The Unsent, Unanswered Letter

The Unsent, Unanswered Letter

Investigate how the desire to address an other can unlock conversations with the self.

We address others every day in our correspondences and messages, but there are so many correspondences we write that are never sent, or which go awry, bounce back, remain unanswered or need to be kept private. This course will be about imagining our addressee, how the addressee shifts or remains static, and to whom we most want to reach when we write a poem. Even when the addressee is absent, there is perhaps a space waiting to be filled, a letter needing to be written, and sometimes all we need to be able to write the thing we most need to write is to know who it is we must write to. Beginning with Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters we will incorporate the ‘I’ and ‘you’ into poems written to a particular addressee. We will create imaginary email correspondences, write letters to our future selves or imagined future encounters, letters to our literary heroes and heroines, epistolary vignettes that describe and evoke those feelings that are most difficult to articulate: guilt, regret, loneliness, hope and pain. We will look at other poets who address, including Sharon Olds, Andrew Marvell, Ariana Reines, Lyn Lifshin, Luke Kennard, Fran Lock and Elizabeth Smart, and investigate the idea of how the desire to address the other can invariably unlock the most vital conversations with the self. We’ll also look at those poets for whom the love letter was part of their writing practice, particularly Dylan Thomas and John Keats.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Tuesdays, 7 – 9pm GMT, first live chat starting 23rd May.

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

About Melissa Lee-Houghton Profile photo of Melissa Lee-Houghton View Profile

Melissa Lee-Houghton is a Next Generation Poet, essayist and fiction writer. Her three poetry collections, A Body Made of You, Beautiful Girls (Poetry Book Society Recommendation) and Sunshine (nominated for the Costa Prize and containing the Forward Prize nominated ‘i am very precious’) are published by Penned in the Margins.

I took these classes at the poetry school since taking time off from work to parent my baby. It gave me such a welcome relief, and inspired me to write while she sleeps, both to share in this journey and to grow as a creative person and writer.

- Summer 2016 survey response

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