How In Shadowed Landscapes?

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“This is the world in profile, medieval, the landscape gathered up into the face…” 

Jorie Graham [‘Harvest for Bergson’ in Hybrid of Plants and Ghosts]

This workshop will explore how the notion of landscape haunts our presence, how landscape and language grows from our own fractured ‘scapes,’ how landscapes divulge, sunder, determine the spaces we inhabit, how, as writers and figures in landscape, we can re articulate ‘landscape’ in order to engage in waves of thinking and writing about its role in the world, question how fragile and formidable it is, ask ourselves, how in shadowed landscapes there is sentience to which we must pay close attention, how in the words of Jorie Graham, 

“easily our tracks 

are filled. How easily

we are undone, … “ [On Why I Would Betray You]

The workshop will reflect on poetry which engages in and departs from walks through literal and personal landscapes, across time and place:  Zoë Skoulding, Harriet Tarlo, Peter Riley as well as the voices of Latasha N Nevada Diggs,  Camille Dung, Louise Glück and Jorie Graham, will cross our reading paths on which discuss and develop our writing ideas. We will appropriate our own conceptual notions of landscapes and nurture their intent, allowing the “line of the landscape /run through me to somewhere else/ ((Zoë Skoulding).

Date: Tues 27th October 2020: 6.45pm – 8.45pm.

For booking see: @ginkoprize

Beating Time: A Conversation Between Art & Poetry

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Sandra's Cross CLOSE UP on Pink background

An extract from Anna Souter’s essay on my collaboration with Sandra Beccarelli’s work:

“…Beccarelli’s work is similarly produced in the context of an ongoing working relationship with a living writer. Beccarelli’s close collaboration with poet Agnieszka Studzinska is a lively, open-ended dialogue, in which each shares intimate aspects of their craft with the other. Beccarelli, for instance, shares images from her sketchbooks or from the backs of her canvases, while Studzinska sends snapshots from her notebooks, which include poems and notes which have been annotated, edited or crossed out entirely.

In their continuing conversation, the fractured surfaces of Beccarelli’s paintings might inspire Studzinska to create fragmented narratives, while calligraphic gestures from Studzinska’s poems are referenced in Beccarelli’s composite canvases. Both Beccarelli and Studzinska are preoccupied with the capacity of their medium to express meaning, as well as with notions of change and transformation, and this is played out in both the content of their work and in the continual transference of ideas and motifs between painter and poet.”

Click here for the full version:

The Poetics of Space

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The Poetics of Space after Bachelard [an introduction]Corner window_Bachelard

“A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space.”

My house is sometimes a chair I sit on in a different country, a tent, a beach, the woods I return to in photographs. My grandmother’s hand as it stirred her black tea. My children’s skin on my lips as they leave to walk to school. My house is the language I speak from a distance.

“That the houses that were lost forever continue to live on in us; that they insist in us in order to live again.”

Write your space. Observe spaces inside out. From inside your house. From outside looking through a window. From not being here or having. Witness the house that never existed [until now]. Draw your corners, hide in them, reveal yourself in their nooks and corners. Rub them out. Close your eyes. Enter the topography of your intimate being. Find your image.

“The poetic image places us at the origins of the speaking being.”

I open mine. I am in a house. Behind a desk, upstairs in the attic. Surrounded by books, papers, half opened texts, boxes and plastic storage, Christmas paraphernalia, old clothes. Intoxicated by so much material. This space is the study, a writing room, the guest room, a haunted room bound by presence. Up here, at the top of the house, I experience an intimacy that is hard to define. An affinity with language, not yet spoken, things lost and waiting in history, of writing, of space that allows me to inhabit its very complicated architecture.

Door Knob_black and white_Bachelard

“We are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”

I am lucky to have an attic. Even luckier to have a house. A house that I call home at long last. But it hasn’t always been like this. Many don’t occupy either. Never come close.  Surrender this word to wars, drown it in separations. Coil, twist, buckle into their bodies to find their corners, their solitude or end.

 “ To curl up, belongs to the phenomenology of the verb to inhabit.” xxxviii

For Bachelard, the attic is a psychological metaphor for clarity. But up here, I am far from that which is tangible, and my perceptions of this attic space is distorted by all that it holds, and promises and fails to deliver. I occupy it with caution, relish its atmosphere.

“There is ground for taking the house as a tool for analysis of the human soul.”

Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space (La Poétique de l’Espace, 1958) invites us to examine space in new light. What is the meaning of spaces in houses, in the house itself and its corners? The house is his phenomenological object, in which our personal experiences our heightened.

“All really inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of home.”

But we know different. We can argue against his assertion. Not all houses are safe, secure or welcoming. I invite you on this course to explore such ideas through our writing of house, and away from house, through our experiences of dwelling, in the way we inhabit places. In as much as entering houses, we will leave them behind and find new locations of space that open the dialectics of inside and outside.

“The images I want to examine are the quite simply images of felicitous space.”

Writing poetry that is on the threshold, on the boundaries of what exists inside and what has disappeared. “When the image is new, the world is new,” says Bachelard. We will seek new images living in spaces before us, developing new worlds and meanings of belonging. We will follow and diverge from Bachelard’s thinking –

“Poetry, rather than being a phenomenology of the mind, is a phenomenology of the soul.”

window _black and white

I hear the tapping of keyboards, the transmission of airplanes across a rain soaked sky, glassy now in slicked blue. The space of the attic moors my body. The doorbell from the post-man breaks free this tarpaulin. Bills, leaflets, fashion brochures, government pledges. No sign of a letter or postcard to gesture your presence, your voice inside the handwriting that never arrives.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

Writing Self in Poetry

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Photograph Andy Bullock


What is self & how do I write it?


Colossal, tumescent questions hanging & waiting to drop. In their falling the splattered matter of their existence is what poetry picks up (poetry that I like to read & write anyway.) The splattered matter of self.


What do I mean by this word self, which often gets kicked around like a football on a tired pitch. One dictionary definition writes this:


self: A person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.


I extract part of that sentence: ‘An essential being’ – is that soul? I ask (myself)


The concept of self dates back to Plato, Aristotle, Kant & René Descartes, who in his book Meditations on the First Philosophy explores the dualism & materialism of body & mind, the distinction between body &mind: a material body & a non-material mind make up the human being. Self is often paired with soul (the essential being). The American poet Alice Notley, in her collection, Mysteries of Small Houses has written a poem called House of Self, in which in her own words (in an interview with me via email) she says, “the poem House of Self is about what the soul is.”


“This neutrality of being is hard to describe” (Notley: 1998: 2)


Colossal, tumescent statements, sentences, words waiting to be unpicked. Are we wanting to write about soul then? Or something Other?


Face to Face with Otherness? In her book, ‘Rootprints, Memory and Life Writing’ Hélène Cixous writes beautifully on otherness in relation to the I.


“The other in all his or her forms gives me I. It is on the occasion of the other that I catch sight of me, or that I catch me at: reacting, choosing, refusing, accepting. It is the other that makes my portrait.” (Cixous: 1997: 13)


I extract “The other that makes my portrait.”  I like this.


So with this in mind, I want to create/build/explore/dismantle writing & poems that somehow speak to “the other that makes my portrait” – that speak of a sense of I & other & self –the self that balances the autobiographical with the universal, the fictional with the factional, the memory with the hauntings, history with our perceptions of it, voice with silence.


I want to discover voice in poems, how do we give voice to the self?


Alice Notley asserts in House of Self:


I am

What I asked for

I am speaking

I speak like this


I want us to speak with confidence in our writing as we write our poems, as we get inspired. Speak of experience, risk being disliked, write towards the vulnerability that Anne Lamott discuses in Bird by Bird, “Tell the truth as you understand it.”


So with this in mind, I have been reading poems by Louise Glück, Carolyn Forché, Paul Celan, Marie Howe, Maggie Nelson, Anne Carson, Ocean Vuong, Danez Smith, Sharon Olds, Jacques Dupin to name but a few, which hold vulnerability in their language & narrative, in their giving.


Anne Lamott says that you have to give or there’s no reason for you to be writing. “You have to give from the deepest part of yourself and you are going to have to go on giving…” (Lamott: 1994: 203)


On the course you will receive time & guidance as you give your self to your writing.


As I write this, there are many selves at play – 6.00 am on a Thursday in late February. I catch myself uncovering small details of yesterdays attentions & memories, already beginning to disappear. I can hear the dog downstairs slumped against the kitchen door, a duvet succumbing to the morning’s frosted slant, small feet entering the bedroom, asking if mummy is awake? I want to catch this.


On this course you will catch yourself in similar & different moments, offering yourself as the opportunity to write the ‘unexpected.’

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.



Cixous, Hélène & Calle-Gruber Mireille, Rootprints, Memory and Life Writing, Routledge, London and New York, 1997

Descartes Rene, (trans) Donald A. Cress, Meditations on the First Philosophy, Hackett Publishing, Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1993

Lamott Anne, Bird by Bird, Anchor Books, New York, 1994

Notley Alice, Mysteries of Small Houses, Penguin Books, USA, 1998

Wretched Strangers

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I am honoured and grateful to have my poem, ‘An essay on the Dragon and the Invisible Creatures’ published in this forthcoming anthology by Boilerhouse Press.

Wretched Strangers brings together innovative writing on re-conceptions of  ‘shared foreigness’ from around the globe, celebrating the irreducible diversity such work brings to ‘British’ poetry. Proceeds will go to charities fighting for the rights of refugees.

Please pre order your copies here:

Wretched Strangers