“The nymph is all into a lawrel gone”: creative writing, consent or coercion, in Ovid’s Metamorphoses

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This article considers how a familiar story from literary history, with its effective demonstration of the art of transformation, can not be used unquestioningly as a teaching text in the era and awareness of #MeToo. Though referred to for thirty years in my pedagogical practice, I could no longer excuse its glorification of sexual abuse without including a ‘trigger warning’ about the famous myth of Laurel and Apollo, alerting students to potentially sensitive material in the creative writing classroom.
The discussion covers several translations into English from Ovid’s original Metamorphoses, digging deeper than written traditions to find the roots of this glamourized rape scenario. Can the woman’s desperate withholding of consent really have been retold as a triumph of man’s genius, rewarding his brutality with the conscription of her leafy protest? Crucial concerns around that coercion, raised by Ovid in the year 0, are checked against the legacy of its content now. Canonical representations of male privilege and fragility are queried, and comparative myths considered, to update a syllabus of appropriate stories for an undergraduate context.
The essay is accompanied by performance poems in the voice of Daphne, from the POV of Laurel, reformulating the critical issues as creative practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWriting in Practice
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 9 Sept 2023


  • Creative Writing Pedagogy
  • Classical Mythology
  • Decolonising Curriculum
  • #MeToo
  • Apollo and Daphne
  • Transformation
  • Laurel Tree
  • Feminist Literary Theory

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