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Open Workshop: ‘Poetry (in)Formal’

‘How does a mountain occur to you? How can it?’ (‘Towards Suaineabhal’, Nichola Deane)

How do you choose a form for your poem? Wrong question.  How do you let the form find you? A better approach. Better… but perhaps it’s best to ask how the words find their own form, and, at their best, become an entity that might survive you.

For our next Open Workshop we’re very delighted to have with us Nichola Deane, author of the 2012 Flarestack Poetry Pamphlet Prize-winning My Moriarty. Nichola will be taking your draft poems/false starts and helping you to discover the secret forms hidden beneath, using scissors where necessary.

This workshop won’t try to provide some kind of magic universal formula for using the various forms. But it will ask you to listen and listen again to your poems, to attend to what’s there, what’s buried, what breathes, what needs to be cut away. To listen, then, is key, to begin to focus on listening for form (as you would for the cry of a child or a bird) better than you ever have.

Students should bring to this Open Workshop poems you like but aren’t entirely sure about. Or poems in particular forms where you feel stuck with words, lines, phrases. Perhaps you want to use the workshop to try a new form: a ballade, say, or a curtal sonnet. Or you want to invent your own stanza, play around with American long lines (Whitman, C.K. Williams, Charles Wright, etc) or think more about the lines and silences and breaks and spaces in your free verse. Whatever you choose,  bring some sharp scissors, and be prepared to get all geeky about form.


Title: Poetry (in)Formal

Starts: 10 March 2014

Live chat: 24 March 2014, 7pm GMT

To book your place, please email [email protected]


Nichola Deane was born in Bolton in 1973.  Her work has been published in a number of magazines,  including Poetry London, Archipelago,  Magma and The Rialto.  Her pamphlet,  My Moriarty,  won the 2012 Flarestack Poetry Pamphlet Prize,  and was PBS Pamphlet Choice,  Winter 2012. Her poem ‘Yesterday’s Child’ was commended in the 2014 Forward Prize. ‘My Moriarty’ has also been selected to appear in The Best of Poetry London Anthology, due out in 2014.

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Image credit: Colm Linehan