Today I thought I’d blog a bit more about my poetry classes, being fairly controversial as they are at the minute. I don’t mean controversial in a bad way, but they are dividing opinions amongst me and my friends, so I thought I’d let applicants know what they may be letting themselves in for!
The module I’m studying has been titled ‘Experimental Writing’ by the tutors, and it certainly does have a feel of alchemy about it. It essentially deals with multi-sensory approaches to poetry (for the mind, the ear and the eye). I’m sure we’ve all been brought up on the kind of poetry that rhymes and conforms to a certain metre (Sonnets being a classic example of people counting out syllables), so when you learn in the first year that ‘to rhyme is a crime’ and making the metre regular is a waste of time, it’s a bit shocking. This module goes ten steps beyond that, believe me!
An alphabet-structured poem using associative cognitive methods of writing sounds interesting. A poem involving two different words (‘like’ and ‘attracts’) placed in a certain way around the page is bizarre. Poems inspired by the five vowels, including Monty Python-esque screeching in their performance are unsettling. This is a small sample of what we have covered in one lesson. That gives you a flavour of what we look at, and you might be like some of the students who say ‘that’s definitely no poetry’. You could be like some of the others who say ‘there’s method in that madness’. You might even be like me, you can see the pros and cons and aren’t really sure what poetry is anymore (not that I’m sure I’ve ever really put my finger on it!).
But in this kind of confusion, in this place that is so far out of our comfort zones, there is a rich diversity of new possibilities for writers. Right or wrong as our opinions may be (if there is such a thing in this case), the potential is immense, and I think that if you want to come to Edge Hill, you have to be prepared to walk the untrodden paths, get a little lost in it all but be safe in the knowledge that your hard work is going to produce breathtaking results in the end.
P.S. The poem featured at the top of the page is the one that’s currently on our module handbook, Bob Cobbing’s ‘Square Poem’.