Tag Archives: Helen Ivory

Two Opportunities for Poets

27 Nov

By Sunday the core programme for StAnza 2014 will be online, so keep watching this space. Meantime we thought we’d pass on details about these two opportunities for poets.

There are just three days left to apply to become a cinnamon poet. The newly redesigned Cinnamon Press Debut Poetry Collection Prize closes at the end of November. It’s an opportunity to win £500 plus a publishing contract for a full length collection. Past winners have gone on to be short-listed for the Forward Prize for best first collection; have won the Scottish Arts Council Best First Book of the Year (Jane McKie, who read at StAnza a couple of years ago) and featured in the Forward Anthology. Runners up in the Cinnamon Press competition will also appear in the expanded, all-poetry anthology.

The competition will be adjudicated by two poets who took part at StAnza last year, Helen Ivory and Martin Figura. Entry is £12 for an initial ten poems (short listed poets will be asked to send further work). Work should not have appeared previously in a full length collection, but may have been published in magazines, online or in pamphlets. Full details here.

And if you are aged 18-30, there’s just one week left for playwrights, poets and novelists in that age group to apply for the £30,000 Sky Academy Arts Scholarships (previously known as the Futures Fund). The final deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 6 December.

Sky, in association with IdeasTap, is giving away five £30,000 bursaries and mentoring support to talented artists aged 18-30 from the UK and Ireland. Find out more and apply at www.ideastap.com/sky.

Advertisements

Teaching the Art of Poetry

1 Jul

For anyone who’d like to fit in some study over the next month, the Poetry School Summer School programme is now available offering five one day poetry workshops in London, three in Manchester 16-22 July. They cover beginner to advanced, ideas and technique, social and creative, and tutors are Helen Ivory and John Glenday from StAnza 2012, plus Antony Dunn, Glyn Maxwell and Gwyneth Lewis. More details below and at www.poetryschool.com
 
London Summer School
 
Five Ways of Saying
Tutor: Antony Dunn
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Monday 16 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs)
Level: beginners
Explore the ways you experience the world through each of your five senses in a series of reading, writing and conversational challenges. Fun, informal and encouraging, the workshop will guide you towards the creation of some new poems, and reintroduce you to some oddly unfamiliar well-loved poems. This workshop is suitable for writers of all ages and levels of experience, and works both as a stand-alone workshop and as the perfect warm-up for the rest of the Summer School.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

One of Your Five a Day
Tutor: John Glenday
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Tuesday 17 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs) 
Level: beginners / intermediate
What are the basic ingredients of a healthy writing diet? This workshop will look in some detail at activities and strategies for improving creative output, the benefits of routine and ‘warm-up’ writing; but will also engage in short exercises designed to stimulate the imagination and develop initial drafts and ideas into more finished work. This workshop is aimed at beginners and intermediate writers, though its strategies are relevant for writers at all stages of their development.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

Earth, Fire, Sky, Water and Air: Five Elements (Only a few places left)
Tutor: Helen Ivory
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Wednesday 18 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs) 
Level: intermediate
Poets have always used the elements of the natural world to explore and express what it is to be human. This workshop will take a look at each of the five elements to see how they might lend their metaphorical qualities to enliven your poems. We will use published poems as starting points, but the focus of the day is to generate new work.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

The Pentameter Now (Waiting List Only)
Tutor: Glyn Maxwell
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Thursday 19 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs) 
Level: intermediate to advanced
‘While the Modernists were breaking the pentameter, Edward Thomas was quietly healing it. Discuss.’ Or rather, don’t discuss, but explore, work, play with the ideas of metre as footstep, vowels as feelings, line as breath, and the pentameter as utterance both mortal and timeless. Glyn will work with examples from poets such as Yeats, Dickinson, Hardy, Frost and MacNeice, and offers you original games, peculiar exercises and random thoughts.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 
Full Fathom Five – dreaming Shakespeare (Only a few places left)
Tutor: Gwyneth Lewis
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Friday 20 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs) 
Level: advanced
Full fathom five thy father lies; / Of his bones are coral made; / Those are pearls that were his eyes. (The Tempest, I ii). This one-day workshop explores how we can use Shakespeare’s Tempest as a starting point for contemporary writing. What can we do with the five-beat of iambic pentameter? How can we use dramatic conflict to inform the structure of a poem? What strange new worlds can we imagine after Shakespeare?
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

Manchester Summer School
 
Five Finger Exercises
Tutor: John Glenday
Venue: Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY
Date: Friday 20 July
Time: 10am – 4pm
Price: £57, £45 (60+), £34 (concs)
Level: open to all
This course will examine in detail the essential elements for writing effective poetry. Through a progressive sequence of short exercises, it will help students identify simple strategies for taking their writing from that initial draft towards finished work with genuine impact. It will focus on the various stages in the creative process including the stimulus behind a first draft ( often mistakenly called Inspiration); and an analysis of the revision process. Although this course is aimed at beginner/ intermediate level writers, it would also be suitable for serious, dedicated writers at any stage of their development.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

Making Pictures with Words
Tutor: Helen Ivory
Venue: Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY
Date: Saturday 21 July
Time: 10am – 4pm
Price: £57, £45 (60+), £34 (concs)
Level: open to all
This course looks at imagery and metaphor in poetry and will focus on creating original and startling pictures with words. We will use published poems as starting points, but the focus of the day is to generate new work and to give you the opportunity to surprise yourself with your writing. Beginners and more experienced writers are very welcome.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

The Pentameter Now (Only a few places left)
Tutor: Glyn Maxwell
Venue: Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY
Date: Sunday 22 July
Time: 10am – 4pm
Price: £57, £45 (60+), £34 (concs)
Level: intermediate to advanced
While the Modernists were breaking the pentameter, Edward Thomas was quietly healing it. Discuss.’ Or rather, don’t discuss, but explore, work, play with the ideas of metre as footstep, vowels as feelings, line as breath, and the pentameter as utterance both mortal and timeless. Glyn will work with examples from poets such as Yeats, Dickinson, Hardy, Frost and MacNeice, and offers you original games, peculiar exercises and random thoughts.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

Festival Blog: Helen Ivory on Writing the Visual

16 Mar

With Friday’s Poetry Breakfast turning into a fast moving multi-media event, as Facebook and Tweeters know, it seemed a good idea to extend the chat from this morning with one of the panellists, Helen Ivory. A poet and trained artist, Helen wrote this to accompany her appearance at StAnza and it dovetails perfectly with this morning’s discussions. It comes complete with one of Helen’s poems. Helen will be reading on Saturday 17th at 11.30am.

I began to write poetry at art school in Norwich, with George Szirtes  – also a trained artist – as my tutor.  I found I could more tangibly create images with words, and learnt to use metaphor more subtly through reading and writing poetry. I left my visual work behind – it’s more practical to make poems than artwork – you need less space and fewer materials.

My visual practice was concerned with the theatrical – I toyed with the idea of designing for theatre, but I was quite protective of the little sculptural environments I was making, and didn’t like the idea of having them scaled up for actors to act in.   I found that if I wrote poems, I could fulfill my megalomaniac urges to create the scenery, the lights, the actors and the drama.  I think of my poems as puppet theatres, and for the longest time, felt I was a visual artist who wrote poems.  Last year, fifteen years after I left art school, I began to develop my visual practice into something that might be described as a ‘voice’.  I could only have done this after having spent eighteen years pursuing my ‘voice’ through poetry.    Now I create word and image pieces, which to me are like my poems – they speak the same language, though the medium is different.  The poem happens in the dialogue between word and image. I am unable to write from my own sculptures, because for me, the poems already exist.  I do have an active interest in writing from other peoples’ artwork though.

‘Ekphrasis’ has come to mean the interpretation of one creative medium by another: a story from a photograph, a film of a book, a poem based on a painting et cetera et cetera.  It is centuries old, and one of the often most famous cited examples of ekphrasis comes from Homer’s Illiad where the description of Achilles’ shield is woven in to the narrative.  Another example is Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn.

In ancient Greece, teachers of rhetoric taught Ekphrasis, which literally means to ‘talk out of’ – to ‘explain’.  The way to score high marks in your Rhetoric exams was to bring the experience of an object so vividly to life through words, that the reader would feel they had experienced it themselves. Sometimes the objects were wholly imaginary, so the gift of the student to conjure something completely from air – such as Achilles’ shield – would have earned them very high marks indeed.

By Keats’ time, the writer was as present in the poem as the object he was engaging with, which represents one of the major changes in the way ekphrasis has developed.  Contemporary ekphrastic poetry is also no longer wedded to the notion of elaborate description and direct translation, but instead tries to make something new – to interpret and engage with subjects, to make images speak or to perhaps meditate on the moment of viewing.

Ekphrasis has undergone various interpretations through the centuries that questioned the nature of words, and the nature of images and the wealth and weakness of both mediums. For example, a series of Advice to Painters poems appeared from poets such as Andrew Marvell, who questioned the ability of painters – who were considered mere artisans – to be able to do anything terribly sophisticated with their medium. The contemporary painter Howard Hodgkin talks of the ‘tyranny of words’, and how once words have been attached to a painting, the painting doesn’t exist in its own right, which is why he is suspicious of even giving his works titles.   This is, I suppose the worst possible fear – that words either replace or cancel out the original artwork.

One of the best known contemporary extended pieces of ekphrasis is Pascale Petit’s What the Water Gave me: Poems after Frida Kahlo. Petit is perhaps unusual because she trained as an artist and has experience of what it’s like to handle materials. She has said in interview: “I still feel as if I’m making sculptures with words. I am aware of the shapes of the images in my poems, with colours, and the sensory and physical presence of the poem.” She was drawn to Kahlo through a shared love of animals, nature, clothes and colour, and also her “ability to turn pain into paint.”  She said that writing this collection was ‘like being in the studio again.”

There must be some kind of connection between poet and artwork in order for the poem to really sing.  Ekphrasis is no longer just about how eloquent or clever the writer can be.  When I was given the run of an exhibition called Family Matters recently for a commission – I was magnetically drawn to a sculpture called House of Thorns by Alice Maher. http://www.alicemaher.com/house-of-thorns—1995.html

It felt like it was already under my skin, as if I myself had made the sculpture.   It taps into my fascination with fairy tale and nursery rhyme, and to the recent poems I’ve been writing about my childhood and my parents’ house. This poem really did make itself.

The House of Thorns

It takes no more than a word

for a flame to stir in its womb

for smoke to rise and push at the walls

like a trapped and injured beast.

There is no chimney, no window,

no gasps of air, so the fire that’s grown

too big for the hearth

will die before it eats up the room.

Here is a bed for the wolf,

here is a chair burst at the seams

and here’s the little pot

that will cook and cook and cook.

*

It’s hard to imagine a path from this house

when you can’t imagine a door.

The roof is braced against all four winds,

you’re swaddled inside a coat of thorns.

There are stories about spring mornings,

about dew-soaked grass,

the signature of your footsteps;

you, the only child on earth.

The house is blind to romance;

makes you pin down your tongue;

rocks you till you fall asleep

hush-a-bye, hush-a-bye, hush-a-bye.

*

When the seeds are planted

and the roses are grown

mature enough for a harvest of thorns

and all the effort of building a home

tattoos neat scratches

on your parents’ hands,

now, think of a house.

Think of another house

a house of your own,

cut from the cloth of your very own skin.

The thought rises up

like a singing clock;

its bird constructed

of feathers and springs.

%d bloggers like this: