Fair Field: How to Write Like a Medieval (Transreading, Spring 2019)

Fair Field: How to Write Like a Medieval (Transreading, Spring 2019)

Write epic, neo-medievalist re-tellings of the earliest English poetry

From Game of Thrones to The Last Kingdom, the medieval age has never been so popular. Its rich literary tradition still speaks to us across the centuries, tackling subjects as diverse as dragon-slaying, courtly romance, social climbers and the ultimate quest for truth. If you know a wimple from a whale-road – or would like to – join poet, publisher and neo-medievalist Tom Chivers on a journey into the earliest poetry in English. Using as a starting point the visionary 14th century epic Piers Plowman – which Tom adapted for a major site-specific performance last year – students will have the chance to explore Old and Middle English texts, both in the original and translation, generating re-tellings of the classic stories and new creative material in response. Refresh your word-hoard as we take a closer look at Beowulf, Chaucer, Gawain and Pearl, as well as modern adaptations by Seamus Heaney, Simon Armitage, Patience Agbabi and Barry MacSweeney. As well as ‘straight’ translation, we will draw on the experimental techniques of Caroline Bergvall, Steve Ely and Paul Kingsnorth, using invented dialect, cod language, collage and corrupt spelling to capture the strange, mesmerising slippage between the medieval world and our own.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

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(Image credit: ‘Nick Garrod’)

About Tom Chivers View Profile

Tom Chivers was born in south London in 1983 and studied Medieval English Language & Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford. His poetry publications include How to Build a City (Salt, 2009), The Terrors (Nine Arches, 2009), Flood Drain (Annexe, 2014) and, as editor, the award-winning anthology Adventures in Form (Penned in the Margins, 2012). His latest collection, Dark Islands, was published in a limited edition by Test Centre in 2015. Tom has made perambulatory, site-specific and audio work for organisations such as LIFT Festival, Cape Farewell, Humber Mouth Literature Festival and the Southbank Centre. In 2011 his poem ‘The Event’ was turned into an animated film by Julia Pott and broadcast by Channel 4; it has subsequently been screened at film festivals worldwide and viewed over 100,000 times online. Tom is currently writing a non-fiction book entitled London Clay: Journeys into the Deep City. Tom is director of Penned in the Margins – a multi-award-winning arts producing company that makes new work for performance and the page. Over the last ten years he has published over 60 books of poetry, fiction and literary non-fiction, and has commissioned and produced a range of theatre show that have toured nationally and internationally to venues including the Southbank Centre, the Sage Gateshead and NCPA Mumbai. He is former co-director of London Word Festival, and lives in Rotherhithe with his wife and daughter.

‘The Poetry School has made writing poetry part of my life and it’s a more exciting life because of that.’

– Summer 2018 survey response

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