Please – No More Poetry: Postmemory & Historical Trauma

Please – No More Poetry: Postmemory & Historical Trauma

How do we write responsibly about our intergenerational traumas?

‘Thank you for the food and blankets but please – no more poetry.’

– New York fire chief in response to the copious poems written and scattered all over New York City after the World Trade Center Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001 (from the foreword to Poetry After 9/11: An Anthology of New York Poets).

Reading and writing in 2018 – the centenary of the end of World War One – this course considers the timely, intertwined relationship between poetry and historical trauma across the last century. Over five sessions, we will ask the following critical questions: Why is poetry such a prevalent form in responses to historical and national trauma? What ethical responsibilities do we have when writing about trauma (both our own and others’)? How does the poetry of one collective trauma speak to another collective trauma? And how do we confront inherited trauma or trauma that does not ‘belong’ to us? We will also consider postmemory, a type of intergenerational memory that characterizes second generation survivors of trauma whose own stories are relinquished to make room for the traumatic stories of the preceding generation. Although we will make room throughout this course for students who wish to write about their own personal traumas, our primary focus will be to move beyond the personal toward the political implications of writing in response to historical and collective traumas; by reading poets writing about historical, collective traumas, we will strive to write our own way – treading cautiously – in to the messy, aching landscape of the traumatic.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats 7-9pm GMT on Thursdays, first live chat starting 11 October.

More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.

(Image credit: ‘Vincent Lammin’)

About Anna Veprinska View Profile

Anna Veprinska’s first full-length collection of poetry, Sew with Butterflies, sold out of its first print run in less than four months. She holds a PhD in poetry after trauma, specialising in poetry after the Holocaust, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina. In 2016-17 she was a Cummings Foundation Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She has worked closely with Holocaust survivors to help them write about their experiences of trauma. She has just completed her second collection of poetry, A Little Dust.

‘The Poetry School keeps me writing poetry. It is a life-changing for this reason.’

Spring 2018 survey response

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