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Voices in the Dark: A Memorisation Diary

This blog collects a series of diary fragments taken over a period while I was preparing to recite from memory a poetry set for this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. The event – ‘Voices in the Dark’ – sees poets performing to a crowd in a pitch black room, without the usual notebooks and print-outs to…

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Twenty-first Century Craft

  Sing, clear-voiced Muse, of Hephaestus famed for inventions. With bright-eyed Athena he taught men glorious crafts throughout the world, – men who before used to dwell in caves in the mountains like wild beasts. But now that they have learned crafts through Hephaestus the famed worker, easily they live a peaceful life in their…

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The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Oscar Wilde & Lord Alfred Douglas

You came to me to learn the Pleasure of Life and the Pleasure of Art. Perhaps I am chosen to teach you something much more wonderful, the meaning of Sorrow, and its beauty. – Oscar Wilde, De Profundis   In 1891 Oscar Wilde met Lord Alfred Douglas in the architectural jewel-town of Rouen. Douglas was…

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A Bibliophile’s Manifesto

  ☞ Because I feel its secret weight in my pocket or the crook of an arm ☞ Because little creatures bore and live inside it, making a home for themselves ☞ Because it smells ☞ Because I can turn it over in my hands and feel how it’s been made ☞ Because it harbours memories and the trappings of…

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A Personal Preface

  As a child I wrote many a “happy song”, often compiling them in books of my own construction with accompanying drawings. Thankfully these weren’t such “that all may read”, but remained private, incompletely formed little objects that I enjoyed making and owning. Since then I’ve been learning about the bookmaking process and how techniques…

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Meet the Digital Poet in Residence: Lavinia Singer

An Interview with Lavinia Singer

Hi Lavinia! When we first started discussing your residency  – For the Love of Craft: Confessions of a Bibliophile – you spoke about wanting to “defend your aestheticist interests”. So could we start by explaining what those are and why you think they need defending? Lavinia: I suppose the issue is with beauty and how to…

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CAMPUS Pamphlets: ‘Mixed Borders’

This giant marrow of a flicky book is the latest in our series of CAMPUS pamphlets, and has sprung from the green fingers of our Mixed Borders poets. In early summer this year, we collaborated with the London Parks and Gardens Trust to put sixteen poets in sixteen of the gardens taking part in London…

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Literature is intoxicating, poetry in particular

Writing is an addiction; the process leaks endorphins and writer’s block can cause terrible withdrawal symptoms. When writers date writers it is like dating your dealer, you are always in close proximity to your next fix. Communication becomes transportation, we go on ‘a trip’ lining up words for inhalation: the climaxes and comedowns, mania and…

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Rebellious Love: Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky

When Allen Ginsberg first laid admiring eyes on Peter Orlovsky in 1954 in a flat in San Francisco, he was naked in a painting with tousled yellow hair and a beguiling gaze.  He asked the artist who it was posing, and Orlovsky was called from the other room, transmogrified into reality, fully clothed.  It was…

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Lavinia Singer is our 10th Digital Poet in Residence

This weekend, to coincide with the Free Verse poetry book fair, we will be welcoming another new Digital Poet in Residence to CAMPUS. Sneaky aren’t we? We’re exceptionally delighted to have the delightfully exceptional Lavinia Singer join us as The Poetry School’s 10th official poet in residence. As Janette Ayachi (DPIR

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Love and Suicide: Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes

The most notorious, politicized and doomed literary couple in history.  Sylvia Plath was charmed into hunting out Ted Hughes after reading his poem ‘Hawk in The Rain’, and in 1956 she met his powerful and imposing presence at a party in Cambridge, ‘kiss me, and you will see how important I am’ she wrote in…

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Re-writing Dante

T S Eliot’s genius for quotation gave me my first taste of Dante: the marvellous epigraph to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and a line at the end of ‘The Waste Land’ – “Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina” (“then he hid himself in the fire that refines them”). Torn out of…

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Winning Ways to Make the Shortlist: an Interview with Saradha Soobrayen

An Interview with Saradha Soobrayen

With the change in seasons comes the next wave of competitions, prizes, awards and schemes for poets in the UK. Already thinking about your submissions? Poet, mentor and facilitator Saradha Soobrayen is on hand to help, with her course Winning Ways to Make the Shortlist providing 30 editing tools and writing strategies to help you get…

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True Love: Anais Nin & Henry Miller

  “Life and literature combined, love the dynamo, you with your chameleon’s soul giving me a thousand loves, being anchored always in no matter what storm, home wherever we are. In the mornings, continuing where we left off. Resurrection after resurrection. You asserting yourself, getting the rich varied life you desire; and the more you…

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Jealous Love: Natalie Barney & Renée Vivien

These wild women were Symbolist poets in literary Paris at the turn of the 20th century, culturally advantaged and intellectually determined.  They were Women of The Left Bank who set up boutiques: publishing houses and artistic salons across the city forging a Sapphic Utopia with their grandiose gestures of a luxury-bohemian, women-centred lifestyle, a place…

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Quiet Love: Virginia Woolf & Vita Sackville West

From this week I’m going to be briefly sketching some of my favourite writer romances of the last couple of centuries, starting with today’s coupling: Virginia Woolf & Vita Sackville West. These two female authors living in the heart of Edwardian England became lovers in 1925 when they met over dinner. Sackville-West wrote after the meeting…

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‘Creatrix: Women’s Poetries for the 21st Century’

In the Honours year of my undergrad degree in English Literature, I signed up for a module called Modern Poetry.  When the student gaggle – twelve or so of us – arrived for the first seminar, our tutor announced that he wanted to talk to us about the “politics” of the course content before we…

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Tangled Up In Green: Literary Lovers and Their Temperaments

“Jealousy is a useless emotion” Kirsten Norrie MacGillivray, poet and musician   But is it? Has jealousy not inspired great tortured literature, a cult of memorable love songs, riotous movements and aesthetic masterpieces?  Is it not as useful as a knife – a weapon that has cut through crimes of passion bleeding through the sheets…

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Love Letters as Poetry

‘That I love you, and that when I awake in the morning I use my intelligence to discover more ways of appreciating you.’ Anais Nin to Henry Miller, A Literate Passion: 1952-1963.   Love is the greatest of all emotions, a passion more meaningful than any other, and the most valuable human experience in our lifetimes….

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Sounds and Sweet Airs

Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises… I’m writing this in the back room of our house, overlooking a meeting of gardens. We’re underneath a flight path, and this morning the planes are roaring in, low, carrying the summer visitors and returners to London. In between, a robin’s ticking of alarm reaches me,…

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Open Workshop: ‘Exquisite Corpse’

Have you ever wanted to collaborate with a group of poets on one piece of work? Well, the Surrealists started the Exquisite Corpse enterprise for this very purpose, as a sort of party game or parlour trick, a kinetic placement of ideas and images. So let’s create our monster: no rules, no theme, no demands, except…

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Cosmos and discovery: an interview with Claire Trévien

An Interview with Claire Trévien

Ah the astronomer’s lot. Now cool again thanks to Brian Cox, but in principle only really fathomable if you have a degree in astrophysics, a finer understanding of stellar mass spectrums, and a very expensive telescope. To an easily confused outsider (which is exactly what I am) it used to be the wonder expressed at things…

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The raw material of language: an interview with Victoria Bean

An Interview with Victoria Bean

Victoria Bean is a visual poet and the co-tutor of our upcoming Online Reading Group, ‘The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century’. Victoria has been working over the last 3 years with Chris McCabe (another Poetry School tutor) to put together a major anthology of new approaches, ideas and techniques being used in visual…

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The Line Break #4 – Hilary Menos: Carrying Language

THE LINE BREAK EPISODE

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A line about orange: thoughts on poets and painters

I have always been interested in the relationship between art and poetry. For many years now, I have been using art as a way of stimulating my poetic practice, sometimes by channeling the dead – such as Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly – but also by collaborating with living artists – such as Linda Karshan,…

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