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Open Workshop: ‘The Art of Ventriloquism’

A history of ventriloquism, to be summarised and re-written:

Originally, ventriloquism was a religious practice. The name comes from the Latin for to speak from the stomach, i.e. venter (belly) and loqui (speak). The noises produced by the stomach were thought to be the voices of the unliving, who took up residence in the stomach of the ventriloquist. The ventriloquist would then interpret the sounds, as they were thought to be able to speak to the dead, as well as foretell the future.

This Open Workshop with Clare Shaw looks at examples of ‘ventriloquism’ in contemporary poetry. Putting our mouths, hearts, stomachs and minds to work, we’ll read poets who have dug deep, spoken out and given voice to an array of inanimate objects, works of art and animals, as well as those who have projected their voices onto silenced people in mythology, social and personal history. We’ll identify the possibilities this opens up for us as writers and the practical strategies that we may draw on; and then we’ll have a go ourselves!


Title: ‘The Art of Ventriloquism’

START DATE: Wednesday 2 December 2015

DEADLINE: Wednesday 9 December 2015, 12noon

LIVE CHAT: Wednesday 9 December 2015, 7-9pm GMT

To book your place, please email [email protected]

Note: places are given on a first-come first-served basis, but priority may be given to first-time students.


Clare Shaw has two poetry collections with Bloodaxe, Straight Ahead (2006), which was shortlisted for the Glen Dimplex New Writers’ Award for Poetry, and attracted a Forward Prize Highly Commended for Best Single Poem, and Head On (2012). She is the Royal Literary Fellow at the University of Huddersfield, and works a tutor with the Arvon Foundation, the National Writer’s Centre of Wales, the Wordsworth Trust, and the Poetry School, Manchester. Clare is also a mental health researcher and trainer, with a specialism in self-injury and associated issues and has published and edited non-fiction books, chapters and articles in this field. She is the Poetry School’s 11th Digital Poet in Residence.


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Image Credits:

Image credit: Luke Kondor