Problematic Poets: Interrogating our Influences

Problematic Poets: Interrogating our Influences

Is the author really dead? Consider what there is to learn from historical poets who would fall below the ethical standards of today.

Can you separate the poet from the poem? We know that art cannot exist in a vacuum, so when society becomes so fractured and civil unrest reaches its acme, what role does, or can, the artist play in aligning themselves with wider political and moral landscapes? Howl was banned for its references to drugs and homosexual sexual practice. Until his death Mahmoud Darwish’s works were outlawed for his life-long critique and analysis of Israeli occupation. Pound’s cantos and Larkin’s The Whitsun Weddings can be seen as a masterclass in how meter and control can heighten a poem’s impact, while in the case of the latter detailing with acute cynicism the classist divide common to life in post-war Britain. In more recent times the poetry of the late Tony Hoagland attracted heavy criticism for its depiction of the black body in contrast to his elevating of whiteness in the poem ‘The Change’. In this workshop we will consider the moral responsibility of art and see if there’s anything to learn from problematic writers, as well as questioning where our own parameters lay when it comes to accommodating the poems of racists, fascists, homophobes, and classists.

Tuesday 16th July 10.30am–1.00pm

All classes will be in our offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.

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

Image credit: César.Gutiérrez

About Anthony Anaxagorou View Profile

Anthony Anaxagorou is a British Cypriot award-winning poet, fiction writer, essayist, curator and publisher. He has written several volumes of poetry, a spoken-word EP as well as a collection of short stories. His new collection of poetry After the Formalities is forthcoming with Penned in the Margins in September 2019. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, The Poetry Review, Granta, The Rialto, Oxford Poetry, Wildness, The Feminist Review, and elsewhere. It has also been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio London, ITV, Vice UK, Channel 4, and Sky Arts. He’s an honorary fellow at the University of Roehampton where he lectures in the social sciences. He’s the artistic director of Out-Spoken and publisher at Out-Spoken Press.

‘I have taken a few courses at the Poetry School and have been impressed on each occasion at the knowledge, artistry and professionalism of the tutors. I have learned a lot about poetry and have also been inspired to experiment in my work.’

– Spring 2019 survey response

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