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All the groups in our Network.

Samuel Beckett & Poetry

Private Group with 7 members

Simon Barraclough is a life-long devotee of the works of Samuel Beckett: he once directed ‘Endgame’ at a theatre in Nottingham, and became unhealthily obsessed with the radio play, ‘Embers’. Now he would like to explore the ‘poetry’ of Beckett’s writing, with a view to inspiring new work from the class. The course will cover Beckett’s poetry, plays, novels, short prose, radio plays and film work, and will examine his themes, imagery, comedy, style, and innovations. The class will involve reading, viewing, listening, discussing, and writing. An anthology of work produced during the course will be published on CAMPUS.

Writing the Tempest

Private Group with 4 members

‘The Tempest’ is one of Shakespeare’s most-loved texts. This course will, over ten sessions, take a sideways look at the famous work, and also other works (poems, films, music) which have been influenced by it or draw on its themes. Students will be encouraged to create new poems which draw on characters in the text and after the course, there will be an event featuring these poems.

Taking Time Out

Private Group with 1 member

Guiding you over five weeks through five centuries of poetry in English, John Greening (whose recent Carcanet collection ‘sends dispatches across the years’ ) will suggest ways that we can learn from earlier writers. In intensive fortnightly sessions of chronological reading, writing and discussion, expect to try your hand at forms and techniques that have been overlooked. What might medieval allegory, Metaphysical conceit, Augustan satire, or even Imagism offer the poet of 2015?

Relight Your Fire

Private Group with 1 member

Suitable for writers at any level, this five week course will offer you prompts and exercises to kickstart your writing; along with passion and enthusiasm in bucket loads. With new – and old – writing to fuel you, you’ll be reminded of the power of the word, and of the principles that ensure the power of your own voice in poetry. Busy, blocked, ill, or in a rut …. you’ll be supported in facing your demons; reordering your priorities; and you’ll leave with practical strategies, information and ideas to keep you writing into the future.

Poetry of Place

Private Group with 1 member

Not a travelogue, this course will look instead at the many ways in which place can be used in poetry. It is designed for poets who want to enlarge their scope and develop their skills as they explore new approaches to the subject. Place as home, as a point of departure, as something imagined, remembered or yearned for, as the source of emotional nourishment and inspiration: all this, and more, will be considered. Over ten weeks, we will look at a broad range of poems from different parts of the world – including the UK, Ireland, the USA, Spain and the Caribbean – and participants will be encouraged to share their own poems written in response to, or inspired by, the work covered in class. Workshopping and critical discussion will be conducted in a wholly friendly and constructive atmosphere.

Poetry & Time

Private Group with 1 member

We will begin by looking at how imagery can be used to suggest the passing of time and how it measures out the poem. Our second session will concern the actual timing of a poem: rhythm, metre, syllabics, phrasing, pace and so forth. We will spend our third week looking at how to handle discrete slices of time, from the snapshot to the grand narrative. In the final two weeks, we will look at historical time and ‘other times’ as subject matter, as well as considering how poets handle philosophical ideas about time. There will be plenty of time (of course!) to write exercises and share those in class, as well as learning through discussion and the close reading of published poems.

Classics Across Cultures – a reading & writing course

Private Group with 1 member

Li Po and Tu Fu have been among China’s favourite lyric poets since the 8th century AD. Dante’s spiritual epic The Divine Comedy has been a colossal influence on writers since its composition in fourteenth century Florence, and is often described as the greatest poem ever written. The anonymous Old English epic Beowulf disappeared from sight for over a thousand years, to come into its own again in the 20th century. Their Chinese, Italian and Anglo-Saxon authors offer hugely contrasting visions of the human condition, and equally contrasting suggestions to the writer. We will approach the originals via synopses and translated passages, look at how differently translators like Ezra Pound, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Kenneth Rexroth and others have approached them, and explore what stimulus they can provide for fresh writing. Time will be given to discussing writing by members of the group but no one will be under pressure to put work forward.

Online Feedback Course with John Clegg

Private Group with 2 members

Do you have a heap of discarded poems sitting on your sideboard or desktop which just won’t work no matter how many revisions you make? The Poetry School’s online feedback workshops provide a place for the general improvement of your left-for-dead poems, your work in need of refreshment, and your brand new pieces. Bring poems of any size or shape to these sessions for detailed written feedback once a fortnight from a tutor, and general group feedback from fellow students. This group will be especially good for those with a large batch of poems that they are looking to ready for magazine submission.

To book your place on this course, please go to:

Defining a Style

Private Group with 8 members

This student-centred course is designed both for experienced writers looking to widen their repertoire and for relative beginners looking for a more structured approach to their writing. You will have the opportunity to define your goals as a writer while continuing to develop a body of creative work. You will consider different approaches to poetry and aesthetics – as expressed explicitly in manifestos and interviews with writers, and implicitly in writers’ practice – while continuing to explore ways in which writing can engage with public or private themes and examine the different effects of free and formal verse structures and of working within artificial constraints. Through exercises, reading, writing, group feedback and one-to-one or small group planning sessions, you will be encouraged to construct an independent voice, which is consistent from poem to poem and to develop confidence in shaping your work.

Bloodaxe Archive Project

Private Group with 7 members

A private working group for the Poetry School poets working on the AHRC funded project with Newcastle University and Bloodaxe Books

’It is true that this poem is false.’ with Jay Bernard (Open Workshops)

Private Group with 13 members

The thing about life is that it’s a series of mysteries, puzzles, contradictions and paradoxes – our histories, our imaginations, our relationships and our desires. In this workshop, Jay Bernard invites you to write a paradoxical poem – one that makes no attempt to hide its contradictions. You will create a poem that strives towards truth, but is thwarted at every turn by the terms of its own existence, and in doing so get at the tricky natures of memory, history and time.

More info:

Tidemarks and Timelines

Private Group with 9 members

For centuries we have noted the passing of time using the rise and fall of the tides, with their associated moon phases throughout the seasons. Even our language is linked to this, the word tide (Old English tid) originally meant time, period, era. How do these phenomena affect our poetic minds? We will examine earth and skies by visiting tidal riverbanks, coastlines and look at the night sky through astronomers’ telescopes in Regent’s Park. This course will add our own representations of time to our on-site research, and create new poems that trace the tidal time-marks of our lives. (This course includes suggested visits and trips which students will arrange according to their availability. The Thames Barrier trip will incur an additional charge (no more than £20) depending on the number of students who take part).

Behind the Scenes of the Scott Polar Research Institute

Private Group with 16 members

A unique opportunity to work with the Scott Polar Research Institute, the world’s oldest international centre for Polar Research within a university. Each monthly session will be led by an institute researcher and a poet. You’ll get privileged access to the museum’s collections of journals, paintings, photographs, clothing equipment, maps and other materials illustrating polar exploration, history and science, and then you’ll write new poems based on the stories and artefacts you discover. As a group, you will work towards a publication and a performance of the work that you create over your three-month museum residency.

Wunderkammer! Writing the Curious (Summer 2014)

Private Group with 13 members

‘The first and the simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind is Curiosity. By curiosity,I mean whatever the desire we have for, or the pleasure we take, in novelty’ – Edmund Burke. Are you a curious person? Would you follow the white rabbit or unlock all of the doors of Bluebeard’s Castle? Do you see science as organised wonder? Are you enthralled by the idiosyncratic? Do you ask lots of questions? Then you’ve come to the right place. In the 16th Century, Wunderkammers or ‘Cabinets of Curiosities’ were put together by apothecaries, physicians and botanists who wished to study the objects they had assembled. They were used to expand knowledge and also as reliquaries to pleasure, and such cabinets are the precursors to contemporary galleries and museums. On this course you will consider the nature of curiosity, make use of online resources, examine curious objects and explore the idea of memory as a Wunderkammer. There’s the White Rabbit! No time to lose!

How Free is Free?

Private Group with 2 members

This course will look at contemporary UK and US poets who use what we call free verse, that which does not rely on form and pattern to drive the poem’s structure. Does free verse truly exist? Where does it cross over with fiction? When is it successful, and not merely chatty? Students will be encouraged to write and share poems which are sparked by the work we look at.

Poetry and the Stuff of Modern Living

Private Group with 1 member

Much poetry addresses the timeless or nostalgic -relationships, family, memory, landscape – but this course will consider how contemporary poets incorporate specifically modern aspects of their lives in their work. We’ll consider poems about work – why they are rare, and how they can be successful. Then we’ll visit contemporary urban spaces such as hotels, cafes, car parks and shops in search of inspiration. Finally, we’ll take a look at what role modern objects(the smartphone, the HDTV, the Oyster card) might play in poems. How will we balance the excitement which comes from addressing the detail of our real lives now with the risk that poetry which is too specifically current can swiftly become dated? How contemporary can we be and still write poetry which lasts?

Is Nature Poetry Dead?

Private Group with 1 member

Is Nature poetry – like us – an endangered species? Certainly our manner of observing nature and its importance to our lives may have changed. In this course, comparative readings of poetry from the USA, UK and Ireland will prompt discussions of such topics and those concerning stylistic and cultural differences of approach. Bring a favourite nature poem. There will be writing exercises and a session devoted to workshopping your own poems.

A Century of Scottish Poetry, Part 1 – ’Scotland small?’

Private Group with 3 members

This year, Scotland will vote on its future independence from the United Kingdom at the same time as the centenary of World War I. One of Scotland’s most famous and divisive poets, Hugh MacDiarmid, participated non-violently in that war for the sake of small nations, coming out of the trenches with a renewed interest in Scotland and a belief in its potential as the locus of a literary movement his friend Denis Saurat termed ‘the Scottish Literary Renaissance’. A great polyphony of poetic voices has emerged from Scotland since, impacted by a remarkable century of restless social change and political ferment. This innovative course will explore some of Scotland’s finest poems over the last 100 years, beginning with the poetry of WW1 and the ballad tradition and ending with a crop of young poets writing their best work right now. By looking at four to six poems per decade, per session, you will see that Scotland is anything but small when it comes to its poetry!

This course will be followed next term by ‘A History of Scottish Poetry, Part 2’

To book your place on this course, please go to:

Online Feedback Course with Liz Berry

Private Group with 16 members

Do you have a heap of discarded poems sitting on your sideboard or desktop which just won’t work no matter how many revisions you make? The Poetry School’s online poetry workshops provide a place for the general improvement of your left-for-dead poems, your work in need of refreshment, and your brand new pieces. Bring poems of any shape or size to these workshops for detailed written feedback once a fortnight from a tutor, and general forum feedback from fellow students. This group will be especially good for those working towards a manuscript, or those with a large batch of poems that they are looking to ready for magazine submission.

Form and Freefall

Private Group with 12 members

This workshop group will use published poems to generate writing exercises and discussion that explore the use of form. We will look at poems that observe structural rules and/or break and change them. We will also question what we mean by ‘risk’, and how we can be riskier in our own writing. Every second week will be dedicated to workshopping poems arising from the course – participants will therefore be expected to produce at least one new rough draft every fortnight for the course’s duration.