Centre for Continuing Education

The Poetry Workshop

Creative Writing. Express yourself with the written word.

Develop your creative style the smart way with Creative Writing courses at the University of Sydney.

A poem is a sculpture of voice. It’s what a poet’s heart says to her mind, and her voice finds a body for. Each good poem is shapely god; keeping its own secrets, it tells us our own.

“Why write poems,” writes Gregory Orr, “If not because grief or joy/ Has seized you?” With Rumi and the mystics, Orr would add that each poem is not just a complex, oblique, emotional cry to the Beloved—a yearning for the rest of who, and where, you thought you were. Each poem is, somehow, the Beloved—returned and embodied, in all his or her manifold and maddening contradiction. A poem “should always replace a yearning,” writes Don Paterson. "A poem must take the shape of a woman, a man, a god, or a ghost, or else it is probably no poem at all."

Form and voice, then, are a big deal in a poem. By forcing hard linguistic choices on a poet, line after line, poetic form frees language (forces it, perhaps) to do the other work we need language to do (beyond its functional duties in the market and the kitchen and the story): the work of recasting life’s exquisite spell, transfiguring pain, naming injustice, unseating banality, throwing soft bombs, making semantic jazz, hymning, that kind of thing.

Talking through some matters of form, prosody and poetic practice; walking through the drafts of one or two of his own poems and speaking of his own creative practice; reading closely a poem or two by great twentieth-century poets, Mark Tredinnick—one of Australia’s leading poets and the winner of the Montreal (2011), Cardiff (2012), Newcastle (2007, 2011), Blake (2008) and other poetry prizes—this practical and inspiring workshop on the disciplines of beauty entailed in fashioning a poem. Participants will have a chance to workshop, with Mark and the other participants, a poem they bring along, or make in, class.

Course Content

Among the many things Mark covers in this introduction to the nature and uses and practice of poetry, Mark will explore:

  • Poetic forms, conventions and architectures (sonnets, haiku, free verse, villanelles, sestets, quintrains, couplets, prose poems…)
  • The nature of a line and the uses of enjambment
  • The place of punctuation and the use of syntax
  • Speech music, rhythm and rhyme
  • Tone, voice, attitude, person, point of view
  • Fashion, style, convention, performance
  • The necessary opacity and difficulty of a poem—how to keep your secrets, but tell your reader hers; how to tell all the truth, but tell it slant
  • Showing and telling and indirection
  • Devices for getting out of your own way and letting the poem find you and speak itself in your voice
  • Poetic modes and sensibilities: lyric, confessional, declamatory, ironical, casual, formal, conversational, operatic, oracular, academical, comical,…

“In a poem the words are the story”, Judy Beveridge says. Mark will demonstrate how this is true and how it comes to be true—the hard work entailed in finding form, breaking lines, choosing exactly the true word and working exactly the right rhythm a poem quietly demands. So that it can sing the world—the inner world and the outer—in the one true voice (a kind of duet between the poet and the poem) the poem wants. So that it might give back to the world a gift worthy of the gift the world is.

Features

  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • The poetry course was fantastic and the presenter’s approachable and open teaching style made me feel immediately comfortable to participate. The feedback received on my own poetry was unexpected and invaluable. Thank you for a wonderful course.

  • The workshop was exactly what I needed being someone who has dabbled in poetry but was not entirely confident of where to go with the poetry I was creating. The tutor helped me greatly to realise how much more I can improve and has inspired me to make poetry a serious part of my creative life. An excellent teacher and I felt very privileged to have been in these classes.

  • Great to experience a passionate educator and experienced practitioner in operation... Wonderful learning experience.

  • The presenter was fabulous. A goldmine of information, references and rich content. Interesting, practical and inspiring. I would love to do a longer course if it was offered.

  • The presenter is very personable and engaged – his handouts are voluminous and comprehensive, and his feedback on one’s work is excellent.

$340 Limited inc GST
The Poetry Workshop

<p>{block name:“Course Tagline - Creative Writing”}</p><p>A poem is a sculpture of voice. It’s what a poet’s heart says to her mind, and her voice finds a body for. Each good poem is shapely god;

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$340 Limited inc GST
The Poetry Workshop

<p>{block name:“Course Tagline - Creative Writing”}</p><p>A poem is a sculpture of voice. It’s what a poet’s heart says to her mind, and her voice finds a body for. Each good poem is shapely god;

...
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