Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Introduction to Poetry
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 1 hour lectures (weekly)
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 1 hour seminars (weekly)
Practical 5 x 2 hour workshops (fortnightly)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Assignment 1  Six pages of poetry and a critical commentary of 1,000 words, accompanied by an annotated bibliography (not included in the word count). (Poetry weighted 60% and commentary/bibliography weighted 40%)  50%
Semester Assessment Assignment 2  Six pages of poems and a critical commentary of 1,000 words, accompanied by an annotated bibliography (not included in the word count). (Poetry weighted 60% and commentary/bibliography weighted 40%). For assignment 2, students will benefit from feeback from assignment 1.  50%
Supplementary Assessment Failed elements  Students who fail the module will be required to make good any missing elements and/or revise or replace any failed assignments. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate knowledge of basic poetic form.

Explain the relationship between form and content in individual poems.

Demonstrate familiarity with contemporary poetic practice.

Demonstrate and employ knowledge of the elements of a commentary, including an annotated bibliography.

Brief description

This course is the second of two introductory modules for students beginning their studies in Creative Writing, focusing on poetry. Designed in tandem with Introduction to Fiction, it will give students the equivalent grounding in practical technique for writing poems, building confidence and skills, and introducing them to the work of a wide range of contemporary poets. The module will begin with basic shaping techniques before moving on to more technical considerations of metre and rhyme, and the often confusing ‘freedom’ of free verse in relation to these. The final three weeks will introduce students to some traditional poetic genres. Seminars will be used for discussion of material introduced in the lectures and of the set texts, as well as brief written exercises. Workshops will be used to provide feedback from tutors and peers on writing intended for the assignments.


This module is designed to give first year students a thorough grounding in the technical knowledge needed to write contemporary poetry, providing a skills base for more advanced work undertaken in part two of the degree scheme.


Teaching will be delivered through three components: lectures, seminars, and workshops (exact ratio given below). The lectures will introduce students to a new technique or consideration each week, which will then be further explored in the seminars, by means of discussion and exercises. The fortnightly workshops are geared towards assignments: students will be asked to submit work in advance, which will then be circulated among the group for reading, before the discussion in the workshop.

Outline of lecture and seminar topics:

1. What is a poem?
Lecture: Following on from the first semester module Introduction to Fiction, this session will explore what makes a poem different from prose writing, in terms of theme and form. Discussion of the differences will highlight some basic formal considerations, including line breaks, caesura, and enjambment, building technical knowledge from the outset. The concept of linking subject and form will be introduced. Common preconceptions and anxieties will be addressed.
Seminar: With their tutor, students will have an opportunity to ask questions resulting from the first lecture and to discuss their experiences of reading and writing poetry to date. An in-class writing exercise to assess the formal and thematic implications of where one places a line break and use of punctuation will reinforce the ideas of the lecture.

2. Patterns
Lecture: This lecture will focus on the importance of sound and the role of patterns in developing this, exploring sound patterns (alliteration, assonance), linguistic patterns (syllabics), and repetition.
Seminar: Students will discuss the different effects of each of the patterns introduced in the lecture and consider further examples. They will develop use of each in writing exercises.

3. Basic structures
Lecture: This lecture will consider the over-arching structure of a poem, introducing students to some common approaches that will help them shape their work, including lists, repetition of the first line, letters, and sets of instructions.
Seminar: Students will discuss the approaches outlined in the lecture and begin work on forming their own poetic structures.

4. Imagery
Lecture: This lecture will deal with the role of imagery (and, in a wider sense, defamiliarisation) in poetry. By focusing on using the senses, this lecture will encourage students to see imagery as a skill grounded in close observation and perception, with the power to transform a reader’s view.
Seminar: Students will put into practise the ideas outlined in the lecture by taking everyday items (e.g. kitchen implements) and describing them afresh using imagery.

5. Metre
Lecture: This lecture will outline the stress-based nature of the English language and its relationship with poetry, an area of writing which students find difficult. The lecture will demonstrate the role stress plays in musicality and determining emphasis, focusing on iambic pentameter.
Seminar: As students find the concept of stress challenging, the seminar will give them the opportunity to ask questions and to practice writing lines of iambic pentameter with help from the tutor.

6. Rhyme
Lecture: This lecture will develop students’ understanding of the diverse and subtle ways to use rhyme, covering full and half rhymes, as well as where one can place rhyme in a poem (internal and end-stop), and rhyme schemes. This will be framed within a wider understanding of the purpose of rhyme and why it appeals to the human ear. Through the use of examples, students will be encouraged to consider the differences between the effective and the detrimental use of rhyme.
Seminar: Working with their tutor, students will experiment with the different forms of rhyme outlined in the lecture, reading aloud to hear the subtle echoes of half rhymes and the impact of where they are placed in a poem.

7. Free verse
Lecture: This will outline the history of the form and its role in contemporary poetry, as well as exploring its seemingly paradoxical name: is free verse really ‘free’ from formal considerations? Its flexibility will be considered, but so will the roles metre and rhyme play in writing good free verse.
Seminar: Students will consider the advantages and disadvantages of free verse for their writing, in terms of determining appropriate themes and making an impact. All the skills so far covered by the module will be useful in approaching this seemingly ‘free’ form.

8. Lyric poetry and the dramatic monologue
Lecture: The first of three weeks on basic shaping genres, this lecture will introduce students to the dramatic monologue. The role of an implied addressee will be discussed, as will creating an intimate relationship with the reader. Students will be asked to consider the role of the poet in the creation of a thrown voice: who is speaking here? Notions of autobiography (often attached to a lyric I) and the use of fiction in poetry will be raised.
Seminars: Through in-class writing exercises students will try writing a dramatic monologue from the point of view of a famous person, the identity of which must be guessed by the other members of the group.

9. Praise and invective
Lecture: Like the dramatic monologue, these genres are determined by tone and content rather than the technical constraints required by a sonnet. They provide a sense of structure without being intimidating. Examples of both the praise and the invective will be considered and their fundamental differences discussed.
Seminar: Students will practise the tone required for each of these forms and discuss potential subjects for their own poems.

10. Odes and elegies
Lecture: This lecture looks at two forms which have roots in classical tradition but which remain popular with contemporary poets. As with the lecture on praise and invective, there will be a discussion of their differences but also, in this case, their similarities.
Seminar: Students will practise the tone required for each of these forms and discuss potential subjects for their own poems.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Not applicable.
Communication Oral - through workshop presentations and discussions. Written - through effective and accurate use of language, grammar, and syntax to express ideas.
Improving own Learning and Performance Through independent reading, research, and creative writing.
Information Technology Through word processing and using the library catalogue for research.
Personal Development and Career planning By critical self-reflection and through the development of transferable communication and research skills.
Problem solving By responding to weekly writing tasks and responding to feedback on creative work.
Research skills by developing an independent programme of reading to support course materials, using indicative bibliography.
Subject Specific Skills Practical proficiency in creative writing and revision process.
Team work Not applicable.

Reading List

Should Be Purchased
Neil Astley (ed.) (2002 (2003 prin) Staying alive :real poems for unreal times /edited by Neil Astley. Bloodaxe Books Primo search
Recommended Text
Sansom, Peter (1993) Writing Poems Bloodaxe Primo search
Supplementary Text
Curtis, Tony (ed.) (1996) How Poets Work Seren Primo search Fraser, G. S. (1980) Metre, Rhyme, and Free Verse Methuen Primo search Fry, Stephen (2007) The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within Arrow Primo search Herbert, W. N., and Hollis, Matthew (eds.) (2000) Strong Words: Modern Poets on Modern Poetry Bloodaxe Primo search Padel, Ruth (2004) 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem Vintage Primo search Paterson, Don, and Brown, Clare (eds.) (2012) Don't Ask Me What I Mean: Modern Poets in their Own Words Picador Primo search Sweeney, Matthew, and Hartley Williams, John (2010) Writing Poetry and Getting Published Teach Yourself Primo search
Reference Text
Brownjohn, Sandy (2002) The Poet�¢??s Craft: A Handbook of Rhyme, Metre and Verse Hodder & Stoughton Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4