The Bright Field: Poetries of Personal Faith

The Bright Field: Poetries of Personal Faith

How can we write poems of genuine faith in an increasingly disingenuous world?

The space of the poem has always been used for spiritual expression, whether to praise, sorrow, question, or meditate. But how do we write contemporary religious poems that feel true without sounding sentimental or pious – and without falling back too heavily on irony? In fact, what is a religious poem in this day and age?  

During this Masterclass we’ll go deep into the experience of reading and writing poems of faith, and we’ll look at a variety of texts, from the psalms to the work of mystic poets. We’ll work together in a spirit of discovery and experimentation to unlock new poems. We’ll be interested in formal questions too, particularly sonic effect and the use of white space. There’ll be a selection of background reading material, with attention to the anthology, A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith (Tupelo Press). Looking closely at example poems by a variety of poets including R.S. Thomas, Lucille Clifton, Rabindranath Tagore, Marie Howe, Kaveh Akbar, and Jane Hirshfield, we’ll investigate a range of writing approaches. Our aim is to expand our ideas about what religious poems are – and can be. 


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: CG Hughes

About Kathryn Simmonds View Profile

Kathryn Simmonds has published two collections with Seren, Sunday at the Skin Launderette (2008), and The Visitations (2013). She has been Poet-in-Residence at the Charles Causley Trust in Cornwall, and her poems have appeared in various publications including Poetry, The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Poetry Review and The Irish Times. Her poems and short stories have also been broadcast on BBC radio. She has worked as a poetry tutor for Morley College and Oxford University Continuing Education, and run a number of courses for The Poetry School. She lives in Norwich with her family. 

"Kathryn Simmonds was brilliant. I loved her reading list, poems, assignments and her care for her students and their work. It has been a wonderful experience for me. I truly love The Poetry School."

– Autumn 2019 survey response

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