Portrait of the Artist As a Horse: Animal Transformation in Poetry

Portrait of the Artist As a Horse: Animal Transformation in Poetry

Learn what it means to be human by exploring the playful and grotesque potential of animal iconography, and the chimeric possibilities of the poetic form with A.K. Blakemore.

‘What philosopher Giorgio Agamben has called the ‘anthropological’ machine’, or the compulsive inclination to demarcate the territory of the human from that of the non-human, is one of the great driving forces of history. Delimiting those territories not only involves violence, but inspires it.’ – Joanna Bourke

From Ovid’s terrified Actaeon to Ted Hughes’ Thought-Fox and Selima Hill’s pigs and parrots, physical transformation into the animal and entry into a world charged with their sensual and sanguine symbology has formed a rich seam of poetic art. Touching on the work of authors both ancient and contemporary, this workshop will focus on the playful and grotesque potential of animal iconography, and the chimeric possibilities of the poetic form – which, upon occasion, shows us what it means to be human by exploring what it would mean to suddenly, or gradually, not be. As well as examining scenes of metamorphoses in poetry, participants will take part in group writing exercises aimed at wilding depictions of the body within their work and engaging with the spiritual resonances of the animal world.

This course is a half-day workshop running 10:30am – 1pm on Monday 23 July and is part of our Summer School. To find out more about the courses in the Summer School, please see here.

Image credit: ‘hehaden’

About A.K. Blakemore View Profile

A.K. Blakemore has been widely published and anthologised, with poems and essays appearing in Poetry, The Poetry Review, Poetry London and the London Review of Books. She has published two full-length collections of poetry: Humbert Summer (Eyewear, 2015), which won the 2015 Melita Hume prize, and Fondue (Offord Road Books, 2018).

‘The Poetry School is the only place I know where there is a real choice of different ways to work on your poetic skills, with constant encouragement and support.’

– Spring 2018 survey response

Related Courses