Online: Poetry

Pip Smith

27 July to 4 September 2020, online

Full Price: $660
Member: $460
Conc Member: $395

Enrol in the 2021 version of this course here>>

Refine your poetry with this six-week course on poetic style, form and technique. Join award-winning poet Pip Smith to experiment with form and technique in order to draw out the ideas, subject or emotion at the heart of your work.

Is this course right for you? Read our FAQ > 

You will write a minimum of six new poems, and have those poems workshopped by Pip and the group. Writing in a variety of styles and forms, you’ll fine-tune your own personal approach to the writing of poetry. Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to refine your best poems before submitting for publication or performance.

This course takes place on a website specifically designed for writers, making it simple and easy to share your writing, give and receive feedback, and interact with fellow writers.

Please expect to dedicate three to four hours to coursework each week. This includes reading, responding to discussions, writing, revising and providing peer feedback.

Week 1: Poetic traditions and your place

What are our poetic traditions? What is poetry in 2020? This week we will briefly survey the vast poetic terrain of the 20th and 21st centuries, consider our allegiances and biases (and how helpful or unhelpful they might be), before planning how we will develop a productive writing practice over the following six weeks and beyond.

Week 2: Emotion and language – turning abstractions into concrete images

This week we will learn how to turn unwieldy angst or exultation into razor sharp, affecting poetry. We will describe universal feelings through specific details, and learn how to compress everyday language to make every word work. Focus on form: the lyric and the haiku.

Week 3: Imagination and language – figures of speech

This week we will interrogate figures of speech, ask what they bring to poetry, and find ways to breathe new, imaginative life into the way we describe the world around us. Focus on form: the conceit.

Week 4: Form and the poetic line

This week we will explore the basic unit of poetry: the poetic line.

We will ask: when should we break a line, when should we end a line, and how do poets twist the line to suit their needs? We will finish by looking at the refrain, and the forms in which the refrain is used and manipulated. Focus on form: the villanelle and the pantoum.

Week 5: Music and metrics

This week we will consider the musical qualities of poetry, paying particular attention to internal rhyme, word play, metrics, rhythm and other poetic devices which can be used to structure free verse poetry. Focus on form: syllable poems, beat poetry, spoken word.

Week 6: Sending your poems into the world

This week we will develop our own personal guides for revision. What should we cut from drafts? How can we use stanza breaks, line breaks, and the conventions of formal poetry to help us compress our coal-like drafts into razor sharp, crystal clear diamonds?

Pip will also give poets advice and tips on publishing and performing their work, providing links to articles on publishing and to appropriate publications open for submission. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions about writing process and publication.

Please note, this is an online instructional course with weekly lessons and some feedback. If you’re looking for a course which provides you in-depth feedback on your poetry, enrol in Online Feedback: Poetry with Fiona Wright which begins in September 2020.

Participant Requirements

Internet access and confidence using basic computer software are essential for this program. Please read our FAQ before enrolling.

While this course is aimed at aspiring and emerging poets, all levels of poets are welcome, though poets must be comfortable reading and commenting on all levels of work. Guidance for peers critiquing will be provided.


‘I did this course last year and absolutely loved it. One of the poems I started in this course ended up being published in Cordite Poetry Review – my first published…I can’t recommend it highly enough.’ – Alice (2019 course participant)


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