Reclaiming the ‘I’: Masterclass

Reclaiming the ‘I’: Masterclass

Rediscover the 'I' and examine the delights of its persona.

In her poem, ‘Take the I Out’, Sharon Olds bleeds into the first line with, ‘but I like the I’. And she is right – the ‘I’ is so likable. The ‘I’ is a small and precious delight – a delight we poets are often told to avoid, to shun, move past, ignore, or simply resist.  For many years, the ‘I’ has been in and out of poetic fashion, and now, in the 21st century, so many poets are reclaiming it – and why not!? 

This course will explore the many uses of the ‘I’ including both contemporary writing and more formal, traditional work. We’ll explore poems by Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, and Lucille Clifton alongside contemporary poets such as Diane Seuss, Tiana Clark, and Taneum Bambrick. 

Throughout this masterclass, we will consider the ‘I’ through various lenses: as persona, humour, confessional mode, incantation, and witness. Who knows what the ‘I’ might become in your work? That is the hope of this course – to equip you with the skills to reclaim the ‘I’ in your work and let it twist and turn, propelling you into a longer poetic sequence, project, or pamphlet. 

Masterclasses are an expanded version of our International Courses, with a much deeper consideration of technical craft and critical theory. These 12-week courses (maximum 10 places) are for advanced students only, and fluency with poetic language and ideas will be assumed. There are no live chats and they are suitable for UK and International students.  


Concessions & Accessibility

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected]; conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions, wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, or require any form of adjustment to access our courses, please email [email protected]For more information visit our Online Courses page.

Image credit: Max Ovcharenko

About Leah Umansky View Profile

Leah Umansky is an educator, curator, collagist, and writer in New York City. She is the author of three books of poetry, most recently, Of Tyrant, (Word Works Books, 2024) and two chapbooks, Straight Away the Emptied World and the Mad Men-inspired Don Dreams and I Dream. Umansky earned her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and has curated and hosted The COUPLET Reading Series in NYC since 2011. Her creative work can be found in The New York Times, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day, USA Today, POETRY, and American Poetry Review. She has taught workshops to writers of all ages in such places as The Poetry School (UK), Hudson Valley Writers Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Visible Ink Program.  She can be found at, @lady_bronte on Twitter, or @leah.umansky on IG. 

"It’s wonderful to learn in a setting where the participant poets’ calibre is so high. You learn so much from the tutors, but also from fellow participants who are generous and thoughtful. Highly recommended!"

– Autumn 2023 survey response

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