How to write a poem with Clare Pollard

Clare Pollard

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In this Idler Academy online course, poet Clare Pollard gives you the necessary tools and techniques to start writing your own poetry. Over six video-based lessons, Clare explores the style, structure and history of classic poetic forms like ballads, sonnets and dramatic monologues. Great poets, like Keats and Tennyson, learned through modelling, imitating, even stealing. In this vein, “How to Write a Poem” teaches you to read the classics in order to learn what you can take from them.

Each lesson will cover the basic rules of the form and you’ll read iconic examples from Shakespeare, Ovid, Lear and Keats. You’ll learn about iambic pentameter, neologisms, narrative and rhyme – and how to apply those ideas to your own poetry.

This course not only teaches you how to write poems but also how to get them out there, offering practical tips on applications, competitions, poetry magazines and publishers. Using her experience as a seasoned poet, Clare will help you navigate the contemporary poetry scene.

Poetry, like any craft, needs practice so there will be exercises and homework in each lesson – from writing your own ballad based on a political issue that resonates with you to inventing and describing your own place. You can share your poems in the course forum for Clare and other students to comment on.

Who is this course for?

This course is suitable for anyone interested in writing their own poetry as well as those keen to learn more about poetic forms and styles in general. Clare’s course is a  great primer on the history of poetry as well as an excellent starting point for aspiring poets.

Course Outline

Introduction – 3.25 mins

Lesson One: What is Poetry? – 36.46 mins

Lesson Two: Learning from Nonsense – 19.08 mins

Lesson Three: Learning from Sonnets – 24.59 mins

Lesson Four: Learning from Ballads – 23.10 mins

Lesson Five: Learning from Dramatic Monologues – 22.03 mins

Lesson Six: Ways Forward in Poetry – 21.23 mins

About the Tutor

Clare Pollard was born in Bolton in 1978 and lives in London. She has published five collections of poetry including The Heavy-Petting Zoo, which she wrote while still at school, and her latest Incarnation. Her first play The Weather premièred at the Royal Court Theatre and her documentary for radio, My Male Muse, was a Radio 4 Pick of the Year.  Her new translation of Ovid’s Heroines has recently toured as a one-woman show. Visit her website here.




What You Get

Six video lessons with poet Clare Pollard, pdf notes with further reading and resources, access to the community forum where you can share your poems and pose questions.


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