Workshops will be programmed and added below this autumn, so keep your eyes peeled, as we’ll add them as soon as they’ve been finalised.
‘To gaze at a river made of time and water /And remember Time is another river / To know we stray like a river /And our faces vanish like water’ -Jorge Louis BorgesWithout water, there is no life. Imagine language is like water, a living, ever-changing, fluid material. Water (oceans, rivers, tears, fog, rain, iceberg, spit, and snow…) will inhabit our imaginations and guide our discussion, where colors like “‘green’ [turn] into a verb.” (Donald Revell) We can connect with the environment while exploring our personal narratives. “We are earth” (Joy Harjo) and water, sky, and everything between… Let’s create a garden party on the map of survival, somewhere between Alice’s Wonderland and Dante’s Hell. A tasting menu of diverse international poets, filmmakers, eco-scientists, and artists will trigger and inspire you. I will show how your language is readily available within these unexpected connections that arise from the ordinary beauty we call life.
Elena Karina Byrne: former 12-year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America, Elena Karina Byrne has been a Contributing Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books, one of the final judges for the Kate and Kingsley Tufts Poetry Awards in Poetry from 2016-2018, and one of three 2018-2019 Georgia Circuit visiting poets. Elena also curated programs for the GRI at the J. Paul Getty Center, MOCA, the Craft Contemporary, Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, The Clark Library, and USC’s Doheny Memorial Library, among others. She is a private editor, freelance lecturer, 25-year Programming Consultant & Poetry Stage Manager for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Elena’s books include If This Makes You Nervous (Omnidawn, 2021), No Don’t (What Books Press, 2020), Squander (Omnidawn, 2016), MASQUE (Tupelo Press, 2008), and The Flammable Bird, (Zoo Press, 2002).
Eunice Andrada teaches an ecopoetry workshop in collaboration with Plumwood Mountain journal.
How does our relationship with time shape our relationship with the environment? In this workshop we will explore individual and intercultural understandings of time’s features and fractures and how these affect the way we move within entangled ecosystems. Resisting colonial, capitalist, and human-centred lexicons of time, we will reach towards new vocabularies to give voice to our personal relationship with this unending force. We will reflect on poems that witness, magnify, and disrupt ideas of our environment’s past, present, and future. Through collaborative activities and writing prompts, participants will write poems that move away from abstract time languages and connect to a language more intimate, more exact. This workshop will consist of poetry readings, collaboration, writing exercises and sharing.
Eunice Andrada is a Filipina poet, educator, and organiser. Her debut poetry collection Flood Damages (Giramondo Publishing, 2018) won the Anne Elder Award. Described by celebrated author Ellen van Neerven as ‘one of the most important poetry releases in years,’ her second poetry collection TAKE CARE (Giramondo Publishing 2021) is out now. In 2018, she was awarded the Australian Poetry & NAHR Eco-Poetry Fellowship in Northern Italy. In 2020, she served as Editor of Writing Water: Rain, River, Reef, an anthology released through Red Room Poetry. Euniceandrada.com
Tutor: Isabel Galleymore
10th January 2022
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop
This workshop explores how cuteness pervades the natural world & how to write about it in poetry.
Cuteness pervades our environments. Much of the time, cuteness is a quality observed in (or applied to) animals: a hedgehog-shaped cookie, a pet asleep on the sofa, the logo used by a nature conservation charity, Peter Rabbit-themed home goods and recent trends for ‘flat-nosed’ dogs. As an aesthetic, cuteness associates itself with baby-like features (smallness, roundness, large eyes, softness, stubby limbs), which is intended to trigger a care-giving response in the observer. But, as the examples above suggest, such care-giving is often intercepted by the relationship between cuteness and commodification. Thinking from an ecological point of view, how do we feel about the ways in which cuteness often ‘humanises’ and ‘tames’ the nonhuman through anthropomorphism? What does this mean for our environmental moment: how does cuteness pose both prospects and problems? How can we respond to these questions through ecopoetry? This workshop explores these different enquiries by reading the work of contemporary poets and experimenting with short, playful writing exercises.
Isabel Galleymore’s first collection, Significant Other (Carcanet), won the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize in 2020 and was shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection Prize and Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize. Her pamphlet, Cyanic Pollens (Guillemot Press), is based on her residency in the Peruvian Amazon. She is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.
Apricot Trees Exist
Tutor: Rachel Burns (collaboration with Creative Future)
12th December 2021
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop
A collaboration w/ Creative Future, learn to recreate the landscapes of your past through colour, poetry & verse. “Now the sky is a cavern where withered birds will rot like fallen fruit . . . in our despairs we have made/a flowerless earth/sexless as chlorine.” Alphabet, Inger Christensen, translated by Susanna Nied.
County Durham was once dominated by coal mines. My grandfather was a miner his entire life; age fifteen crawling along coal seams in the dark. When we look at County Durham we see lush countryside. It’s easy to get caught up in a romantic idealistic notion of nature. I grew up in a time where open casting was in full swing. The landscape was black and grim. The street would flood with black water that ran down from the slag heaps.
During the Pandemic, like most people I took comfort in nature. My daily walk from my house down to the River Wear took on huge significance. I read Alphabet by Inger Christensen and began to write my own Alphabet.
In the first part of the workshop, we will share and discuss extracts from Alphabet. In the second part of the workshop, I will encourage participants to take a walk (both imaginatively and virtually) through the landscape of their childhoods in an attempt to view it differently.
Rachel Burns lives on the outskirts of Durham. Her debut poetry pamphlet, A Girl in a Blue Dress, is published by Vane Women Press. She is widely published in literary magazines including, Rialto, The Moth, Butcher’s Dog and Ink, Sweat & Tears. Rachel came second in The Julian Lennon Prize For Poetry 2021. Currently, she is a mentee on the Creative Future/TLC Next Up development programme.
In Praise of Trees
Tutor: Seán Hewitt
1st December 2021
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop
This workshop explores the poetry of woods & forests, focusing on their being, how we can use them to tell a story.
“There are trees that are all a-strain upward like a prayer; there are trees that rise only to flow eternally downwards, drooping like death; there are trees that are all a-twist, an agony of contortion, writhing, serpentining now towards earth and now towards sky, inwards and outwards, upwards and downwards, tortured uncertain lives, very dreadful and very beautiful: but in all the trees there is beauty, and the birds of God rest and nest and sing in all.” (Stephen MacKenna, Journal, March 14 1907)
Lamenting, praising, and looking anew, in this workshop we will explore the poetry of woods and forests. In the wake of centuries of deforestation, and renewed calls for re-afforestation, we will focus close attention on the movements, bodies, processes and lives of trees. With poems by Danez Smith, Vahni Capildeo, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Aodhagán Ó Rathaille, we will ask how mourning is interlinked with hope, living with loss, and how poets over time have sought to praise the variety and beauty of arboreal life.
Seán Hewitt is a poet, lecturer and literary critic. His debut collection, Tongues of Fire (Cape, 2020), was shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize, a Dalkey Literary Award, and the Laurel Prize. In 2020, he was chosen as one of The Sunday Times “30 under 30” artists in Ireland. His memoir, All Down Darkness Wide, will be published by Jonathan Cape (UK) and Penguin Press (USA) in 2022. He lectures in British and Irish literature at Trinity College Dublin, and is Poetry Critic for the Irish Times.
Tutor: Maria Sledmere
23rd November 2021
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop
This workshop explores the entangled relationship of dreaming and ecology, thinking about how poets use ‘dreams’ to create ecosystems that tie us to the natural world.
‘We have the right to make / the universe we dream’, claims Diane di Prima in ‘Revolutionary Letter #51’. Dreams are not just the waste residue of our everyday life; they make and remake our intimate, social and nonhuman worlds, as for Walter Benjamin, ‘Dreaming has a share in history’. This workshop explores the entangled relationship of dreaming and ecology at the level of form and content: we’ll look at imagery and metaphor, voice, repetition, sensation, and other aspects of prosody as part of the dreaming world of the poem.
By reading a range of dream poets – from Jackie Wang to Barbara Guest and Alex Pauline Gumbs – we’ll consider how dreaming functions within ecopoetics: allowing us to slip in and out of (non)human consciousness, challenging borders and boundaries, unravelling totalities; to think uneasy futures and make utopian demand. In the strange, multi-scalar time of the anthropocene, dreaming offers a poetics of both reflection and speculation, dwelling in the ecotone or contact zone of more-than-human effects, traces, and forces.
We’ll experiment with various ecopoetic techniques and tools inspired by dreaming: writing through free association, colour, creative exchange, neuronet dreams, nonhuman dreaming, impossibilities, and imaginary spaces. Dreaming allows us to expand our consciousness, relationship with others, and ‘arts of attention’ (Anna Tsing), making room for a deeply attuned ecopoetic practice.
Maria Sledmere is currently completing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. She is editor-in-chief at the post-internet poetry press SPAM and a member of A+E Collective — a group of multidisciplinary creatives working to awaken imagination for a better world. An exhibition, The Palace of Humming Trees, with Katie O’Grady and Jack O’Flynn, was recently shown at French Street Studios. Her debut collection, The Luna Erratum, is out now with Dostoyevsky Wannabe, and in 2020 she co-edited with Rhian Williams an anthology, the weird folds: everyday poems from the anthropocene (2020). Other publications include nature sounds without nature sounds (Sad Press), Rainbow Arcadia (Face Press), infra•structure – with Katy Lewis Hood (Broken Sleep), Chlorophyllia (OrangeApple Press) and neutral milky halo (Guillemot Press). A collaboration with Katy Lewis Hood on the works of Etel Adnan, Tangents, was recently long-listed for the Ivan Juritz Visual Arts Prize, and her poem ‘Ariosos for Lavish Matter’ was highly commended in the 2020 Forward Prize.