Voicing Public Emotion: Poetry & Politics

Voicing Public Emotion: Poetry & Politics

Move between the public and private in this day of political poetic writing.

Joseph Brodsky said that poetry and politics have nothing in common except the letters ‘p’ and ‘o’, suggesting perhaps that politics is too much of a public act, in direct opposition to the poetic act, which takes root in private experience. He insisted on protecting lyric language from the pollution of deformed political discourse, which often feels manipulative. But what happens if political realities shape and change the way we live our private, individual lives? Is there a language that feels artistically appropriate as it takes on the subject of politics? What is the difference between verse propaganda and poetry that shows how politics affect the inner landscapes of our experience? What constitutes political poetry? Can poetry articulate the damage done by politics? In this workshop we will read several poems that tackle political subjects, to identify the language of poetry that can take on difficult subjects, without losing its power to move and delight. We will also generate new work with the help of several writing prompts. Everyone is welcome.

Saturday 14 November, 10.30am – 4.30pm.

This class will be in our 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: EV

About Carmen Bugan View Profile

Carmen BuganGeorge Orwell Prize Fellow, has published four collections of poems, most recently Lilies from America: New and Selected Poems (PBS Special Commendation), a memoir, Burying the Typewriter (BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week), and a monograph, Seamus Heaney and East European Poetry in Translation: Poetics of Exile.  Her book of essays, Poetry and the Language of Oppression, will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2021. She was a guest on current affairs and history programmes on the BBC, NPR, ABC, and The Monocle. A recipient of an Arts Council Grant, she was a Creative Arts Fellow in Literature at Wolfson College, Oxford University, and the Helen DeRoy Professor in Honors at the University of Michigan. She has a doctorate in English literature from Balliol College, Oxford. 

‘The courses are stimulating and great for extending the range of one’s reading and writing. They’re refreshing and the process of giving and receiving feedback is useful.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

Related Courses