I have a new entry on the rather brilliant resource that is the Poetry Archive. You can hear readings of “A Shrunken Head”, and two poems from Public Dream: “Humbles” and “Scandinavia”. Listen here: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/frances-leviston And once you’re over there, have a listen to some other poets too, like Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Basil Bunting, Adrienne Rich, Denise Riley and many many others.

 

I will be around at, helping out with, and generally enjoying the Derek Mahon conference at Durham University on 18-19 September 2014, for which a Call for Papers has just been released. Full-time academics, postgraduate researchers and independent scholars all welcome: full details here.

I’ll be teaching a poetry workshop at the very beautiful Portico Library in Manchester on Saturday 7th December 2013 from 10am-3pm (lunch included). Poets of all abilities are welcome to join us, and full details can be found here: https://porticopoetry.eventbrite.co.uk/?ref=ecal.

I’ll be reading at Ludlow Assembly Rooms on Friday 27th September as part of the T. S. Eliot Prize’s 20th Anniversary Tour, along with Luke Kennard, Philip Gross and Gillian Clarke. For tickets and so on, call the box office on 01584 878 141 or visit www.ludlowassemblyrooms.co.uk; and for more information on the tour, see the PBS website.

The broadcast of my reading for the Proms Plus Late event at the Albert Hall last Friday will be on BBC Radio 3 tonight, Wednesday 11th September, at 9.15pm. Also performing are the marvellous Porter Quartet, a group of four young jazz musicians from Leeds, to whom I thoroughly enjoyed listening.

My poem “GPS” was published in last Saturday’s Guardian Review. It comes from the new Carcanet anthology Oxford Poets 2013, in which I have a few new poems alongside work by Paul Batchelor, Leonie Rushforth, Peter Mackay and others.

A couple of weeks ago, I advertised the poetry course, Taking Form, that I’m going to be teaching in Manchester in September. The response has been fantastic, and some of the places have been taken already, so if you’re interested it would probably be a good idea to get in touch soon.

There have been a couple of questions that people have asked more than once (and which were asked more than once last time I taught this course!), so I thought I would post my responses here, in case anyone else is wondering the same thing.

How big will the group be?

The maximum number of people in the group is ten, which I think is big enough for a good discussion, but small enough to make sure everyone’s work receives real time and attention. I can’t tell you what a luxury it is for me to be able to impose an optimum class size: I really believe this makes a significant difference to the quality of the workshop experience.

Do I have to be writing in named forms to take the course?

My intention for the course is to encourage you to think about poetic form in a larger (and I think more useful) sense than you might ordinarily be encouraged to adopt: there is a lot more to form than pre-existing formal templates. If you are moved to explore any of those templates (blank verse, sonnet, ballad form, etc.), that is absolutely fine with me, but the discussion and exercises are designed to be equally helpful to those working in free verse.

If you have any other questions, just drop me a line.

The latest edition of Carcanet’s regular anthology of new poetry, this time called Oxford Poets 2013, has recently appeared, edited by Iain Galbraith and Robyn Marsack. This time it contains some already-published writers alongside poets who have yet to produce a full collection, including six new poems from me and new work from Paul Batchelor and Lynn Jenner. There are also selections from Peter Mackay, Leonie Rushforth and Adam Nadasdy (please forgive the lack of accents).

Last summer, I ran an intensive poetry course in Sheffield called Taking Form. It was a great few weeks with some brilliant writers, and I think we covered a lot of very useful ground. In fact, it went so well that I’m going to run Taking Form II this year in Manchester.

The workshops will take place over five Thursday evenings, starting on 5th September and ending on 3rd October, at the lovely independent Fyg Cafe in the Northern Quarter. Places are available from today – see below for all the details and how to sign up.

 About the Course

What is form? How does a poem take form? What do we mean by line, stanza, poem? How do poems acknowledge their formative influences?

This course will not simply focus on established verse-forms like the sonnet. Instead, we will discuss established and organic forms within a wider exploration of the idea of form itself. My goal is for you to deepen your own relationship to form, acquire technical skills and vocabularies, write new poems that display confidence with form, and strengthen your understanding of your own and others’ work.

Taking Form is aimed at poets already committed to their writing who are looking for a challenge.

Course Structure

The course is structured in two parts: weekly face-to-face workshops, and an online discussion blog.

In the first half of each workshop, we will look critically at canonical and contemporary poems, discuss key ideas and technical elements of form, and undertake writing exercises designed to develop formal awareness. In the second half of each workshop, we will read and critique participants’ poems in an atmosphere of respect and serious engagement.

Thursday 5th September – What Is Form?
Competing definitions and personal takes.

Thursday 12th September – The Line
The primary unit: density, length, cadence, breaks.

Thursday 19th September – The Sentence
Moulding a thought; tension and variation.

Thursday 26th September – The Stanza
Structuring an argument; echoes and transitions.

Thursday 3rd October – The Poem
Creating a total experience; change and integration.

To keep up momentum and intensity between sessions, participants will also have access to a private blog online where they will be asked to comment on each other’s works in progress and continue to discuss issues raised in the workshops. I will be commenting too.

Course Cost and Sign-Up

The full cost of the course is £200, payable by cheque in advance. To be considered for a place, email frances.leviston@gmail.com (or use the contact page) with a brief explanation of your interest in the course and your experience of writing poetry, and attach two sample poems.

Praise for Taking Form

“This course was a revelatory and intensive writing experience which made me focus on ways in which my writing could develop and improve. Every week the learning and discusion was friendly, constructive and entertaining, mediated through Frances’ leadership and her breadth and depth of knowledge. Absolutely brilliant.” – Janet Caborn

“I found the course very inspiring. I was fast becoming heavy hearted about my writing and I hadn’t expected learning about form to open up a new sense of freedom and excitement about it. That came particularly from your way of talking about poetry, the feeling you have for it. It was the bottom line for me, something core to the whole practice that you communicated. I also appreciated the blog – every time I opened it I loved the look of it. Your comments and suggestions on the blog and in class were really helpful – lots of ‘ah-ha’ moments for me.” – Jennifer Hockey

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