Poetry as a Witness (Birmingham)

Poetry as a Witness (Birmingham)

How do we bear witness in the re-telling of events?

From the Peterloo Massacre 1819 to the first 200 days of Trump’s presidency, on this course we’ll find ways to shine light on a world around us, and make sense of where we live. Claudia Rankine has written: ‘poetry has no investment in anything besides openness. It’s not arguing a point. It’s creating an environment.’ Not only will we create an environment to lyrically flow and write but we’ll be digging deep and using everything to express the zeitgeist of the period as Audre Lorde said ‘everything can be used / except what is wasteful.’ The sharing of truth and the personal journeys that are caught up or affected by this witness. We’ll be looking at poets who have taken the personal narrative and merged it with historical facts. Others have created personas guiding us by the hand through time and space to hear the fall of a leaf or to be caught up in the magnitude of an event. WH Auden in his introduction to The Complete Poems of Cavafy said, ‘Cavafy has three principal concerns: love, art, and politics’, we’ll be indulging in the love, the art and the essence of Shelley, Cavafy, Louis MacNeice, Paul Muldoon, Gwendolyn Brooks, Fred D’Aguiar, Jacob Sam-La Rose, Jane Commane, Vahni Capildeo, Claudia Rankine, Raymond Antrobus, Terrance Hayes and many more poets using different forms and approaches to capture the spirit and truth of the time. By the end of the workshops we’ll have created poems‘… by which a door is held open for the reader, a space made for them into which they can bring their own interpretation, feelings, ideas and experience’ (Don Paterson).

3 monthly sessions on Saturdays 12 – 3pm. 19 January; 16 February; 16 March. All sessions will be at The Pen Museum, 60 Frederick St, Birmingham B1 3HS.

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

(Image credit: ‘Feu de la Saint Jean’)

About Roy Mcfarlane View Profile

Roy McFarlane was born in Birmingham of Jamaican parentage and spent most of his years living in Wolverhampton and the surrounding Black Country. He has held the role of Birmingham’s Poet Laureate and presently the Birmingham & Midland Institute Poet in Residence. Roy’s poems have appeared in anthologies; Filigree (Peepal Trees 2018), It All Radiates Outwards (Verve Poetry Press 2018), Dissonance (Hesterglock Press 2017), Somewhere to keep the rain (Winchester Poetry Festival 2017), Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe 2012). His previous publications includes Celebrate Wha? (Smokestack Books 2011) and Beginning With Your Last Breath (Nine Arches Press 2016). Roy’s latest collection The Healing Next Time will be out in October 2018 and he’s also completing his MA in Writing Poetry with the Poetry School and Newcastle University.

‘The Poetry School has made writing poetry part of my life and it’s a more exciting life because of that.’ – Summer 2018 survey response

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