Thingly Power: (In)Animate Studio

Thingly Power: (In)Animate Studio

Discover your sensuous side and write poems exploring the radiant materiality of curious objects



Are crystals:

They take the life lived,

Narrow it, diffract it, project

Its pattern on the mind’s photographic plates, atoms

Integrated, othered, as forms

Thrown beyond the shapes…

– Steven Matthews, from ‘Fibonacci Crystals’ in Guests of Time (Valley Press, Scarborough)

How can we engage with the material world in a way that enriches our writing and our being? We could dismiss contemporary ‘materialism’ as disposable, surface level – but our relationships to the ‘inanimate’ can be significant. ‘Possessions remain profound,’ says Daniel Miller, an anthropologist who explored a whole street’s attachment to things: ‘usually the closer our relationships are with objects, the closer our relationships are with people’. But how to keep those relationships healthy? This course will initially invite you out into your local museum and gallery spaces to experience objects there through poetry writing tasks. These spaces highlight the Thingness of ‘special stuff’ – while often denying full sensuous (smelling, tasting, feeling) engagement with it, behind glass or red ropes. Over three assignments, you’ll be challenged to re-evaluate your relationship to both ‘special’, everyday, and especially-everyday objects through your writing; to extend that museum-like wonder and curiosity to what Jane Bennett calls, ‘the material agency of natural bodies and technological artifacts’. What if we rethink material objects as having real agency in our lives, their forms as having inherent potential? We’ll look at poems which take objects as their ‘way in’ – from museum anthologies, to Neruda’s ‘Odes to Everyday Objects’, to poems highlighting thingly power in technology & ecology – using close sensory attention to develop & expand our writing to the worlds around us. While some things ‘belong’ in a museum, or ‘deserve’ a poem – how do we make other matter… matter?

Studios are three week intensive courses. Reading material will be distributed before the course begins. There are no live chats so they are suitable for both UK & International students. 

For more information visit our Online Courses page.

(Image credit: ‘Thorvaldsens Museum’)

About Caleb Parkin View Profile

Caleb Parkin is a poet, performer, facilitator & filmmaker, based in Bristol. He works with schools, museums, science centres, universities, and more. He won first prize in the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017; in 2016, he won second prize in the National Poetry Competition, was shortlisted in The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition, and commended in the Ware Open Poetry Competition. He’s studying for an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes with Metanoia Institute.

‘Through this course I have finally found what I would love to do more than any of my other creative activities.’

Spring 2018 survey response

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