What Is a Poem?

What Is a Poem?

Interrogate the boundaries of the genre in these friendly, fruitful workshops

‘I’m sure it’s interesting, but it’s not real poetry, is it?’ Perhaps you heard these words whispered after Claudia Rankine won the Forward Prize for Best Collection with her prosey book Citizen? Or after the publication of Sam Riviere’s internet-driven collection Kim Kardashian’s Marriage? Or Holly McNish’s Plum? Perhaps you agreed. Perhaps you weren’t sure. Perhaps you’d like to sit in a room and look at sample texts and critical extracts and have an educated discussion about the whole thing in a safe, friendly space. Whether you’re a strict sonneteer or are wildly experimental, this course is for you. We’ll look at an array of different work that defines itself as poetry (including but in no way limited to lyric poems, prose poems, spoken word, visual poetry, sound poems, poems written in code, poems on sheep, yes really, etc., etc.) and try to get to the bottom of what a poem actually is. The course will be part reading, part discussion, and will involve writing exercises and critiques to help your work explore in new directions. Curiosity and playfulness will be warmly encouraged.

5 fortnightly sessions on Thursdays 6.45pm – 8.45pm. 24 January, 7 February, 21 February, 7 March, 21 March

All classes will be in our offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.

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

(Image credit: ‘Simon’)

About Chrissy Williams View Profile

Chrissy Williams is a poet, editor and tutor living in London. Her first book-length collection, BEAR, was published by Bloodaxe in 2017. Poetry Review called it ‘a treasure trove of unused and previously unimagined forms’. It was one of the Telegraph’s 50 Best Books of the Year. She has published a number of pamphlets, including Flying into the Bear (HappenStance Press, 2013) which was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Awards, Epigraphs (if p then q, 2014) which was featured on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, and ANGELA (Sidekick Books, 2013) which fuses Murder, She Wrote with Twin Peaks. She also edited the UK’s first book on poetry comics, Over the Line: An Introduction to Poetry Comics (Sidekick Books, 2015) and currently works as a comics editor. In 2018 she launched a new emailed poetry journal called Perverse. She has run poetry workshops for a variety of organisations in the past, including the Poetry School, the Poetry Society, the National Poetry Library and as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire.

‘The tutor on the last Poetry School course I attended was outstanding – well prepared, socially skilled, self-aware and good at holding the group together. Her classes were a joy – reawakening my enthusiasm for writing. Her suggested approach to daily writing has become a welcome habit – a pleasure to complete each day.’

– Summer 2018 survey response

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