Against English: Dialects, Distortions and New Vocabularies 

at: The Poetry School

Tutor: Harry Giles

Write against English, take it apart, and explode language altogether. What happens when poets hit the limits of a language, and decide to break out? On this course we’ll look at how English-speaking poets have written ‘against English’, using techniques that take English apart, writing in languages which have been formed against English dominance, or writing in opposition to the idea of English writing. We’ll begin by looking at transformation and restriction from Oulipian constraint to disability poetics. We’ll then examine creating new vocabularies, working in dialects and minority languages from Linton Kwesi Johnson to Christine De Luca, with a dip into ‘conlangs’ like Esperanto and Elvish. We’ll finish up by exploding language entirely into visual and sound poetry. Students will finish armed with multiple new techniques for writing poetry, a new understanding of the possibilities of poetry beyond English, and thus a better idea of what it means to write in English in the first place.