Seriously Wacky, or the Importance of Being Silly Studio

Seriously Wacky, or the Importance of Being Silly Studio

Dive into silliness in your writing, as we see how 'messing about' can produce unexpectedly profound poems.

In a 1906 journal entry, Wallace Stevens wrote, ‘Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!’ and we might add to this, that what’s good for the season is good for the poem! They thrive on surprise, daffodils, and silliness. 

Much has been written about the artist – even the genius – as someone whose childlike capacity for wonder and play stay with them into adulthood. Children are constantly stumbling into beauty, laughter, and profundity, because they are (hopefully) allowed the time, space, and permission to experiment. And what is ‘experiment’ but a grown-up word for ‘mess about’? Let’s not let the kids have all the fun! By embracing this side of ourselves – where daydreams and messing about live – the poet starts off at an advantage; this train of thought, in all its silliness, who knows where it will go? If nothing else, it won’t be boring to find out. 

But, more than just being an engaging pursuit for its own sake, chances are that this ‘messing about’ will, like the child’s non sequitur, surprise us with something unexpectedly profound – this poem about hot air balloon jousting, I realise now, it has a surprising amount to say about class; this poem about a haunted optician’s, it’s made me realise something about friendship. This poem is wackily serious, seriously wacky. 

Over this Studio course, we will explore the work of some masters of silliness and surprise, including Charles Simic, Caroline Bird, Selima Hill, Jane Yeh, Heather Christle, Mark Leidner, James Tate, and Russel Edson, amongst others, embracing our silly sides to spring forward into exciting, surprising new poems.

Studios are 4-week intensive courses. Reading material will be distributed before the course begins. There are no live chats so they are suitable for both UK & International students.  

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to administ[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: Thomas William

About Liam Bates View Profile

Liam Bates is a poet living in Lancashire. His poems have appeared in publications including Ambit, Bath Magg, Abridged, and more. They have been commended or shortlisted in competitions by Magma, Bridport Prize, Creative Future, longlisted in the National Poetry Competition, and have been translated into Spanish and Latvian. In 2023, he was awarded a Northern Writers’ Award for Poetry. 

His first two pamphlets are available from Broken Sleep Books, winner of the Michael Marks Publishing Award 2020, along with his full-length debut, Human Townsperson. 

'I have been introduced to the writing of poets I may never have otherwise come across, both in terms of the study materials and my fellow poetry students. It has been life changing on a really intrinsic level. I have met and formed friendships with poets across the world and across generations - hugely enriching!'

– Spring 2023 survey response

Related Courses