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All the groups in our Network.

Trust the Image (Face to Face)

Private Group with 13 members

The image is a poem’s engine; for poets, writing fresh and powerful imagery, encouraging the reader to think about the content of a poem in more than one way, is a joyful experience. On this course we’ll look at how poets use figurative language; how to avoid safe/predictable tropes in favour of daring/surprising imagery; the role of the physical senses; simile and metaphor, synecdoche and how/when to use these devices; the role of symbolism in poetry, and how certain poets – e.g. Wallace Stevens – use encoded symbolism in their work; image clusters; the extended metaphor; and audacious metaphors/the conceit. We’ll read lots of examples of published poetry and try different strategies/approaches to push ourselves out of our comfort zones to create whole new ‘image banks’ for new work. And in a first for us – we’re running the same course online and face-to-face at the same time. Face-to-face students will have two intense generation sessions followed by a writing break, and the concluding with a feedback session. You’ll keep in touch between sessions via email or CAMPUS.

The Conceit (Open Workshop)

Private Group with 14 members

Some poetry takes everyday reality as its starting-point in order to reveal something about the world we know. But poetry can equally begin with a ‘what if?’ – it can create unreal or unlikely situations and then, by exploring the consequences of those situations, lead us to unexpected ideas and images.

These ‘what if?’ situations could be described as ‘conceits’ – extended metaphors that bring together disparate ideas, making the poem a kind of literary test-tube.

In this Open Workshop with David Clarke, we will explore how conceits can be used to open up our writing to new ways of imagining, while still remaining rooted in a concern for our human experience of the world. We will think about how the use of conceits can draw in the reader, hold their attention, and keep surprising them until the very end of the poem.

The New Concrete: Visual Poetry

Private Group with 9 members

Have you ever thought your poetry could be expressed in a more visual way? Come and see how a poem can catch the eye before it’s read, how all poems, in their spacing, breathing, line breaks and stanza shapes are in fact ‘visual’ and can be expressed in multiple ways. Join us for a ten week course that will be fun, interactive and will finish with a small publication of visual poetry. This course follows on from the Visual Poetry reading course we ran on CAMPUS last term, but you don’t need to have taken that course to enjoy this one.

The Poetry of Pain (Open Workshop)

Private Group with 16 members

As developments in technology increase our access to the world, it can often feel like we are losing touch with the bodies we inhabit, and the remarkable functions they provide from moment to moment.

Whilst we often treat pain as an inconvenience to be blanketed over with medication, it can also provide us with a way to get back in touch with the bodily experience, providing new angles for original writing. In this Open Workshop with Daniel Sluman, we will explore pain as an objective sensation that brings us closer to an understanding of the bodies we possess, and new ways of describing it. We will look at how pain has been used by contemporary writers to bring the human body to life, and how we can use similar methods to better understand our physicality, and how it relates to the outside world.

Training the Poem 2016

Private Group with 8 members

Terrance Hayes said ‘… a stork brings the poems. They are little creatures I have to train and send out into the world.’ If you already know the basics, have a few fledgling poems and are looking for ways to take your work to another level, this course is for you.

This is a three-term course but you can start at the beginning of any term. You will be encouraged to experiment and play and at the same time expand the knowledge of your craft through close readings of published poets and the work of other students.

There will be an emphasis your own writing process and how understanding this can help you develop a style and voice. You’ll explore ways in which you can free your unconscious mind to move towards the poem’s point of discovery. You’ll begin to develop your own methods of working on your poems using your conscious writerly mind to craft, revise and complete them.

Workshops will include writing exercises based on readings of published poems You’ll receive regular feedback on your work and each term will include the close reading of a complete published collection or pamphlet, as a way of examining in depth an individual poet’s style, voice and aesthetic. Where possible, the poet will come and read for us.

We’ll finish the year with a public reading.

The RedWork

Public Group with 2 members

A group for poets whose material springs from the social concerns of our times for e.g. environmental, human rights, surveillance culture, nuclear weapons, refugee crisis etc to share their poetry as well as share opportunities for creative campaigning via poetry.

Dai’s Die Hards

Private Group with 6 members

Feedback group that sprang from Dai George’s ’The One and the Many’. We are open to new members by invitation from the group. Our aim is to help improve each other’s writing by offering constructive criticism.

The Poet’s Book

Private Group with 1 member

Artists use notebooks to both explore and record their creative journey. These books often become artefacts in their own right, incorporating mixed media, found objects, words and images. This process is something that poets can also benefi t from. On this course you will collect materials to use in creating your own set of poems, producing a handmade book that contains your poem and its unique journey. There will be an exhibition of the books at the end of the course.

A Conversation with the Past 2: From Sappho to Basho

Private Group with 1 member

This is the third of a trio of student-centred courses designed both for experienced writers looking to widen their repertoire and for beginners looking for a more structured approach to their writing. You will have the opportunity to consider how much of today’s poetry has its roots in the work of innovative poets from the past. Drawing on the work of poets from a wide range of cultures and traditions from the earliest times to the Renaissance, you will continue to develop your individual approach to writing and start to build up a body of creative work with a definite individual identity. Through exercises, reading, writing, group feedback and small group planning sessions, you will be encouraged to construct an independent voice, while maintaining a dialogue with poetic traditions. While students who have completed the courses ‘Developing a Style’ or ‘Defining a Style’ will enjoy this new course, it is also suitable for those seeking a one-term stand-alone course. As this course will contain completely new material it may also be of interest to students who have attended Tim’s courses in previous years.

Shape Up and Send

Private Group with 2 members

So you’ve written some poems, and you’d like them to see the world – what next? Over five sessions, we’ll look at what you need to do get your poems into the best possible shape so they catch the eye of magazine editors. From tightening finished poems, through to knowing which publications to read and target, and that old chestnut of what you really should put into your covering letter, your poems will be ready to take their moment on the page – and you’ll support and encourage each other throughout the process. (Rishi was one of the poets who went through our Editor Development Programme with The Rialto magazine, so will be able to give you an up to date editorial perspective.)

Making Birds: New Poetic Forms

Private Group with 1 member

In The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction, American poet Dean Young urges us to play apart from obsessions with ‘craft’ when we write. He exclaims ‘We are making birds not birdcages’. Let’s take that as our rallying cry. The lifeblood of these sessions will be encounters with innovative contemporary poems, cycles of generative ‘obstructions,’ and conversations about what you create. Expect that ours will be an unconventional, provocative space devoted to experimentation and the invention of new forms.

Confessional Writing Re-visited

Private Group with 1 member

Poets typically draw on personal experiences. But how do we do this without slipping into banality and the same old same old? Since Robert Lowell’s Life Studies changed the nature of personal revelation – ‘Yet why not say what happened? ‘ – apparent candour of one sort or another has played a role in shaping twentieth century verse. However, personal writing is not straight forward and it
calls for poetic nerve. It also draws on fictive processes. The act of remembering and editing can create a powerful amalgamation, and truth to experience is not the same as truth. Ultimately we want a good poem! Taking a lead from poets such as Lowell, Ginsburg, O’Hara, Sharon Olds, Hugo Williams, Selima Hill, Michael Hofmann, Fleur Adcock and Andrew McMillan, the sessions will create ample space for presentation and workshopping, feedback, and due attention to editorial processes.

The Poem as Party Guest

Private Group with 3 members

We’ve all ended up confronted by that person (let’s call him Bob) at the party who unwittingly has you cornered and is expounding in exceptional detail his life story. You have grown tired though you haven’t spoken the entire time, or even been given the room to form an opinion. It’s OK, Bob, of course, doesn’t need anything from you, he has it all worked out and neatly packaged, you just have to pay attention. Except you don’t. You’ve given up, and when you finally escape, you vow to avoid all future Bobs. Imagine your poem is a party guest. What sort of guest would it be? Would it be a Bob, who shows little regard for engaging its interlocutor, intent instead of conveying, at all costs, its opinion? Would it bore the person with whom it is speaking? Or does it house the capacity for charm, engagement, entertainment. Is it someone who can invite its reader to be part of an interesting conversation? This course intends to confront the social etiquette of poetry, raising questions of a poem’s role in social exchange, its aptitude for fun and pleasure and how to make sure it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Malika’s Kitchen

Private Group with 15 members

A private group for members of the Malika’s Kitchen writing collective.

Aliens collaboration

Public Group with 4 members

Poetic aliens, living and writing in Brazil, France, Mexico and Peru!

Tutors Group

Private Group with 54 members

A private group for Poetry School tutors. Teaching for us currently, or have done in the past? Teaching online or face-to-face courses? Here’s a group in which you can swap notes, advice and ideas with each other. Poetry School staff will also post announcements, updates and items of interest here.

Generating Poems

Private Group with 9 members

This course will look closely at how poems can be provoked or prompted, considering how ‘constraints’, whether formal or thematic, can actually release and stimulate the imagination. We will explore emulation and modelling from other poems, as well as using other texts (film, music, art) as inspiration. We’ll also consider old and new poetic forms, exploring the link between form and content. This class will involve both writing exercises in class and at home and will offer feedback on participants’ writing alongside the broader discussions.

Form & Music 2014/15

Private Group with 4 members

Over three terms, this course, which is suitable for poets who already grasp the basics of form and rhythm, will look at the structural, musical and metrical aspects of contemporary poetry. The broad subjects of the three terms are metrics (with a focus on the sonnet), musicality and non-metrical forms. Students will be encouraged to write poems which fit in with the work discussed and try established and invented forms.