Making Fine Poems 2023
This six-module course via Zoom and email is designed for anyone interested in exploring the art and craft of writing poetry. The course will focus on the building blocks for making fine modern poems including sound, language, metaphor, forms, line length. Emphasis will also be placed on discovering what you want to say and how to say it. By the end of this course, students will have written 18 different poems in various forms. Comprehensive workbooks and exercises are emailed fortnightly, and tutor feedback is given on 18 writing exercises.
Please note first work will be emailed 10 May 2023 with the expectation that writing exercises will be completed in time for the first Zoom class.
This fortnightly Zoom course starts Wednesday 11 am-12. 30 pm, May 24, 2023
Class Dates: May 24, June 7 & 21, July 5 & 19, August 2
Fees $500 payable by 10 May.
Making Fine Poems Programme 2023
Topic One: Where the Heart Is
In this course you will explore both reading and writing poems in the 21st century. I hope this will be an exciting adventure for you. Poetry seems to go in the too hard basket for most people but when they are searching for answers, or for comfort they turn to poetry. When there’s something to celebrate, a wedding or a birthday or anniversary, again they turn to poetry. This first topic provides an introduction and overview of poetry today and the exercises will give you a starting point to making your own poems.
In this topic, we will look at where you find poems. I talk about finding poems, rather than ideas because in my experience if you think of an idea first, it’s very hard to write something good. Poems it seems to me, and a lot of other poets, come when you are in the poetry frame of mind and on the lookout for them, just as if you are playing cricket and keeping your eye on the ball. It’s all about noticing the particular. We also look at writing amusing poems because we don’t have to be serious all the time.
Topic Three: Black on White
In this topic we’ll explore an area of poetry you might not have thought about much, that is the white space surrounding a poem. In his book On Poetry, Glyn Maxwell says the white page is ‘half of everything. If you don’t know how to use it you are writing prose. If you write poems that you might call free and I might call unpatterned then skilful, intelligent use of the whiteness is all you’ve got.’ To put it another way, it is the use of line breaks or line endings that create poetry rather than prose. We also look at the prose poem and haiku.
Topic Four: Pulse
In this topic Pulse we consider the tricky subject of metre as it is applied (or not) to modern poetry. Whether this appeals to you or not there is no doubt that you can learn a lot from practicing different forms of poems from sonnets to sestinas. We also explore metaphor and symbolism, an aspect of poetry that often affords poetry its power and mystery and gives your writing personality especially if you are able to infuse them with your unique perspective of the world.
Topic Five: Chime
This topic explores what is meant when we say a poem should sing or have musical qualities. Music is made up of the beat (covered in Topic Four: Pulse) and the sound of the words. This seems to puzzle many readers when it comes to modern poetry. They just don’t get it. ‘Looks like prose to me,’ they say. ‘What’s the difference?’ Poems rhyme and if not, it is not a poem to them. In fact, modern poetry often does have rhyme, it’s just that the rhymes are often slant or mid-line rhymes rather than end rhymes. Pleasing sound effects can be achieved not just by rhyme but by alliteration, assonance and slant rhyme.
In this topic we look at various poetry forms, in particular free or open verse, that most confusing of terms. Just because it’s free does not mean the poet hasn’t worked on it. Many people think free verse is easy — it’s just a pile of words the poet has thrown on the page, isn’t it? I hope by the end of this topic you might be convinced it’s an art form. In some ways free verse is harder to write simply because there are no rules, the poet has to rely on his / her inner ear. We also look at lyric poetry, which has close association with song lyrics and concrete poetry, which traverses the gap between poetry and art. Lastly we look at strategies for revising poems which often is the deciding factor when it comes to being accepted for publication.