The Poetics of Escape: How to Overcome the Flatness of the Page

The Poetics of Escape: How to Overcome the Flatness of the Page

Explode the expectations, forms and traditions of poetic thought

Vahni Capildeo compares the linguistic sentence to a prison, and its architectural framework can indeed be construed as cage-like, for, whilst good poetry does gift us those rare, precious moments when it seems like the signifier has loosened its grip on the signified, thus signalling some kind of brief liberation, this is merely, as Ben Lerner writes, the ‘chafing’ of word against context. Taking pointers from the sprawling phenomenon of moss in Capildeo’s ‘Moss for Maya’, we’ll pursue a poetics of escape, striving to overcome the flatness of the page by writing out from expectation, form and tradition of thought. The course will consider the role that form can play in this puzzle, including Tongo Eisen-Martin’s Heaven Is All Goodbyes, whose poems, addressing issues of mass incarceration, cultivate a pervading sense of constraint, all the while negotiating a poetics of escape through experimental formal qualities, striving to reclaim the white narrative of the page. From J.R. Carpenter’s An Ocean of Static, whose cryptic stream of ever-shifting code and typographical boldness spectacularly reinvents the seascape, to Sophie Collins’ Who Is Mary Sue?, whose collage and reportage picks apart damaging assumptions about female creativity, we’ll cast a playfully cynical eye upon poetic exploration itself. The course will draw exclusively upon poetry published in the last two years to maintain a momentum of contemporary innovation, with participants emerging from these startlingly original texts more interrogative, and more invested in the stakes limiting thinking.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Tuesdays 7-9pm GMT, first live chat starting 15 October 2019.

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

A 10% discount is available to residents local to the Poetry School (anyone currently living in Rotherhithe, Riverside, Surrey Docks, South Bermondsey, Grange or Livesey).
Please contact for further information.
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About Jade Cuttle View Profile

Jade Cuttle graduated from the University of Cambridge with First-Class Honours in Literature, going on to undertake an MA in Poetry at the University of East Anglia. She is Deputy Poetry Editor at Ambit and judging the Costa Book Awards 2019. Selected by Ledbury Poetry Festival as an Emerging Critic and winning Best Reviewer (Editor’s Choice) in the 2018 Saboteur Awards, Jade has written for The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator, The Times & The Sunday Times, The Observer, BBC Radio 3, BBC Proms, The Poetry Review and elsewhere. She will release an album of nature-inspired poem-songs this year with funding and support from PRS Foundation.

‘The Poetry School has transformed me from feeling like someone skirting the suburbs of poetry to being someone living right in its vibrant metropolis.’

– Spring 2019 survey response

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