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‘Tension, Tenderness and Truth: Reading Elaine Feinstein

We asked our tutor Adam Feinstein some questions about his course ‘Tension, Tenderness & Truth: Reading Elaine Feinstein’. This course will be a series of lessons exploring the work of renowned poet Elaine Feinstein. Adam is a poet, critic, and Elaine’s son – who better to illuminate her work?

What could a student take away from this course? 

‘The students will come away with a wealth of information about what makes my mother’s writing so rich and varied, the links (and differences) between her poetry and prose, her influences, her ideas on rhyme, structure and musicality and on her priorities when translating the work of others or writing their biography. And of course, as Elaine’s son (as well as a poet, translator and biographer myself), I will put her work into poignant personal context, adding telling anecdotes which bring this work even more exhilaratingly to life.’

What poem of Elaine’s would you recommend reading before taking this course? 

‘This is an impossible question to answer briefly, because the sheer variety of Elaine’s poetry means there is something for everyone. For a profoundly moving account of her love for her father, for example, then ‘Dad’ is a wonderful place to start. If you are looking for her delightfully tender sense of humour (and approach to married life), then ‘Mackintosh’ or ‘Wheelchair’. Or for an insight into her philosophical attitude to ageing, I would recommend ‘Getting Older.’

What’s something unique about Elaine’s voice?

‘The essential elements of Elaine’s poetic voice, in my view, are honesty and musicality. She always told me: “Poetry must sing, and it must be about something that matters.”  I intend my course to illustrate this in many different ways.’

‘Tension, Tenderness and Truth: Reading Elaine Feinstein’ begins on October 21, 2021, and finishes December 16, 2021, find out more and sign up here.  

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