Towards a First Collection (Online)

Advanced | Poetry

With the support of a dynamic group of fellow poets, learn what it takes to publish your first pamphlet or collection.

The application deadline for this course is midnight on Sunday 18 April 2021.

This course is selective, so you`ll need to apply. For more information, click here.

The application deadline was
19th April 2021

You've honed your poetic craft and found your voice. You’re beginning to feel happy with the poems you've written and confident as you produce new work. But that doesn't make the process of moving towards a first collection of poems any less daunting. How do you know when you're ready? What to include, and what to leave out? Do you need a theme? An agent? A track record of publishing in magazines – and which magazines? And, after all of that – which publishers should you approach, and how?

Faber Academy's Towards a First Collection is the perfect way to begin answering these questions, and to get your poems into their best possible shape, ready to be submitted to magazines and publishers. You'll explore ways to order, complete and present a first manuscript inspired by the best of recent publications. With intense one-to-one feedback from the tutors as well as your peers, your poems will get the attention they need, individually and collectively, to add that final layer of polish.

Whether you've finished our Advanced Poetry course or been working away in solitude for decades, join a tight-knit group of committed writers and, led by some of the nation's most exciting poets, get the close focus on your work that you’ll need to get to the next stage.

At the end of the course, you'll have the opportunity to submit some poems to an anthology that we’ll send to editors and industry professionals.

Applying for Towards a First Collection

Reading your application, tutors are looking to get a sense of you as a writer and as a member of the group. That's why there are two parts to your application: a document including six to ten poems, and a cover letter. You can send any kinds of poems you want – show us your range, or show us your specialty; either is fine. The cover letter requirements we'll keep vague – tell us what you want to get out of the course, what sort of writing experience you've had, why you've chosen us, why you've decided to do it now. Peer feedback, though, is an important part of the course, so do mention what you think will make you a good coursemate in terms of giving and receiving editorial feedback.

Once you've got those documents ready, click 'Apply Now' above. You'll need to create an account, and then you'll be asked to upload your documents. We aim to let applicants know whether they have a place on the course within ten working days of the application deadline. If you have a reason that you need to know sooner than this, get in touch and we can discuss expediting your application.

Towards a First Collection Scholarship

We're delighted to be able to offer one scholarship place on Towards a First Collection. To apply for the scholarship, please send six to ten poems (in a single document), along with a covering letter as detailed above, to

Please note: The Faber Academy scholarship programme is designed to give access to our courses to those who could otherwise not afford them. With this in mind, applicants for the scholarship will not be eligible to accept a paid place on this course. Please only submit an application for either a paid place (by clicking ‘Apply now’ below) or the scholarship place (by email) – it’s not possible for us to process applications for both streams for any applicant. Unsuccessful scholarship applicants are welcome to submit an application for either a paid or scholarship place for the next iteration of the course. You can find out more about our scholarships here.

3rd May 2021 - 19th July 2021

Availability: In stock

2 Places

The course will consist of twelve weekly one-hour Zoom classes as a group (Monday evenings, 7–8pm), along with four twenty-minute one-to-ones with your course tutors, with work sent in advance.

Session 1 – Monday 3 May: Ways to Entice the Reader

Exploring ways to welcome the reader into the world of your poetry, we’ll look at some strategies to adopt when thinking about the phases of the collection, with an appreciation of the self in relation to the reader. (With Daljit Nagra)

Session 2 – Monday 10 May: The Early Edits

Thinking about how to begin choosing the right work to build towards your book. Against thinking on what is 'good' / 'bad' and value judgements. Looking at texts adjacent to previous editorial / publishing styles. Including work by T. S. Eliot, Diana Athill and Alice Quinn.(With Rachael Allen)

Session 3 – Monday 17 May: The Organised Sequence

The interior qualities of poems can reveal much about the poet and the external perceptions of the reader – we’ll explore how this can provide wide-ranging possibilities and potential for new verse or editing existing work, as well as possibilities for how to organise the work. (With Daljit Nagra)

Session 4 – Monday 24 May: Networks and Meshes: Different Ways of Meaning Making

Now that we have the blueprint for our work, we will consider the layers inherent in our poems, beyond what they thematically and narratively represent, and how this might lead us to a more concrete structure. How do we make meaning through the different elements of the poems: sound, structure, image, pattern, verse, prose? We’ll look at work by Bhanu Kapil, Erín Moure, Lyn Hejinian. (With Rachael Allen)

Session 5 – Monday 31 May: Guest Tutor

A poet with an upcoming first collection, talking about the process, TBC.

Session 6 – Monday 7 June: The Clean Narrative

We’ll discuss ways to create flow in a collection that keeps the reader gripped with verse that is coherent in a variety of terms. We’ll consider thematic links, with special focus on narrative verse, YA and adult verse novels. (With Daljit Nagra)

Session 7 – Monday 14 June: Thinking Through Structure

How can the way we structure our collections lead us to new poems? Structuring a book is a generative force on its own, leading us to clearer ideas about our intentions and preoccupations – and hopefully more work. We’ll look at work from Will Alexander and Terrance Hayes. (With Rachael Allen)

Session 8 – Monday 21 June: The Standard of Expectation

We’ll consider what should make the final cut and how to meet the expectations of the reader, while also focusing on the quality of the end product, and how well it relates to the historic and aesthetic moment. (With Daljit Nagra)

Session 9 – Monday 28 June: Guest Tutor

A poet with a recently published first collection talks about the process. Guest TBC.

Session 10 Monday 5 July: Seeking Influence

Exploring how good writers seek influence as they build a collection, but also allow direct intervention from a source to excite the writing, we’ll consider the balance between originality and influence. (With Daljit Nagra)

Session 11 – Monday 12 July: Hybrid Modes

How can we use other ways of writing in our collections? Short essays, fiction, memoir, drawings and other ephemera might all emerge from the book once we have the blueprint of it. We’ll look at work by J.H. Prynne, Daisy Lafarge, Maggie Nelson. (With Rachael Allen)

Session 12 – Monday 19 July: Judging, Appraising Excellent Collections for Inspiration

We’ll assess collections and what gives certain books their feel of freshness, energy and memorability. This session is a chance for participants to consider their thoughts about their own process towards a collection. (With Daljit Nagra)

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Rachael Allen’s first collection of poems, KINGDOMLAND, is published by Faber & Faber. She is...


Daljit Nagra has published four poetry collections with Faber & Faber. He has won the Forward...

"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