Taboo: Saying the Unsaid

Taboo: Saying the Unsaid

Confront forbidden topics through a literary lens

Every culture has taboos: the unthinkable, untouchable, unsaid things. In this course, we’ll consider how writers approach, examine, criticise and question long-held taboos in Western society.  First we will investigate poetry which tackles divisive topics, such as death, sex, divorce, abortion, nudity and menstruation. Later, we will discuss writing which confronts darker taboos, like incest, paedophilia, familial murder and suicide. Together, we will read things which make us uncomfortable. Over ten weeks, we will focus on contemporary poets—like Sharon Olds, Elena Georgiou, Carla Drysdale and Max Ritvo—whose writings haul taboos into the open. In reading this work, we will develop our own language for saying unsaid things and explore how to write in a way which actively engages with visceral, hard-to-reach topics. Throughout the course, participants will also have the chance to practice poetic techniques, devices and forms used by these ‘taboo writers’. This is a course for anyone who would like to explore forbidden topics through a literary lens. It is for those who seek to create a space, temporarily removed from society, in which to read, write and say what usually goes unsaid.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Wednesdays, 7-9pm GMT, first live chat starting 30 May.

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

(Image credit: ‘desiree fawn’)

About Christina Thatcher View Profile

Shortlisted for the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition in 2015 and a winner in the Terry Hetherington Award for Young Writers in 2016, Christina Thatcher’s poetry and short stories have featured in a number of publications including The London MagazinePlanet MagazineAcumen and The Interpreter’s House. Her first collection, More than you were, was published by Parthian Books in 2017. Thatcher grew up in America but has made a happy home in Wales with her husband, Rich, and cat, Miso. She is a teacher and PhD student at Cardiff University where she studies how creative writing can impact the lives of people bereaved by addiction. Christina keeps busy off campus too as the Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review and as a freelance workshop facilitator and festival coordinator. To learn more about Thatcher’s work visit her website: or follow her on Twitter: @writetoempower.

‘I am a poet with a disabling health condition and coming to the Poetry School has helped me grab back my identity (which illnesses can try to steal away) and prioritise what is meaningful in my life. It has brought learning, confidence, courage and friendship.’

Autumn 2017 Survey response

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