Alice in Wonderland is such an enduringly popular novel as it is a tale everyone can connect to, everyone has either felt like, wanted to be or connected to the character of Alice in some point in their lives. A major part of its allure is the way it is perfectly written with both child and adult reader in mind. It is written with the simplicity and clarity that a child needs in order to follow the story, as well as the multiple underlying layers of meaning and puzzles need for an adult reader to enjoy it.
Although there are various retellings of Alice in Wonderland by various prominent authors my favourite version is a poem written by a former student of mine while I worked for SLAM NHS. It was a fantastic narrative poem that showed an older Alice that is trapped in Wonderland as an adult cursing the world and slowly losing her mind. I love the way the student turned the tale on its head and added to the Alice tradition.
I think Alice’s tale is perfect for a poetry workshop as it is packed full of imagery and is the tale that can be told a thousand ways. It is a tale that transcends gender, sex, race and religion. Anyone can be Alice for the day.
I think getting inspiration from a novel is very different from being inspired by another poem. The main advice I would give to someone who is inspiring themselves from a novel is to not focus solely on the narrative but also take a moment to see the story’s imagery and symbolism. Remember great poets repurpose other writer’s work, the way the little borrower people do with our house hold items when our eyes are looking elsewhere.
The best way for poets to prepare for this workshop is by re-reading the story before you come along as I will be discussing it in detail and if you know what I am referring to, you are halfway to being Alice.
This workshop is suitable for beginner and more advanced poets, those who love Alice and those who would like to explore the tale a bit more.