Courses

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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Stand-up Poetry Studio: Uncovering a Way Between Speech and Song

The first time I remember wanting to be a poet — I mean, trying to figure out what I could do next in order to immediately start becoming one — was when I saw Philip Levine read at Boston University in 1994. Between one poem about the power dying in the steel mill where he…

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LETZ MEDDLE ENGLISH: Speaking with Accents & Meddling in English

Each time I walk to the station in my district of Greater Copenhagen, I see LETZ SUSHI in bold white font on the black rectangle screwed to the brick wall. And each time I smile, though I must have seen this sign hundreds of times (I moved to Denmark in 2009). I’m never tired of…

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New Definitions and Neologisms: Interview with Kate Potts

Ahead of her summer one-day workshop on The Poetry of Dictionaries, we caught up with Kate Potts to find out what students can expect. JT: Hi Kate. Thanks for answering a few questions for us! So New Definitions and Neologisms: The Poetry of Dictionaries – it’s quite a workshop title! Can you tell us a little more…

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‘The Art of Memory: Poetry of the Past and Present’

Memory is who we are. It is the story that we tell ourselves about where we come from and how we got to be here now. At the same time, our sense of the past is constantly shifting. We re-interpret it in the re-telling and adapt our past to our present purposes. My new online…

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‘The Zoo of the New: Writing Childhood and Family’

Would you be a child again? For all its wonder, innocence, joy and freedom, childhood can also be full of insecurity, confusion and darkness. After all, it is a land of extremes where every feeling, no matter how transitory, is worn on the face. Children cannot help expressing their authentic selves, regardless of the situation….

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‘I sing the praises of a fart’: On Keeping Our Wits

More than ever, we need to keep our wits about us. If our shared reality seems increasingly topsy turvy, our need for wit – as a way of seriously and playfully experimenting with language and digesting diverse experiences – must be at its greatest. It’s a subject we’ll be exploring closely on my upcoming online course, Keeping…

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‘Thought, in poetry, is felt’

Alright, sometimes a poem can be too conceptual, too austerely cerebral, too loftily academic, too preeningly intellectual, too all-round thinky. Sure. But only as much as other poems can be too runnily sentimental, too intellectually lazy and biddable. Surely some kind of middle ground is in order, then? I believe that this middle ground should…

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Melting identities: does it matter where you are from?

There is no doubt about it: the world is changing, and changing quickly. As people travel from one place to another to work or live, they create increasingly multicultural communities where different ideas, customs and languages interact, combine and clash. In London, for example, the streets are filled with the cadences of different dialects as people…

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Pattern is not an algorithm: on poetry and pattern

Pattern in poetry is not just an algorithm at work, i.e., ‘the poem that writes itself’. In fact, it might be said that anything that writes itself, whether it be a moral code, a way of handling people, an approach of giving a percentage of income to charity, is bound for trouble. We live in…

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To Sea in a Sieve: The Joy of Writing Children’s Poetry

Whenever I talk about children’s poetry, I end up using the word ‘joy’. Multiple times. Sometimes I throw in a ‘delight’ or two as well. I’ll do that here, too, because it’s the key point I want to get across: it is a total joy to read, write and perform children’s poetry, and one I…

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Islands, poetry and getting away from it all

I remember giving a set of poems at ‘Reading the Leaves’, a night in Tchai Ovna in Glasgow where I liked to try out new work alongside other poets, novelists and writers.  The poems in my set were mostly new, and seemed to arise independently of one another, but a striking commonality revealed itself as…

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