Origins of the Golem

Origins of the Golem

Trace the generative parallels between the Judaic golem and writing poetry

According to the Judaic scholar Gershom Scholem, the danger of golem-making is not that the creature will escape its master and, like Dr Frankenstein’s monster, run amok, but that the tensions involved in the creative process might harm its maker. This golem of Kabbalistic origin has no practical function; it is a creature who ceases to exist outside the ritual that conjured it, much like a poem. In this workshop you will explore the parallels between golem-making and writing poetry, tracing the development of the golem from its origins to its more contemporary incarnations. Underpinning this genealogy is an approach to language as an ecstatic creative force, which its practitioners believed could be harnessed by anyone. We will look at poetry from Paul Celan, Tomaž Šalamun, and James Lasdun, among others, and participants will be invited to produce their own poetry – ecstatic or otherwise – in response to the constellation of ideas arising from this topic.

Saturday 26 January, 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.

(Image credit: ‘marc carpentier’)

About Karen Whiteson View Profile

Karen Whiteson has had poetry published in numerous magazines and anthologies and written libretti for three chamber operas; performed at the ICA, the Riverside Studios and at Mexico City University. Her short stories have appeared in the Edinburgh Review as well as anthologies published by Penguin, Aurora Metro, and Unthank Books. Online pieces can be found at and Karen has taught creative writing at the Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins and the Poetry School. She runs an ongoing creative writing course from her home, as well occasional workshops based on fairy tales and myth.

‘The courses have helped extend my range as a poet and given me more confidence to experiment’

– Spring 2018 survey response

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