Tuesday, 8 February 2011

New poetry module

I turned up for my poetry class (the one I am very unofficially in - no paper trail exists) with my brand new notebook and pencils sharp and ready. Wow! I had so much fun. The class is only 2 hours which helps because it is really dense. The other students (just 5 of them) are highly motivated and one of them is doing a poetry final year project (FYP, must learn the lingo). The first thing the tutor gave us is a handout of current poetry magazines - BA students get this kind of assistance, MA students have to find it out for themselves - as suggested we get on and submit poems. Now. Get on with it. Then they will have something to report on in their rationale, the commentary they have to write about their assignment. I, on the other hand, realised I have a publishing project coming up and could just do the same. So I sent set of poems to two magazines, Brittle Star and Iota. The process of submitting can be useful for the rationale, and any response I get can be reported on. There is a list of current poetry journals and mags at the Poetry Library website. It turns out, poetry magazines have lovely names like Monkey Kettle and Obsessed with Pipework. They must be creative sorts.

We also worked off two prompts, Climbing Everest which I and two other people translated into old age, and Eurostar which I found turned into a fictionalised plan to go to Paris. The theme of the module is 'confessional' poetry, like Sharon Olds, Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell, personal accounts which as he said, don't mean they are actually biographical. We can use our real lives to pull out themes that we then use to explore a fictional character or someone we know about. Having just read buckets of Erica Jong (recommended) and some of the books on the reading list, I can see the appeal but it does leave you very exposed. I've had some emotional hollows in my life, I'm not sure I want to splat them on the page like Olds does with such art.

We also talked about the relationship between creativity and mental illness, (useful link via Rosie's blog) especially depression. As someone who has been depressed I can say personally, that looking back on the dark days might provide food for thought, but productivity falls off completely when I'm depressed. My intellect is fine, I can write non-fiction but creative stuff just makes me feel worse. On the other hand, research suggests drugs like Prozac actually kill creativity too, as they appear to suppress imagination. I can't take the stuff, so I'm not in a position to judge, but the old tricyclics didn't do that for me, they enabled me to write, just dark, dark stuff. I'm looking forward to next week. Oh, and Myra Schneider, whose books I love, is coming to do a workshop and read in week 4. Can't wait.   


  1. It sounds great. And I hear you on the lack of assistance on the MA - sometimes I think I should've gone for the BA... but as I already have three undergrad degrees...

  2. Me too! Well, two BSc's and an MSc, none of which have really helped with the arts course. And the BA offered fantastic guidance on the rationale, which I'm a bit baffled by.

  3. And Poetry of the Day, thanks for stopping by, I love your website.