Poetry Salon (Online)

Improving | Poetry
At the heart of this lively and energetic course – taught by two of Britain’s leading poets – is the writing and sharing of new work. In weekly two-hour sessions, you’ll be creatively challenged to break free of your comfort zones.

You will be writing new poems each week with the expectation that you will broaden your techniques, deepen your knowledge and intensify your poetic ambitions. Through the close reading and discussion of key texts, you’ll also be pushed towards a more rewarding way of reading and engaging with classic modern poetry.

During workshop sessions, you’ll also be pitching your work to the group, and hearing each other’s poems, bringing out the areas you want to concentrate on and the areas which need work.

This is an intermediate poetry course, which will work best for students who have already begun writing poetry, or who work professionally in another writing field and are looking to turn their hand to poetry.

21st January 2021 - 8th April 2021

Availability: Out of stock

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The course will consist of nine two-hour Zoom group classes. Each class will include fifteen/twenty minutes of guided writing time with prompts, or alternatively, a take-home writing exercise.

As part of the course, you’ll also receive two thirty-minute tutorials, and there will be a set text, Dear Boy, which will be discussed during classes and culminate in a Zoom reading and Q&A with the author, Emily Berry. There will be a set text for this course, which will be discussed during classes and culminate in a Zoom reading with the author.

The course takes place on Thursday evenings, running from 21 January until 8 April from 7–9pm

Session 1 — 21 January: Introductions with Maurice & Richard, then Rapidity and Concision with Maurice

How to use language on a higher plane than in prose, thereby achieving a vigorous lyric style. We analyse examples of imaginative language in Sylvia Plath, Stevie Smith, Les Murray, and more. An exercise on riddling and metaphor. With Maurice Riordan

Session 2 — 28 January: Self-portraiture and Objects with Richard

'No ideas but in things,’ but what ideas and which objects? Starting with William Carlos Williams, this session will examine the art of writing about oneself through the prism of a concrete object.

Session 3 — 4 February: Trivial Pursuits with Maurice

How to write a poem on the spot – or appear to! We look at poems where one’s intimate world intersects with the public sphere of history or celebrity, in poems by Paul Muldoon, Kathryn Maris and Frank O’Hara. An exercise on writing a ‘lunch’ poem.

Session 4 — 11 February: Drafting and Editing with Richard

Is a poem ever finished? And how do we know when it's ready? By examining first and last drafts together, we will explore our own process and tap into the possibilities hidden within our work.

Session 5 — 18 February: Liquid Engineering with Maurice

How can syntax and lineation give a poem impetus and momentum? We look at how poets, such as Michael Longley and Emily Berry, use sentences variously to powerful effect. Exercise on writing a one-sentence poem.

Session 6 — 25 February: The Art of Description with Richard

Fine-tune your descriptive writing by channelling your inner scientist! Using poems by George Herbert, Elizabeth Bishop and Mark Doty as models, this session will guide you through the careful and detailed art of describing in a poem.

Session 7 — 4 March: One-to-ones with Maurice & Richard

Session 8 — 11 March: Contemporary Edge with Maurice

What styles and techniques have achieved success in recent years? And how do they relate to older models? We look at centos, pastiche, ‘golden shovels’, glosas. Exercise on interacting with a ‘classic’ poem.

Session 9 — 18 March: Confessionalism and Masks with Richard

Exactly what is confessional poetry? And how might this paradoxical term and group of notorious poets guide us today? Looking at the masks we might wear when writing poetry, this session will explore our confessional lineage and our post-confessional future.

Session 10 — 25 March: One-to-ones with Maurice & Richard

Session 11 — 1 April: Guest Evening, linked into the set text,TBC

An evening with the author of your set text. Throughout the course you will have been reading his work – and we will have been examining it together in class. Now you will have an opportunity to hear the poet read and even ask them your own questions.

Session 12 — 8 April: Consolidation, Next Steps and final reading with Maurice & Richard

You’ve spent twelve weeks studying poetry, so what next? This session will look at routes into publication and examine how to perform your own poetry; and it will culminate with an online group reading!

Please note that the Faber Academy alumni discount does not apply to poetry courses.

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Maurice Riordan was born in Co. Cork. His first book, A Word from the Loki (1995), was nominated...


Richard Scott was born in London in 1981. His pamphlet Wound (Rialto) won the Michael Marks...

"There's no point staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to strike - to get your creative muscles working you need to start writing, reviewing and sharing your work."

Helen Shipman