Find inspiration in the language of science and organisational systems to create innovative new poetry.
‘In those days I had the mistaken notion that science was hostile to the imagination. That kept me from a body of knowledge. The perpetual Latin of love kept things hidden.’ – Lyn Hejinian, My Life
This course will take an irreverent approach to organisational systems of knowledge and their respective vocabularies. How do we weave ‘non-poetic’ structures and syntax (e.g., botanical, anatomical, geological) into poetry? What role can classification and nomenclature play in poetry, and how can poetry work with, reveal, and breathe into the interstices of these organisational systems?
Students will be encouraged to identify their own areas of interest, which the workshops will enable them to explore through a series of written and discursive exercises. We will consider how other poets have drawn on bodies of knowledge for their own projects, with varying degrees of fidelity and disruption, including a selection of work by Sylvia Legris, Lucretius, Francis Ponge, Elizabeth Willis, Erasmus Darwin, Divya Victor, Eleni Sikelianos, Lisa Robertson and others.
Collectively, we will explore the equilibrium of form and content in writing, sifting poetry that sets out to illustrate scientific theory from poetry that enlists it to unsettle the hierarchy of fact and authority. We will also look closely at the formal elements of non-poetic source texts such as indexes, illustrations and tables of classification, and experiment with incorporating these into our own work. Our writing will be underpinned by considering how disciplinary knowledge accrues and becomes ‘true’ over time, via Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge, and the aberrations of pre-Enlightenment attempts at ordering, such as medieval scientific treatises that included unicorns and other fantastical creatures.
5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks, starting 20 January 2021. Live chats on Wednesdays, 7–9 pm GMT; first live chat 3 February.
More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.
Image Credit: chuttersnap
About Daisy Lafarge View Profile
Daisy Lafarge is a writer, artist and editor. Her first poetry collection, Life Without Air, is published by Granta Books and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her novel, Paul, is forthcoming, also from Granta. Her pamphlets include understudies for air (Sad Press, 2017) and capriccio (Spam Press, 2019). She received an Eric Gregory Award for poetry in 2017 and a Betty Trask Award for fiction in 2019, and her visual work has been exhibited in galleries and institutions such as Tate St Ives, Talbot Rice Gallery and Edinburgh Art Festival. Daisy is currently working on Lovebug – a book about infection and intimacy – as part of a practice-based PhD at the University of Glasgow.
‘I can honestly say I would not be a published poet now if it were not for the Poetry School with its combination of skilled tutors and a supportive and nurturing environment.'