Poetry and Unknowability: Workshop

In higher education, we spend a lot of time developing our analytical toolkit. We practice skills of reason, analysis and logic to come to understand and ‘know’ the world around us. Poetry, however, is an art practice predicated on the unknowable. At the centre of every poem is something that resists categorisation: a feeling, a mood or an emotional texture that defies categorisation through conventional taxonomies or articulation in everyday speech. In poetry we take that core of what we can’t fully know or express and wrap it up in a poem. We set out devices of metaphor, rhyme and form to gesture towards aspects of human experience that exceed the possibilities offered to us by our everyday systems of knowledge.

In this workshop, we’ll play with the ghazal form to explore how poetry can help us embrace unknowability. Originating in 7th century Arabic poetry, the ghazal consists of couplets that address a topic that is never explicitly stated and yet makes itself felt through affect, implication and intersubjective suggestion. Drawing on collage poetry methods, in this workshop we will cut up and rebuild a ghazal together. We will explore how creative activity begins in a state of wonder and not knowing, paying attention to physical sensation and emotion to feel what our re-worked ghazal poems are ‘about’. Rather than coming to the best ‘final version’ of the poem, together we will experiment with poetic games that keep the disparate couplets in a state of play, paying attention to the multiplicity of readings that are possible when we work in this way. Finally, to close the session, we will imagine together how we might use these creative methods in our academic and personal lives, as well as within our communities.

Join us for this exciting workshop and secure your place now. This workshop is opened to the Homerton College Community ( students, staff and alumni) .

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