Tate Modern courses

Poetry and Serious Play: Matisse, Words and Paper Led by award-winning poet Pascale Petit

© The estate of R. B. Kitaj

Matisse said that poetry is like oxygen, 'just as when you leap out of bed you fill your lungs with fresh air'. He used it to energise him, reading poems each morning before starting work in his studio. The fine arts can similarly revitalise poetry. We will breathe in his exuberant cut-outs, their enveloping colour and vitality, to inspire poems. These joyous outpourings late in Matisse’s life will help us get into the right frame of mind, 'close to that of prayer' but also of play. This serious play or trance state can shake our perceptions and lead us to see our lives and the world afresh, bringing back the wonder of childhood when everything looks and sounds new.

Based entirely after hours in the galleries at Tate Modern, this poetry course is a chance to engage closely with international masterpieces to develop your own poetry in unexpected directions.

Visits to the Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition and Tate's collection, as well as discussions around works by leading contemporary poets, offer inspiration to your own writing with opportunity to work in small groups for feedback on poems in progress.

This course is suitable for writers with some experience of poetry workshops. Ticket price includes drinks following the course sessions.

Pascale Petit’s fifth poetry collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo was shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year. It was a Book of the Year in the Observer. A portfolio of poems from her next collection Fauverie, due in 2014, won the Manchester Poetry Prize. She has had three books shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. A Next Generation poet, she has been Poetry Editor of Poetry London and was a founding tutor of The Poetry School.

Tate Modern

London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit


2 June – 7 July 2014 at 19.45–21.45

9 June – 7 July 2014 at 19.45–21.45

16 June – 7 July 2014 at 19.45–21.45

23 June – 7 July 2014 at 19.45–21.45

30 June – 7 July 2014 at 19.45–21.45

7 July 2014 at 19.45–21.45