The Abandoned Necropolis: Horror & the Grotesque in Poetry

The Abandoned Necropolis: Horror & the Grotesque in Poetry

Dig through horrors and grotesquerie to exhume scary new poems.

In this course, we embark on a wide-ranging, dark and exhilarating, 10-week Halloween-season journey. Travelling from the “medieval revival’, looking at early Victorian gothic poetry, of which we will write modern translations, right up to today’s socio-political fuelled horror resurgence. In its black cloak, this course aims to cover it all.

We will be responding to many materials, and visual and aural ekphrasis will be part of this, looking at horror films and soundtracks, including Japanese horror, going back to Yūrei and Japanese folklore, and British Horror, folk horror, and hauntology. We will consider the occult through Rebecca Tamás’s feminist collection, Witch, alongside the feminist Grotesque-Surreal of South Korean poet, Kim Hyesoon. Innovative form will also be explored, through the horror-novel erasures of Sarah J. Sloat, and the playful antics in Srikanth Reddy’s Underworld Lit, such as wordsearch, faux-exercises, puzzles, letters, and notes. Finally, working closely with the exhibition book and responding to its exhibits, we will respond to The Horror Show! The Somerset House exhibition, that ran last year, and its sections & themes: Monster, Witch, and Ghost.

Poets examined in this course include Aase Berg, SJ Fowler, Kim Hyesoon, Jennifer Militello, Henri Michaux, Daniil Kharms, Russell Edson, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Joyelle McSweeney, Srikanth Reddy, Edward Mullany, Joyce Mansour, and Rebecca Tamás.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks, starting 3 Oct 2023. Live Chats on fortnightly Tuesdays, 7–9 pm (GMT); first Live Chat: 17 Oct 2023.

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to administ[email protected]. Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. For more information visit our Online Courses page. 

Image Credit: Julia Kadel

About Vik Shirley View Profile

Vik Shirley is a poet, writer, editor, and academic from Bristol now living in Edinburgh. Her collection, The Continued Closure of the Blue Door (HVTN), her pamphlets, Corpses (Sublunary Editions), Grotesquerie for the Apocalypse (Beir Bua) and Poets (The Red Ceilings Press), and her book of photo-poetry Disrupted Blue and other poems on Polaroid (Hesterglock) were all published 2020–2022. Her work has appeared in such places as Poetry London, The Rialto, Magma, 3am Magazine, Tentacular, The Indianapolis Review, Perverse and Tears in the Fence. A Poetry School tutor, teaching on the Surreal Narrative and the Grotesque in Poetry, she has a PhD in Dark Humour and the Surreal from the University of Birmingham. Vik is Associate Editor of Sublunary Editions and Co-Editor of ‘Surreal-Absurd’ for Mercurius magazine. Her chthonic sequel to Corpses, Notes on the Underworld, will be published by Sublunary Editions in Autumn, 2023. 

'The Poetry School has given me more confidence in sharing my work with strangers. The supportive environment has provided me with a safe space to experiment. I've learned more about my own writing, but also about the huge diversity of contemporary poetry and poets. I've felt part of a poetry community where poets, regardless of experience mingle freely. It's been liberating.'

– Spring 2023 survey response

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