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Our Summer School Programme 2016

Summer’s here and the time is right for getting a burst of varied and exciting poetic inspiration. Once again, this Summer we’ll be running a week of workshops during the day to get you warmed up and inspired for some patio, beach or park-based reading and writing. We’ve asked some of our favourite poets to come and run workshops on their passion projects, try out some new ideas and bring some sunshine to Lambeth Walk.* We’ve got everything from architecture to film, increasing your word power to condensing everything into 140 characters, Rilke, Virgil, O’Hara and Bishop, public and private artefacts and an afternoon with the surrealists. So every poet, grab a pen and see below for further information.  

*Subject to availability.                             

Nick Field – The Poetic Archivist

Public and personal archives are a rich source of inspiration for poetry. Let Nick Field, Artist in Residence at London Metropolitan Archive, lead you through a journey of discovery of publicly available archival material and help you to explore your own personal archives, to create new pieces of poetry that can illuminate both history and our contemporary experience. This practical workshop will help you develop your poetry writing skills, explore new sources of inspiration, and how to turn documentary materials, archival items and your own personal artefacts into rounded and realised poems.

£35, £31, £27. Monday 25th July, 10.30am – 1.00pm


Ellen Cranitch – The Brightening Air: Seamus Heaney’s Aeneid VI

A son seeks his dead father in the underworld, a son who once carried his father through the flames of Troy. Meeting that father, he goes to embrace him – three times. But three times the figure slips through his arms, insubstantial as the wind. This image at the heart of Virgil’s Aeneid VI has inspired poets from Dante to Bernard O’Donoghue. It transfixed Seamus Heaney. In this workshop we will explore why. We’ll probe the poem’s themes, looking at why it speaks so powerfully to our times; how it illuminates love and loss, the terror and yearning of displaced peoples, the bringing into being which is the basis of the creative act. By focusing on Virgil and Heaney’s potent repertoire of poetic techniques, we’ll harness their writing to galvanise our own.

£35, £31, £27 . Monday 25th July, 2.00pm – 4.30pm


Emma Hammond – Social Media for Poets

Marketing – a word that strikes fear into the hearts of anyone with a modicum of integrity. Social Media is a wasteland full of desperate egotistic sell-outs. Right? Actually, no. On this course you will look at how you can use Social Media creatively to build an authentic online identity while making sure that people get to read your poetry and hear your voice. You will also explore how the internet can inform your work and enhance your understanding of where it is you fit in a vast network of different types of poets. As well as looking at how to actually use the various platforms (including our own CAMPUS); you will talk about how to overcome the fear of being heard, as well as the issues surrounding privacy and copyright.

£35, £31, £27, Tuesday 26th July, 10.30am – 1.00pm


Tim Cumming – Film Poetry

Film poems are becoming increasingly popular as a form, and with phone and computer technology it is a form that is more accessible than it may first appear. In this practical session, you will have an introduction to the history of film and poetry, from early examples like Night Mail, to the 90s Bloodaxe films for Channel 4, to contemporary examples of the cutting edge of 21st Century short filmmaking. Then you’ll get a breakdown of the aesthetic and practical methods involved in putting together Poetry Films, and how you can use your own technology to create them.

£35, £31, £27, Tuesday 26th July, 2.00pm – 4.30pm


Emily Berry – Temporal Explosions

Suppose a poem were a kind of building? After all, ‘stanza’ famously means ‘room’. Gaston Bachelard wrote, ‘If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ In this workshop you will explore what kind of architecture is involved in the making of a poem and how that structure can become a containing force for ‘temporal explosions’ and ‘whirlwinds of being’. You will examine poetic form with an emphasis on the intersection of concrete and lyric poetry, exploring how the shape of a poem might build its logic and resonance, and vice versa – looking at poems built as pillars or blocks, exploded poems, and poems with layering, spaces or voids. This is a course for anyone interested in getting out of their comfort zone and building something from the ground up.

£35, £31, £27 , Wednesday 27th July, 10.30am – 1.00pm


Lewis Parker – Everyday Surrealism

This session will offer a fast-paced, practical introduction to Surrealism as a literary tradition and practice. After an introductory presentation on some of the background and methodology, you will be guided through different modes of automatic writing to generate new work, both solo and in collaboration. Throughout the workshop you will stretch your linguistic ability and be opened up to new methods of composition and publishing. This practical session will include an introduction to Surrealism as a movement and the role of spontaneous composition, simple writing exercises, ideas for writing with constraints (the Acrostic, Lipogram, Haiku & more) and the ‘exquisite corpse’ and other collaborative writing methods.

£35, £31, £27, Wednesday 27th July, 2.00pm – 4.30pm


Kelley Swain – Object Lessons

This workshop will focus on how poets and museums can collaborate, both through public engagement and private research, to produce exciting new work. Get tips and ideas on how to draw inspiration from museum objects, get involved in museum collections and practical suggestions for how to set up your own residency.

Kelley has been poet-in-residence at Cambridge University’s Whipple Museum of the History of Science, and in 2016 is one of three poets-in-residence at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Her books have grown from collaborations with the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the Herschel Museum Bath, the Florentine Museum of Physics and Natural History, and the Wellcome Collection.

£35, £31, £27, Thursday 28th July, 10.30am – 1.00pm


John Mccullough – Having a Sandpiper with You

Having a Sandpiper with You explores the contrasting approaches of two of America’s most influential twentieth century poets, Elizabeth Bishop and Frank O’Hara. During this session, you will discuss what we can learn as writers from looking closely at the effects of each poet’s techniques, which use observations in radically different ways in spite of a shared interest in painting. You’ll look at several poems by each, and there will be a range of related exercises to encourage you to be bolder in your handling of objects, cities and landscapes.

£35, £31, £27, Thursday 28th July, 2.00pm – 4.30pm


James Brookes – Vocabulistics

“Extend your vocabulary!” So said your English teacher, once upon a time. But how, and in what direction? Where and when can you get away with archaic, technical or invented words? When is a word too much – or not enough? In this workshop, you’ll look over ways that poets from Sappho and Catullus to Oli Hazzard and Sarah Howe have played with the properties of unusual words. You’ll share tips and tricks for finding or forging words and create new poems out of nonces, logatomes, sniglets and hapax legomena.

£35, £31, £27, Friday 29th July, 10.30am – 1.00pm


Chrissy Williams – You Must Change Your Life

This practical workshop will take Rilke’s ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’ as a jumping-off point for thinking about life-changing art and other experiences, and finding different ways to write about them. With examples and exercises to encourage new work and give you fresh ideas for how to begin your own catalytic work. It’ll put the “ra!” in ekphrastic!

£35, £31, £27, Friday 29th July, 2.00pm – 4.30pm

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Main Image: I Am Fry