Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

‘More than skin can hold’: Writing People

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Sarah Hesketh - More than skin can hold

Who this event is for

  • Everyone


Executive Suite (128), John Henry Brookes Building, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site


The human face is the first thing we learn to see and interpret. Through portraiture, artists of all disciplines have explored whether it is possible to capture a 'likeness' of a person or to reveal key truths about their character. Life writing is now a well-established genre and our changing understanding of memory reveals it to be a complex, active and creative act. Looking at poems by writers including Anne Carson, Ted Hughes and Ocean Vuong, we'll examine what it means to write poetry about people, especially in an age when identity politics is dominating public conversation. We'll consider the questions that arise when we attempt to represent and remember others, and how we might begin to negotiate the various gazes at work between the poet, the subject and the audience, creating new poems from the people around us. Participants will be encouraged to share their first drafts during the session.

Sarah Hesketh holds an MA Creative Writing from UEA. Her first full collection of poetry, Napoleon’s Travelling Bookshelf(Penned in the Margins), was highly commended in the Forward Prize 2010. In 2013 she was poet-in-residence with Age Concern, working with elderly people with dementia, and in 2014 she published The Hard Word Box (Penned in the Margins), a collection of poems and interviews inspired by this experience. In 2015, she was commissioned by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust to produce Grains of Light, a sequence of poems based around the story of Holocaust survivor Eve Kugler. She currently works for Modern Poetry in Translation magazine and is researching a PhD on making poetry from oral history.

Cost: £45 and £40 for Brookes students and staff