridport Prize 2018. His work has appeared (or will appear) in The Rialto, Poetry Review, Atticus Review, Moving Poems, Folia, Eyedrum Periodically, Under the Radar, Coast to Coast to Coast and other publications in print, online and performance – as well as in schools, universities, museums, planetaria and science centres. He’s a writer in residence and Lead Writer (South West) with First Story. He’s always been both fascinated by – and skeptical about – ghosts, cryptozoology, UFOs and phenomena at the edges of our understanding.
‘The preparatory material was outstanding – a thorough, non-patronising grounding in some basics, and an eclectic and genuinely exciting array of sources / points of reference. I’m going to be rereading those worksheets. The assignments were challenging, closely focused on poetic technique, and well-structured – each building on the previous piece of work. A very tightly-knit, well-designed course.’