Poetry Between Body, Self & World: Transreading Nan Shepherd

Poetry Between Body, Self & World: Transreading Nan Shepherd

Take inspiration from Nan Shepherd to explore how language can live between the body, self, and natural world.

Poetry is language that comes from the body, and can change the way we sense, breathe, and move. This course explores the ways in which language moves between body, self, and world, using Nan Shepherd’s nature writing as prompt and inspiration. 

In The Living Mountain, an innovative account of the Cairngorm mountains written in the 1940s, Shepherd meditated on the difficulties of knowing a place, and asked: how can we use the body to better know the world? It’s a writing of connection, intimacy, and sensation. Shepherd approaches her quest with the curiosity of a scientist, the sensory intelligence of a dancer, and a delightful, mystical humour, recognising that all answers will be cursory, as ‘knowing another is endless. The thing to be known grows with the knowing.’ 

Inspired by prompts from The Living Mountain, we’ll explore how to write from and with the body. We’ll consider ways to make poetry visceral, sensational, lively, and embodied, and ask how breath, movement, sensory experience, and encounters with more-than-human life can be translated into restless, living verse?  

Shepherd’s writing is full of action and movement – swimming, climbing mountains, and walking ‘the flesh transparent’ hour after hour; but it’s also concerned with sleep and waking, the way water plays across the skin, the touch of sound, light, and air. As such, this course is fiercely inclusive and welcoming of every body. With Shepherd as guide, we’ll consider the poetics of pain, disability, and radical self-acceptance, and celebrate all forms of encounter between body, self, and world.   

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

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

Image Credit: Daniël Hartog

About Samantha Walton View Profile

Samantha Walton is a Bristol-based poet and Reader in Modern Literature at Bath Spa University. Her books include Self Heal, a poetry collection from Boiler House Press (2018) and The Living World, an ecocritical introduction to the work of Nan Shepherd (Bloomsbury, forthcoming). She is currently working on a non-fiction book about mental health, nature cures, and climate crisis, and co-edits Sad Press, an independent publisher of pamphlets, anthologies and translations: https://sadpresspoetry.com.

‘I have been enriched beyond measure by my learning from translating, transreading and generally exploring new ways of writing.’

– Summer 2020 survey response

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