The Possibility of Everything: Writing Experimental Poetry

The Possibility of Everything: Writing Experimental Poetry

An advanced tour through avant-garde writing with the editor of experimental poetry press, if p then q.

Experimental Poetry is a tricky term to pin down. In one respect it might describe a range of modernist and postmodernist writing styles (some of which are designated as movements) including concrete and visual poetry, Language Poetry, collage, Surrealism and Dada, expanded translation, Oulipo, erasure, minimalism, and conceptualism.

We can also define it by two other key concepts: innovation and play. Innovation is best described by Ezra Pound’s never dating maxim ‘make it new’. Although Pound’s mantra can sound daunting its main tenet is the expansion of ideas rather than the creation of something from nothing. Small and purposeful adaptations to what is already in place feel fresh and are rewarding for writer and reader alike. Just as rewarding is play, a concept often frowned upon as an adult activity or just simply neglected. The range of ways that we can play is best suggested by Bernadette Mayer’s famous long list of writing experiments, which are only the tip of the iceberg. Innovation and play – often coalescing – expand the world.

Our focus on this course is not so much in defining the term but exploring and experimenting with the infinite possibilities that are available as writers. By using the toolkit of established methods, adapting those styles, and also playing like a child in a sandpit or working as rigorously as a scientist in a lab you will find the heart of Experimental Poetry, where variety, as they say, is the spice of life.

Masterclasses are an expanded version of our International courses, with a much deeper consideration of technical craft and critical theory. These 12 week courses (maximum 10 places) are for advanced students only, and fluency with poetic language and ideas will be assumed. There are no live chats and they are suitable for UK and International students.

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

Image Credit: Sheldon Liu

About James Davies View Profile

James Davies is the author stack (Carcanet) and Plants (Reality Street) as well as a number of other poetry collections and pamphlets. His latest book of poems is Forty-Four Poems and a Volta published by Red Ceilings. He has also published two novels — The Wood Pigeons (Dostoevsky Wannabe) & the psychedelic adventure When Two Are in Love or As I Came To Behind Frank’s Transporter (published by Crater and written in collaboration with Philip Terry). The short story The Ten Superstrata of Stockport J. Middleton, a rewrite of the first page of Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, came out recently from Ma Bibliothèque. Find out more at

‘A light in the darkness of a challenging year. How wonderful to sit and write, read and comment on other writer’s work, open your creative horizons while the world closes down around you. For many of us this has been a life-line of hope, warmth and friendship.’

– Autumn Term 2020 survey response

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