Creative writing and publishing

Writing poetry and understanding the creative process with Robyn Bolam

Ref: SWE10348

Suitable for all

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About this course

Explore various poetic forms, from autobiographical and spiritual to comic and surreal. Use this to gain insight to create and edit your own memorable poems and develop your poetry-writing and poetry-reading skills.

Course Description

We will begin by exploring the development of certain poetic forms, such as the sonnet, elegy, persona poem and prose poem. This course will give you a variety of techniques to create and edit your memorable poems inspired by West Dean, its surroundings, your own experiences, and the works of some of our greatest writers. It will develop your poetry writing and poetry reading skills, while enhancing your understanding of the creative process and the development of poetry through several centuries up to, and including, the present.

Using workshop prompts, writing exercises, and taking inspiration from the house and grounds, you will be shown how to write poetry in different forms and from new perspectives. Group reading and discussion will enable more confident solo writing and, through group workshops and one-to-one tutorials, you will learn self-editing and basic reviewing skills.

By the end of the course, you will have: a wider understanding of contemporary poetry and its roots, the creative process, selected poetic forms, and the effective use of rhythm, rhyme and metre, as well as confidence to read both contemporary poetry and that from earlier centuries – and to use it to inspire your own. You will also have an increased ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in your writing and in that of others.

To succeed on this course, you will need to be willing to share your work with other participants and your tutor, write both alone and in collaboration, be willing to experiment with new ideas, join in group discussions to whatever degree you feel comfortable, and be prepared to give and receive constructive criticism.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • No later than one week before the course starts, please send up to two poems of your own and two poems by favourite poets to the tutor, via
  • Bring a poem (one of your own or one by a favourite poet) of your choice which best demonstrates your preferred subject and style to the first session.
  • Own laptop, tablet, etc. are optional
  • Notebook/paper and pencils

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Notebook, paper, pens, pencils


Robyn Bolam

Robyn has a D Phil from the University of York and is Emeritus Professor of Literature at St Mary's University. She has published four acclaimed poetry collections with Bloodaxe Books and edited a major anthology of women's poetry. Her libretto was performed by the Royal Opera House Garden Venture.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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