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Our Summer School Programme 2017

Cold weather getting you down? Tired of needing your umbrella every day? Sick of woolly jumpers? Well fear not! Our Summer School is just the ticket for those winter blues. Drums please!

We’ve asked some of our favourite poets to run a series of half-day workshops at the end of July, focusing on their passion projects and trying out some new ideas. We’ve got everything from personal disclosures to flat-pack poetry, poetic form to messy accidents, workshops on Lucia Berlin, Douglas Kearney and Lady Gaga, and an epic showdown of poetry vs. shame.

So dust off your bathing suit, pop on a sun hat, get yourself an ice cream and see below for information on the highlights of your summer!

The Minimum Viable Poem – Rishi Dastidar

With us all living online and scurrying between social media platforms, it’s perhaps no surprise that shorter poems are being shared at an ever-increasing velocity. But just how short can a poem really be? What elements does a poem need to qualify as a poem? And can you have a poem with only a title and no other words? We’ll explore the big world of smaller, shorter and micro verse, so even your smallest poems can be perfectly formed.

Monday 24th July, 10.30 – 13.00. Price £35, £33 or £28.

Making a Mess – Kayo Chingonyi

Drawing on the work of poet and performer Douglas Kearney, as well as various theories of creativity, this session will look at ways of encouraging spontaneity in the creative process by seeking out methods that allow for failure, mess, and the happy accidents that occur in the moment.

Monday 24th July, 14:00 –16:30. Price £35, £33 or £28.

If You Don’t Have Any Shadows You’re Not in the Light – Penelope Shuttle

The above quote from Lady Gaga is the theme of our workshop. We will explore the relationships between shadows and light, the places where shadow and light engage, alongside the phenomenon of shadow figures both in waking experience and as interpreted by believers in the paranormal. There’ll be close reading of poems on the theme, and writing prompts and visual materials will be supplied. There will be optional read-back sessions of our writing during the workshop.

Tuesday 25th July, 10.30 – 13.00. Price £35, £33 or £28.

Bird in the Hand: Proverbial – Penelope Shuttle

Proverbs are found in every language in the world and are as old as time. We are very familiar with those in our own tongue, and perhaps less so with those from other languages. In this workshop we’ll look into what these condensed and memorable phrases have to say to us, and how they open doors into new writing. We will look at poems on the theme, and writing prompts will be supplied. Optional read-back sessions on our writing will be part of the workshop.

Tuesday 25th July, 14:00 –16:30. Price £35, £33 or £28.

Image & Narrative – Raymond Antrobus

Using poems from US/UK as a base we’ll discuss and deconstruct scene transitioning using image and how these moments in narrative poetry can make our poems so much more than a single story.

Wednesday 26th July, 10.30 – 13.00. Price £35, £33 or £28.

The Berlin Lens – Rachel Long

We will use Lucia Berlin’s collection of short stories, A Manual for Cleaning Women, as a lens to poets Morgan Parker and Arda Collins. Writing in response to a selection of their poems, we’ll experiment with economy, pace and collage to overlay loneliness with shopping lists, alcoholism with picking up the kids. We’ll use self as character, learn how to let the poem to laugh at itself, in order to achieve a new honesty in our work.

Wednesday 26th July, 14:00 –16:30. Price £35, £33 or £28.

Radiant Form – Maurice Riordan

A poem can jump at you from the page – sometimes even before you’ve read it. How does that come about? Because it has claritas, a radiance that is produced by its perfect form. We will look at this ‘effect’ in poems that do not use traditional form, but nonetheless contain some hidden force. The class will include exercises on how their example might be emulated.

Thursday 27th July, 10.30 – 13.00. Price £35, £33 or £28.

Disclosure: The Art in the Autobiographical – Kathryn Gray

Setting aside the loaded and frequently reductive term ‘confessional’ – contemporary poetry’s own kryptonite – this workshop challenges the notion that there’s anything artless in shaping compelling autobiographical narratives. Taking as our starting point selected examples from some of the finest poets, we’ll consider contrasting approaches to setting down the turbulence of lived experience on the page – discovering, in the process, how we can create the best poetry from the story of ourselves. We’ll also consider the thorny matters of risks, rights and responsibilities in disclosure – and how we can harness individual experience to probe universal themes of injustice, suffering, loss and – ultimately – survival. This workshop is suitable for anyone seeking routes into crafting more personal subject matter or looking to broaden their perspectives on the achievements of the autobiographical in poetry.

Thursday 27th July, 14:00 –16:30. Price £35, £33 or £28.

Writing a Flat-Pack Poem – Jane Yeh

What if writing a poem were like assembling a flat-pack piece of furniture? Through discussion of sample poems and a series of exercises, we’ll look at ways of fabricating, assembling, and constructing poems by combining elements like imagery, metaphor and simile, sentence structure, and borrowed speech. Just follow the assembly instructions and you’ll have built a poem in a morning.

Friday 28th July, 10.30 – 13.00. Price £35, £33 or £28.

Poetry vs. Shame – Richard Scott

What exactly is shame and can we make poetry from it? Might poetry challenge and defeat shame itself? And might confronting shame turn us into better artists? These are just some of the questions we will be asking, whilst looking at how poets Daljit Nagra, C. K. Williams, Cavafy and Adrienne Rich, have grappled with shame in their work. We will also be exploring what shame might mean to you as a writer and how to channel it into your own poetry via close readings and writing exercises.

Friday 28th July, 14:00 –16:30. Price £35, £33 or £28.


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