World Poetry Day 2017

London A64

What is poetry? And can anybody write it or is it a skill of the literary elite? On 21st March, Ian Brinton, editor of The Use of English and a poet himself who has written books on Dickens and Emily Bronte, came to challenge the students to find their own answers to these questions.

Students from all years began this tour de force with an engaging workshop where they were asked to analyse difficult poems before being asked to write their own. Students were apprehensive at first but soon found their feet and began scribbling away, enthralled by the challenge of language and creating worlds with words, and following in the footsteps of the great poets they had just read: Shakespeare; Blake; and Gary Snyder.

After introspection, Ian explained, must come communication. Since poetry is a means of conveying ideas, emotions and thoughts to other people, we must be able to provide a map for others to enter the inner worlds which we access within ourselves. Students found common ground with others and were able to ask questions. An hour raced by and it was lunch time already!

Ian would later give an inspiring lecture to reinforce the strategies and themes of the workshop while delving deeper into specific texts, showing the students the nuts and bolts of literary criticism and giving them the opportunity to analyse poems, just as theirs had been dissected earlier in the day. The workshop came to a close and Ian received resounding applause. Many students left inspired, some with the goal to continue writing poetry and now with the toolbox needed to begin the process. We owe our thanks to Ian and all the students who took part, and very much look forward to a repeat next year!

Thomas Knox