A Poet’s Herbal: Useful Lore for the Poet Outdoors

A Poet’s Herbal: Useful Lore for the Poet Outdoors

Forage in the undergrowth for new poems on history, folklore and all things wild

The work of finding and identifying wild plants requires skills common to the work of writing poetry in many ways: just as the forager must use the memories evoked by smelling and touching particular plant to recall its name and purpose, so must the poet have a strong grasp of the power the senses hold over memory. This ten-week online course accompanies our one day workshop – Foraging & Poetry Workshop – and will further examine many of the ways a close engagement with the natural world can inform poetic practice, looking specifically at plants and fungi. As well as conventional reading and writing assignments, each session will include a practical element, encouraging participants to go out and experience nature for themselves and to allow a continuing, hands-on engagement with the natural world. We will explore how our ancestors thought and survived in the wild, with its combination of intuitive inspiration and rational problem-solving. We’ll also look at some of the earliest poems written in English, found accompanying herbal remedies in Old English medical texts, studying the way sound and rhythm are used to magical and ritual effect. By engaging with the history, folklore and ancient names and uses of wild plants, we will participate in an ancient yet ongoing project: the poet and forager at work telling society the story of itself.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Mondays, 7-9pm GMT, first live chat starting 2 October.

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

About Richard Osmond Profile photo of Richard Osmond View Profile

Richard Osmond was born in 1987. He works as a wild-food forager, searching for plants, fruits and fungi among the forests and hedgerows of Hertfordshire. His debut book of poems, Useful Verses, was published in 2017 by Picador and won an Eric Gregory Award. His first two pamphlets, Variant Air and Shill, were published simultaneously by HappenStance in 2014. He is one of the co-editors of Thirteen Pages and one of the organisers / inquisitors of The Poetry Inquisition, a live poetry event at which poets are mercilessly grilled by a panel of Paxman-like interrogators after reading.

‘The Poetry School holds open a valuable space for a diverse range of writers to create, share, explore, and learn. It is an important part of the fabric of the wider poetry field, dedicated to fostering passion, fun, expertise and new voices from all over the UK, and I suspect increasingly, beyond.’

Spring 2017 Online Survey response

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