Dive into the unexplored world of Georgian modernism and learn how these writers forged poetry from political oppression.
‘Every poem I write is a year
struck from the book of my life.’
– Paolo Iashvili, ‘Poetry’ (Translated by Rebecca Ruth Gould).
This course will introduce you to the unexplored world of Georgian literary modernism. Located at the intersection of Persian and Russian culture and yet in a tradition all of its own, Georgian poetry is among the best kept secrets of world literature.
One of the most engaging aspects of Georgian poetry is its probing and courageous engagement with power and adversity. We will explore how Georgian poets past and present have used poetry to critique their rulers, to assert their right to exist in the face of totalitarian power, and to engage with their country’s colonial legacies, with respect to the Muslim mountaineers of the North Caucasus. In the case of the Georgian literary modernists, this was literally a prelude to the poets’ execution by the state.
We will explore how the modernists Titsian Tabidze and Paolo Iashvili forged poetry from their political oppression, alongside reading work from poets such Galaktion Tabdize and Gabriel Jabushanuri, who lived through the worst years of Soviet oppression. Throughout our readings, the course will reveal how poetry matters the most when every other aspect of daily existence is called into question.
Students will be given prompts to encourage them to explore how poetry can serve political ends in their own lives, as well as shed light on aspects of experience that politics renders flat. By examining why poetry mattered to the Georgian literary modernists of the 1930s – under the extreme conditions of totalitarian persecution – we will come to a better understanding of what poetry might do for us, politically and personally, in our contemporary lives.
By the end of the course, students will have produced a creative portfolio of exciting new work, using the lessons learned from these Georgian poets confronting their oppressors. Students of all backgrounds will be able to engage with the course and no prior knowledge of Georgian is required.
5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.
Image credit: Zura Narimanishvili
About Rebecca Ruth Gould View Profile
Rebecca Ruth Gould is a poet, translator, and author of numerous works on the Caucasus. Her poetry collections include Beautiful English (2021) and Cityscapes (2019). Her scholarly studies include Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus (2016) and The Persian Prison Poem: Sovereignty and the Political Imagination (2021). Her translations of Georgian literary modernist poets have appeared in Pleiades, The Brooklyn Quarterly, Tin House, Seizure, Prairie Schooner, and Guernica. She is poetry book reviewer for Harriet Books and teaches at the University of Birmingham. She posts video book reviews related to poetry on the YouTube channel Poetry & Protest.
‘Poetry School is an inclusive, helpful and inspiring, and has given me structure and goals during a difficult time. The courses help me to broaden my perspective, and give me a wider grasp of poetry.’