Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire

Take up a torch and join us as we explore the elemental power of fire as destroyer, life-giver, and re-inventor in your writing.

* This course will take place on the video-conferencing platform ZOOM * 

Fire is one of the grand metaphors. Through close reading of a range of exciting poems and a series of both different writing exercises, this two-part workshop will inspire students to explore the power of fire as a means of expression in their own poetry. 

We will begin by exploring the depictions of fire in the work of Tom Sastry and Christina Thatcher, both of whom feature fire-themed poetic sequences in their collections. Writing challenges will invite us to draw on our responses to these wonderful poems, as well as our own imaginations and experience. We will experiment with the interplay of fire as metaphor and descriptions of actual fires, through exercises that aim to stimulate ideas, images, and drafts of single poems and sequences. 

The short poem ‘Island’ by Christopher Meredith concentrates the force of fire in the confines of an exquisite, intense eight-line poem and will inspire us as we embark on writing challenges that ask us to focus on and exploit the potential of single images of fire in short poems. 

We will take inspiration from the precise physicality of Julie-ann Rowell’s poem ‘Beltane Bonfire’, with writing activities that ask us to think about and begin to create poems that depict fire as ritual. 

Fires imagined and fires experienced. Fire as destroyer, life-giver, re-inventor. Fire as ritual and tradition. Fire as expression. This course aims to expand the range of language and imagery we draw from when using fire in our poetry. We will consider the impact of line length and white space, as well as the effects of using the second person.

2 Half-day Zoom sessions, running 10.30am–1pm (BST), on 1 & 8 July 2023. To apply for a concession rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected] Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. More information about how our Video Courses work can be found on the Video Courses page. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected].

Image Credit: Christopher Burns

About Elizabeth Parker View Profile

Elizabeth Parker was born in London and grew up in Pygmy Pinetum, a garden centre in The Forest of Dean. She attended Monmouth Comprehensive School and school trips to Ty Newydd writing centre nurtured her passion for creative writing. She achieved First Class Honours in English and Creative Writing at Warwick University, under the inspiring tutelage of David Morley, Maureen Freeley, and Peter Blegvad. She also has an MA in Mythology from Bristol University. Elizabeth was a secondary school English teacher for eight years and is writing two novels based on her experiences teaching Shakespeare to teenagers. 

Elizabeth’s poetry has been published in various journals including Magma, Raceme, The Stony Thursday Book, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Salzburg, and Agenda. She has been shortlisted for The Bridport Prize and was a prizewinner in the 2016 Troubadour International Poetry Prize. Following her 2016 pamphlet, Antinopolis (published by Eyewear), Elizabeth’s first full collection, In Her Shambles, was published by Seren Books in April 2018. Her second collection, Cormorant, is due to be published by Seren in February 2024.

‘I feel like I learnt a lot from the tutor whose subject knowledge was excellent and feedback spot on. We were introduced to an interesting array of writing and I enjoyed the writing exercises/prompts.’

– Autumn 2022 survey response

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