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.  

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 or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. For more information visit our Online Courses page. 

Image credit: Max Ovcharenko

About Leah Umansky View Profile

Leah Umansky is the author of three books of poems, most recently OF TYRANT, forthcoming with The Word Works in 2024. She 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 has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as The New York Times, POETRY, Magma Poetry, Poetry Wales, Guernica, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day, and Pleiades. She can be found at 

'Focussed and high-level quality of assignments; great range and expertise in field and very good level of support from tutor as well as an inspiring cohort.'

- Spring 2022 survey response

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