Zig Zag Motifs: Lyric Invitation, Immersion, & Criticism Masterclass

Zig Zag Motifs: Lyric Invitation, Immersion, & Criticism Masterclass

The poet as critic, the critic as artist – poetics across the divide.

‘THE USUAL MEANING OF BOUNDARY is “dividing line” – a separation between two things. But isn’t a boundary also a place of meeting and coming together?’ – Saki Santorelli  

Traditional criticism positions the critic as an expert with the ability to assess a piece of art using their vast stores of knowledge, their ability to maintain objective distance, and analyse through dissection. While this is one approach to assessing poems, it is not the only method. Poet and scholar Christina Sharpe says, ‘This thing called objectivity is often the position of those who are in power, of those who […] don’t have to claim that they’re raced subjects or gendered subjects or sexed subjects. And so that unmarked point of view gets to pass as the objective, but of course, it’s deeply subjective’. While the critic may be seen in this view as someone who is detached, or able to overcome their subjective stance, the poet might be described as an expert in feeling, harnessing their unique perspective and use of language in an affecting way to move the reader – a unique set of skills that can elevate criticism and writing about other poetic work. 

In this course you will traverse the conventional boundaries between poet and critic – lyricism and analysis, immersion and distance – to explore where these vantage points can intersect, overlap and diverge in interesting and impactful ways. Like the epigraph suggests, we will consider the borders between poetry and criticism as mutable and movable. 

Looking at the hybrid texts of poet critics such as Hanif Abdurraqib, Tracy K. Smith, Clare Pollard, Jay Bernard, Terrance Hayes, Renee Gladman, Harmony Holiday, Mary Ruefle, Gregory Orr, and others, you will begin to see and experience, not only how critical writing can be an act of care but also how it can be merged with poetic sensibility and craft to become a work of art in its own right. 

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.  


Concessions & Accessibility

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, wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, or require any form of adjustment to access our courses, please email [email protected]For more information visit our Online Courses page.

Image credit: @bukowski

About Zakia Carpenter-Hall View Profile

Zakia Carpenter-Hall is an American writer, tutor and critic living in the UK. She was a winner of Poetry London’s inaugural mentoring scheme, a London Library Emerging Writer, and a Jerwood Bursary Recipient. She has been a Poet in Residence with The Scottish Poetry Library, in partnership with Africa in Motion and the Obsidian Foundation, which resulted in her ecopoetry film ‘Human Ecologies’ (2021). She was interviewed on The Poetry Society Podcast and her poetry and reviews have both been published in Poetry Wales, Poetry Review, Wild CourtMagma and elsewhere with her first review published in Poetry London. Zakia is a contributing editor of Poetry Wales 60.2 along with Kandace Siobhan Walker, and supported the making of Magma 82 along with editors Nick Makoha and Gboyega Odubanjo. Her debut poetry pamphlet Into the Same Sound Twice (Seren, 2023) has been featured among TLC’s ‘Success Stories’ as well as reviewed in Buzz Mag, Gwales and The Friday Poem. In addition to teaching at the Poetry School, she’s taught creative writing at Kingston University and Royal Holloway, University of London. 

"It’s wonderful to learn in a setting where the participant poets’ calibre is so high. You learn so much from the tutors, but also from fellow participants who are generous and thoughtful. Highly recommended!"

– Autumn 2023 survey response

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