The Poetry of Magic: the Poet as Seer, Witch, & Shaman

The Poetry of Magic: the Poet as Seer, Witch, & Shaman

Explore ancient notions in contemporary times and write new poems as a seer, magi, witch, healer, and shaman.

This course will establish a space in which poets can set up parameters for new and challenging writing. We will take inspiration from historical magical documents, with a mind to unravel how language is used in “primitive” writings through Antiquity and the Medieval periods (but not limited to just Western Medieval manuscripts), alongside more contemporary occult literature, to see the effects of these magical texts on their readers, writers, speakers, and listeners, and use this inspiration as a springboard for new writing of our own. We will also explore different ritual practices, and take inspiration from the natural world, occult objects and oddities, to create further poetic and ritualistic work of our own.

Alongside exploring obviously magical resources, we will also read from avant-garde poetry to reveal the connections between these different resistances to common sense, traditional rationality, and linguistic meanings, as well as tracing rise of hexes, rituals, and spells in contemporary poetry. We will also work to unpick the patriarchal concepts of “witches” and “witchcraft”, asking what the broader political and social consequences of these challenge to (common) sense may be.

6 fortnightly sessions over 12 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: Bee Felten-Leidel

About Sascha Akhtar View Profile

Sascha Akhtar’s poetry has been widely anthologised and translated. She has performed internationally at festivals such as the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam, Avantgarde Festival Hamburg and Southbank Centre’s MELTDOWN festival London curated by Yoko Ono. She has also been part of poetry protests – Against Rape (Peony Moon, 2014) and Solidarity Park Poetry – Poems for the Turkish resistance (Ed. 2013). Her most recent collection is #LoveLikeBlood (Knives, Forks, and Spoons, 2020) and her previous collection was 199 Japanese Names for Japanese Trees (Shearsman, 2016). In 2017 and 2018, her fiction appeared in Storgy, The Learned Pig, Tears In The Fence, BlazeVox and Anti-Heroin Chic. She is currently working on a book of translations of the work pioneering feminist Pakistani fiction writer Hijab Imtiaz for Oxford University Press India, alongside a book of poems as a Tarot pack, entitled Only Dying Sparkles (ZimZalla), with original art by John Alexander Arnold.

‘I just wanted to say thank you for the Poetry School workshop you ran yesterday. I wasn’t sure whether to go as I hadn’t been feeling well and it’s a bit of a trek from Sheffield, but in many ways it was the best poetry experience I’ve had in a long while…This was the first event I’ve been to in a long time where I felt challenged, uncomfortable, unsure of what was coming next, and came away wanting to write more.'

– Autumn 2019 survey response

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