Liberating Poetic Chaos (Masterclass, Spring 2019)

Liberating Poetic Chaos (Masterclass, Spring 2019)

Create true and original art out of that which was unspoken, formless and void

WB Yeats once dismissed the work of a ‘minor poet’ with the words, ‘he lacks chaos’. Although Yeats did not precisely define what he meant by ‘chaos’, it seems clear that he intended something like: the turbulence and conflict that lies at the core of every human being and which ought to provide the basis for a poet’s characteristic expression. Without chaos, we as poets risk artificiality and conventionality, no matter how technically adroit and ‘well-written’ the work might be.  This course is designed to enable poets to identify, explore and write from their own particular ‘chaos’ and to develop, express and control the powerful subjectivity that will inevitably emerge when chaos is tapped and released. Participants will engage in a range of writing activities designed to liberate chaos and will a consider the work of a number of exemplary poets (including Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, MacGillivray, Pascale Petit and Vasko Popa, in each case attempting to describe, analyse and characterise the poets’ various utterances in terms of their poetic chaos. The course will also include consideration of parallel or related concepts, including voice, viveza, mala leche, gnosis, vision, ‘thorn-in-the-flesh’, muse, duende and inspiration. Importantly, participants will also engage in a range of activities designed to facilitate reflection and self-exploration with the aim of understanding, releasing and channelling their chaos. Above all, participants will be encouraged to develop alertness and a light touch, alertn to their inner life and how this might manifest in their poetry, and sceptical with regard to conventional wisdom, assumed knowledge, poetic fashion and the prescriptions of ‘creative writing’, boiling off the base metals in order to reveal and refine poetic gold.

Masterclasses are an expanded version of our Interactive and 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 regular live chats and they are suitable for UK and International students.

About Steve Ely View Profile

Steve Ely has published several collections of poetry, most recently Incendium Amoris and Bloody, Proud & Murderous Men, Adulterers & Enemies of God (both 2017). In 2018 he published two chapbooks: Zi-Zi Taah Taah Taah is a sequence of poems about the endangered willow tit and Jubilate Messi is a group of poems about football. He’s also written a novel, some short stories and a biographical work about Ted Hughes. He teaches creative writing at the University of Huddersfield.

‘For the first time in my life – and I am midway through my life! – I know where I can go to access the gold standard for poetry teaching-to-practice, taught by some of the best and most exciting poets writing today [...] There is nothing else like it.'

– Summer 2018 survey response

Related Courses