Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Traditional Poetic Forms
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminar/workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Two portfolios of writing, each with a critical Commentary: 2,500 words each.  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should typically be able to:

1. demonstrate knowledge of the most significant forms and conventions of poetic writing in English;

2. demonstrate an ability to write poetry in a range of forms, using contemporary diction and invoking a contemporary context;

3. demonstrate an awareness of the wider cultural issues raised by contemporary use of these forms;

4. demonstrate a self-reflexive awareness of their own writing practice;

5. demonstrate an ability to express themselves clearly in writing.


This module aims:

1. to inform students of some of the important traditions of writing poetry in English;

2. to build on their reading and study of poetry in the Core literature modules;

3. to encourage students to experiment with a range of poetic forms in a modern register, using contemporary diction.

Brief description

Attention to the formal structures and effects of English verse is a significant aspect of our analysis, understanding and appreciation of poetry. However, it is an aspect that is often neglected. This module offers just such a focus.
This module introduces students to a number of traditional poetic forms and to some of the most significant conventions of poetic writing in English in order to build on their reading and understanding of poetic form in the core literature modules. As a module offered within the English and Writing degree scheme, it requires students to experiment with various forms and discuss their work in practical workshop sessions. Crucially, students will be required to use contemporary contexts and a modern linguistic register. What happens when these traditional forms - often associated with particular historical periods - are put to modern use? How does the use of contemporary discourse / subject-matter highlight, interrogate and subvert the conventions associated with these forms? What ironies and surprises emerge from a contemporary engagement with them?
Our ten sessions will thus involve both a broadly theoretical discussion of the wider (political, social, gender, etc.) issues dramatised by these forms (and by our 'rewritings') and practical experimentation.


_Seminar Programme

_Lyric Forms - `The Ghost of Oral Poetry'
Exercise: Write a poem that imitates one of the forms among the examples given, but not necessarily the theme.

_The Sonnet - `Petitionary, Gendered'
Exercise: Write 1) a Shakespearean sonnet expressing your profound dislike of something AND 2) a Petrarchan love sonnet to an unusual object.

_Blank Verse - `The sound our sentences would make / If only we could leave them to themselves'
Exercise: Write a passage of blank verse on the theme of a `fall'.

_Heroic Couplets - `Classical, Cold'?
Exercise: Write two short passages in heroic couplets - one satirical, the other (sincerely) elegiac.

_Forms and Repetition (Villanelle, Triolet, Rondeau, Blues) - `Play it Again'
Exercise: Write a poem in one of these forms, using contemporary diction.

_Ottava Rima and Satire - `Byronic, Comic, Ironic'
Exercise: Write a sequence of satirical stanzas in ottava rima on a prescribed theme/ person.

_Haiku - `my funeral coat, / unlike the magpie's,/ green with age'
Exercise: Write five haiku - three from personal experience; one based on a painting / art objects; and one `distilled' from longer poetic or prose descriptions which will be provided.

_Narrative Verse and Ballads - `It is an ancient mariner . . .'
Exercise: Write a short ballad narrating a contemporary story.

_Free Verse - `Never Totally 'Free'
Exercise: Write a piece of free verse on a prescribed topic.

_Pattern Poems - `Angel Wings, Altars and Tombstones'
Exercise: Write a poem on a prescribed visual pattern.


This module is at CQFW Level 6