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Claiming the Margin as Centre

‘To be in the margin is to be part of the whole but outside the main body’ says bell hooks in the preface to Feminist Theory: from Margin to Centre. hooks’ statement elucidates the duality that comes with a position at the margin.

You are looking both out and in at the same time. Looking out on the experience you are at the margin of – and into the centre of your own experience (deemed marginal) by those in the centre. What can you glean from being outside the body, that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see? What power can you wield from the vantage point of the margin? Whilst marginality is often conceived of as a disadvantaged position, there are endless creative possibilities to be found at the fringe. This course will explore the ways that writing from the margin(s) – and refusing to shift your position, can in fact help you find a unique, empowered voice to write from.

In an interview following her Nobel prize for Literature, Toni Morrison famously explained the conviction she felt as a writer, ‘ I stood at the border….claimed it as central … and let the rest of the world move over to where i was’.  This statement still sends shivers down my spine, and I was inspired to devise this course simply because I wanted to explore ways in which we can bolster our own writing with the same confidence and self assurance. Morisson’s strength comes, not from accepting her marginality, but refusing it all together and understanding that she is in fact standing at the centre of something of value, her own life and lives like hers. In this workshop we will explore how to write from this centre – how to write with a rootedness.

What parts of yourself do you need to centre, to welcome in to your poetics? What are the aspects of your experience that you have overlooked, deemed unworthy of archiving and exploring with the pen? Camille Rankine’s searing  poem ‘Inheritance’ boldly inhabits the marginal. The full ownership of her position in between belongings is what lends the poem its weight and punch:

I have no prayer in which to keep

Am I home or merely caught

Between two unmarked graves

Here she explores the aftermath of familial displacement with clarity and subtlety. The typographic choices in Rankine’s poem offers further food for thought as she aligns her poem to a right margin of the page. A subtle yet deliberate decision allows the poems appearance on the page, to speak of movement, a shift in perspective – she is asking the reader to move to her position – to move towards another margin – her centre.

On my upcoming course we will explore work from poets such as Camille Rankin who stand firmly and creatively in their idiosyncrasies, and in doing so teach us invaluable lessons about authenticity and voice.

This is a perfect course for anyone wishing to bring previously unexplored themes to the page. For anyone wishing to play at the border and uncover what fresh and fertile soil they have been standing on. For anyone wishing to push their voice into new territory, and find home on the page once more. We will be looking at works from an array of poets including Jay Bernard, Mary Jean Chan, Malika Booker, Carl Philips, Raymond Antrobus, Melvin Dixon and more.

Centre our various marginalised identities on Remi Graves’ online course, Claiming the Margin as Centre. Book online or ring us on 0207 582 1679.

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