MSL Summer School 2024

Two courses taught in-person Jan-Feb.

The Melbourne School of Literature is proud to present the Summer School 2024 curriculum.  Both courses are 10 hours in length.  As always significant discounts apply for those enrolling in multiple courses. If you have any questions which aren't in our FAQs please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


When: Jan 16 - Feb 15

Where: Multipurpose room 2, Kathleen Syme Centre, 251 Faraday St, Carlton.

Notes: Readings are made available online before the school begins. All payment must be made via credit card during enrollment. Also note that Melbourne (AEDT) is 11 hours ahead of UTC. All payment must be made via credit card during enrolment.  Also it's worth noting that Melbourne (AEST) is 10 hours ahead of UTC (5pm here is 7am in Berlin and 10pm in LA).

Fees (AUD):

Courses Waged Unwaged
1 $145 $90
Both $220 $150



Summer School Programme

2 hours per week for 5 weeks

Tues 6-8pm
Starts 16 Jan
Moodboarding Melbourne
Lecturers: Gareth Morgan and Elese Dowden
Thur 6-8pm
Starts 18 Jan
Poetry as Magic
Lecturer: Daniel Pilkington


Course Descriptions

MelbourneMoodboarding Melbourne

Lecturers: Gareth Morgan and Elese Dowden

Starts: Tue 6-8pm 16 Jan

Full Schedule: Jan 16, 23, 30, Feb 6, Feb 13

Location: Kathleen Syme Centre, Carlton (Audio only recordings are also available)

Please note that attendance for this course is at capacity - audio only enrolment remains available

How has Australian art and literature influenced the mythology of so-called 'Melbourne', now? This summer school theory program consists of 5 x 2-hour lectures (with optional excursions) over 5 weeks, where Gareth Morgan and Elese Dowden invite students to critically investigate the mythos of neo-colonial Melbourne through art, culture and identity in 2024. Situating Naarm as both a centre and a periphery, each lecture is designed around wider themes of place and pace, with weekly provocations as creative prompts. Students will also have the option to write their own poetry in response to each lecture outside of class time. At the end of week 5, we will invite interested students to send us their poems for collation in an optional class zine, to be distributed privately by post or in-person to registered students only.


  • María Lugones, 'Playfulness, "World"-Travelling, and Loving Perception', Hypatia, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Summer, 1987), pp. 3-19
  • Nguyen Tien Hoang, ‘November, End of A Street, Melbourne’, in Captive and Temporal. Vagabond (2017)

WEEK 1: Property

What is a house? A home? How is a poem like a home and what does art and writing ‘do’ to property? [Bernadette Mayer: remember: property is robbery, give everybody / everything] In the first week of the program we open by locating, locating, locating our homes in the landscape of so-called Melbourne, now. We will discuss several poems and texts through group close readings as we unsettle into the wider program. Our core provocation for this week is: how do relationships to property shape different kinds of imagination?


  • Oodgeroo Noonuccal, 'We Are Going'. (1986)
  • Idil Ali, ‘On the Carlton Housing Estate’ for Six Walks. ACCA (2020)
  • π.O., Fitzroy. Collective Effort Press (2015)
  • Michael Farrell, 'Settlers, Regurgitated'. Cordite (2012)
  • Ender Başkan, 'our neighbours poem'. Overland (2023)
  • Gig Ryan, New and Selected Poems. Giramondo (2011)

WEEK 2: Letterboxes

What significance do the letterbox and the postal service have in an increasingly digified Naarm? And was Ned Kelly the first Bushranger of Letters? Is it true, as Mozzie Fishman says in Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria, that letters are ‘only from whitefellas to other whitefellas’, perhaps as a a significant tool of (ongoing) settlement? Letters and the holes we put them in, known as letterboxes, are significant - and significantly quaint - fetish objects in present-day Melbourne. Here, the solidity of the past is mourned and desired by those suffering email jobs, and posties lug around bigger and bigger parcels of globalised crap. Letters get shit done and letters get lost; what was once essential has become decorative. But the desire to write to others lives forever.


  • Alexis Wright, 'Chapter 12: About Sending Letters' in Carpentaria. Giramondo (2006)
  • Ned Kelly, Jerilderie Letter. National Museum of Australia (1879)
  • Michael Farrell ‘letter to sam langer’ in open sesame. Giramondo (2012)
  • Laurie Duggan ‘Letter to John Forbes’ in The Pursuit of Happiness. Shearsman Books (2012)

WEEK 3: Machines

Machines build, but who builds machines? In the beginning [of settler time…] there were men, then horses, tractors, trains and cars… The poetic traditions of the pastoral and the georgic hang over Australian poetry in the form of the ‘anti-pastoral’. The line of verse matches the line made by the plough, says Michael Farrell, pointing to colonial violence of poetry in Australia. What does modernity and the rise of complex machines do to the line of poetry? From inside Hoddle’s griddy Melbourne, how do ‘we’ write and play? Are tram poems cliche? And can the poem be a machine?


  • John Shaw Neilson, ‘The Poor, Poor Country’ in MY WORD IN YOUR EAR (Accessed 2023)
  • Emily Stewart, Australia’s Largest DIY. stale objects dePress (2016)
  • Driving Past, ‘Drive Out Of Melbourne’ in Real Estate. Chapter Music (1999)
  • Nick Whittock, 'Heading Sw- A Chainsaw Poem’. YouTube (2020)
  • AJ Carruthers, 'The Organising Mind', Cordite (2016)
  • Melody Paloma, Kitsch Sites [2 channel HD video], Vimeo (2023)

WEEK 4: Sprawl

Sipping mimosas at bottomless brunch, the cashed-up bogans of Naarm spin on and on from kickon to kickon. In the settler imagination, the party never stops. But what is there to be said about ‘community’, and could the Melbourne we know now be more than just a problematic bender? This week, we take a look at the sprawling impact of globalisation in the contemporary mythology of Naarm. Considering cosmopolitan suburbia, the restaurant, and the shopping mall, we ask: how does writing ‘do’ sprawl? And where, exactly, does 'Melbourne' end?


  • David Easteal, The Plains [movie]. Mubi (2022)
  • Gerald Murnane, 'The Battle of Acosta Nu' in Landscape with Landscape. Norstrilia Press (1985)
  • Ellen van Neerven, 'Chermy' in Overland (2020)
  • Brandon K. Liew, 'Thank You for Calling' in Against Disappearance. Liminal / Pantera Press (2022)
  • Our Carlson, 'Kickon’ in BDSM-420-ABitMuch. Bandcamp (2022)

WEEK 5: Speed

This week we approach hyperspace at a gallop with a focus on the digital to ask whether we are, as John Forbes prophesied, consuming ourselves like mortgages. And if the 1920s were roaring, the flames of the 2020s are engulfing - at least in so-called Melbourne, with Troye Sivan singing, 'pass your boy the heatwave, recreate the sun', and Teether building his wings with wax. In this final week, we discuss: what does the art of the present ask of us? Are we flying too close to the sun?


  • Troye Sivan, Rush. YouTube (2023)
  • Jenifer McKenzie, KPTEA, in Cordite ‘Melbourne’ edition (2014)
  • D Perez-McVie, ‘The Deliveroo delegate’s day off’ in Overland (2018)
  • Teether & Kuya Neil, 'MYTH' in STRESSOR. Bandcamp (2023)
  • Ania Walwicz, Red Roses. University of Queensland Press (1992)
  • Jas Duke, Destiny Wood. Whole Australian Catalogue Publications (1978)

Potery as MagicPoetry as Magic

Lecturer: Daniel Pilkington

Starts: Thursday 6-8 18 Jan

Full Schedule: Jan 18, 25, Feb 1, 8, 15

Location: Kathleen Syme Centre, Carlton

‘Have not poetry and music arisen, as it seems, out of the sounds the enchanters made to help to enchant, to charm, to bind with a spell themselves and the passers-by?’ This is W.B. Yeats, in his short essay on magic, contemplating the idea that poetry began as magic. He is a part of a long, though often hidden, tradition in which poets regard their work as an expression of magical or occult ideas. In this course we will bring this tradition to light and consider the possibility that poetry continues to be a form of magic, if only by way of analogy, or productive conceit. The course will be divided into three sections: in the first two weeks we will cover the history of magical poetries in the English language and present an outline of a magical poetics; in the third week we will explore the creative techniques and procedures unique to magical poetries, namely spellcraft, trance, divination, and ritual; and in the final two weeks we will look at contemporary poets who write poetry in light of the idea that poetry is magic.

Week 1: Poetry and Magic: A Brief History

In this first class, we’ll consider the idea that there is an important relationship between poetry and magic. This will include a brief history of the idea that poetry is akin to magic, as expressed through the poetry and poetics of the Romantics, the Surrealists, and the Early Modernists. This history will show that poets are have been consistently attracted to the occult.


  • ‘Magic’ by W.B. Yeats
  • ‘Poetry as Magic’ by Katy Bohinc
  • So Mayer’s introduction to Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry
  • ‘Literary Occultism’ from Modernist Alchemy, by Timothy Materer
  • Devin Johnston’s introduction to Precipitations: Contemporary American Poetry as Occult Practice
  • Poems by William Shakespeare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Arthur Rimbaud, W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, H.D., and others

Week 2: A Magical (Occult) Poetics?

This lecture will be on the possibility of a magical, or occult, poetics. It will include an introduction to some magical cosmologies and the esoteric traditions that support them. We will consider whether language itself is magical and why it is tempting for the poet to portray themselves as a magician, a sorcerer, a shaman, or a witch. Some political criticisms of magical poetry will also be considered.


  • ‘Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible’, from A Thousand Plateaus, by Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
  • Jerome Rothenberg’s prefaces to Technicians of the Sacred, by Jerome Rothenberg
  • ‘The Poememenon: Form as Occult Technology’ by Amy Ireland
  • ‘Language, Signs, and Magic’ in Poetry, Signs and Magic, by Thomas Greene
  • ‘Poetry as Invocation’ in Poetry, Signs and Magic, by Thomas Greene
  • ‘Vancouver Lecture 1: Dictation and ‘A Textbook of Poetry’’ by Jack Spicer
  • Poems by Jack Spicer, Dorothea Lasky, Rebecca Tamas, Jerome Rothenberg, James Merrill, and others.

Week 3: The Techniques and Processes of Magical Poetries

In this lecture we will explore the creative potential of regarding poetry as magic. In particular, we will look at how the making of spells, rituals, divination procedures, and trance states, can be used to create poetry.


  • ‘Poetry as Magic Workshop Questionnaire’, by Jack Spicer
  • ‘What is a Spell?’ in Spellcraft: a Manual of Verbal Magic, by Robin Skelton
  • Selections from Trance Poetics, by Kristin Prevallet
  • Selections from Ideal Suggestions: Essays in Divinatory Poetics, by Selah Saterstrom
  • Poems by Sappho, Anne Waldman, Sylvia Plath, Diane di Prima, Antonin Artaud, Alice Notley, Katy Bohinc, Selah Saterstrom, Bhanu Kapil, Janaka Stucky, and others.

Week 4: Contemporary Magical Poets: CA Conrad and Will Alexander

In the last two lectures we will study some contemporary poets who regard poetry as magic or who use magical procedures to generate poetry. In this lecture we will consider the somatic rituals of CA Conrad and the ecstatic poetry of Will Alexander.


  • Poems by CA Conrad: selections from AMANDA PARADISE: Resurrect Extinct Vibration, While Standing in Line for Death, ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness, and Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics (2012),
  • Poems by Will Alexander: selections from The Combustion Cycle, Compression & Purity, and Singing in Magnetic Hoofbeat.

Week 5: Contemporary Magical Poets: Ariana Reines and others

In the final lecture we will consider the magical/mystical poetry of Ariana Reines. If there is time we will also read some other contemporary magical poets.


  • Poems by Ariana Reines: selections from Mercury and A Sand Book.
  • Some additional poems: TBD.

Course Descriptions