Courses

Talking Back: Poetry, Dialogue and Voice

In her 2017 collection Stranger Baby, Emily Berry stages a dialogue between voices living and dead, a sort of haunted (and haunting) psychodrama, both intimate and fiercely private: “I wish you would put some kind of distortion on my voice,” says the speaker in ‘The End’, “so people don’t know it’s me.” This is poetry…

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The Opposite House: But We Never Go In That Room!

  [T]he borders of our minds are ever shifting, and…many minds can flow into one another, as it were, and create or reveal a single mind, a single energy.   from ‘On Magic’ by W. B. Yeats.   Childhood is a time when our brains are, as Yeats states, ‘ever shifting’. We are laying the…

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Fully Automated Radical Pessimism

Some of my favorite books to teach are dystopian, like George Orwell’s 1984, M.T Anderson’s Feed, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. All of these books inform my work, but especially Station Eleven. In the book, Mandel asks the question: what would survive in the end of the world? Shakespeare…

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Naming the Hill: A Conversation with the Non-Human

Ahead of her new online course, Die Like a Wolf: Writing the Non-Human, Suzannah Evans discusses the non-human in her poem ‘Naming the Hill’, published for the first time here.   Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man…

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Archiving Your Self Yourself: an interview with James Davies

James Davies is interviewed by James Davies – his uncannily named next-door neighbour – about his upcoming course for Poetry School, Archiving Your Self Yourself: Quantified Self Studio James Davies:  Hi there James. How are things this morning? James Davies:  Really really great James. Right now I’m dandy. I’m usually dandy. I see the birds….

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‘Why do dominant cultures translate so much?’

Translation is a hot topic. Search for ‘translation’ in Google and you’ll see numerous news stories; many are to do with an innovative array of emerging translation technologies – for example, earbuds that can translate languages in real time. Whereas human translators may find simultaneous translation mentally exhausting, machine translators can last as long as…

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Why do we read, and write, taboos?

A few years ago I read Tiger Tiger, a controversial memoir by Margaux Fragoso which chronicles her long-term relationship with a 51-year old man, Peter, which began when she was just seven years old. As a culture, we are collectively repelled by paedophiles – the acts they engage in, or even fantasise about, with children…

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Two for Joy: Happy Poems

Sky entered and held surprise wide open (‘The Skylight’, Seamus Heaney) . It seems I was called for this: / To glorify things just because they are (‘Blacksmith Shop’, Czesław Miłosz, translated by the author and Robert Hass) . Pass the tambourine, let me bash out praises (‘The Way We Live’, Kathleen Jamie)   Happiness…

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Transreading the Baltics

Want to see Riga? Or, for that matter, any other place in Latvia. Or Lithuania. Or Estonia… In July 2009 I moved out of Poland, which – five years after joining the European Union – hoped to be perceived as a central part of its continent, rather than its eastern addition. I moved out of…

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Summer 2018 Courses Quick Guide

The Summer 2018 Term is now open for booking! We are delighted to open the booking period for the final term of our 20th anniversary year at the Poetry School. Remember that new students get 15% off all courses, just give us a call to get your discount! Concessions are available, and applications for bursaries –…

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Rules Were Made to be Broken

Despite the title I have chosen for this workshop, rules in poetry are not necessarily a bad thing. Anyone thinking of entering a poetry competition for the first time, for instance, would do well to read Fleur Adcock’s hilarious ‘The prize-winning poem’, which gives a very clear idea of the kinds of things that are…

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Now Hear This: A Mixtape

To celebrate our upcoming course, Now Hear This: Percussion, Tune and the Poetics of Hip Hip, our tutor and MC, Eric Berlin, has kindly put together this mixtape of the best tracks from his favourite lyricists in the game. It’s a great way to fend off these slate grey, droopy January days. If this doesn’t…

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‘Letting Your Avant-Garde Down’ – An Interview with Caleb Parkin

Ahead of his new course in Bristol, Letting Your Avant-Garde Down, we spoke to this year’s National Poetry Competition second prize winner Caleb Parkin. Ali Lewis: Hi Caleb! You’re running a new five-week course with us called Letting Your Avant-Garde Down. Can you tell us a bit about it? Caleb Parkin: The term ‘avant-garde’ is a…

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Digital Poetry Beyond the Prehistoric

I think digital poetry is a genre that can offer poets exciting possibilities to create new work that explores and expands language. And that’s what I’m aiming to do with my new course at the Poetry School. After tweeting about the course and some debate on social media I’ve taken to blogging, because you really…

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The Poetry of Rubbish: Interview with John Wedgwood Clarke

  Next term, John Wedgwood Clarke will be teaching The Poetry of Rubbish, a five-session course in Exeter. Harriet David, an Oxford masters student who spent a week researching at The Poetry School, spoke to John about the course.     Harriet: Hi John. You spent two years as poet in residence at two Yorkshire rubbish sites;…

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On Writing Your Body, Outside In

What a strange thing it is to inhabit this gummy, flexible, porous, resilient, terrifying, exhilarating vessel from which we have no escape. Take a deep breath. Four seconds in (count them), and four seconds out (count them). What a different thing it is to purposefully concentrate on the one act we’ve done continuously since birth,…

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Risking forms

One of the best things that a poem can do is that it can unsettle you. It may be a certain strangeness to do with its form or the voice, for instance, that keeps you thinking about what it says. Take, for instance, the creative decision Abigail Parry made, to begin her poem ‘Arterial’ (which…

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The Shadow of Violence

One Friday night, when I was fifteen, I got into a fight. More accurately: I bravely stood-up for a loudmouth friend and then bravely lay in the grass, while five men kicked my head in. This was nothing unusual for my mid-teens (or indeed my mid-twenties). The only difference being that this time I limped-off…

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Beyond the Self and Writing What You Don’t Know

‘Write what you know’ is the advice often given to new writers, and it’s true that our stories, or versions of the stories that haunt us, are the starting point for much of our writing.  If you are not Karl Ove Knausgaard, however, you may tire of your life story and yearn to transcend the limits…

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‘A curious, messy business, fraught with failure’: Poetry and Science

Our lives are threaded through with science  – from the way our cars convert petrol into energy to how food changes form when cooked at different temperatures (runny or hard-boiled eggs, anyone?). I mean, isn’t the Great British Bake Off really a science show involving a lot of cake? Scientists often use languages and vocabularies…

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Queer Poetics: Beyond the White, Straight, (Cis-)Male Literary Canon

In recent years, I’ve been increasingly keen on the word ‘queer’ as a descriptive tool for self-identifying as LGBTQ+, but also as a way of negotiating and understanding the society we find ourselves in. Despite its former derogatory connotations, ‘queer’ has since been reclaimed by many as a powerful lens through which to better depict…

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Spring 2018 Course Quick Guide

Spring Term 2018 is now open for booking! We are delighted to open the booking period for the second term of our 20th anniversary year at the Poetry School. Feast your eyes on our forthcoming line-up of brilliant courses and workshops, and start planning your new year of poetry writing! Remember that new students get 15%…

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“I’ve been told not to say ‘puppy’ or ‘rainbow’ and not to shout ‘fire'”: Eric Berlin’s Stand-Up Poetry Studio

Our online programme producer, Will Barrett, talks comedy & poetry with National Poetry Competition winner Eric Berlin ahead of his Autumn online course, Stand-Up Poetry Studio.  Hi Eric – it’s open mic night at the Goofy Moose. What’s your opening joke? Eric: Well, I think most people actually hate jokes. Being told a bunch of jokes…

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Pamphlet / Portfolio: An Interview with Wayne Holloway-Smith

We sat down with Geoffrey Dearmer Prize-winner Wayne Holloway-Smith ahead of his new Pamphlet / Portfolio three-term course, designed to help guide your work to publication.   Hi Wayne. You’re running a course for us called Pamphlet / Portfolio. Could you tell us a little bit about that? I’m particularly interested at the moment in the conversation…

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To Be Continued… A Life in Sequences

I’ve written about place for as long as I’ve written poems. It fascinates me. For several years I struggled every which way I can think of to try and put into poetry the plural layers of reality, history, lived experience, interpretations and personal myth that we experience in the places we know well. Often, trying…

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