Writing Love in a Second Language

Writing Love in a Second Language

Explore the effects of living, and writing, between multiple languages.

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

Quiero ser tuya. Only yours. Only you.
Quiero amarte. Aarte. Amarrarte.
Love the way a Mexican woman loves. Let
me show you. Love the only way I know how.

– Sandra Cisneros, ‘You Bring Out the Mexican in Me’

In this course we will explore the feeling of inhabiting two (or more) languages and how living between them affects poetic sensibilities. The Hungary-born poet-translator George Szirtes, who writes in English and his native tongue, speaks of how his first and second languages “begin to talk to each other, so that they seem both natural and unnatural at the same time”; a process that sheds “a different light, not only on the other but on the nature of language and on the world itself”. We will consider how various poets enrich the traditions in which they work through their bilingualism and dual belonging, including reading poems by Sandra Cisneros, George Szirtes, Sujata Bhatt, Kamala Das, Shailja Patel, and Solmaz Sharif, plus many more. We shall also attempt to write poems and fragments about these sweet and strange encounters.

The course will have 2 parts, the first being a 3-hour Zoom session with the tutor, 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 26 September and 17 October, 10.30am – 1.30pm.

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

Image Credit: 1983 (steal my _ _ art)

About Meena Kandasamy View Profile

Meena Kandasamy (b. 1984) is a novelist, poet and translator who lives in East London. Her debut collection of poems, Touch (2006) was themed around caste and untouchability, and her second, Ms Militancy (2010) was an explosive, feminist retelling/reclaiming of Tamil and Hindu myths. Her critically acclaimed first novel, The Gypsy Goddess, smudged the line between powerful fiction and fearsome critique in narrating the 1968 massacre of forty-four landless untouchable men, women and children striking for higher wages in the village of Kilvenmani, Tanjore. Her second novel, a work of auto-fiction, When I Hit You: Or, The Portrait of the Writer As A Young Wife, drew upon her own experience within an abusive marriage, to lift the veil on the silence that surrounds domestic violence and marital rape in modern India. It was selected as book of the year by The Guardian, The Observer, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times; and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018, and Jhalak Prize. Her latest novel, Exquisite Cadavers, was published in November 2019.

‘I love coming to the Poetry school. The standard is so high that it is very stimulating and motivating.We all learn from each other. Poetry School is really helping me to feel a part of a community of committed and supportive poets and this is invaluable to my development as a writer.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

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