MA Creative Writing

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Reading Poems

Unit code ENGL71611
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by English and American Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course requires students to read at least one contemporary collection of poetry each week, usually alongside relevant critical essays on the poet to be discussed, and to consider the poetry in both a critical and creative context.


o To give students a knowledge of a range of contemporary poetry, so that they become aware of the varied formal and thematic possibilities available to the modern poet and develop a literary context for their own work.
o To develop students' knowledge of the variety of voice and the devices commonly used in contemporary poetry, eg, to see the possible relationships between poetry and communities,  achievements of regional poetry, to examine the importance of tradition to contemporary poetry, to look at how gender is a subject in contemporary poetry, to recognise the characteristics of ‘New Generation’ poetry, to examine the split between linguistically innovative poetry and the broad mainstream
o To emphasise the extent to which some non-British contemporary poetry is pre-occupied with ideas of nationality
o To consider how contemporary poetry draws on contemporary theory
o To concentrate students' attention on significant canonical authors while exploring the possibilities offered by texts outside the canon
o To prepare students for advanced research in the subject area through the development of research, analytical, expressive and rhetorical skills.

Learning outcomes

o To demonstrate detailed knowledge of contemporary poetry
o To demonstrate evidence of the above in written work appropriate to MA level.
o To develop a critical and creative appreciation of a heterogeneous list of modern and contemporary poets.
o To identify the characteristic modes of contemporary poets and to understand the key movements, figures and trends in contemporary poetry.
o To understand the stylistic, formal, presentational and organisational options available in the writing of poetry.
o To demonstrate an awareness of the diversity of approaches to the study of contemporary poetry
o They should develop oral and written skills in analysing the work of other writers and in establishing connections between those achievements and their own literary preoccupations.




Assessment methods

Essay 1 30%
Essay 2 70%


Recommended reading

1. Claudia Rankine, Citizen (Penguin)

2. Paul Muldoon, Moy Sand and Gravel (Faber); Don Paterson, Rain (Faber)

3. Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic (Faber); Michael Symmons Roberts, Drysalter (Cape)

4. Ted Hughes, Moortown Diary and River (in Collected Poems, Faber); Alice Oswald, Dart (Faber)

5. Vahni Capildeo, Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet) and  Kathleen Jamie, The Tree House (Picador)

    Reading Week

6. John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Carcanet)

7. Seamus Heaney, Human Chain (Faber)

8. Denise Riley, Say Something Back (Picador)

9. Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red (Cape)

10. Derek Walcott, The Schooner Flight (from Collected Poems, Faber) and Karen Solie, The Caiple Caves (Picador)

11. TBC



Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 267

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
John McAuliffe Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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