Freedom & Form (International)

Freedom & Form (International)

Discover the levers and mechanisms that power free verse forms

Robert Frost famously claimed that writing free verse is ‘like playing tennis with the net down’. Without the formal constraints, he seems to be saying, it’s not worth playing the game. In this course we’ll be calling ‘Foul!’ on Frost’s analogy, and discovering how the levers and mechanisms that power traditional poetic forms are the same levers and mechanisms that enable free verse to do its own wonderful thing. To reinvent Frost’s image: in free verse the net is definitely there – it’s just not as obvious (and it might also be moving). Over five fortnightly sessions we’ll explore and experiment with some of the formal properties that underpin successful free verse. We’ll tune in to sound (rhymes, chimes, echoes and assonance); play with the line (long, short, end-stopped and enjambed); cut new shapes (marks, voids, patterns and pictures); learn to think in syllables (numbers and time); and interrogate the stanza (unities and divisions). Through exercises and assignments we’ll draw inspiration from a range of writers – including George Herbert, Marianne Moore, Stevie Smith, William Carlos Williams, May Swenson, Philip Larkin, Jane Yeh and (of course) Robert Frost – all of whom exploit aspects of form in original, unsettling and exhilarating ways.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 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: DeeAshley

About Rebecca Watts View Profile

Rebecca Watts’s debut collection, The Met Office Advises Caution (Carcanet, 2016), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, Poetry School ‘Book of the Year’, featured in the Guardian and Financial Times ‘Best Books of 2016’ lists, and was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. Rebecca currently lives in Cambridge, where she works in a library and as a freelance editor.

‘The preparatory material was outstanding – a thorough, non-patronising grounding in some basics, and an eclectic and genuinely exciting array of sources / points of reference. I’m going to be rereading those worksheets. The assignments were challenging, closely focused on poetic technique, and well-structured – each building on the previous piece of work. A very tightly-knit, well-designed course.’

– Autumn 2018 survey response

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