The radical art of writing defiantly happy poems
Happiness is famously hard to write. It’s also easy to bash: in a difficult world, happy poems may be criticised as naïve or even smug. Ironically, you are probably on safer poetic ground when that ground is slippery and shifting. But doesn’t that seem like a glorious challenge – to write a muscularly, incisively, defiantly happy poem? For poetry to reflect the full range of human experience, it must include those moments of transcendental joy, hard-won satisfaction, homely comfort and surprising, unsought pleasure that make life so rich. If we define ourselves through the narratives we hear and re-enact, how terrible not to have plenty of happy ones! On this course, we will be reading and writing realistically, resiliently, helpfully happy poems. We will look at how others have sought and discovered happiness, months, decades and centuries before us, reading work by Gerard Manley Hopkins, EE Cummings, CP Cavafy, Mary Oliver, Jackie Kay, Alice Oswald, Helen Dunmore and many more, as well as a smattering of philosophy. We will apply our poets’ regard for precision, nuance and existentialism to the complex business of finding and expressing joy. These will be poems to read at weddings, dedicate to friends, lighten a competition judge’s heart and provide a flourishing finale for your readings. If we’re happy and we know it, then we really ought to show it.
5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. Live chats on Tuesdays, 7-9pm GMT, first live chat starting 22 May.
More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.
(Image credit: ‘Ignotus the Mage’)
About Rachel Piercey View Profile
Rachel Piercey is a freelance poet and editor. She works closely with independent publisher The Emma Press, winner of the Michael Marks Publisher Award 2016, editing pamphlets and anthologies. She has taught two Poetry School courses, and regularly performs and runs workshops in schools. Her poems have appeared in The Rialto, Magma, Poetry News, Poems in Which, Butcher’s Dog and The Poetry Review. www.rachelpierceypoet.com
‘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.’