Module Identifier WR30420  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Damian Walford Davies  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Other staff Dr Matthew C Francis  
Pre-Requisite WR10220  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   10 x 2 hour seminar/workshops  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
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.

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Mark Strand and Eavan Boland (eds.) (2001) The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms New York and London: W. W. Norton 0393321789
Sandy Brownjohn (2002) The Poet's Craft: A Handbook of Rhythm, Metre and Verse Hodder and Stoughton 0340802928
** Recommended Background
C. O. Hartman (1980) Free Verse Princeton: Princeton University Press
David Lehman (ed.) (1996) Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms (2nd Edition) 2. University of Michigan Press
Derek Attridge (1996) Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction Cambridge: Cambrideg University Press
Dick HIggins (1987) Pattern Poetry: Guide to an Unknown Literature New York: State University of New York Press
John Hollander (1989) Rhyme's Reasons: A Guide to English Verse Yale University Press
John Hollander (1985) Vision and Resonance: Two Senses of Poetic Form New Haven: Yale University Press
Lewis Turco (1999) The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics University Press of New England
Mark Strand & Eavan Boland (eds.) (2001) The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms New York: W. W. Norton
Mary Ellen Solt (ed.) (1967) Concrete Poetry: A World View New York: Indiana University Press
Milton Klonsky (ed.) (1975) Speaking Pictures: A Gallery of Pictorial Poetry from the Sixteenth Century to the Present New York: Harmony Books
Nigel Jenkins (2002) blue Aberystwyth: Planet Books
Paul Fussell (1979) Poetic Meter and Poetic Form New York: Random House
Philip Hobsbaum (1996) Metre, Rhythm and Verse Form (New Critical Idiom series) London: Routledge
Thomas Carper & Derek Attridge (2003) Metre and Meaning London: Routledge
Timothy Steele (1990) Missing Measures: Modern Poetry and the Revolt Against Meter Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press
W. D. Snodgrass (2001) De/Compositions: 101 Good Poems Gone Wrong Graywolf Press


This module is at CQFW Level 6