“Leave the door open for the unknown”: Transreading Rebecca Solnit

“Leave the door open for the unknown”: Transreading Rebecca Solnit

Find your citizen’s place in conversation and collaboration with others

“Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others in that act that is so intimate”
Rebecca Solnit

Before we write our poems, we will visit four books – and the head – of this San Francisco writer, cultural historian and activist. ‘Solnit’s writing is born of intense reverie and deep reading, passionate inquiry and political defiance; she is a lyric quester for the texture of everyday life, and she attends to places and to their variety and particularity with an exhilarating form of attention that illuminates and transforms her subjects.’ This apt description by Marina Warner features on the back cover of Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas (2010), one of Solnit’s books we will read in excerpts on this course. ‘Cities approach immortality while everything within them rises, falls, is erased and transformed and replaced.’ What poems can enter a conversation with such a thought? Or with Solnit’s comment that ‘walking is how the body measures itself against the earth’ (Wanderlust: A History of Walking, 2001). How will we respond to The Faraway Nearby (2013), ‘a story of sudden emerging,’ which unfolds around empathy as an act of imagination? How will A Field Guide to Getting Lost (2005) encourage us to contemplate ‘being at home with being lost’?

Transreading courses – co-curated with Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese – invite us to read poems brought to English by translation, English-language poems inhabiting other cultures, and multilingual poems whose English hosts other tongues. We translate texts and/or compose new poems in response to our readings; in this process of trans-reading and trans-writing we open our poetries to the multi-literate world.

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

About Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese View Profile

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese co-curates Poetry School’s ‘Transreading’ courses on translated, multilingual and transnational poetries. She writes with/in English, Polish and Danish. Her multilingual texts have appeared in, among others, Wretched Strangers (Boiler House Press, 2018; anthology marking the vital contribution of non-UK-born writers to British poetry culture, published ‘to commemorate the anniversary of the June 2016 EU Referendum and in solidarity through struggles to come’; proceeds go to charities fighting for the rights of refugees), Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History (2014), Metropoetica. Poetry and Urban Space: Women Writing Cities (2013) and such journals as Cordite Poetry Review, Envoi, Long Poem Magazine, Shearsman, The Projectionist’s Playground and Tears in the Fence. Her English translations of contemporary Polish poetry have featured in various anthologies, journals and on the London Underground. She has guest-edited Polish issues of Poetry Wales and Modern Poetry in Translation. Nothing More (Arc, 2013), which samples Krystyna Miłobędzka, was shortlisted for the 2015 Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize. Cognitive Poetic Readings in Elizabeth Bishop: Portrait of a Mind Thinking (2010) is based on her research as a Fulbright scholar at the Elizabeth Bishop archives. She works at the Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use, University of Copenhagen. http://poetrysociety.org.uk/poets/elzbieta-wojcik-leese/

‘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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