Non-Degree / Dates: 29 July – 3 August 2024

Leontia Flynn will conduct a six-day course in writing poetry in the summer of 2024. Participants will study the elements of writing a poem by reading closely a variety of poems by historical as well as contemporary poets. Summer school students will have time for independent writing in response to set exercises, and sessions in which they receive feedback on their work from the tutor and other participants. 

By developing and redrafting their poetry in response to group discussion and workshops, as well as through reading and experiment, the summer school will give students the chance to begin and revise individual poems, as well as to build up a body of work.


Seamus Heaney wrote that poetry involved both craft and technique. Craft is what you can learn from other verse, ‘the skill of making’, while technique is more instinctive and involves letting our mind ‘dilate and approach as a thought or a theme or a phrase’.  The process also involves finding a voice – getting a sense of yourself into your own words.

This course allows students to consider and practice all these aspects of writing a poem.  We’ll consider the very first shadowy idea for a poem and examine how careful thought, attention and observation might bring this into focus.  We’ll look too at how a poem’s quality of expression creates ‘flow’ and movement, carrying the reader to the end of the poem.

Examining practices of craft, observed through set poems, we’ll also think about how learning and obeying rules like rhyme, metre, verbal patterns and word order can open a poem up beyond the poet’s original intentions.  Set forms are a chance to experiment, to make unexpected connections and associations, and to take the poem in unexpected directions.

Over the course of a week we’ll see how poems can unfold in very different ways to successfully find their final shape. In response students will work to craft their own poems in a way that best reflects their unique voice and preoccupations. On the final day, there will be an opportunity for students to present their poetry.

Why this course?

  • Enhances creative thought – providing insights that are useful in any area of study, including those outside the humanities.

  • Provides experience of working in a group – sharing writing in progress, learning to receive and give feedback, improving spoken communication skills.

  • Improves writing skills – developing the capacity to craft a poem and for creative writing in general and, through careful attention to language, enhancing expression in other written forms.


The course is six days long. The sessions will run from 9 am until 1.45 pm, with breaks for coffee and lunch.  Each day will comprise sessions of close reading, followed by group discussion.  The topic for discussion each day will lead into a writing exercise.

The poems provided by the teacher each day will focus on different elements that students will practice in their own writing. We’ll read poems of close observation including ekphrasis, as well as poems that use – or avoid – rhyme and rhythm.  We’ll discuss line length, and read poems in a variety of set forms, such as the sonnet, before moving to more experimental forms at the end of the week.

The teacher will lead discussions, allowing students to unpick poetry’s effects through really close reading.  The guided writing session gives students specific formal challenges, and they can kick off something new in response to their reading, or revise poems in different ways, building and developing their poems day by day.  There will be time for independent writing and observing – so bring a notebook – and workshops built into the week to give you the opportunity to receive and give feedback on each other’s work.

Please find the detailed day-by-day programme here.


Leontia Flynn (course tutor) has published five collections of poetry with Jonathan Cape and has won the Forward prize for best First Collection, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy award for Irish poetry and the Irish Times Poetry Prize, and been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize twice.

She has been described as ‘a poet who is not only one of the best writers of her generation but who seems, more and more, to be the voice of that generation’ (John McAuliffe, Irish Times), and her work as ‘a triumph of poetic innovation’ (Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado, Dublin Review of Books). She was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022 and is a Professor at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast where she has taught for more than ten years. Her most recent poetry collection Taking Liberties was published in 2023.

Miriam McIlfatrick-Ksenofontov (course coordinator) is a lecturer of Anglophone literature and literary analysis at Tallinn University, where she defended her PhD thesis on the poetics of translation and creative process in translation. She is a translator of Estonian poetry for oral performance and print publication. She received an Estonian Cultural Endowment award for her translation of Doris Kareva’s poetry in 2018 and the Looming (Creation) journal prize for her own poetry in Estonian translation in 2019.


This summer course is suitable for people interested in writing poetry, from relative beginners to more experienced writers.
During the course you will be expected to attend workshops and seminars, submit your work for peer review and create a portfolio of your own writing.

The course is limited to 15 participants.

Credit points

Upon full participation and the completion of the course, the students will be awarded 3 ECTS points.

Course fee

Early-Bird Course Fee (until 31 March 2024)400€
Regular Course Fee (after 31 March 2024)450€

NB! Accommodation, cultural programme and meals are not included in the price.

Leontia Flynn
course tutor

Miriam McIlfatrick-Ksenofontov
course coordinator

"The highlight was truly opening up my creative side and meeting great people."

Tatiana Ivanova, Estonia
Creative Writing in English #tss2019

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