Hell & Back: Writing Addiction & Recovery (International, Autumn 2020)

Hell & Back: Writing Addiction & Recovery (International, Autumn 2020)

Explore how we can write compellingly about addiction with Laureate’s Choice poet, Keith Hutson.

Addiction is a merciless brute. It takes prisoners and often there is no escape. We can get hooked on drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, sex, anything that gives us a hit, a rush, a way out. Some of us are said to have an addictive personality, but no label can describe the hell to which the addict descends. Our drug of choice – although the power to choose soon vanishes – can lead us through the gates of insanity or death. Loved ones, family, friends, are casualties too. Some addicts never recover but, thankfully, many do, and recovery brings its own challenges. Grim stuff for poetry? Perhaps, but not always. Recovery, the making of amends to ourselves and others, the ability to walk again in the sunlight of freedom, can be joyous – it deserves to be celebrated. In this course, we will explore poems by, amongst others, Thom Gunn, Brendan Kennelly, Barry McSweeney, Carol Philips, Anne Sexton, Ken Smith, who have been force-marched to hell and sometimes managed to make it back. The illness of addiction carries stigma and shame. But the gift of recovery can restore the chance to live life well, to know our true selves again, to have our windows of perception cleansed.

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

More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.

Image Credit: Kévin et Laurianne Langlais

About Keith Hutson View Profile

Keith Hutson has written for Coronation Street and many well-known comedians. His plays have been performed in theatres nationwide including the Royal Exchange, Manchester. Keith’s poetry has been widely published in journals, and in the Guardian, and he has had several competition successes. He was a 2018 Laureate’s Choice poet, and he tours extensively with Carol Ann Duffy. His debut first full collection, Baldwin’s Catholic Geese, was published by Bloodaxe in 2019. Keith is on the editorial board at Poetry Salzburg, he delivers poetry and performance workshops for the Andrew Lloyd Webber Trust, and for the Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax.


‘The course that I took online through The Poetry School took my writing to a significantly higher level of quality and depth. The instructor set the stage for an excellent course with thoughtful and challenging assignments. Her feedback was invaluable, as was that of other students in the course.’

Summer 2019 survey response

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