Here lies the second in my series of posts on Edge Hill’s English and Creative Writing course’s ‘best bits’. Today I’m all about the poetry modules, which have all been great and it’s hard to pick out any single moment that’s better than the rest. I think the most memorable moments were at the start and the end of the three years to be honest, but that’s not to say that the second year was sub-par!
In fact, the second year had a well-structured and very inspiring look at different types of sensory poetry. That is to say, we looked at poetry for the ear, poetry for the eye, ‘mind poetry’ (based on unmediated thought, rather than self-censoring) and more. Looking at these different ways of writing poetry not only leads you to enjoy other poetry more on other levels, but also gives you a confidence about writing that is invaluable.
Even more striking than that though, was the module where it all kicked off: first year poetry. I think it could quite easily be described as explosive in the sense that a whole load of preconceptions and things I thought I knew were just blown out of the water. The enthusiasm of the tutors really was infectious (and they maintain that enthusiasm for the whole three years, believe me), and thought the attitude of a lot of people has been that poetry is their least favourite type of writing, I think we’ve all enjoyed poetry more than we thought we would based on their support.
I’ve talked about the ‘Experimental Writing’ module from the third year before (I’m sure you love my writing so much you’re dying to check it out, so here y’are http://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/martin/2012/02/12/the-forefront/), and I think it just gets the top spot for the best moments of the poetry part of the course. If the first year was explosive in dispelling myths and injecting energy, the third year has gone above and beyond. The look at different sensory poems has been developed in the sense of looking at new ways of performing and new ways of looking at the world and how that feeds into your writing. For example, using other people’s work to make a new poem is explored very thoroughly, and though you may be reluctant to enjoy poetry, this module will seem like something else.
Again, I’ve loved every minute of what Edge Hill’s offered me, and I don’t see how anyone else could fail to!
To anyone thinking of coming to Edge Hill to study Creative Writing, I’ve got to say that you’re thinking of a great choice. Last Friday we were visited by Cliff Yates, a poet, who came into our class to read some of his poetry and do some writing exercises with us.
I saw Cliff a year ago at a reading at The Rose Theatre on Edge Hill’s campus, and I really like his poetry. It is warm, amusing and evocative, yet can be very poignant and startling too. As a man, he really is the epitome of a good bloke: open, talented, energetic and friendly. The session he ran went really well, I’m actually developing a poem further that I wrote in one of the exercises.
When you’re looking at universities, ask exactly what you’re going to get out of it. Edge Hill’s Creative Writing tutors are all published and practising writers, but the course is never allowed to get stale with the inclusion of these visiting writers. They really do bring a fresh burst of inspiration into the room and, if you have your common sense hat on, they bring an opportunity to expand your network of contacts in the industry.
Your course will benefit you massively in what you want to do with writing; your skills will vastly improve and your employability will be better. What more could you ask? Oh yeah, your course will genuinely be fun, inspiring and awesome, take it from me!
If you’d like to know more about Cliff Yates, here is his blog: http://cliffyates.wordpress.com/
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’.