Writing the Self: Performance & Sacrifice

Writing the Self: Performance & Sacrifice

Explore what it means to perform aspects of the self in your poetry and discuss what is lost, gained, and – potentially – transformed in the process.

In Ban en Banlieue, Bhanu Kapil writes “At the last moment, it seems unbearable to read my actual writing aloud in front of a local group. […] To strip down, partially, because nudity, to be effective, to be frightening, should be that”. Describing the poetic performance of self as ceremony and “auto-sacrifice”, Kapil imagines the bodies of performers and audience members as discharging something, disrupting, and transforming the space they share.

In this workshop, we will think about what it means to perform aspects of the self on the page and also in live contexts; asking, how do we relate to our readers and audiences (real and imaginary); what do we offer them; how do we anticipate and react to them; what are the benefits and obstacles of turning towards our readers and audiences in this way?

We will read poets who discuss ways of relating to their readers and audiences in terms of intimacy, vulnerability, refusal, and ‘the right to opacity’: Anne Boyer, Bhanu Kapil, Momtaza Mehri, Holly Pester, and M Nourbese Philip. We will try out some different techniques of writing, performing, and obscuring the self, and discuss what is lost, gained, and – potentially – transformed in the process.

Saturday 1 February, 10.30am – 4.30pm.

All classes 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.

A 10% discount is available to residents local to the Poetry School (anyone currently living in Rotherhithe, Riverside, Surrey Docks, South Bermondsey, Grange or Livesey). Please contact [email protected] for further information.
Image Credit: bm

About Nisha Ramayya View Profile

Nisha Ramayya grew up in Glasgow and is currently based in London. Her debut collection States of the Body Produced by Love is published by Ignota Books (September 2019). She is a member of the ‘Race & Poetry & Poetics in the UK’ research group and a lecturer in Creative Writing at Queen Mary University of London.

‘The Poetry School shows a blue sky approach to what it considers poetry. I have benefitted from this immensely by being made aware of possibilities in my practice that I didn’t even know existed before. It can only be a great force in stimulating difference and experiment.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

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