Signifying nothing? (Or, how to say diddly squat and not learn anything from it)

Signifying nothing? (Or, how to say diddly squat and not learn anything from it)

Flip writer’s block on its head and turn lack of inspiration into a source for creative ideas

What do I know? What am I even trying to say? Whether it’s thinking that one must make time for a Muse to descend or believing that certain conditions must be met in order to begin writing properly, poetry is easy to put off when it is freighted with ideas of meaningfulness. This course seeks to flip writer’s block on its head and turn lack of inspiration into a source for creative ideas, challenging the idea of ‘purposeful’ writing by exploring notions of meaninglessness as its own powerful medium for art. We will examine and celebrate the ways that doubt, inarticulacy, and ambiguity can all produce vital and engaged work, and consider why we often enjoy poems we understand the least. Looking at the work of Lewis Carroll, Ern Malley, Hope Mirlees, Anne Sexton, Armand Schwerner, we’ll learn how to resist pressing those buttons that too easily seduce a reader, and strain to bring in images and ideas from levels beyond our comprehension, opening up what Richard Foreman calls ‘the possibility of growing into what you are not yet’. By tracing the history of writer’s block as a concept – as well as asemic writing, nonsense literature, the curse of knowledge, juvenilia – we will embrace the writer’s relationship to not-knowing, post-truth, tongue-tied cautiousness and indulgent bombast: the art of saying it best when you say nothing at all.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Tuesdays, 7-9pm GMT, first live chat starting 3 October.

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

About Eley Williams Profile photo of Eley Williams View Profile

Dr. Eley Williams is a writer of poetry and prose. Her debut collection of short stories, Attrib. and Other Stories, was published by Influx Press in 2017. She is a Visiting Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London and has a PhD concerning the interstices between lexicographical probity and creative writing. Eley is a Supervisor at Jungftak, an online journal for contemporary prose-poetry; is Co-editor of fiction at 3:AM MagazineGuest Editor, assisting at Visual Verse; and a Committee Member of Generative Constraints, a collective that examines and performs practice-based research.

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