Memory, History, Loss, & Gains

Memory, History, Loss, & Gains

Explore ways of writing about ancestry and inheritance in poetry

How do we access the past through poetry? How do we explore and write about our own ancestry and heritage? In this course, participants will discuss, explore, and develop upon their experiences of writing about ancestry and inheritance in poetry. We will look at and learn from the works of writers such as Jenny Lewis, Moniza Alvi, Hannah Lowe, Ocean Vuong, Kayo Chingonyi, and Raymond Antrobus, examining the ways in which these authors have chosen to conjure the past, and discuss the merits and potential pitfalls of each method. We will draw inspiration from these texts, using them as prompts for writing exercises to help us uncover truths about our families, ourselves, and each other. We will discuss and experiment with different forms for recovering and reclaiming our lost histories, from the dramatic monologue and epistolary poem, to the haibun and found poem. We will also discuss the particular challenges and rewards of writing about one’s ancestors, heritage, and inheritance – not only the personal gains and potential ramifications, but also the ethical and political.

Saturday 5 October, 10.30am – 4.30pm.

All classes will be in our offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.

More information about how all our face-to-face courses work can be found on the Face-to-Face courses page.

A 10% discount is available to residents local to the Poetry School (anyone currently living in Rotherhithe, Riverside, Surrey Docks, South Bermondsey, Grange or Livesey).
Please contact for further information.
Image Credit: Jarle Refsnes

About Sarala Estruch View Profile

Sarala Estruch is a freelance writer, poet and critic. Her poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and criticism have appeared in literary journals and newspapers, including The Poetry Review, Wasafiri, and The Guardian. In 2017, Sarala was a winner of the Poetry School/Nine Arches Press Primers mentorship and publication scheme; her poetry short ‘The English Dream’ was published in Primers: Volume Three (Nine Arches Press, 2018). She is also an educator and has recently led workshops for the Colonial Countryside project, a collaboration between the University of Leicester and The National Trust. Supported by Arts Council England, Sarala is currently working on her debut collection, which explores both her own family history and the Indo-British relationship, past and present.

‘For twenty years I have been a novelist. Now all I can think about is writing poems. It’s wonderfully liberating and I’m so glad I took that first step of making the call. Thank you!’

– Spring 2019 survey response

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