Window, Mirror, Knife, Disaster, & Reinvention: Poetry of Glass

Window, Mirror, Knife, Disaster, & Reinvention: Poetry of Glass

Look through and break into glass – houses, ceilings, slippers, shot glasses and hearts of toughened glass.

*  To ensure the safety of our tutors and students, this course will take place on video-conferencing platform, ZOOM *

In two linked online workshops a fortnight apart we’ll enter the contradictory life of glass in poems – vision, prediction, and future shock; breakage, traps, and bottle imps. Its transparency, impermeability, fragility, and capacity to protect and distort have made it a fruitful resource for poets. Like many everyday substances, its homely concreteness coexists with a rich and flexible symbolism.

We will look at what poets might see through glass and find poems that were born in its reflections; while poems about windows and mirrors are everywhere, we’ll take inspiration from some more inventive examples. We’ll look at how easily glass can break – and how sharp it is when it does; we’ll investigate the supposed slow flow of glass (often used as a proxy for time passing) and navigate the glass architecture of churches, shopping centres, and urban landscapes, exploring what is close and distant, alongside testing out some altered and controlled states of vision. We’ll also take this opportunity to explore some of glass’s odder and newer presentations – such as smart glass, toughened glass, glass ceilings, and the glass walls of commerce, gentrification, and surveillance, plus the mandrake-like fulgurites left in beaches after lightning.

Over the two workshops we’ll read work by many exciting poets – including Greta Stoddart, Martha Sprackland, Sylvia Plath, Tracy K Smith, Charles Tomlinson, Claire Crowther, Michael Donaghy, Zaffar Kunial, Kate Miller, Peter Redgrove, Jane Draycott and Michael Ondaatje,  amongst others – and, in exploring the poetic usage of glass, we’ll look at how we might make our own new uses of it and expand our sense of how materials shift over time in the ideas they attract and the weight they can bear.

The course will have 2 parts, the first being a Zoom session, filled with challenging reading, writing, and group discussions on the topic, after which you’ll be set various writing prompts and exercises to complete at home, before reconvening for a Zoom-based workshop in part 2 to discuss and develop your new poems.

Saturday 14 & 28 November, 2–4.30pm.

Image Credit: PedroRibeiroSimoes

About Judy Brown View Profile

Judy Brown’s collections are Loudness (2011, shortlisted for the Forward and Aldeburgh prizes for best first collection) and Crowd Sensations (2016, shortlisted for the Ledbury Forte Prize and a PBS Recommendation). Both are published by Seren. She has won the Manchester Poetry Prize and Poetry London competition. Judy was Poet-in-Residence at the Wordsworth Trust during 2013, and at Gladstone’s Library in June 2014. In summer 2019 she held a creative fellowship in Exeter University’s Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. She teaches and mentors, including giving poetry surgeries for the Poetry Society.

‘I feel part of a strong and supportive community.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

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