Smears & Caresses: The Poetry of Abstract Art (International)

Smears & Caresses: The Poetry of Abstract Art (International)

Create poems inspired by the most exciting art of the past century

‘There is a strange not-yet quality built into how you access the thing you are finding beautiful’ – Timothy Morton

The self-sustaining, open-ended energies of abstract art have a lot to teach us as poets. Its forms and patterns are not confined by traditional modes of representation or description; instead the medium itself is celebrated as an opportunity for original, physical, imaginative and even spiritual exploration, without overwhelming us with presumptions of meaning or temporality, and drawing us away from ‘outside looking in’ perspectives and closer to the present experience. In a society where we are surrounded by the language of those who would tell us what to think and what to value, abstract art requires that we think and feel for ourselves. This course explores ways in which poetry can respond to and translate abstract and non-figurative art. Rather than simply describing artworks, you will be creating poems which themselves take on the characteristics of the most exciting art of the past century. Stimuli will include visual work by Paul Klee, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O’Keefe and Anselm Kiefer, and poetry by John James, Pauline Stainer, Frank O’Hara, Denise Riley and Wendy Mulford. The poems you write could be the starting point for a themed series and perhaps a pamphlet or a section of a longer manuscript. As John James pointed out, in his Theory of Poetry, ‘it’s very important / to make your lines / bands of alternating colour’!

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: ‘rocor’)

About Peter Hughes View Profile

Peter Hughes is a poet and the founding editor of Oystercatcher Press. He’s based in Cambridge where he was recently the Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellow in Poetry. His many books include a Selected Poems (Shearsman, , innovative versions of all Petrarch’s sonnets (Quite Frankly, Reality Street Editions, 2015), Cavalcanty (Carcanet, 2017) and via Leopardi 21 (Equipage, 2018).

‘This Poetry School workshop has helped me remember my love of language and all the wonderful things I could do with it. At a time of great personal difficulty, it has inspired me to carry on and be proud of seeing the world differently.’

Summer 2017 Survey response

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