We’re delighted to share this guest blogpost by Summer School 2018 tutor Ben Morgan. Ben is a lecturer and writer from Oxford, whose debut poetry sequence, “Medea in Corinth,” was published as part of the Poetry Salzburg Pamphlet Series earlier this year. “Medea in Corinth” is available from Poetry Salzburg.
One sunny afternoon in early July Noreen Masud, a scholar of modernist poetry and p
rose, joined me to talk about the workshop I’m hosting this summer for Relit. The workshop’s about the composition of a poetry sequence I published this year with Poetry Salzburg Review, ‘Medea in Corinth: Poems, Prayers, Letters and a Curse.’ The initial, generous idea had been Noreen’s: that we should talk about the process of reading and recording the poems live. This fits with the overarching theme of the workshop, which is the presence of the voice in poetry – what it means for a poem to be spoken, and how, on the page, we might identify and discuss a dramatic monologue. Resisting monologue, we chose dialogue: Noreen’s supple, provocative questions will leave you wanting more, and I’m fortunate to have been able to respond to them.
The idea behind the conversation is to show people who might come along to the workshop – or who might not – the sort of environment we’ll be trying to create: open-ended, (hopefully) fun and focussed on the ethical and therapeutic benefits and risks of writing and reading. It also introduces the themes of the workshop: how do we handle myth in poetry? How do we choose our forms – sonnet, lyric, elegy, prayer, to name a few that come up here? And what do we do with stories that test our boundaries – what we’re willing to imagine, what we’re willing to write down? Along the way, we touched on a range of other topics too: displacement, refuge, family and good editing, to name a few. At one point, even spivs come up. There are also a couple of readings of the poems, to give a sense of what we are talking about: