A Leaf that Tells a Tree: Writing Poetry

A Leaf that Tells a Tree: Writing Poetry

With: Mark Tredinnick
: 6 x Monday evenings: 14, 21, 28 August; 4, 11, 18 September*, 6:30-9:30pm
Full Price: $600; Member: $420; Conc Member: $360
*Please note, these courses dates have been changed since their original publication.

Poems—such small things, like birds and bombs and epiphanies—are a lot bigger than they seem; they go off! They make more noise (not to mention mess and beauty and love and other kinds of useful damage) and they travel farther than seems possible. A poem, if it’s any good, is much longer and wilder on the inside than the out.

A novel tells a small story big: a poem tells the big story small. A poem does not so much express one’s own feelings; a poem is for the expression of all our yearnings; it tells all our lives in miniature; in one small piece. A poem says what is almost unsayable by saying something else entirely: a leaf that tells a tree.

Form and voice, then, are a big deal in a poem. By forcing hard linguistic choices on a poet, poetic form frees language to do the other work we need language sometimes to do: the work of recasting life’s exquisite spell, transfiguring pain, naming injustice, unseating banality, that kind of thing.

In this six-week course, both practical and inspiring, Mark Tredinnick explores and exemplifies the disciplines of beauty entailed in fashioning a poem. The course—six three-hour sessions run over six weeks—will suit beginners and experienced poets looking for inspiration and old ideas made new.

Course Breakdown
Week OneThe Way of Poetry: Saying the Unsayable Word

The nature of poetry, poetry v prose, narrative v lyric, how poetry works, the practices and habits and shapes of poetry, the disciplines of grace, the uses of reading and copying, the uses of poetry.
Poetic Forms: Sonnet and Haiku

Week Two—Dancing Down the Cage
The uses of form; line and enjambment; poems as architectures of utterance/sculptures of voice; feet and meters; rhythm and rhyme; poetic forms across time and place.
Poetic Forms: Villanelle, Pantoum, Sestina

Week Three—Tell All the Truth, But Tell it Slant
‘The Shape of Metaphor is the Shape of Wisdom’; the sideways view; high emotion recollected; what to tell, what is IT, which SLANT; metaphor and indirection; how the soul loves the particular; the big story small; the enormous moment; finding the angle, the moment, the edge; finding the poem’s voice; who is speaking the poem (telling).
Poetic Forms: Free Verse, Prose Poems, Concrete Poems

Week Four—The Xing Thing
The Poem & the place; the poem as a language world; the poem as a window; the self and the other; the Inner and the Outer; what to do with your Self in a poem; getting out of your own way; points of view/personhood in a poem; whose poem is this anyway (who’s the poem’s speaker)?
Poetic Forms: Celtic forms, Modern and Postmodern Forms (Neo-Formalism)

Week Five—Language Awake (To its Connections)
Speech Music and right rhythm; chant and enchantment; poetic language (compression, economy, vivacity, and soul); resonant simplicity; plain and fancy poetic language; figures and symbols and registers of speech; how to pull more wisdom—more voices, more weathers, more lives—than you know into a poem.
Poetic Forms: Syllabic Forms

Week Six—Cleverness Does Not Last; Poetry & Soul Making
Poetry as (language making) love: for language, for worlds; poetry as fire; poetry as recharged, rewilded language; poetry as play; levity and gravity; recasting the exquisite spell; getting back in step with all that escapes us; poetry for survival; poetry and the well-lived life; poetry and the soul of the world.
Poetic Forms: text Poems, Facebook Poems, Tweets, Songs, Rants

About the Tutor
Mark Tredinnick
is an acclaimed Australian poet and writing teacher. His prizes include the Montreal, Cardiff, Newcastle, and Blake Poetry Prizes and two Premier’s Prizes; among his books are Bluewren Cantos, Fire Diary, Almost Everything I Know, The Blue Plateau, and The Little Red Writing Book. His poetry, Sinead Morrissey has said, makes landscapes ‘flame and sing’; he writes, wrote Judith Beveridge, not just the physical, but spiritual and emotional geographies, too.


*Please note, these courses dates have been changed since their original publication.


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