leaf litter

How strange and exciting it is to invent a new language; to play with snippets of existing words in order to create new words that (may go some way to) describe things you see in nature but struggle to articulate. This is where I feel poetry can move towards painting – by utilising palettes of infinite letter combinations to create a world no longer hampered so much by the limits of language. In fact, I actually went a step further and leant upon painterly vocabulary to write about the leaf litter I came across on my walk last week. I felt like I was mixing a Pre-Raphaelite palette of golds and greens, auburns and ochres, russets and browns; spreading them out here and there over the page and adding some brushstrokes of burnished gold leaf, sunlight-tinted ink.

All for the latest task on the Against English poetry school course.

oxlip (autocorrect of = oulipo)

i started the poetry school course ‘against english: dialects, distortions and new vocabularies‘ today with an experiment:


  1. the book “woman and nature” by susan griffin: page 20. take out all the words beginning with: woman.  and make the first stanza out of these words.
  2. “woman and nature” by susan griffin. page 193. take out all the words beginning with nature. and make the second stanza out of these words.

this book is very close to my heart at the moment, as i continue my journey into feminism and one that has changed the way i think about the world (along with ‘wild: an elemental journey’ by jay griffiths and ‘the beauty myth’ by naomi wolf) and it is interesting that even though you can write in a very restricted way, it is possible that something profound can come out of it.

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.