CAMP, Aulus les bains, France
A five-day residential workshop in the epic French Pyrenees, led by Simon Armitage
What is it to write poetry on the subject of nature without being sentimental, old-fashioned and nostalgic? How do we avoid the clichés of nature writing while at the same time honouring the wonder and mystery of the natural world? How do we address the urgencies and insistencies of climate change without falling into dogmatic language and hollow tub-thumping phrases? Can poetry be politically engaged and subtle at the same time? Can we write authentically and engagingly about natural phenomena and natural history when most of us live busy urban lives?
This is a poetry writing and poetry reading course, focussed on issues connected to environmental and nature writing in the modern word. Through workshops, seminars and tutorials, the course will give students the opportunity to explore their attitudes towards nature through poetic expression, and to experiment with different written approaches. Sessions will include the close reading of contemporary “nature poets” as a way of establishing literary reference points and coordinates, but essentially this is about students developing and sharing their own work, using walks and “word-finding” excursions in the local countryside as a launch-pad for writing exercises and a basis for inspiration. The week will culminate in a reading or performance of students’ own poems on the final evening. Oh, and it will be fun.
This course is open to all but better suited to those with some experience of writing poetry, even at a beginner's level, and some experience of reading contemporary (i.e. post WW2) poetry. Enthusiasm is the main requirement. A good grasp of the English language is a necessity. Simon Armitage will be supplying a reading list of maybe half a dozen books which students should read beforehand but do not have to bring with them unless they want to. There is no need to submit your own poetry in advance or to bring it with you. Simon Armitage will be concentrating on enabling students to produce NEW written work, rather than offering a manuscript-reading service for pre-written work.
Simon Armitage is the current UK Poet Laureate (2019-2029). He is Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds and was elected to serve as Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford for 2015-2019. In Spring 2019, he held the post of Holmes Visiting Professor at Princeton University, USA. Previously, he taught at the University of Leeds, the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop and Manchester Metropolitan University before his 2011 appointment as Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield and Visiting Professor at the University of Falmouth. Simon has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes, an Eric Gregory Award, a major Lannan Award, a Cholmondeley Award, the Spoken Word Award (Gold), the Ivor Novello Award for song-writing, BBC Radio Best Speech Programme, Television Society Award for Documentary and Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry. He won the 2017 PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation and was awarded the 2018 Queens Gold Medal for Poetry. In 1999 Simon was named the Millennium Poet, and in 2004 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was awarded the CBE for services to poetry in 2010 and presented with the Hay Medal for Poetry at the 25th Hay Festival in 2012. As part of Britain’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad and while Artist in Residence at London’s Southbank, Simon conceived and curated Poetry Parnassus, a gathering of world poets and poetry from every Olympic nation. This landmark event is generally recognised to be the biggest coming together of international poets in history.