‘By what invisible architecture is the poem developed?’, asks Barbara Guest in her seminal, short poetic statement, called Invisible Architecture. ‘By what invisible architecture is the house turned into poetry?’, I hear myself answering as I read beyond and between the surface of her question. ‘There is an invisible architecture often supporting the surface of the poem’, she commences, and in response, I drift in the enigmatic gaps of her wording to dwell on what it is to write of, to write in or outside the spaces of home, the geography of its world.
My house is the red earth; it could be the centre of the world. I’ve heard New York, Paris, or Tokyo called the centre of the world, but I say it is magnificently humble. ‘You could drive by and miss it’, writes Joy Harjo in her poem, ‘My House Is the Red Earth’.
My center right now is the bedroom, where I sit writing, as my dog lies sleeping on my bed, and my son beside him watches something on the laptop. We are wombed and walled, briefly together in the nimbus of a Sunday afternoon, as the rain warms up what should be a cold, winter afternoon. Here, I inhabit all types of houses and constructed spaces, through the invisible architecture of memory, reading and the page.
This master course will guide you to uncover, build, reshape, dismantle your inhabited and uninhabited spaces through writing which embodies the abstract, concrete, cultural, philosophical, and spiritual dimension of home, and notions of what it means to dwell and in what?
‘Building and thinking are’, writes Heidegger, ‘each in its own way inescapable for dwelling – building and thinking belong to dwelling’. This is the aim of the course: to dwell in the dialogues of Kristjana Gunnars, Yi-Fu Tuan, Pierre Joris, Mary Oliver, Lisa Roberston (to name but a few) to inform your own practise & writing of poetry; to dwell in the poetry of Mei Mei Berssenbrugge, Sophie Cabot Black, Jenifer S.Cheng, Jenifer Wong, Kei Miller, Robert Kroetsch; to dwell in these dialogues and their possibilities.
If words are little houses, as Bachelard proposes in The Poetics of Space, then our aim on the course is to become architects, drawing the house into poetry, with language and new observations from and in distance.
My daughter’s art is on the kitchen walls, hieroglyphs –
this morning she surrounds herself yet again by crayons,
has strayed into her drawing – almost irrevocable
as she casts away the delicate existence of one place,
nets the likeness of how she sees the world and shows me
a house with a yellow roof, flowers, almost as big as the house,
rain falling neatly out of the sky in two lines, grass so perfect,
that it’s impossible to imagine any house standing
on such tranquillity –
Agnieszka Studzińska (What Things Are, Eyewear: 2014)
Through a series of writing exercises and reading materials, you will develop the confidence to engage in critical theory and produce a longer poetry sequence, or embark on a new project, embodying the homestead and its visible and invisible structures.