Now Hear This: Percussion, Tune and the Poetics of Hip Hop (International Course)

Now Hear This: Percussion, Tune and the Poetics of Hip Hop (International Course)

Equip yourself to adjust the nuts and bolts that account for the sound of a line

In this online course, you’ll be equipped with tools to adjust the nuts and bolts that account for the sound of a line. By listening to some of the most fluently musical poets of today alongside their counterparts in hip hop, we’ll identify crucial musical principals and practice recognizing their presence and effects. In addition to poets like Sinead Morrissey, Sarah Howe, Seamus Heaney, Jessica Jacobs, Patrick Rosal, Amit Majmudar, Yusef Komunyakaa, and DA Powell, we’ll discuss lyricists like Black Thought, Aesop Rock, Fatlip, Nas, Lauryn Hill, André 3000, Loyle Carner, Holly Flo Lightly, and Saul Williams. If Ezra Pound was right that ‘poetry atrophies the farther it gets from music, and music rots the farther it gets from dance’, then why not turn to hip hop, one of the most exuberantly inventive genres of oral literature, to discover more natural ways of playing with the sonic possibilities of verse? In a contemporary poetry scene that often distrusts form as pretentious, poets stand to learn a great deal from the lavishly beat-driven sensibility of hip hop, where speech is so grounded in bodily motion that rhythm gets embedded in the words that emerge to such an extent it approaches song. Formal concerns include meter and rhythm, rhyme and assonance, alliteration, texture, phrasing, and the layering of patterns, as well as the potential purposes of such tools, like entrancement, community-forming, mimesis, subversion and of course the element of surprise. Examples will be drawn equally from lyricists whose work approaches poetry and poets who’ve been moved by the African American traditions of jazz, gospel, blues, spirituals, work songs and folklore. Detailed feedback will be given to tease out the musical offers being made by your drafts and to offer further reading/listening and strategies for taking that music further. Writers of all ilks welcome – from hip-hop heads to page-based poets who yearn to return to their oral origins.

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.

About Eric Berlin View Profile

Eric Berlin’s poems have been awarded the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize, Bradford on Avon Poetry Prize, National Poetry Prize and The Ledge Poetry Prize, and were finalists for the Manchester Poetry Prize, Ruth Stone Prize, and Allen Ginsberg Award, among others. He has been granted residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Art Farm, and Constance Saltonstall Foundation, and his poems have appeared in journals such as Hunger Mountain, North American Review, Jewish Currents, The Poetry ReviewThe Rialto and The White Review. Assistant Editor for The Cortland Review, he lives near Syracuse, New York, where he works as a freelance editor and teaches.


Time spent working on words, thinking about how we write, where to use a comma and why to use a comma is one of those detailed moments of study that only working with other poets can make possible – the Poetry School is one of those havens in which you can explore content and intent with other writers and talented tutors

Summer 2017 Online Course Survey Response

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