TERRACES: a choreography by Scott Thurston

Scott Thurston is a poet, mover and educator. He has published sixteen books and chapbooks of poetry, including three full-length collections with Shearsman. More recent work includes Phrases towards a Kinepoetics (Contraband, 2020) and Poems for the Dance (Aquifer, 2017). Scott is founding editor of open access Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry and co-organized the long-running poetry reading series The Other Room in Manchester. Since 2004, he has been developing a poetics integrating dance and poetry which has seen him studying with dancers in Berlin and New York and collaborating with three dancers in the UK. Scott is Reader in English and Creative Writing at the University of Salford where he has taught since 2004. He has a PhD in Poetics from the University of Lancaster.

Twitter:  @scott_thurston

Work webpage:  https://www.salford.ac.uk/our-staff/scott-thurston

Cover image: Maria Andrews — a treated still from the film Terraces (2021)

Praise for the Author

“A somatised manual for the senses and visionary toolbox where the parameters between the word, soul, and body expand into the outer edges of holistic, healing, and poetic inquiry.”

—Dalia Neis, writer, filmmaker, musician, author of Zephyrian Spools.

“Terraces is a call to recover the ancient that is missing in our shadow world. These poems are documents and scores about dances and dancing; undulating choreographies of enquiry, sacrifice, resistance. From such commitment to deep knowledge arises ‘a masterclass for changemakers’, a template for healing, a proposal for those who wish to absorb the body entirely whilst exuding all the toxins, down to the final dregs.”

—James Davies, poet, editor of if p then q.

“An intense exploration of the way that language and the body operate in and on and towards one another.”

—Lyndon Davies (on Phrases towards a kinepoetics), poet, editor of Junction Box online magazine and publisher of Aquifer Books.


ONE leaf never one leaf, the green cloth-bound with browned papers. Going down into a core stretch: give weight, pull, swap. For a comma, a turn, turning to change position for each hand, turning head. Add to the same level of tension: top half not connected to the lower. Your silence got lost in it, beside the floating mountain. Those bleak terraces.

Micro-decisions in the moment — attention to what relaxes. We meet the same situation with different qualities in collaboration; our emotional eco-system. When the I fully realises itself, there is a corresponding change in the other, but if I don’t speak, you think I am thinking the worst possible thing. The mountains obscured by cloud at the base appear to float. The vines in winter.

During the ceremony, the course was physically installed in my body. How to best serve the universe, allow oneself to be held, reconnect with the centre, stay grounded? Movement connects us to what is happening now. Finding one’s full height – see the pattern’s roots, make a choice to find the new or maintain the old. Breathing first and last. Rite to take up space.

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