Effective Writing 1: Writing Poetry


Poetry is language's recreation ground. You go there to have fun, but you end up learning about so many things. In this six-morning course, you will be taken from original ideas through towards a final draft.

The first day will be the playground of creating a poem, from the toddler steps of a word, to the swing of the line, the climbing frame of constructing sentences, and the slide of the poem’s journey towards an ending.

In the second session, you will learn about keeping notebooks, free-writing, capturing thought. Effective poems often have a turn or twist, something so delicate it cannot be paraphrased, with the form and subject working together. We shall look at early drafts and notebooks from well-known poets to see how they achieved this.

The third session will be an informal lesson on the Ws and Hs of a poem: what are you going to write, why are you writing, who are you writing for, when will you write it, which methods will you use, and how will it be written.

The fourth day will be like walking a dog, or as Klee nearly said, taking the pen for a walk. We shall explore form, subject, voice and line-break, producing first drafts of poems, using workshopping and close reading. We shall look closely at how a range of poets have worked from their early drafts through successions of versions: what to cut out, places where a gap may say more than having a situation spelt out.

On the fifth day the questions of session 3 will be reframed, and after you have written a draft of the poem, you can ask: what does the poem say, why is the poem the way it is, who speaks in the poem, (what is the) when of the poem (the tense, the relation to time), which parts could be changed, and how does the poem sound?

The sixth day will be for the park-run of consolidation, the finish-line of a final draft. Emphasis throughout will be on recognising the unique qualities of language when it is given the opportunity to break free from actually having to write a message. As Frank O’Hara said, that is what telephones are for.

Programme details

This course will run online, from 10am–1pm (UK time) on the following dates: 

  • Friday 14 October 2022
  • Saturday 15 October 2022
  • Friday 21 October 2022
  • Saturday 22 October 2022
  • Friday 28 October 2022
  • Saturday 29 October 2022


This course is accredited with 10 CATS Points at FHEQ Level 4. 

Find out more about the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (known as CATS).


Description Costs
Standard course fee £255.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Giles Goodland


Giles Goodland has published several books of poetry and has taught for the OUDCE for several years.

IT requirements

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment, where students and tutors will discuss and interact in real time. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.