Poetry as Oral Storytelling

Poetry as Oral Storytelling

Develop your poetry through traditional storytelling techniques

We know who the poet is. We know who the storyteller is. The poet isn’t committed to rounding out the story or presenting the drama, but can act at a tangent, with compression, with half-bitten (trademark quirky) turns away from being blatant – so we all become conscious (as Sartre said) that we are looking through a window onto something not really there. The poet shows us the glass, the dirt on the glass: this is awareness of language. The storyteller, on the other hand, is committed to story, handing over an oral tale to be reworked by other tellers. The storyteller establishes the scenario, shows there are many characters, states beginning, fills out middle, and comes to a satisfying end. This course brings together the two practices of poetry (patterned cryptic language) and folk storytelling (telling a story not from a book or even script). What can the two learn from each other: especially poetry from storytelling? Can we make poems with a set of notes (the arc of the story) and take off into a live interactive performance different every time? Hand it over to others to embellish or retool? Can poets use storytelling techniques generally?

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Fridays, 7-9pm GMT, first live chat starting 7 Feb 2020.

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

About Ira Lightman View Profile

Ira Lightman has made public art throughout the North East and also in the West Midlands and the South West. He made a documentary on Ezra Pound for Radio 4 last year, still on iPlayer. He is a regular on Radio 3’s The Verb and has been profiled on Channel 4. A mathematician by training, he is very interested in pattern and form, making poetry visually and with pure sound; he believes anyone can make poetry, as long as they stop worrying that it has to be *written*. He is a professional storyteller. He proofreads for academic journals for a living, and has had many residencies in schools. He won the Journal Arts Council Award for “innovative new ways of making art in communities” for his project, The Spennymoor Letters. He has lived in the North East since 2000. He has been described by George Szirtes as “Harpo Marx meets Rilke”.

‘The Poetry School shows a blue sky approach to what it considers poetry. I have benefitted from this immensely by being made aware of possibilities in my practice that I didn’t even know existed before. It can only be a great force in stimulating difference and experiment.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

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