‘Having–Been–There’ – The Poetry of Photography Masterclass

‘Having–Been–There’ – The Poetry of Photography Masterclass

Investigate the possibilities and potency of photographic images through poetry.

Whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible: it is not it that we see.’ – Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

This course aims to bring together contemporary poetry and photography as a means of exploring our ways of seeing the world. We will work with the visual language of the photograph – as something that is already lost yet strangely preserved – and through the language of poetry, we will engage with the ‘that-has-been’ of our own experiences and that of others.  

By exploring the potency of photographic images, and the possibilities of the hidden narratives these can hold, we will develop a portfolio of poetry that speaks to us about time, space, location, and absence; the photograph as object – or Barthes’s ‘adventure’ – will become the poem. Like Barthes, our interest will not necessarily be in photography itself, rather in what photography produces in us – ‘not as a question (a theme) but as wound: I see, I feel, hence I notice, I observe and I think’ (Barthes: 2020: 26).  

The course will be loosely based around Roland Barthes’ book Camera Lucida but is not a critical response to his work; rather we will lightly engage with aspects of his thinking in order to capture our own poetry and witness ‘the return of the dead’ in action.  

Poetry by Liz Lochhead, Craig Dworkin, Steven Fowler, Evie Shockley, Lisa Robertson, Terence Hayes, and Paul Auster, are just some of the poets covered on this course. At its core, ‘Having–Been–There’ will ask, how does poetry address the photograph? How does photography address its subject? How do we understand the poetry of photography and the photography of the poem as vehicles of meaning. 

Masterclasses are an expanded version of our International Courses, with a much deeper consideration of technical craft and critical theory. These 12-week courses (maximum 10 places) are for advanced students only, and fluency with poetic language and ideas will be assumed. There are no live chats and they are suitable for UK and International students.  

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected] Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. For more information visit our Online Courses page. 

Image credit: Minsoo Eun

About Agnieszka Studzinska View Profile

Agnieszka Studzińska has an MA in Creative Writing from the UEA. Her debut collection, Snow Calling, was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award 2010. Her second collection, What Things Are, is published by Eyewear (2014) and her third, Branches of a House (2021) by Shearsman. She has had poems published in Long Poem Magazine, Wild Court, Agenda, and Mslexia, as well as having poems featured in several anthologies. She is currently working towards her PhD at Royal Holloway London exploring how the image of the house is appropriated in contemporary poetry. She teaches creative writing and lives in London. 

'The Poetry School is an inspiring community for developing one's poetry and connecting with like minded people. It changed my life - I wouldn't be without it.'

- Spring 2022 survey response

Related Courses