Smears & Caresses: The Poetry of Abstract Art (Masterclass, Autumn 2020)

Smears & Caresses: The Poetry of Abstract Art (Masterclass, Autumn 2020)

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’!

Masterclasses are an expanded version of our International courses, with a much deeper consideration of technical craft and critical theory. These 12 week courses (maximum 10 places) are for advanced students only, and fluency with poetic language and ideas will be assumed. There are no live chats and they are suitable for UK and 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, 2013), innovative versions of all Petrarch’s sonnets Quite Frankly (Reality Street Editions, 2015), Cavalcanty (Carcanet, 2017) and via Leopardi 21 (Equipage, 2018).

‘This site is a wonderful place for poets to get together from all over the world. The UK is so lucky to have such a society. Australia is a poor place for the quality of tuition in poetry, despite all the writing Societies all over the different states we have here. I urge anyone who is interested to take part in this tremendous resource.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

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