The Poetry of Breaking News

The Poetry of Breaking News

Explore the strengths and weaknesses topicality and reportage in your poetry with celebrated poet and tutor, Glyn Maxwell.

At a time when the same news story leads everywhere in the world, we shall look at examples of instant or rapid poetic responses to significant events – or, in modern parlance, breaking news. This would range from famous commemorative poems such as Tennyson’s ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ or Hardy’s ‘The Convergence of the Twain’ (on the sinking of the Titanic), through the poetry of 20th century wars, all the way to the earliest literary responses to the covid-19 outbreak, or to the war in Ukraine. 

Comedians will often ask ‘too soon?’ about making light of darkness – should time be an issue for poetry? Should poets be taking snapshots or waiting for time’s wider perspective? Can obscurity be in bad taste? Can beauty miss the point? What strengths and what weaknesses does topicality bring to poetry? 

10 weekly sessions on Thursdays, 6.45–8.45pm (BST), starts 18 May 2023. There will be no class on 6 July. Sessions for this course will take place at Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA. 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 In-Person Courses work can be found on the In-Person 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: Mr Cup / Fabien Barral

About Glyn Maxwell View Profile

Glyn Maxwell was born in England to Welsh parents and now lives in London. He has won several awards for his many poetry collections, including the Somerset Maugham Prize, the E. M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. His work has been shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize (four times), alongside the Forward and Costa Prizes. His collections include How The Hell Are You (2020), Pluto (2013); One Thousand Nights and Counting: Selected Poems (2011); Hide Now (2008); and The Nerve (2002). Many of his plays have been staged in the UK and USA. His poetry guide On Poetry (2012) was described by Adam Newey in The Guardian as “the best book about poetry I’ve ever read”, and sold out its first run within five days. His novel Drinks With Dead Poets picks up the thread of On Poetry and uses the comic novel form to deftly deliver poetry criticism and hilarious characterisations of canonical poets. 

'I definitely found a vibrant community of poets of all ages and backgrounds willing to share their work, experience and knowledge. As an aspiring writer, I take with me the level of commitment coming from everybody in the group stimulating, embracing and inclusive.'

- Autumn 2022 School Survey

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