In Praise of Complexity

In Praise of Complexity

Write poetry that thwarts simplification

‘It’s a simple argument: a world that is complex requires a poetry that is complex […] a world in which no conclusions apply may even revel in its inconclusiveness.’
– Paul Muldoon on John Ashbery, (The New Yorker, September 4, 2017)

Complex poetry places trust in its readers, in their ability to think for themselves. It opens up new directions rather than giving a single point of view. On this course we will see how complex poetry, when successful, is beautifully thought-provoking, digs deeper and invites the reader to be part of a dialogue. We will experiment with poetry that generates more questions than answers, poetry that is anything but didactic, poetry that surprises the reader as well as the writer. During the course we will be reading and writing poems that express complexity in different ways: poems that tell several stories at the same time, poems that challenge the readers rather than offer them clear conclusions, poems that travel between different time periods, countries, reality and dreams, and poems that keep changing at every turn – constantly seeking new meanings and connections. Above all, we will learn the fine balance of creating complex poetry that still manages to engage the reader. During the course we will be reading the poetry of John Ashbery, Paul Muldoon, Elizabeth Willis, Sylvia Plath, Arthur Rimbaud, Elizabeth Bishop, W. B. Yeats and many more.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Tuesdays, 7-9pm GMT, first live chat starting 21 May 2019.

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

Image credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões

About Stav Poleg View Profile

Stav Poleg’s poetry has been published on both sides of the Atlantic, including in The New Yorker, Poetry London and Poetry Ireland Review. She regularly collaborates with fellow artists and poets. Her graphic-novel installation Dear Penelope: Variations on an August Morning, created with artist Laura Gressani, was acquired by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Her debut pamphlet, Lights, Camera, was published in 2017. She serves on the editorial board of Magma Poetry, and has recently facilitated collaborative work between poets and filmmakers for the magazine. Her theatre work was read at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh and the Shunt Vaults, London, and most recently at Kettle’s Yard gallery, Cambridge.

‘This was an excellent class. The readings, prompts & material were excellent. The teacher was exemplary & well-versed in instruction & feedback. Would take another class with Zeina in a heartbeat. It was a great learning experience.’

– Autumn 2018 survey response

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