Apocalyptic Landscape 

Writing the Apocalyptic Landscape 

Writing the Apocalyptic Landscape is the first iteration of the Expressionist Poetry Workshop, the creative writing dimension of Ted Hughes’s Expressionism: Visionary Subjectivity.  

The EPW seeks to provide writers with resources and stimulation that will enable them to experiment with writing in Expressionist modes. Writing the Apocalyptic Landscape does so by focusing writers on landscapes that are important or meaningful to them, and encouraging them to write about those landscapes in ways that transcend objectivity and representational responses, transforming those landscapes in subjective ways according to the promptings of the inner life—what does this landscape mean to me? What does this landscape symbolise to me? What portals into exploring meaning, experimentation and improvisation does this landscape imaginatively open for me?

In this context, the word ‘Apocalyptic’ is used to connote ‘vision’ as well as ‘crisis’ (the defining condition of our world), and beginning with their experience, observation and knowledge of a chosen landscape or topographical feature, writers will articulate their vision of that landscape, transforming it into a haunted and haunting lyrical symbol able to provide portals into past and future, anchor excurses and flights of fancy, and provide the basis for explorations of issues of meaning and purpose in the context of the subjective-self and the subjectively experienced objective world.

There are many examples of this type of landscape writing in the work of Hughes, but ‘Mayday on Holderness’ (Lupercal) and Remains of Elmet are particularly good examples.  In the former, Hughes’s initial address and descriptive response to his national service landscape rapidly becomes an exploration of the interplay of vitality and death in the lives and natures of humans and animals, and as the animating principle of a natural world in which existence is always played out on the edge of extinction.  In the latter, Hughes combines the ‘Mayday on Holderness’ worldview with a subjective sense of personal feeling and a more objective sense of the decline of his natal upper Calder Valley to write ‘a social history presented as natural history’ that becomes a numinous prophecy of rewilding - or feralisation.  Of course, poems from other, similarly Expressionist poets will be used in the workshops, not just Hughes.

Writing the Apocalyptic Landscape can be accessed by writers at any level of experience in the following ways:

1.    As a series of five, two-hour, fortnightly, in-person workshops at the Birchliffe Centre, Hebden Bridge, October-November 2023.  Session will run 7.00pm-9.00pm on the following dates: 04/10, 18/10, 01/11, 15/11 & 29/11.  There will be a maximum of 20 places.  The workshops are free, but need to be booked by Eventbrite
2.    As a series of five, weekly TEAMs sessions (writing exercises will be given, but will not be undertaken during the lectures due to the nature of the platform), December-January, 2023/24.  Sessions will run 7.00pm-8.00pm on the following dates: 06/12, 13/12, 20/12, 10/01 & 17/01.   Sessions are free, but need to be booked by Eventbrite.
3.    Resources for the above can be found here.

Writing the Apocalyptic Landscape
—Competition and Anthology

Those participating in the above workshops, or downloading the materials, will be invited to submit their poems to a competition – further details here. The work of fifty successful poets will be published in an anthology - Apocalyptic Landscape: Poems from the Expressionist Poetry Workshop – published by the award-winning independent publisher Valley Press, in September 2024. The competition will open in January 2024. The deadline for submissions is 12 noon on Friday 26th April, 2024. Successful entrants will be notified by Friday 24th May. Those featured in the anthology will be invited to read at various launches of the anthology in late 2024/early 2025.