The Halls Are Empty: Online Museum Poetry (Studio+)

The Halls Are Empty: Online Museum Poetry (Studio+)

In an era of digitised collections, how can poetry deepen and complicate our idea of the museum?

Many poets find inspiration in museums, but in these days of lockdown and distancing, physical access isn’t always possible. In this special summer school course, we will explore the virtual resources that museums around the world are providing and ask questions about the relationship between writing poetry and practices of collection and curation. How can we curate our own experience of these troubled times and use our own virtual collections as a writing resource?

In this expanded format, we’ll begin with an online face-to-face Zoom session, exploring key ideas about the relationship between museums and poetry, with prompts to write and share in pairs. What is an ‘imaginary museum’ and how can we build one as a starting point for our writing? Many contemporary poets have imagined collections of everything from light to lies, darkness to ventriloquy; you’ll be invited to write a fully realised, impossible museum.

We’ll investigate decolonising and queering museums (as Richard Scott does in his erotic encounter with a statue in ‘museum’). How can we challenge dominant narratives through subversive approaches to poem-making? Can our poems ‘speak back’ to museums, reimagining them for the digital age and a truly inclusive audience? The course will round off with another live online session, where we’ll create poems to consolidate our thinking about online museums and poetry, before working towards a collaborative manifesto for museums.

Studio+ Courses are a new initiative from the Poetry School and feature a portfolio of preliminary reading, alongside 3-4 writing assignments, and some additional bonus features such as Zoom sessions, collaborative projects, and inter-disciplinary work. There are no Live Chats on this course, but there will be 2 video conference sessions in the first and last weeks.

Image Credit: Christian Fregnan

About Caleb Parkin and David Clarke View Profile

Caleb Parkin is a day-glo queero techno eco poet, performer and facilitator, based in Bristol. He won second prize in the National Poetry Competition 2016, first in the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017, and has placed in various other competition shortlists. He has poems published in The Rialto, Poetry Review, Under the Radar, Butcher’s Dog, Coast to Coast to Coast, Strix, MagmaEnvoi, Lighthouse and elsewhereCommissions include: Royal Albert Museum Exeter, Poetry Society, Lyra Festival, Green Party and The Hepworth Wakefield.

He tutors for Poetry Society, Poetry School and First Story and (usually) hosts groups in settings from schools, to museums, residential care homes, science centres and festival yurts. In 2019, he completed an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP) through Metanoia Institute, with a dissertation focused on CWTP in museum and gallery settings. Currently, he’s developing his first collection exploring queer ecopoetry and ecosexualities, supported by Arts Council Developing Your Creative Practice.

David Clarke was born in Lincolnshire. His first pamphlet, Gaud, won the Michael Marks award in 2013. His first collection, Arc, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2015 and was longlisted for the Polari Prize. Another pamphlet, Scare Stories, was published by V Press in 2017 and was named a Poetry School ‘Book the Year.’ His poems have appeared in magazines including Magma, Tears in the Fence, Long Poem Magazine and The Interpreter’s House. His second collection, The Europeans, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2019.

‘The Poetry School programmes such thoughtful and unusual courses and enables poets to feel validated, to become more curious, more skilled, more engaged in poetry and the world.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

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