Writing Poetry 2: Techniques and Approaches (EASM134)

Lecturer(s)Dr. Andy Brown (convenor) and Professor Tim Kendall
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
Duration of Module11 weeks
Total Student Study Time300 hours including 11 x 2 hour seminars

Module aims

The module aims to develop students' understanding of writing poetry, by engaging with a wide
range of techniques and approaches from significant writers of the C20th and C21st. The module
aims to develop students' understanding and application of techniques of traditional prosody,
alongside approaches to free verse. Students will engage with different poetic techniques and
approaches, as well as a range of statements of poetics. Existing writing skills can be developed to
a professional standard in a stimulating environment, and a portfolio of writing produced alongside
critical writing and self-reflection. Students will explore, in detail, their responses to specific
chosen aspects of poetry and poetics, exploring their own creative writing alongside the work of
their peers and in the context of C20th and contemporary writing.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Module Specific Skills:
a) demonstrate an advanced understanding of presentation, poetic layout and prosodic effects;
b) demonstrate an advanced understanding of the broad nature of C20th and contemporary poetry
and poetics;
c) demonstrate technical expertise and an advanced synthesis of themes and poetic approaches;
d) demonstrate advanced evaluative skills relating to their own work and the work of others.
2. Discipline Specific Skills:
a) demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature appreciation of formal techniques and
imaginative expression in creative writing;
b) analyse and critically examine, at an advanced level, diverse forms of writing;
c) present sustained and persuasive written and oral arguments concerning their own creative
writing and the work of other authors, both peers and published authors, and to use such ideas
relating to their own work to develop their creative ideas;
d) demonstrate an advanced and autonomous understanding of a variety of theoretical positions in
the appropriate critical and professional terminology;
e) demonstrate an ability to independently originate creative ideas and to respond positively to
appropriate criticism of their work;
f) demonstrate a consistent ability to create imaginative written work in a variety of forms
[appropriate to genres/styles covered by the module];
3. Personal and Key Skills:
a) through seminar work, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both
individually and in groups.
b) through writing essays and creative work, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic
skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated
argument, advanced skills of creative expression, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose.
c) through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate an advanced proficiency in information
retrieval and analysis;
d) through research, seminar work and research for written pieces, demonstrate an awareness of
readership, publishability, including professional accomplishment, and an understanding of the
purpose of formal structures, layouts, and techniques.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be team taught by two of the Department's specialist Poets, through a onceweekly
2-hour writing, reading and discussion seminar. Student participation and peer commentary
on individual writing projects constitutes an integral part of teaching and learning, when the tutors'
roles will be of facilitators. There will be an emphasis on work-shopping creative writing
techniques, group discussion of framing poetic traditions, and peer-based critical feedback.
Preparation for each seminar will include background research (the reading of creative and critical
texts and the completion of preparatory research tasks set by the tutor) and the completion of short
writing assignments developed in the previous week's writing workshop. Each week you will
discuss new pieces of peer student writing in relation to other authors' creative writing practice.
The tutors will be available for one-to-one tutorial consultations by appointment. Students will be
expected to attend all visits and readings given by visiting writers. These will be announced and
advertised in due course during the module.
There will also be regular creative writing assignments for discussion at following seminars.
Students will be expected to meet regular deadlines and to produce work for these seminars.
Students are expected to read widely in contemporary/modern poetry and to be able to
contextualise their reading/writing through contemporary and modern poetics. To these ends,
students are expected (above and beyond the set reading) to:
1) read the Complete Poems of a C20th / contemporary poet new to them;
2) read the poetics/statements of a number of C20th / contemporary poets/critics.
The set anthology, Staying Alive (Astley, Neil. Bloodaxe Books, 2002) will be used to thematically
explore a range of techniques used by contemporary poets in writing on common themes. Students
will analyse thematic groupings of poems for their various technical approaches, building a
repository of techniques for application in their own writing.
Students will prepare and submit for discussion in week 6 a presentation based upon:
3. A draft statement of poetics of 1,000 words that documents:
a) a review of their reading to date, and future plans;
b) the application of a relevant poetics or critical stance, supported by reading from the key or
other texts;
c) an outline of your own creative poetry portfolio to date, with a proposed possible outline for its
final submission for assessment.

Assignments and assessment

Formative or %
Form of Assessment: Size of the
ILO's assessed
by this
Feedback method:
50% A portfolio of
original, new poems
250 lines 1 a, b, c, d
2 c, d, e
3 c
Feedback sheet
with opportunity
for tutorial followup.
feedback via
50% A critical statement of
2,500 words 2 a, b
3 a, b, c
Feedback sheet
with opportunity
for tutorial followup.
feedback via
Formative A draft statement of
poetics for week 6.
1,000 words 3 a, b Cohort feedback
via seminars.

Syllabus plan

As well as techniques of rhyme, rhythm, lineation and metaphor, students will be encouraged to
engage with a wide range of technical approaches, by examining alternative approaches to
recurrent themes. Students will engage with poetic techniques including, but not limited to:
Lyricism and Elegy
Formalism & Free Verse
Realist techniques
Modernist and Postmodern techniques
Confessional techniques
Performance Poetry techniques
Humour, Absurdist and Surrealist techniques

Indicative basic reading list

Texts bearing an asterix are essential. Students will also be given some of the following as
photocopied course materials for a specific week's study.
General Reading:
Astley, Neil. Staying Alive (Bloodaxe, 2002)*
Hollander, John. Rhyme's Reason (Yale, 2001)*
Hollander, John. 'O Heavy Verse! The Shopwork of the Workshops', The Work of Poetry (Johns
Hopkins, 1997)*
Larkin, Philip. The Whitsun Weddings (Faber, 2001)
Lynch, Thomas. The Undertaking (Vintage, 1998)
McEwen, Christian and Mark Statman eds. The Alphabet of the Trees: A Guide to Nature Writing.
(Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 2000)
Redmond, John. How to Write a Poem (Blackwell, 2005)*
Wimsatt, W. K. 'One Relation of Rhyme to Reason', The Verbal Icon (Kentucky, 1954)*
Students will find the following books and statements of poetics useful:
Cook, Jon, Poetry In Theory: an anthology 1900- 2000 (Blackwells, 2004)
Herbert, W.N.. and Hollis, Matthew. Strong Words (Bloodaxe, 2000)
Paterson, Don and Brown, Clare. Don't Ask me What I Mean (Picador, 2004)
Preminger, Alex, et al, eds., Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry and Poetics, (Macmillan, 1993)
Students may find their tutors' books useful:
Brown, Andy and John Burnside. Goose Music (Salt, 2008)
Kendall, Tim. Strange Land (Carcanet, 2005)
Students should regularly read the poetry periodicals in the library:
Agenda, American Poetry Review, Hudson Review, Kunapipi, Modern Poetry in Translation,
Overland, Paris Review, Parnassus, PN Review, Poetry Chicago, Stand Magazine, Wasafiri.