Short Course

In Other Tongues: intimate geographies, ecologies of conversation

a residential short course   June 10-14 2017

Dartington Hall, Devon UK

led by poet Alyson Hallett and artist/writer Mat Osmond with invited guests including Alice Oswald (who will lead a walk and give a reading) and Director Richard Povall (who will be there to welcome, and will join in some of the sessions throughout the course).

Listen to Alyson’s ‘How I Write’

Taking the idea of geographical intimacy as its starting point, this five-day residential course offers a special opportunity to explore how we relate to the poetics of place.  It’s a chance to engage in practical, playful and serious enquiry into our experience of landscape and all things that inhabit it – from those that can be seen and heard, to those living in more in-between or imagined spaces.

Creative use of words form the core of the course along with image-making, voice and embodied exercises. We will work both indoors and outdoors as we deepen and attune more to ourselves and our experiences of place.

Developing our ability to listen will be key to this process, as will remaining open, always, to the unexpected. A willingness to participate is more important than previous experience: we welcome anyone interested in creating new work, or bringing new light to bear on work that’s already in progress.  There will be plenty of exercises to fire and inspire the imagination, as well as time to go exploring, to contemplate, to be still, to wonder.

Central to this short course is an approach of generous, vigilant enquiry, with ample time for reflection and sharing.  There will be group workshops as well as opportunities for individual sessions with the tutors.


The course includes:

  • slow, close reading of poems, visual images and other texts
  • walking and being still as ways of allowing things to surface
  • a commitment to listening to what arises, to developing peripheral vision and peripheral hearing as a way of subverting our tendencies to fall into predictable patterns
  • an exploration of porosity as a way of beginning to articulate new conversations with place
  • communion and collaboration with fellow creative practitioners
  • a gentle, sensitive and enquiring way of working
  • space for the unknown – for things we cannot plan or predict
  • exploring how far collaborative practice can extend when working with the land


Who the course is for

This course is for anyone in need of an opportunity to engage with new approaches to creative practice or their creative selves, and to explore a condition of radical permeability – between senses, processes, materials, modes of speech. It’s for those willing to approach arts practice as an ongoing dance with unanticipated correspondences and unsought resonances. This course is for those who wish to engage in an unpredictable, shared process of practical enquiry with all the uncertainty and curiosity of a complete beginner, irrespective of their prior accomplishments.


The venue is a family of artists and cultural organisations whose work focusses on the natural world, how we live on the planet, and on the environment. Based on the Dartington estate, we are a centre for learning and creation, each year attracting some of the most enquiring minds and some of the most creative people from across the world to come and spend time finding new energy and knowledge.

Dartington Hall is at the heart of a 1,200-acre medieval estate outside of Totnes in South Devon. Dartington has a rich history dating back to the 14th century, with stories of royal visits, court intrigue, grand architecture, and family ruin in its granite bones. The modern Dartington has an 80-year history as a place for thought and creativity and for challenging the conventions of rural sustainability and rural life; Schumacher College provides transformational education across a number of fields of thought, and this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. Surrounded by the extraordinarily beautiful countryside of South Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the estate lies a few miles from the Atlantic coast in one direction and a few miles from Dartmoor National Park in the other.

For information about travel and accommodation see


Practical stuff

Registration, with no accommodation (but including lunch and dinner) is £635
Registration with student-style accommodation (shared bathrooms) is £775

If for whatever reason you require a private bathroom, then single hotel rooms are available. See the booking form for more details.


Course leaders

mugshot-alysonDr Alyson Hallett is a prize-winning poet and curator of an international poetry-as-public-art project, The Migration Habits of Stones.  Alyson has published many books of poetry including On Ridgegrove Hill (Atlantic Press), Suddenly Everything (Poetry Salzburg), The Stone Library (Peterloo Poets).  She has also published short stories, The Heart’s Elliptical Orbit (Solidus Press) and written drama and an audio-diary for BBC Radio 4, Dear Gerald and Nature: Migrating Stones, and drama for Sky Television.

Alyson has been awarded several Arts Council Grants and has undertaken many prestigious residencies including being the first poet in the UK to receive a Leverhulme Award to be resident in a university geography department and the Charles Causley Residency.  Her public art work is sited in the England, Scotland, USA. and Australia and can be seen in both urban and rural areas.  Collaborations with sculptors, glass makers, musicians and visual artists are a vital part of Alyson’s working practice.

In 2010, she completed a practice-based PhD which led to her latest book, Geographical Intimacy (available from Amazon, 2016).   Alyson is a Hawthornden Fellow, has run Arvon Foundation poetry courses with James Harpur, and currently works part-time as an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and as an associate lecturer at UWE and Falmouth University.

Listen to Alyson’s essay on BBC Radio 3 ||



mugshot-matMat Osmond is a visual artist, poet and essayist and is one of the conveners of’s In Other Tongues programme. He’s a long-standing member of the RANE (Research in Art, Nature and Environment) research group, now part of the family and based at Dartington). Mat is Senior Lecturer on Falmouth University’s pioneering trans-disciplinary award, the MA Illustration: Authorial Practice; he also worked on its sister award the MA Art & Environment during its inspirational five-year lifespan, where the question of what ecological recovery requires of us took hold as the central thread in all his work. In 2015 Mat’s illustrated chapbook poem Fly Sings won the inaugural Michael Marks Poetry Illustration Award; his most recent project is a word-image collaboration with the poet and Dark Mountain editor Em Strang, on her widely acclaimed post-apocalyptic poem Stone. Mat’s images and words are published through his own imprint Strandline Books, as well as by Dark Mountain, Atlantic Press, and others. In November 2016 he co-convened the 2nd Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival, where he curated two events focused on modes of conversation between visual art and poetry. Mat’s currently acting as guest art editor for the next issue of the Dark Mountain Journal, as well as working on an illustrated collection of poems and two new essays: one about the collaborative friendship between the poet Ted Hughes and the artist Leonard Baskin, and another about the paintings and writings of the American artist and sometime Benedictine nun, Meinrad Craighead.


Alice Oswald will join us, leading a walk on the Dartington estate, and giving a reading of her work. We’re particularly delighted to welcome Alice, described recently by the Telegraph as ‘our greatest living poet’, whose list of prizes and awards is too long to detail here. Most recently her new collection ‘Falling Awake‘ was awarded the prestigious Costa Poetry Award.



Richard Povall is an artist, educator and founding director of His practice and research centre around the natural world and ecological systems and art practices. He has directed numerous companies and has taught and held Fellowships in Universities in the UK and US, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Richard is also a Director at CCANW, and Chairs Dance in Devon.





Reading from ‘6 days in Iceland’ by Alyson Hallett and Chris Casedine

Encountering Iceland – reading from 6 Days in Iceland by Alyson Hallett and Chris Caseldine from digital economy on Vimeo.


Not really huge fan of Xmas but it is a time to share. We’re so proud of our new imprint that we’re offering a boxset at a very special price until Jan 15. These are all wonderful books full of brilliant thought and gorgeous images.……

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