The Finest Music – The Craft of Irish Poetry

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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
Literature
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
English
Description: 

Over 12 weeks this course will facilitate student engagement with writing creatively with a concentration on poetry. Concurrently participants will trace the development of Irish poetry in the 20th century, from WB Yeats to Seamus Heaney, and on through the 21st Century to Sinead Morrissey. Taking place in Dublin, UNESCO City of Literature, the course is a unique opportunity to use the literary heritage and present-day life of the city as a venue for inspiration and learning.

The course will explore themes of nation and conflict up to and through the Northern Irish Troubles in the poetry of Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Paul Muldoon, Maedbh Mc Guckian and others; the dual language tradition and major poets in the Irish language including Nuala Ní Dhómhnaill, as well the representation of women in the canon, both as subject and object, through the poetry of Eavan Boland, Paula Meehan. The concerns and influences of the generation of Irish poets who emerged from the 1990’s up to the present day continue to be varied and among those we will look at are Peter Sirr, Vona Groarke and Sinead Morrissey. Our last session will look at the lively performance poetry and spoken word scene in Dublin.

Concurrent with this we will focus on the craft of poetry and development of student’s own writing. They will respond to a varied programme of exercises, craft challenges and ‘poetry ideas’ as well as supportive critiques, in order to draft and redraft a body of work. In weekly workshop sessions we will explore and draw on relevant aspects of craft drawn from the week’s reading and seminar. These will include exploring rhyme and metre in forms such as the sonnet and the ballad as well as in free verse. We will also take example from the way poets have drawn from myth, daily life, observation and memory.

Field trips will include a visit to the National Library of Ireland, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Writers Centre and the Kavanagh commemorative bench at the Baggot St end of the Grand Canal where the weekly writing workshop and (in the case of the Irish Writers Centre) performance will also take place.