Tell Me About a Complicated Man: Poetry Inspired by ‘The Odyssey’

Tell Me About a Complicated Man: Poetry Inspired by ‘The Odyssey’

Re-imagine Homer's cast of Olympians, sea-monsters, Lotus Eaters and mere humans with Emily Wilson’s ground-breaking new translation

The Odyssey has inspired generations of poets. On this course we’ll be reading Emily Wilson’s ground-breaking new translation of Homer’s epic poem, while creating our own versions of Calypso’s island, the Cyclops’s cave, Mount Olympus and the journey to the Underworld. In each session we’ll be experimenting with a different form of poetry, while drawing on specific scenes from the Odyssey. We’ll practice creating different points of views and dramatic monologues while unravelling the complex set of characters— be they gods or mortals; learn how to embed dialogues in our poetry in order to capture the tensions between Odysseus and the goddess Athena, Telemachus and Penelope, Hermes and Calypso; bring locations to life while writing with our senses; and test what happens to the characters when we shift them across time and space. Could the journey into the Underworld take place on the London underground? Could Calypso work in a coffee shop? Could Ithaca function on a film set? In the introduction to her new translation, Emily Wilson says: “The Odyssey puts us into a world that is a peculiar mixture of the strange and the familiar. The tension between strangeness and familiarity is in fact the poem’s central subject.” During the course we’ll embed this tension in our own poetry, focusing on the concept of defamiliarization, while exploring the fascinating world of Homer, where gods and mortals— Olympians, sea-monsters, Lotus Eaters and mere humans — walk the same earth.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Tuesdays, 7-9pm GMT, first live chat starting 16 October.

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About Stav Poleg View Profile

Stav Poleg’s poetry has been published across the UK, the US and Ireland, including in The New Yorker, Poetry London and Poetry Ireland Review. She is the author of Lights, Camera, (Eyewear, 2017). Her graphic-novel installation Dear Penelope: Variations on an August Morning, created with artist Laura Gressani, was acquired by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. She is an editor for Magma Poetry, currently facilitating collaborative work between poets and filmmakers. Her theatre work was read at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh and the Shunt Vaults, London, and most recently at Kettle’s Yard gallery, Cambridge.

‘The Poetry School is the only place I know where there is a real choice of different ways to work on your poetic skills, with constant encouragement and support.’

Spring 2018 survey response

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