Week 1

Word and Image:

playing with the page

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01 Introduction

Word and Image: playing with the page (2hrs)

  • introductory workshop for CREW 2000: Word, Image, Sound

    • Term 1: New Media, Free Verse, Concrete and Visual Poetry

  • builds on skills addressed in CREW 1000: Exploring Creative Writing

  • dialogue between word / image on the page:

    • poetry, novel, memoir, graphic novel​, ekphrasis

  • explore hybridity in contemporary writing 

  • invitation to play

  • embrace creative flexibility

  • rethink constraints 

  • develop reflexive skills / writer development

02 Free Write

Warming up


Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

(rpt.1986, Massachusetts, 2005)

  • Continuous writing – keep pen/pencil on the page. Keep your hand moving.

  • Repeat word/phrase until you find your next train of thought. Or ‘scribble’.

  • Go wherever your thoughts take you.

  • Write without paying attention to SPAG, neatness, style – no one else will see this writing.

  • No corrections, revisions, crossing out.

  • When time’s up, look over your free writing, highlight words, phrases, images that you might want to come back to and develop.


Philosopher Jacques Derrida recalls the arrival of Hélène Cixous’ manuscript Le prénom de Dieu:

Il arrive come un météore dans mon jardin …
If a piece of your writing flew into Derrida’s garden what might it look like? How might it arrive? What might it be? What might it not be?


'From the Word to Life: A Dialogue between Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous’, New Literary History, 37.1 (Winter, 2006), p.3.

03 Thinking About the Page

Reading and Discussion

  1. How are these writers playing with word and image?

  2. What is happening when we read them?

Discuss how and why words, line breaks, white spaces and images are placed beside and / or are in dialogue with each other. You might think about layering, juxtaposition, harmony, emphasis, discordance, echoing, jarring, hybridity and so on ...

04 Playing with the Page

Writing Activity and Sharing

  1. What do you think about these three views on writing and play?

  2. Writing activity - playing with possibilities. Take the words from your free write at the beginning of the workshop and place them alongside / in dialogue with cuttings from the magazines. Use the tools available to you: pens, pencils, scissors, glue. Play with the techniques that you explored in the group discussion.

  3. Sharing your writing: show your partner; explain the ideas behind your work; talk about the texts that inspired it. After you have shared your work with each other, your partner will share your work with the rest of the workshop.

  4. Reflexive free write - 'Today's playfulness has ...'


‘All we are doing in prewriting is playing with possibilities. Think of yourself as an experimenter or a child obsessed with the “what if?”, a child who is not interested in the rules and routines of the adult world. Do not feel oppressed by the pages you have to write to make this idea into a story.[…] In prewriting we are doing several things that might not be connected to a particular story or idea.’ 

from Amanda Boulter, Writing Fiction: Creative and Critical Approaches

(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p.108-9.

'Serious play'

‘There is no contradiction between seriousness, exacting thought, deep feeling and play. 'Serious play' is a good working definition of art. I relish the kind of expanded play that comes from working closely with people from other specialities - painters, photographers, dancers, musicians to name just a few. What play does is to release material, connections, images [...]. In another sense of the word, it puts them in play.'

from Philip Gross, 'The White Bit Round the Edges' in In Their Own Words: Contemporary Poets on Their Poetry, ed. by Helen Ivory & George Szirtes (Cromer: Salt, 2012), p.20.

'Not arriving'

‘Writing is not arriving; most of the time it's not arriving. One must go on foot, with the body. One has to go away, leave the self. How far must one not arrive in order to write, how far must one wander and wear out and have pleasure?

from Hélène Cixous, Thee Steps on the Ladder of Writing, trans. by Sarah Cornell & Susan Sellars (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p.65.

05 Post-workshop Activities

Research, Writing, Further Reading - poetry on the screen


  • Watch the poetry-films on The Poetry Society website here.

  • Watch the poetry-films on this website here.

  • Look for other poetry-films by published poets on YouTube (e.g. Liz Berry).

  • In what ways do you think they are successful / unsuccessful?


  • Start thinking about how you might be able to use word / image / sound on the screen.

  • Play with some possibilities:

    • Choose either a poem or a piece of flash fiction written during the CREW 1000 module (Exploring Creative Writing).

    • Put one of these pieces alongside / in dialogue with images on the screen.

    • You may find it beneficial to focus on a single stanza or paragraph - creating for the screen takes longer than you imagine!

  • Use digital tools you are familiar with, for example, PowerPoint, WeVideo, phone apps ....

  • Post your creation in the submissions area of Blackboard by (date).

Further Reading

  • Philip Gross & Wyn Mason, 'Surface Tensions: Framing the Flow of a Poetry-Film Collaboration',  New Writing, 10:3, 323-335 (available on Blackboard).