When I started The Art of Poetry I had little experience on writing it and my first assignment proved I needed a lot of help! Writing Poems by Peter Sansom made me think more about the process of writing poetry. In the first chapter of his book, Sansom (1994: 23) writes: ‘Our poems have to be spoken in our own voice, and they have to be true to our own experience.’ He continues: ‘But when you come to write a poem, you do that yourself and you do it regardless of how you think you ought to write.’ This was at the forefront of my mind when I started Assignment 2 and I started to think of poetry from a personal level and to write it from truthful experience.
My second assignment was much better as my tutor stated: Dear Rachelle, thank you for submitting your second assignment for this course. Your writing has really developed since Assignment 1 and I’m pleased you’ve put my feedback into practice and followed up on my reading suggestions. Your hard work is showing in the quality of your writing!
Keeping an eye out for archaic language and giving consideration to your use of capital letters and punctuation has also strengthened these pieces – they sound like they’re written by a twenty-first century poet.
On reading Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled, I started to understand the process of metre, rhyme and form and experimented with different forms of poetry. ‘Traffic’ was my first attempt at writing a villanelle and, because of this, I wanted to keep it simple with only two rhyme sounds thus making sure the frustration of sitting in traffic is evident on reading it. Whilst it is a demanding form of poetry, I enjoy the precision of it. Assignment 2 is one of my best assignments to date.
Assignment three I experimented with heroic verse, syllabics and rhyme. In doing so I spent too much time on form that distracted me from other aspects, such as creating interesting images and original subjects. My poetry also exceeded the 80 line limit – I submitted 111 lines…I got carried away and forgot to check. I was introduced to the poetry of Wendy Cope and her book Serious Concerns. I enjoy her use of parody and humour and experimented with the simple 4-line rhyme scheme of abcb in one of my poems.
Creating interesting images and original subjects was my focus for Assignment 4; I varied the length of my poems and presented a quatrain. I used the anaphora technique in one of them, though I had to re-write another of my poems completely (it was too abstract) and change the title because it did not relate to the poem. I’d also presented a few clichés that I hadn’t noticed in my work. My biggest influence during this assignment was Fiona Benson’s Bright Travellers, in particular her poem ‘Demeter’.
I spent time on Assignment 5 avoiding abstract language and clichés and presented more concrete imagery and original descriptions. I experimented with sibilance in one of my poems; I like how the repeated ‘s’ sound adds movement, thus making the line more lyrical.
I’m surprised by how much I have enjoyed The Art of Poetry. When I first started the course I didn’t understand the process of poetry but with careful attention and much encouragement from my tutor, I now have a collection of poems that I have sent for assessment.
Reading poetry has played an important part during the past year. I have read some wonderful poems by various poets who have influenced my work and I continue to read them today.
Lastly, my tutor has been fundamental in my progression through AOP. Her recommendations and guidance has encouraged me to write and experiment more openly in this genre and in doing so I have become more confident.