Fighting the Tyrant: Political & Personal Poetry (International)

Fighting the Tyrant: Political & Personal Poetry (International)

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.

6 fortnightly sessions over 12 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.

Image Credit: Alyssa Kibiloski

About Leah Umansky View Profile

Leah Umansky is the author of two full length collections, The Barbarous Century (2018), and Domestic Uncertainties (2013), among others. She earned her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and is the curator and host of The COUPLET Reading Series in NYC. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as POETRY, Guernica, Bennington Review, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day, Poetry International, The New York Times, Rhino, Pleiades, and the anthologies, The Eloquent Poem (Persea Books) and Misrepresented Peoples (NYQ Books). She is #teamstark  #teamelliot & #teambernard and can be found at @Lady_bronte  and

‘The Poetry School programmes such thoughtful and unusual courses and enables poets to feel validated, to become more curious, more skilled, more engaged in poetry and the world.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

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