How To Write A Poem

Starting out | Poetry
A playful, supportive three-month poetry course for beginners and aspiring amateur poets, with two of the best practitioners and teachers in the country – all at the home of British poetry, Faber & Faber.

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You may have been writing poetry for years – squirreling away fragments or working by yourself; or perhaps you’ve always wondered about how to turn your ideas into poems, but don’t know where to begin. Either way, you want to take your craft to the next level – but how?

Over the course of three months, join Faber & Faber poets Maurice Riordan and Richard Scott for weekly supportive classes, where you will share your work with like-minded fellow writers, develop your reading and appreciation of poetry, and learn new skills.

Together, our experienced tutors have put together a course aimed at inspiring beginner writers so that they create new poems, learn to make more discerning judgements about their own work, and are inspired afresh by poetry. The course aims to be positive, supportive and fun, so that by the end of the twelve weeks, each poet will come away invigorated by a desire to write the best work they can, and in possession of new poems to set them on their way. We'll end the course with a day designed to help you navigate the next steps too.

This course is suitable for writers who are just starting out, and for those who wish to continue developing their work.

22nd April 2020 - 8th July 2020

Availability: In stock

15 Places

Classes take place on a Wednesday evening between 7pm and 9pm.

Session 1, 22nd April 2020, 7pm–9pm: Improvising the poem

Anaphora: examples by Christopher Smart, Wendy Cope, Kenneth Koch, Kim Moore. With Maurice and Richard.

Session 2: Alibis and Excuses

Using a ‘voice’ and poems that ‘do another job’ – give recipes, instructions, make seductions. With Richard Scott.

Session 3: Self-portraiture and Objects

'No ideas but in things,' said William Carlos Williams; but what things and what ideas? Can an object become the basis for a self-portrait? And can the abstract or the confessional be funnelled through the concrete and the real? With Richard Scott.

Session 4: Drafting

By examining the drafts of various poems, including one of Maurice's, we will explore the importance of drafting and editing; which choices might improve our work? And is a poem ever finished? With Maurice Riordan.

Session 5: Trivial Pursuits

Writing poems on the spot – or seeming to, e.g. Norman MacCaig, ‘Ten Summer Minutes’. With Maurice Riordan.

Session 6: Time Travel

Manipulating time and memory, as Louis MacNeice, ‘Soap Suds’; Colette Bryce, 'The Full Indian Rope Trick'. With Richard Scott.

Session 7: Shame, Trauma, Rejection & Failure

How can we turn supposedly negative emotions and experiences into poems? And should poetry be biographical or anti-biographical? With Maurice Riordan.

Session 8: Mixing Registers

Using different registers of the language, such as the religious, scientific, legal; or specialized vocabulary, such as dental terms in Paul Farley’s ‘Relic’. With Richard Scott.

Session 9: Line breaks.

When and how should we break the line in poetry? And what constitutes a line for that matter anyway? How has the history of poetry treated the line break and what does the future hold? With Maurice Riordan.

Session 10: Mixing Genres

Prose and Poetry, and some principles of lineation. With Richard Scott.

Session 11: The Physical.

Can the physical, the intimate or the sexual make good poetry? Together we explore how just a simple touch, or indeed much much more, might become the basis for a poem. With Maurice Riordan.

Session 12: The Reader Over Your Shoulder

How does the poem you think you wrote appear to others? This session will offer group workshops giving constructive, detailed feedback on participants' poems. Chaired by Richard and Maurice.

Saturday 11 July: Next steps

A gala end-of-term programme of events, with expert guidance towards future development – submitting to magazines; preparing pamphlet and book manuscripts; competitions; reading poems in public; open mics. Culminating in a group reading. With Maurice, Richard, and guest speakers.

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Maurice Riordan was born in 1953 in Lisgoold, Co. Cork. His first collection, A Word from the Loki (1995) was nominated for the T. S. Eliot ...


Richard Scott was born in London in 1981. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review, Poetry Lon...



Come to one of the world's great literary cities and study creative writing at Faber Academy's home in historic Bloomsbury. Our London courses take place at Faber and Faber's offices.

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