Poetry: A Very Short Introduction

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
05 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA W800 Creative Writing,
BA W801 Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA W803 Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA W808 Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
MLITQ392 Creative Writing,
BA PW38 Film and Creative Writing,
BA PW39 Film and Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA PW88 Film and Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
BA PWH8 Film and Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA QW30 Literature and Creative Writing,
BA QW31 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA QW33 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA QW38 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
MLITQ393 Literature and Creative Writing

Module description

This ten week module in creative writing will explore poetry from its origins to the present by asking students to engage with both traditional forms and recent experiments. By taking a long view of poetry it will explore the way in which poetry changes over time, migrating from one place to another, one form to another, from cave wall to bark, to page, to body, to building, to advertising billboard, to electronic media.

Contemporary work will be explored which both engages with and departs from traditional forms of poetry, including work that extends the boundaries and the language and forms of poetry towards actions, non-poetic language, and word-games. While the history of poetry might seem to demonstrate that the best poets – Mallarmé, Maxwell – are essentially unemployable, poetry and its utilitarian functions in advertising and related fields connecting to employability will be a central feature.

Teaching itself, as far as possible, will itself be experimental – including the gathering of feathers and objects, five-minute lectures, and field work – attempting to perform the "restrangement" that underpins much poetic activity.

Module aims

This module aims to introduce students of creative writing to a variety of poetry and to conceptions of poetry through analysis and practice that extend the norms of mainstream poetic practice, including Ice Age poetry, poetic actions, word-games, curses and spells. While the module will introduce the students to traditional forms, such as the sestina and epithalamium, it will also explore how writers have challenged traditional forms and conceptions of poetry, and taken forms from the page to the body and to walls and advertising billboards.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module, students will be able to:

1. Display a detailed knowledge of poetic form.
2. Show understanding of some of the main ways in which poetry has developed and changed throughout its history.
3. Evidence how their own poetry is informed by the poetries of the past and the present.
4. Demonstrate an ability to explore poetry practically, engaging with a variety of approaches.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery for 2020-21: Students will be taught by a combination of 5-minute lecture, seminar, workshops, practical writing exercises, writing experiments, and online engagements. This will take place over a ten week period in which there will be 2 hours of scheduled contact per week.


  • Francis Alys. (no date) A Story of Deception: tate.
  • Stephen Emmerson. (no date) Stephen Emmerson's Poetry Wholes: if p then q.
  • Bishop, Elizabeth. (2002) Complete Poems, 1927-1979, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc.
  • (no date) Frank O'Hara Selected Poems: Carcanet.
  • (1998) Poems For The Millennium Volume Two: University of California Press.
  • Heaney, Seamus. (1997) Rattle Bag, London: Faber & Faber.
  • Shakespeare, William; Callow, Simon; Gilbert, John. (2019) Tempest, London: Pan Macmillan.
  • Philip Terry. (2019) The Penguin Book of Oulipo: Queneau, Perec, Calvino and the Adventure of Form: Penguin Classics.
  • Rothenberg, Jerome; Joris, Pierre. (1995) Poems for the Millennium, Volume One, Berkerley: University of California Press.
  • Nasser Hussain. (no date) SKY WRI TEI NGS: Coach House Books.
  • Frederic Forte. (2014) Minute-Operas: Burning Deck.
  • Pound, Ezra; Eliot, T. S. (1948) Selected Poems, London: Faber & Faber.
  • Heaney, Seamus. (2010) Testament of Cresseid & Seven Fables, London: Faber & Faber.
  • Philip, Terry. (no date) Dictator: Carcanet.
  • Derek Beaulieu. (2019) Aperture: Penteract Press.
  • Ian Hamilton Finlay. (no date) Ian Hamilton Finlay Selections: University of California Press.
  • Ono, Yoko; Lennon, John. (2000) Grapefruit : a book of instructions + drawings, New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Simon Taylor. (2017) Prospectus: If P Then Q.
  • Heaney, Seamus. (1996) Spirit Level, London: Faber & Faber.
  • Hollander, John. (1981) Rhyme's Reason: Yale University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Portfolio: 3 pieces of work. (5 poems 40%; ghost companion poem plus 1000 word commentary 35%; advertising slogan 5%)    80% 
Coursework   Online Portfolio     15% 
Practical   Participation    5% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Philip Terry, email:
Professor Phil Terry
LiFTS General Office – email: Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 40 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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