Swerve: Surprise, Errancy, & Unexpected Turns

Swerve: Surprise, Errancy, & Unexpected Turns

Explore errancy and try out some dangerous driving in your poetry.

* This course will take place on video-conferencing platform ZOOM *

‘There are two kinds of movement, the straight and the swerve’ writes Canadian poet Karen Solie. This workshop will be all about the swerve – not academic jargon, but a word that describes a kind of mobility: a rogue move, a sudden shift, a volta, a trapdoor, a dangerous veer towards the edge of a poem’s capacity. 

All too often we stay in our lanes and forget the elements of surprise and errancy in our writing. The objective of this split-session workshop is to encourage dangerous driving – you will be encouraged to sidestep the familiar and safe, pushing your work into strange, charged, and on-the-brink places. You will leave the sessions equipped with techniques, exercises, and several new drafts, workshopped in class and through individual feedback. 

The first session will single out examples of poetic swerve from Richard Hugo, Weldon Kees, Karen Solie, James Wrights, Wallace Stevens, and more. We will then discuss what it is these risk-takers achieve – how are they balancing radical uncertainty and disciplined judgement? How are they playing with readers’ expectations and does it always work? We will locate and apply their techniques to our own work through various writing exercises.  

In the weeks between sessions, you will submit a ‘swerve’ poem(s) to the class so that the second session can be spent giving considered feedback on everyone’s work. We will end with a discussion on how to keep alive our maverick sensibilities and recap on go-to exercises to rejuvenate our practice when things get all too safe and familiar. 

Two Zoom sessions on 12 February and 5 March 2022, from 10.30am–1pm GMT

To apply for a concession rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected] Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. More information about how our Video Courses work can be found on the Video Courses page.

If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]

Image credit: Photo by Kees Streefkerk 

About Genevieve Stevens View Profile

Genevieve Stevens is a Ph.D student at Royal Holloway University where she teaches Creative Writing. Recent work has appeared in Poetry London, The MothPN Review, New Statesman and TLS. Alongside academic teaching, Genevieve runs several poetry workshops and lives in East Sussex with her husband and two children. 

'As a student of the Poetry School I felt to be part of a like minded group. It enabled me to gage the standard of my own writing, and I believe my ability to write poetry has improved exponentially. I've always loved poetry and writing poems but never had the confidence to send many out into the world, the Poetry School course has fuelled my passion and increased my confidence. I now enjoy sending my poems for publication or competitions, and writing poetry is a big part of my life and a huge and challenging joy.'

- Summer 2021 Survey Response

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