Write poems about our increasingly imperiled natural world, unhampered by human expediencies
As we continue to pillage and scar nature, how can writers approach the topics of the natural world, and our all-too human fear of it, without falling into the trap of anthropomorphizing the environment around us? In this Studio course, we will examine the work of classic twentieth century poets who devoted much of their work to these concerns, such as Robinson Jeffers, Aimé Césaire and Frankétienne, analyzing their formally inventive – and thematically challenging – responses to ecological disasters in their homes in California and the Caribbean. Throughout their lives, these poets connected our inability to co-exist with our natural environment to our irrepressible ability to engender conflict and inequality. As the Haitian poet Frankétienne writes in his long prose poem ‘Chaophony’: “What are all our cities’ libraries worth compared to a starving child? / Nevertheless, a single word inside a book may one day save humanity.” In the work of the three writers we will examine, humanity’s incertitude in the face of nature is contrasted with our innate desire to both describe and master our environment through the power of the written word. Does nature undermine a writer’s belief in the ability of literature to change the world? Furthermore, is our problem vis-à-vis nature merely a matter of perspective, as Jeffers claimed through his often misunderstood theory of inhumanism? Have we become too solipsistic to change paths? This workshop will discuss the origins, limitations and inherent possibilities present in ecologically conscious poetry, encouraging us to reconsider our own limits as human beings.
Studios are three-week intensive courses. Reading material will be distributed before the course begins. There are no live chats so they are suitable for both UK & International students.
For more information visit our Online Courses page.
About André Naffis-Sahely View Profile
André Naffis-Sahely’s debut collection is The Promised Land: Poems from Itinerant Life (Penguin, 2017). His translations include over twenty titles of fiction, poetry and nonfiction from French and Italian, including works by Honoré de Balzac, Émile Zola, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Abdellatif Laâbi and Alessandro Spina. He is poetry editor at Ambit magazine and a Visiting Teaching Fellow at the Manchester Writing School.
‘The Poetry School and its tutors has restored my confidence in my poetry and process, given me new avenues of reading and thought, along with connecting me to like-minded, but still different, practitioners.’