21st Century Poetry – Part Two

Live on Zoom. Ten weekly, one-hour sessions of poetry readings, discussion, writing exercises, work sharing and feedback opportunities. Maximum Group Size: 9

All the poems under discussion can be found in this book so make sure you have your copy to hand from the first session.

21st Century Poetry – Part Two 

Starts –  Mon 17th or Tues 18th Jan 2022

Ends – Mon 21st March or Tues 22nd March 2022

Time: 7.30pm-8.30pm

 Week One

A Search for Meaning: We’ll reflect on why people write poetry and all share a poem we love. It can be any poem, from any time period (it doesn’t have to be from the 21st Century) but don’t choose anything over 21 lines. We’ll write an ‘updated’ version of a classic poem and either edit it or write another one for homework.

Week Two

Finding the Right Title: We’ll read out titles from the contents page of ‘Staying Human’ and discuss what makes for a good title. Then, we’ll create titles of our own and choose our favourite from the ones we’ve created. This will form the basis of a new poem which we’ll begin and finish for homework.

Poem under the spotlight: Be the First to Like this (p. 364)

Week Three

The Naming of Things: We’ll make a collection of words commonly used in poetry such as ‘tree’ and ‘moon’. Then, we’ll collect more specific, unusual nouns. For today’s session, you’ll need to have approximately 30 pieces of cut up paper, roughly 6 x 2 cm in size. You’ll need a second set for the following week. Make a new poem from some of the words and finish for homework.

Poem under the spotlight – Of Mutability (p. 281)

Week Four

The World in Motion: We’ll discuss the concept of ‘strong’ verbs such as ‘hobble’, ‘sizzle’, ‘slump’ or ‘shimmer’. Then we’ll add to our word bank (started the previous week) and make ‘cut up’ poems to be shared in the session. Homework is to choose poems for ‘Free Choice Week’.

Poem under the spotlight – Vows (p. 230)

Week Five

Free choice: Share two shortish poems – one of yours and one from the book. As an alternative, you can share one slightly longer one.

Week Six

Making connections: Some of the most beautiful poems come from making connections between things that are not usually paired together. Taking random words from our word banks we will try to make poems of these strange combinations. These can be worked on and finished for homework.

 Poem under the spotlight – Trust Me (p. 336)

Week Seven

Building to a climax: How can we give shape to our ideas? Do we need a change of pace? Can poems be successfully crafted into a ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’, including a climactic moment? We’ll write a shared poem that uses the ‘beginning, middle and end’ model and write another one for homework.

Poem under the spotlight – Soul Keeping Company (p.337)

Week Eight

Writing the last line: We will scan through the book to find last lines that particularly draw our attention. We will think about what the last lines have in common in form, mood and tone. We will also consider the variety within the book. We will discuss what makes for a satisfying conclusion to a poem.

Poem under the spotlight – Like When We Went to the Cinema That Time

Week Nine

A sharing of how successful contemporary poets begin the act of writing a new poem. What tips and tricks do the most successful poets offer us? How can we live the life of a poet? Prepare for this week by reading up on a successful contemporary poet who you could present to the group. Everyone has a maximum of five minutes to share but feel free to prepare something much shorter. Good poets to ‘adopt’ might be: Luke Wright, Holly McNish or Rupi Kaur. Also choose a short poem of your adopted poet to share. (If all their poems are fairly long, just read the opening few lines).

Poem under the spotlight – I Want to Be Like Frank O’Hara

Week Ten

Free Choice and Celebration – Everyone chooses two short poems or one long one to share. Everyone says what they enjoyed and found useful about the course.


Optional Homework (To be done over the Christmas break)

  1. Read a lot of poetry – not just modern poetry
  2. Write a lot of poetry
  3. Release some poetry to the world (eg. on Christmas cards, on social media, magazine submissions, self-publishing or competition entries.)
  4. Begin thinking about a contemporary poet to adopt (ready for ‘Week Nine’).


To sign up for the course or ask a question about it, email me at suffolkwritersgroup@gmail.com.

If you need my bank details, text me on 07943 068033 and I’ll send them over to you. You can also bring cash, post me a cheque or use PayPal by clicking this link.

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Members of 2020 Poetry Course

Mai Black – Course Co-ordinator

About me: I am an English Literature graduate and former schoolteacher who, for the past ten years, has run creative writing and poetry groups for adults. I’ve won (or been a runner up in) nine poetry and short story competitions, have featured in prose and poetry anthologies and have written educational materials for CGP Publishing. I am just about to publish my first poetry collection called ‘Thirty Angry Ghosts’ which features the ghostly voices of thirty famous historical figures including Shakespeare, Tutankhamen and Marie Antionette.

Here is some of the lovely feedback I have received about previous poetry courses.

‘This course has been great fun giving me the experience to return to poetry and fully appreciate it.  When I was at school the teacher hated poetry so I never went back to it. I have learnt so much in a relaxed and informative way.  Thank you, Mai, for a great experience.  I look forward to the next one.’ – Jacqui Martin

‘All I can say is thank goodness for lockdown. Without it I’d never have found this lovely group. Mai is great – I’ve learnt so much in such a short length of time.’ – Sue Dale

‘Brilliant insightful course, rediscovering the beauty of language.’ – Ian Speed

‘It’s such a supportive group and Mai does such a great job in keeping us motivated.’ – Ian Hartley

With Mai’s courses I finally learned to understand and enjoy poetry, and even write my own, delving into aspects of the English language I had never thought about before. Mai made each class a delightful experience, the hour rushed by, and the group members were exceptionally supportive. – Susan Sadler

Suffolk Writers at work and play (2019)

To reserve a place, please email me at suffolkwritersgroup@gmail.com.

2 thoughts on “21st Century Poetry – Part Two”

  1. A some of the most beautiful love poems are the ones that are short and sweet. A love poem can be as simple as a few lines of text, or it can be a bit more complex. However, the important thing to remember is to keep the poem focused on the subject of love.”

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