Metamorphosis – Becoming Animal in Poetry Studio

Metamorphosis – Becoming Animal in Poetry Studio

Back to being a beast; the animus of animality.

‘[…] I’m not like them/
one night I’ll set off past the meadow, down
behind the beck, beyond the blunt profile of Silver Howe
and nobody will call me back.’ 

– ‘The Dogs’, Helen Mort  

Poetry, we are sometimes told, strikes at the heart of what it means to be human. But what do we mean by that curious category of ‘human’? And while we’re all busy tying our shoelaces and paying our taxes – what of the animal still howls inside? In this course we will look at the poetry and literature of metamorphosis, where becoming animal helps us think about the limits of the human. How does thinking through, thinking with, and thinking inside the animal experience help give us new lenses to explore love, savagery, tenderness, kinship, punishment, embodiment, and beyond? How does the animal world offer us new techniques and tools to sharpen our writing? And how, in this era of ecological crisis, can we rethink our relationships with the rest of the animal kingdom, our connections with the web of life. 

We’ll read Jenny Xie, Donika Kelly, Ovid, Marie de France, Helen Mort, Ada Limón – and look at Franz Kafka, Titian, and Animorphs; Thomas Nagel, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Teen Wolf. A tour via medieval bestiaries, mid-century horror movies, and the modern science of animal consciousness. 

Studios are 4-week intensive courses. Reading material will be distributed before the course begins. There are no live chats so they are suitable for both UK & International students.  


Concessions & Accessibility

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected]; conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions, wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, or require any form of adjustment to access our courses, please email [email protected]For more information visit our Online Courses page.

Image credit: @jens-riesenberg

About Eleanor Penny View Profile

Eleanor Penny is a writer & broadcaster. She has won numerous awards for her poetry and fiction, including the London Poetry Prize, the Verve Poetry Festival Prize, a T.S. Eliot Emerging Writers’ Fellowship, and a London Writers Award for Literary Fiction. She is an alumnus of the Barbican Young Poets Programme, and twice shortlisted for Young People’s Poet Laureate for London. Her pamphlet Mercy was published by Flipped Eye in 2021. She is a creative writing tutor at City Lit Academy. Residencies include Prospect Cottage, the Centre 4 Recent Drawing, and St Paul’s Cathedral. She runs the live literature project Bedtime Stories for the End of the World. Her non-fiction and journalism work has appeared in publications including the New Statesman, the London Review of Books, The Independent, and Vice Magazine. She hosts the Verso Books podcast and Novara FM. 

"It has opened my eyes to the wealth of talented poets. It has made me realise that anyone can be a poet and you don't have to be a published poet to get fulfilment out of poetry. With discipline of the mind, anything is possible."

– Autumn 2023 survey response

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