Fighting the Tyrant: A Political & Personal Studio+

Fighting the Tyrant: A Political & Personal Studio+

Move between the personal and political to explore the power of poetry in fighting tyrants.

Who is the tyrant? How do we resist him, confront him, or dismiss him? The tyrant is part ego, part evil, part narcissist, part abuser, part liar and thief; his power is wielded through lies, deception, and greed. Who the tyrant is can be many things to all of us, but we each have an image of this figure. 

In the 21st century, it is hard not to find yourself immersed in politics. In this course, we will read poets writing directly about current political issues and working to tackle the tyrant (in all his forms) with humanity, urgency, and resistance. Over this course, poets of all levels will read poetry of injustice, struggle, and rebellion straddling the line of what is political and personal. 

Words are one of the fiercest inventions we have and, as such, carry great power and responsibility; our poems then, in their use of this radical language, can carry great meaning, sentiment, strength, and sometimes even danger. In exploring this topic, we will see how every poem can be political, whether we realise it or not, and ask if being political and being a poet can serve as examples of the same. 

The course will involve plenty of close reading and discussion of traditional and experimental poems – including work by Kaveh Akbar, Sharon Olds, Marie Howe, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Maggie Smith, Carolyn Forche, Hala Alyan, Ilya Kaminsky, Martin Espada, Meg Day, Bob Hicox, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, and Dante Di Stefano – coupled with writing prompts aimed to inspire your own exploration of resistance and rebellion on the page. 

Studio+ Courses are an expanded version of our Studios and feature a portfolio of preliminary reading, alongside 4 writing assignments, and some additional bonus features bespoke to each course, such as Zoom sessions, collaborative projects, and inter-disciplinary work. There are no Live Chats on this course. Suitable for UK & International students. 

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected]. Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. For more information visit our Online Courses page. 

Image Credit:Dakota Corbin

About Leah Umansky View Profile

Leah Umansky is the author of three books of poems, most recently Of Tyrant, forthcoming with The Word Works in April 2024. She is currently working on a memoir, Delicate Machine, an exploration of womanhood, hope, and heart in the face of grief and a global pandemic. She earned her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and has curated and hosted The Couplet Reading Series in NYC since 2011. Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as The New York Times, POETRY, Banshee, Magma Poetry, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day, Guesthouse, and River Mouth Review. She can be found at 

"The UK Poetry School offers an amazing, wonderful, high calibre, professional, warm and welcoming environment of tutors and peers in which my poetry and my appreciation of poetry have flourished. I am forever grateful. I will be back for more classes!"

- Summer 2023 Survey Response

Related Courses