Out for the Count: Syllabics

Out for the Count: Syllabics

Work on ‘syllabicising’ poems of your own

For a poem to work, it has to work against something. In the twentieth century, in almost the same year, ‘syllabic verse’ was – if not invented (it has existed for centuries) – defined in England and in the United States, here by the dreadfully neglected Elizabeth Daryush, in the States by Marianne Moore. Syllabics have been crucial in the development of many poets’ work. Yvor Winters learned from Daryush and in turn showed Gunn how he might escape the trammels of metrical verse and edge his way towards a genuinely free verse. Auden and Bishop and Fuller and Langley, to name a very few, have found syllabics enabling. So have I. Syllabics are a wonderful way to give full authority to the poetic line: they are not a sausage slicer, they impose quite a different discipline, a different squeeze, on a poet’s language, and they work against the merely subjective emission of sound and sense. They are hostile to sentimentality and they are not entirely congenial to the first person singular. In this workshop you will work on ‘syllabicising’ poems of your own, to feel the consequences of this discipline on diction, lineation and much else. The avoidance of metre may be the thing; or the avoidance of self-expression, the gifting to the poem itself of its poetic ‘voice’.

Saturday 25 May, 10.30am – 4.30pm.

All classes will be in our offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.

More information about how all our face-to-face courses work can be found on the Face-to-Face courses page.

Image credit: judy_and_ed

About Michael Schmidt View Profile

Michael Schmidt is a founder and the editorial and managing director of Carcanet Press, the general editor of PN Review, and the author of several books of poems, literary history and criticism including Lives of the Poets. He is a professor at the University of Manchester. His next book, on Gilgamesh, will be published by Princeton in the Autumn.

‘I’m a published poet. The Poetry School opens up new territories for my writing, challenges me when I feel stale and puts me in touch with the creativity of others. It gives me a wider community to draw on.’

– Autumn 2018 survey response

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