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Poetry in Practice (10 weeks)

Course Times & Enrolment

Thursdays from 26th September 2024 (Code CW031-116) Add to Basket Thursdays from
26th September 2024 11:10am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
LG47 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Nicky Melville MA MPhil PhD
£195.00 Concessions and discounts

Course Summary

It is no longer the case that poetry is ‘the best words in the best order,’ as Coleridge once contended. Poetry is having a moment. To name but a few current trends in the field: process poetry, appropriation, visual poetry, slam poetry, insta poetry, conceptual poetry, digital poetry, as well as the traditional, such as sonnets and poems that rhyme.  The new assertion could be ‘any words in any order.’ How does one approach poetry as a newcomer in this arena?

Contemporary poetics, and traditions considered anew, form the basis of this course, engaging with modern approaches and concerns to produce poems of any words in any order.

This course will focus on reading and writing modern and contemporary poetry, always keeping in mind the history of poetry and poetics. Through mini-lectures, close reading, discussion and exercises we will consider various aspects of the practice of modern poetry and practise writing poetry in class.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

Week 1 – What is Poetry?

Week 2 – The Lyric ‘I’ and Free verse

Week 3 – Traditional Forms: Sonnets, Ballads, Love Poetry

Week 4 – Technicalities: Meet Metre

Week 5 – Experimental Forms

Week 6 – Eco-poetics and Politics in Poetry

Week 7 – Workshop 1

Week 8 – Workshop 2

Week 9 – Workshop 3 & Performance

Week 10 – Next Steps (magazines, readings etc.) & Showcase readings

Teaching method(s)

Each two hour session will comprise of two elements: close reading and discussion of texts; practical writing exercise(s) related to the theme of each class.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Appraise & explore the formal qualities of modern & contemporary poetry;

  • Discuss the work of selected modern & contemporary poets;

  • Experiment in diverse forms & techniques of poetic composition;

  • Write their own poems in forms they have not previously used;

  • Access resources, submit work and perform their own poetry.


Core Readings

Core readings:

  • Williams, R., 2019. The Poetry Toolkit. Third Edition. London: Bloomsbury.

We will cover the following poets, among others: David Antin, Sean Bonney, Vahni Capildeo, CAConrad, Lyn Hejinian, Colin Herd, Tom Leonard, Lila Matsumoto, Sharon Mesmer, Craig Santos Perez, M NourbeSe Philip, Claudia Rankine, Charles Reznikoff, Ariana Reines, Sophie Robinson, Muriel Rukeyser, Veronica Forrest Thomson, William Carlos Williams and Rita Wong.

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.