A House of Many Rooms: The Sonnet Sequence

A House of Many Rooms: The Sonnet Sequence

Find your ‘big idea’ and get to work on a propulsive new sonnet sequence with an expert in the field!

John Donne once scathingly claimed ‘The Spanish proverb informs me that he is a fool which cannot make one sonnet and he is mad which makes two’. Yet, poets from the Renaissance onwards have continued to attempt this high-wire, poetic feat of madness. A gift for any poet interested in form, the sonnet sequence is a compulsive and propulsive vehicle combining the individual sonnet’s natural properties of integrated thought and feeling with space to develop many-angled exploration, free association, and narrative. 

A successful sonnet sequence needs to be rooted in a big idea; one that can’t fit into a single poem and needs time and space to expand and develop. The trick is to find material that is powerful and enduring enough to build your multi-roomed house of poetry. 

In this two-part workshop, a combination of reading and writing exercises, we’ll spend the first session reading formally rigorous and radically subversive takes on the single sonnet. We’ll undertake a few of our own poetic experiments before moving on to reading sequences, crowns and heroic crowns of sonnets from poets like George Meredith, Marilyn Hacker, George Szirtes and Patricia Smith. 

In the fortnight between workshops, you’ll have a chance to explore possibilities for your own sonnet sequence and return for our second session to share your early drafts. This is likely to be only the start of a substantial, infuriating, satisfying and obsessive building project to keep you going for a very long time. 

Two sessions on Sundays 14 & 28 March, 10:30am – 4:30pm. 

This course will take place in our offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building. More information about how all our face-to-face courses work can be found on the Face-to-Face courses page.

Image Credit: Beasty

About Jacqueline Saphra View Profile

Jacqueline Saphra’s collection All My Mad Mothers from Nine Arches Press was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot prize. In the same year A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller was published by Hercules Editions. Dad, Remember You Are Dead was published by Nine Arches Press in September 2019. Veritas: Poems after Artemisia Gentileschi was published by Hercules Editions in May 2020. 

'Jacqui was an outstanding tutor and all-round lovely person. Brilliant course.'

– Summer 2020 survey response

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