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Wordsworth defined poetry as ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.’ While ‘feelings’ are an important aspect of poetry, form also helps to shape ideas in interesting ways. We’ll study great traditional and contemporary poets as a way to produce our own new writing. Inspired and informed by what we read, we’ll craft our own verse, learning about sound techniques, line breaks, imagery, and poetic language, using objects, memory and life experience to develop our ‘spontaneous overflow.’
This 10-week course is suitable for both new and experienced writers. You will receive practical guidance on how to read and write poetry, simultaneously broadening your literary knowledge through critical thinking, and sustained focus on improving your writing technique. Each lesson will include an initial workshop of previously written verse. This will enable the poet to develop their ability to comment upon their own work, and for the rest of the class to focus on developing critical analysis, in their role as reviewer. These workshops will be focused on providing positive and constructive feedback, in an effort to build a useful and mutually supportive working group.
We will then perform a close reading of selected verse, using both traditional and contemporary examples, in order to explore formal context and development in relation to our own work. This will be followed by a discussion of formal aspects, as well as questions of techniques and experimentation. Prompts will be provided so that you can then begin to draft your formal piece, finishing the work at home between classes. Our work in class will be supported by closed social media group sessions dealing with suggested further reading, queries and practical advice on competitions, submissions and other literary opportunities.
Over the 10-week period we will pay close attention to ten different poetic forms, including: the nocturne, haibun, prose poem, villanelle, golden shovel, pantoum, epistle, elegy, acrostic, couplet, ekphrastic. Other associated poems may inform the classwork as examples, and a wide selection will ensure a commitment to diversity of culture and voice.
Why Study this Course?
• Immerse yourself in published poetry in order to understand and appreciate what poetic form can achieve.
• Apply form to your own writing, developing a sense of the meaningful relationship between form and subject matter.
• Explore your own imagination and past for emotional content and narrative to employ within your poetry.
• Create a set of workshopping tools with which to edit, revise and polish your own work, while offering constructive feedback to others.
• Learn about poetry magazines, journals and contests and how best to present you work in order to get it in print.
• Develop your critical skills and practice how to articulate your feedback relation to others’ work as well as apply others’ suggestions to your own writing.
• Cultivate literary skills that can be transferred to other fields of work and to future writing projects.
We are committed to providing reasonable teaching adjustments for students with disabilities that may impact on their learning experience. If you require adjustments, please complete the relevant section on the booking form and also contact us at email@example.com so we can respond to your requests as soon as possible.
Please note our short courses sell-out quickly, so early booking is advisable.
If you have any questions about this course please contact shortcourses (@gold.ac.uk).
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Dr Jocelyn Page
Dr Page is a poet, researcher, writer and experienced tutor of creative writing and poetry. Her poetry has appeared in The Spectator, Poetry Review, POEM, Poetry Ireland Review, The Rialto and many other UK and international journals. Her most recent publication, You’ve Got to Wait Till the Man You Trust Says Go, won the Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre Poetry Pamphlet competition in 2015 and her debut pamphlet, smithereens, was published in 2010 by the tall-lighthouse press. Jocelyn teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London International Programme, and the 999 Club homeless shelter. She completed her PhD at Goldsmiths in 2015 on the subjects of poetry and collaboration. She is currently writer-in-residence at The Reach Climber Centre and is working on a collection of short stories on the subject of climbing. Jocelyn frequently collaborates with visual artists and other writers, and is working with other poets on a long poem for the radio.
This 10-week course will involve studying a range of poetic forms, through traditional and contemporary examples. As well as studying these forms, we will also workshop the poems during and between each class.
The poetic forms we will cover are:
Nocturne – a poem about the night, the nocturne can focus on ideas, moods and other objects associated with the darkness. Free in form, this form is evocative and imaginative.
Haibun – the haibun comprises prose poetry, followed by a haiku, which acts as a sort of tiny platform for the initial block of text. Often associated with nature, the form is visually pleasing, and ripe for experimentation.
Prose poem – lacking the line break associated with verse, a prose poem is both poetry and prose, possessing other attributes of poetry such as sound devices and poetic language.
Villanelle – originally a dance-song dealing with pastoral or rustic themes, the villanelle observes a strict rhyme scheme, and affords the writer a platform for developing a refrain.
Golden shovel – a newer form created in homage to American poet Gwendolynne Brooks, in this form a borrowed line of poetry supplies line-end words for the new, original verse.
Pantoum – originating in Malaysia, this form consists of two quatrains, with repetition of lines from stanza to stanza. Full of echo and resonance, this form encourages development of ideas and feelings.
Acrostic – a form that spells a word using the first letter of every line, the acrostic is a puzzle to write, and an exercise in both revealing and concealment for the reader.
Elegy – a poem dealing with death and loss, the elegy allows the poet to mourn. Often containing three parts – a lament, praise and consolation - this form presents one of the most human emotions: grief.
Epistle – a poem as a letter, the epistle can explore ideas of writing and reading, poet and addressee. This form can complicate ideas of the recipient, focusing on the abstract or an actual person.
Couplet - a simple, yet effective form, the couplet is a two-line stanza, rhymed or unrhymed, closed or enjambed, utilized to convey love, a narrative, or writing itself.
Ekphrastic – a poem written after a piece of art, the ekphrastic opens new doors to writing and seeing; it can adhere closely to the artistic prompt, or journey somewhere new, inspired by the visual.
At the end of this course you will have:
• Studied a broad range of traditional and contemporary poetry, exploring how poetic form can influence and guide meaning.
• Applied form to your own writing, developing a tangible understanding of these meaningful relationships between form and subject matter.
• Taken part in a series of workshops, learning to give and receive feedback in a constructive and supportive environment.
• Explored a range of strategies for getting started on a poem, examining your own imagination and past for emotional content and narrative to employ within your poetry.
• Practiced how to draft and edit your own verse.
• Learned about the publishing world of poetry, including how to best present your work in order to get placed in poetry magazines, journals and competitions.
• Cultivated your literary skills that can be transferred into other fields of work and future writing projects.
About the department
Our Department of English and Comparative Literature is one of the largest and most dynamic in the University. We offer a dynamic range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, retaining a strong research focus in our postdoctoral community of academics. Whether you are interested in classical literature and/or linguistics, creative writing and contemporary fiction, this wide-ranging and interdisciplinary department has something to offer for all. We host exciting research centres, which hold regular events such as the Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, as well as the Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies. In 2013, we launched the Goldsmiths Prize, which celebrates fiction at its most novel.
We offer an exciting portfolio of English and Creative Writing short courses within the Department including: