The Spell of the Sensuous

The Spell of the Sensuous

Use your senses to bring poems alive.

Mark Doty has said, “try to find words for the shades of a mottled sassafras leaf, or the reflectivity of a bay on an August morning, or the very beginnings of desire stirring in the gaze of someone looking right into your eyes, and it immediately becomes clear that all we see is slippery, nuanced, elusive.” As Susan Mitchell says, “The world is wily, and doesn’t want to be caught.”

In this workshop we’ll explore how poets catch the world. Looking at the work of Mark Doty, Kim Addonizio, Carol Ann Duffy and others we’ll employ the senses to capture a felt experience. Using words tuned to their highest ability, we’ll produce a rich, engaging, suggestible way of encountering life through provocation – the spell of the sensuous – and using a series of writing exercises, we’ll produce our own sensory effects in living, breathing poems that have a vitality all their own.

We’ll learn that using the senses tricks the brain into believing what it is reading is being experienced as real, dilating our sentences to their outer limits, so one may feel through the eye and ear all the senses within the syntax. Through compression and sonority, a whole landscape of experience can be reflected as if in a drop of water. We’ll capture the impulses of wonder, pleasure, resentment or regret so that with our quick, satisfying gestures, the world may flare up for the reader.

Saturday 1 December. One-day workshop, 10.30am – 4.30pm.

This workshop will be in our new offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.

More information about how all our face-to-face courses work can be found on the Face-to-Face courses page.

Image credit: ‘Lisa Sabater-Mozo 2’

About Miriam Darlington View Profile

Miriam Darlington writes the regular Nature Notebook column for The Times. Her first collection of poetry, Windfall, was published by Oversteps in 2008. In 2009 on a fully-funded Creative and Critical PhD at Exeter University she produced Otter Country a travel and nature memoir. Owl Sense, a memoir about the wild owl species of Europe, was published by Guardian Faber in February 2018, serialised by BBC Radio Four for Book of the Week, became a Sunday Times bestseller, and was long listed far the Wainwright Prize.

Praise for Owl Sense‘Darlington gives back a sense of dignity and wildness to a creature that captures our imagination like no other’ – The Times. ‘Achingly beautiful’ – The Observer. ‘A beautiful book, wise and sharp-eared as its subject’ – Robert Macfarlane

‘The Poetry School is the only place I know where there is a real choice of different ways to work on your poetic skills, with constant encouragement and support.’

– Spring 2018 survey response

Related Courses