Talking Back: Poetry, Dialogue and Voice

Talking Back: Poetry, Dialogue and Voice

Explore the power and potential of voice and dialogue in poetry, while developing your own unique poetic voice

W.H. Auden described poetry as ‘memorable speech.’ According to the philosopher Martin Buber, ‘Were there no more genuine dialogue, there would also be no more poetry.’ In this course we will consider the role of voice and dialogue in poetry. We will focus on the relationship between the physical voice and the voice/s of the poem on the page, paying particular attention to sound and silence, syntax and rhythm, helping you to develop your own distinctive style. Drawing on the work of poets including Frank O’Hara, Layli Long Soldier, W.S. Graham and Emily Berry, and working through a series of writing activities, writing prompts, and weekly group feedback sessions, we will explore the ways in which poetry can ‘talk back’. We’ll listen as poetry enters into dialogue with other poems, texts, and artworks – and stages conversation within the space of the poem itself. We will experiment with poetry’s potential to voice the unspoken or unspeakable, and to harness ‘l’esprit de l’escalier’, finding words for the things we wish we’d said and even speaking to people who are absent or long dead.

Starts 18 May. 5 weekly sessions, 6.45 – 8.45pm on Fridays. 

All classes will be in our new offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU.  The venue is 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the Lower Road exit onto Surrey Quays Road, cross over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices are on the left.


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

(Image credit: ‘Marlon-Barrios-Solano’)

About Kate Potts View Profile

Kate Potts is a London-based poet, academic and editor. Her debut poetry pamphlet Whichever Music (tall-lighthouse) was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was shortlisted for a Michael Marks Award. Her first full-length collection is Pure Hustle (Bloodaxe). Kate’s work has been published in magazines and anthologies including The Forward Book of Poetry, Poetry (Chicago), The Poetry Review and Ploughshares. She recently completed a PhD on the multi-vocal poetic radio play and currently teaches at Royal Holloway, the University of Oxford, Middlesex University and The Poetry School. Her second collection, Feral, is due from Bloodaxe in September 2018.

‘The Poetry School gave me the confidence to write three new poems for the course and put them forward for constructive criticism. The tutor and rest of the groups were very supportive of one another. I have only been writing for myself, and rarely put my poems forward to an ‘audience’ so the course helped me see that my poems were good enough, and the constructive criticism offered will help when I re-draft them. I also learned more about the technical constructs of poetry, as I have been writing mainly for the ear, so it was good to learn how poetry ‘works.’ Also the course was very affordable, and the tutor very accessible.’

Autumn 2017 Survey response

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