Beginning to Write Poetry

Writing is by its very nature a solitary pursuit. It’s one of the things that I love about it; it gives me licence to spend what might otherwise be seen as an unhealthy amount of time inside my own head. However, community is important. While writing can be solitary, creativity is communal. You create work for other people to enjoy and so you have to make other people a part of your process (within reason and in a manner that works for you). When I was beginning to write seriously, I had the good fortune to be accepted onto the Creative Writing MA in UCD (this was also in the days when we were fortunate enough to have grants to cover college fees.) The Creative Writing MA didn’t magically turn me into a fully fledged writer, but it gave me the luxury of spending a year sharing my work and ideas with some extremely talented and supportive students and lecturers.

After the MA, I felt the lack of community and so I did a number of creative writing courses with different organisations. The quality varied, but I always found myself refreshed by taking part in these courses, and I found myself producing more and better work. After a few courses, I was lucky enough to be invited to become part of a small writing group with four other poets. We meet once monthly and share work – we’re tough but fair and we’re focused. It’s not a social outing, but a serious part of our  work practice. I had a similar group during my time in Edinburgh, and I wouldn’t be without it now.

Now I’ve got to the point where I’m teaching my own poetry course for beginners, through Big Smoke Writing Factory. I’m  really excited about experiencing the atmosphere of  possibility that seems to be magically invoked by getting a group of people who want to share their creative ideas in a room together. I’m also intrigued by the challenge of having to scrutinise my own approaches to poetry; to define and discuss the sources of my own inspiration. I’m hoping to be surprised by the subject matter and range of the poetry I read, and hoping to offer people some challenges and inspiration in return.

Now, at the end of the blog noodling, the plug: My six week Beginning to Write Poetry course starts on 3rd February at Big Smoke Writing Factory’s brilliant new premises in Temple Bar. Anyone who’s interested is more than welcome and can sign up at the link below, as I believe we have a few places left.

5 thoughts on “Beginning to Write Poetry

  1. Best of luck with this, Jessica. You describe the benefits of a creative writing class so well. It is very stimulating to be around people who care about writing and reading poetry and even better if there is a structured environment to focus your creative output. Wish I lived nearer because then I’d be signing up for your class!

  2. I’m doing the Creative Writing MA in UCD, starting in September, and was just wondering how you found the overall experience? Any tips for heading into it on what to expect? 🙂

    • Hi Sean, That’s great to hear, I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time. I think the format of the MA has changed a lot since I did it in 07-08, but I know Eilis and James are still there. They are both very generous with their time and insightful and incisive editors of other people’s work. Paul Perry is also an excellent poet and I’m sure you’ll be in good hands there. My biggest tip would be to try out as many genres of writing as you can during the early months – as a writer, you’ll rarely be granted this licence to experiment again. Enjoy it and take every opportunity that comes your way. And don’t lose momentum once it’s finished – keep writing and submitting to journals!

      • Thank you for all the advice! I’ll definitely experiment while I’m there and take advantage of the year. 😀

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