|Assessment Type||Assessment length / details||Proportion|
|Semester Assessment||Assignment 1 Six poems (between 60 and 90 lines in total, including titles), and a critical commentary of 1000 words. Poetry weighted 60% and the commentary weighted 40%) OR 1 x 1500 word essay that compares and contrasts the poetic techniques of two poems studied on the module.||50%|
|Semester Assessment||Assignment 2 Six poems (between 60 and 90 lines in total, including titles, and a critical commentary of 1000 words. Poetry weighted 60% and the commentary weighted 40%). OR 1 x 1500 word essay that compares and contrasts the poetic techniques of two poems studied on the module.||50%|
|Supplementary Assessment||Resubmit Assignment 1 Students who fail the module will be required to make good any missing elements and/or revise or replace any failed assignments.||50%|
|Supplementary Assessment||Resubmit Assignment 2 Resubmit failed or missed assignment||50%|
On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Demonstrate knowledge of basic poetic form and techniques.
Explain the relationship between form and content in individual poems.
Demonstrate familiarity with contemporary poetic practice and the terminology used to discuss it.
Demonstrate and employ knowledge of the elements of a critical commentary.
Produce critical work that engages with the topics and ideas addressed on the module
The module begins with looking at the broad possibilities of contemporary poetry and unravelling the often confusing association of ‘freedom’ with free verse. Students will study the basic shaping techniques, before moving on to more technical considerations of metre and rhyme. They will explore some traditional poetic forms and themes and see how these have been adapted and changed for contemporary times. Having gained confidence and skills in the previous weeks, students will be able to put all that they have learned into practice analysing and/or writing in these forms.
This module is designed to give first year students a thorough grounding in the technical knowledge needed to read and write contemporary poetry, providing a skills base for more advanced work undertaken in part two of the degree scheme. Their pre-university study of poetry as readers often doesn’t adequately equip them for analysing poetry at degree level or equip them to write it. Students can be more anxious about writing about poetry, as well as writing their own poetry than they are studying and writing fiction. This module aims to deal with these issues.
Teaching will be delivered through two components: lectures and seminar/ workshops (exact breakdown given below). The lectures will introduce students to a new technique or consideration each week, which will be demonstrated using example poems. The seminar element will give students the opportunity to discuss the lecture material and the wider reflections on writing that it raises; to look at further examples in small groups to extend their reading; and to undertake short, in-class writing exercises to put what they have learnt into practice. Tutors will set weekly writing tasks, based on the topic under consideration that week, which students will undertake independently. Workshop elements are geared towards assignments. Students will bring work derived from weekly writing tasks which they are considering submitting as part of their assignments. The small group of students, working with the tutor, will discuss the work to gain feedback, with students learning collectively from one another’s experiences.
Outline of lecture and seminar topics: 1. WHAT IS A POEM? Lecture: This session will explore what makes a poem different from prose writing, in terms of theme and form. It will give an outline of the module content, highlighting 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 will be addressed, including that one must use ‘poetic’ language to write a successful poem and that it has to rhyme, as well as recurring anxieties regarding use of punctuation and capitalisation of the first letter of each line. Archaisms and inversions will also be discussed in relation to writing contemporary poetry for a contemporary readership. This lecture will also provide clear guidelines on what is expected from students on this module. Seminar: With their tutor, students will have an opportunity to ask any questions resulting from the first lecture. They will share their initial reactions to a range of poems they are given to read. They will discuss their experiences of reading and writing poetry to date, and any fears they have. With prompts, they will write a group poem.
2. 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? Again, experience has shown that students find this important and popular contemporary form difficult to define, often regarding it as an ‘open’ option which doesn’t require consideration of sound and pacing. Pacing elements will be explained through exploring the art of effective line breaks and sensitive punctuation. Free verse’s flexibility will be considered, but so will the important roles metre and rhyme play in writing good free verse. Seminar: Students will consider the advantages and disadvantages of free verse. They will be introduced to a selection of diverse poems, looking at the poetic techniques used. An in-class writing exercise will assess the formal and thematic implications of where one places a line break and use of punctuation will reinforce the ideas of the lecture.
3. PATTERNS Lecture: Having established an understanding of basic formal considerations in terms of the poetic line, this lecture focuses on the importance of sound and the role of patterns in developing atmosphere, rhythm and pace. The session will focus on sound patterns (alliteration, assonance, consonance), linguistic patterns (syllabics), and repetition, again building technical knowledge. Seminar: Students will discuss the different effects of each of the patterns introduced in the lecture and consider further examples.
4. WHO IS SPEAKING?
Lecture: This will explore the importance of the role of voice in poetry. Students will be asked to consider the notions of autobiography (often attached to a lyric I) and the use of fiction/characters in poetry. They will be introduced to confessional poems and dramatic monologues, looking at the similarities and differences. Seminars: The students will discuss the pros and cons that come with writing personal poems, close reading some examples and contrasting these with dramatic monologues. Through in-class writing exercises, students will be encouraged to have a go at 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.
5. BASIC STRUCTURES Lecture: This lecture considers the over-arching structure of a poem, introducing students to some common approaches that will help shape a work: lists, repetition of the first line, letters, or sets of instructions. Seminar: As the structures presented in the lecture will be recognisable from everyday life, discussion will focus on the place poetry can occupy in the students’ own lives rather than being ‘parcelled off’ as a separate, elevated art form. This may well encourage a reconsideration of the question posed in the first lecture: rephrasing ‘what is a poem?’ to ask ‘what can a poem be?’ Further example texts, including ‘found’ poems and texts not labelled poems but sharing the structural attributes discussed in the lecture, will aid this. 6. THEMES Lecture: Returning to the question of ‘What is a poem?’, this lecture looks closely at subject matter. It will explore mood, encapsulated moments and narratives, looking at how tone and pace are used to evoke different moods and enhance different subject matter, whether capturing a ray of sunshine or telling an epic story. As an example, the wide thematic reach of the elegy will be covered, demonstrating that they don’t always have to mourn an individual. Seminar: Students will consider further examples, and consider the tone required for different subject matter. They will attempt to replicate the movement of mood and tone of the classic elegy in their own contemporary poem.
7. IMAGERY Lecture: This lecture deals with the role of imagery (and, in a wider sense, defamiliarisation) in poetry. By focusing on using the senses, this lecture encourages 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 practice the ideas outlined in the lecture by taking everyday items (e.g. kitchen implements) and describing them afresh using imagery.
8. RHYME Lecture: Returning to the first lecture’s examination of whether or not a poem has to rhyme, this lecture seeks to expand 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, looking at the role of advertising jingles and nursery rhymes. A crucial part of the lecture will be considering the fine line between effective uses of rhyme in contemporary poetry and sounding like the poet William McGonagall, whose infamous ‘The Tay Bridge Disaster’ is a useful warning against the perils of poor rhyme. Seminar: Students will consider further examples, reading aloud to hear the subtle echoes of half rhymes and the impact of where they are placed in a poem.
9. METRE Lecture: Having built student confidence by introducing them to a range of basic formal approaches, this lecture moves into a more advanced mode but retains an emphasis on technical skills. It outlines the stress-accentuated nature of the English language, in individual words, then phrases, then poetic form through use of metre. The lecture seeks to introduce students to the role that stress patterns play in musicality and determining emphasis, rhythm and pace. Seminar: As students find the concept of stress challenging, the seminar will give them the
opportunity to ask questions and to practice writing lines that focus on stress patterns with help from the tutor.
10. ASSESSMENT ADVICE Lecture: In preparation for the final assessment, this lecture will highlight key points covered throughout the course of the module, and, informed by feedback from the first assignment, will offer advice on how to best approach the final portfolio/essay. Seminar: Examples of good practice will be discussed. The students will have a final opportunity to workshop their assignment poems before submission.
|Skills Type||Skills details|
|Application of Number||Not applicable.|
|Communication||Oral - through effective and accurate use of language, grammar and syntax to express ideas. Written - through wokshop presentations and discussions (not assessed)|
|Improving own Learning and Performance||Through independent research and reading, and critical and creative writing.|
|Information Technology||By using word processing packages and making use of Blackboard and other e-resources to research and access course documents and other materials.|
|Personal Development and Career planning||Through increased critical self-reflection, and the development of transferable, ICT, communication and research skills.|
|Problem solving||By evaluating analysis and critical skills.|
|Research skills||By developing an independent programme of reading to support course materials, using indicative bibliography.|
|Subject Specific Skills||Practical proficiency in literary criticism.|
|Team work||Not applicable.|
This module is at CQFW Level 4