"Spiritual formation cannot be forced, only prepared for. Hence its means cannot be those of conquest, but only of facilitation and preparation." [Adrian van Kaam, Studies in Formative Spirituality, I, 2 (1980), 303]

Course: Poetry and Art II

Irish Poetry: A Terrible Beauty is Born


Please note: Course cancelled
Well of course poetry is a religion. And it cannot be stopped. Poetry offers ritual and cadence; sacrifice and secrets. Poetry offers a nation state, a place within a place that no longer confers sovereignty upon you. It is sacred and profane and thus it is at once sublime and mighty. It is audacious and disturbing but always – and this applies to the great poetry – yours. Mine. Ours. Of course as a teacher of literature and language I have had to listen to a colleague or two say: why teach poetry?

A question that if it wasn’t so sad, would be laughable. It puts me on the battlefield because: what is the point of living if there is no Art?

And poetry is the most concentrated of all Art. It is the oldest of all literary forms. Without poetry we are an idiotic uncivilised people telling tales full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Poetry tells us the truth of ourselves. It is the clarion call of what we could be if we were able to stay within that firmament for more than a few moments. Poetry is, in one crowded hour, the only one in the room. It is the mirror that shows us all other articulations are merely a proximity; that the poem is in fact the closest we will come to capturing most accurately what it is that must be said. All other discursive practices are sleight of hand and disingenuous - no matter how seductive. So we read poetry to face the truth. To stand there and dig in, to stumble over words we don’t get, to find a phrase that flicks a light on in our memory, to cat-paw over and over an image that was laid down long long ago. We read poetry to remind ourselves of what really matters. To witness the soaring light that tears up our small lives.

This course examines Irish poetry. We gather together to read, discuss, consider and question a variety of poems. At the end of each session we also place in conversation an art work that may trigger clarity to the poem or act as a counterpoint or offer a shared motif.

Our presenter is Dr Elizabeth Guy (BA Dip Ed, Diploma in Art History, Masters, Hons., PhD in Poetry & Politics). Elizabeth has taught Literature and Language in high schools in NSW and WA as well as in UTS, Sydney University, University of Santiago Chile, University of South Pacific Fiji and the University of Sterling in Scotland. She is currently writing a book on Poetry.

Everyone’s journey of exploration is profoundly interesting and welcomed.

Come join us!

Presenter: Elizabeth Guy, PhD
When: Cancelled
Where: Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney
Cost: $216 per person, including notes

Week 1: Out of the marvellous
The Irish poems of a 9th century hermit, Seamus Heaney and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin explore the way in which poetry sheds light on the marvellous of our own fixed and immutable lives.

Week 2: A terrible beauty is born
Irish poets Patrick Pearse, Joseph Mary Plunkett and W.B. Yeats write poetry about the truth of their times; a truth that is Janus faced as both beautiful and terrifying.

Week 3: Ireland hurt you into Poetry
The Irish poets Mary Ann Larkin, Paul Muldoon and Æ examine the narrative of suffering, writ large and small, in a nation’s imagining of itself.

Week 4: Catching yourself
Poems by Catherine Twomey, Seamus Heaney and Robinson Jeffers consider the ways in which a life examined closely leads one to both relinquish control but also discover one’s voice.

Week 5: Our greatcoats full of barley
Irish poets Seamus Heaney, W.B. Yeats and Ciaran Carson consider that which sustains us while under siege, which in turn becomes, that which we leave as our legacy.

Week 6: Extravagant light
Finally Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland offer us hope and restitution in the nation state of poetry.

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