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Poetry in Practice (Online)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Contemporary poetics, and traditions considered anew, form the basis of this class, 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 poetry and practise writing poetry in class.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Students will need to be able to confidently use videoconferencing software and be comfortable with using websites.

Special Information

In order to participate in this course, you will need access to a computer with a speaker, microphone and a good internet connection. An internet browser is required to access the online learning platform. Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are the recommended browsers.

Content of Course

1. What is Poetry?

Students will be introduced to a variety of traditional and unusual poems to begin a class discussion exploring what makes a poem a poem.

2. The Lyric ‘I,’ Rhyme and Free verse

This class will further examine the most common type of poetry – lyric ‘I’ poetry – from traditional examples to modern, considering rhyme from a contemporary angle.

3. Traditional Forms: Sonnets, Ballads etc.

This class considers traditional forms, focusing on the sonnet, and will examine their formal technical aspects, before comparison with modern variations and divergences.

4. Technicalities: Meet Metre

Students will examine rhythm and line breaks. This will consist of exploring the most common types of metrical feet (iambs, trochees, anapaests and dactyls) and the modern line break (the line as a rhythm and unit of meaning).

5. Experimental Forms

Students will be introduced to a range of poetry that is neither fixed form or free verse, in particular: Conceptual Writing, Concrete Poetry and Found Poetry.

6. Eco-poetics & Politics in Poetry

This class will introduce the idea that poetry can be a way of processing and responding to social, political and cultural changes and challenges in the world.

7. Performance & Workshop 1

This class will begin with a mini-lecture on performance to prepare the students for reading their work in class for workshopping and the performance proper in week 10.

8. Workshops 2

A continuation of the individual workshops started in week 7.

9. Workshops 3

A continuation of the individual workshops started in week 8.

10. Next Steps & Showcase readings

The final class will draw conclusions from the course as a whole and consider next steps: resources (Scottish Poetry Library), publications (magazines/webzines) and performance nights. Students will then perform a selection of poems (5-7 minutes each) to practise reading aloud and performance.

Teaching method(s)

This course will be delivered via live online sessions. 

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

Students should not purchase books until the course is confirmed to run, and their teacher instructs them to do so.


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

Sections from this key text will be made available for all on Learn, so purchase is not essential, but highly recommended.


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.