Poetry & Syntax: An Emergency Toothpick in an Imaginary Landscape

Poetry & Syntax: An Emergency Toothpick in an Imaginary Landscape

Learn to outwit, cajole, and break free from syntax to transcend poetic writing and produce true works of art.

*  To ensure the safety of our tutors and students, this course will take place on video-conferencing platform, ZOOM *

The difference between most poems and a poem that’s an exciting work of art lies in the poet’s ability to manipulate syntax. Syntax is hierarchical, populist, sexist, tyrannical, classist, xenophobic, and conformist. To break free from syntax, is for a poem to become everything it says it is, and all its possibilities that are also happening. Yet without syntax, language is madness. 

Join Astrid Alben for an exploration of how you can use syntax in the construction of your own poems, looking at its use by poets like Anne Carson, Apollinaire, Ernst Jandl and others who outwit, cajole, and outdo syntax in their work. 

The aim of the course is for us all to better understand our own tricks of the trade, techniques, and, ultimately, our material. You will be asked to bring your own work and the work of other authors that inspires or frustrates you. 

The course will have 2 parts, the first being a Zoom session, filled with challenging reading, writing, and group discussions on the topic, after which you’ll be set various writing prompts and exercises to complete at home, before reconvening for a Zoom-based workshop in part 2 to discuss and develop your new poems. 

Saturday, 13 March, 10:30-1pm & Saturday, 27 March, 2 – 4:30pm. The course will take place on video-conferencing platform, Zoom.

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

Image Credit: Noosha Ghodsizad 

About Astrid Alben View Profile

Astrid Alben is a poet, editor and translator. Her debut collection Ai! Ai! Pianissimo was published by Arc in 2011, introducing ‘a new and original voice in English poetry, serious and uncompromising’ (R.V. Bailey), and her second collection Plainspeak was published by Prototype in 2019. Alben’s poems, translations and essays are widely published, including in the Times Literary Supplement and the Best of British Poetry Anthology 2015. To hear her poems, visit astridalben.com, Granta, [email protected] or the BBC Radio 4 Four Thought podcast. Alben is co-founder and artistic director of the arts and sciences initiative PARS; curator of site-specific events that are a mixture of theatre, art installation and scientific experiment; and editor of the ‘Findings on…’ series published by Lars Müller Publications. She is a trustee of the Poetry Translation Centre. 




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