‘Begin with good nerve and decision’ – A Poetry Short-Course led by Jonathan Davidson, January 2022

Latest News: I am afraid that all places on this course have now been reserved. Do e-mail me on jonathan@midlandcreative.co.uk if you would like to join a waiting list. I will be running other, similar courses for various organisations later in the year and I’d be happy to give advance notice of these if I may.

For a while now, I’ve been telling myself that writing poems should be more than just satisfying the poetry sector’s insatiable hunger for content. We can be surprised by creativity when we approach the act of composing poetry confident that our work can be validated by our own taste and judgement. To do this we need to ‘begin with good nerve and decision‘. This phrase is from ‘Johann Joachim Quantz’s Five Lessons’ by W S Graham. The whole poem is a little manual of creativity, and although it purports to tell the story of a novice flautist being put through his paces, it says much about making art.

I’ve been running poetry writing courses for, goodness me, nearly a year, but I’ve been reading and making and hearing and speaking poetry since as long as I can remember. So although I am still learning how I can make a poetry course enjoyable and of value, I have seen the poetry world at work for many decades. In the recent courses I have run I have observed in many, a great felicity with language but also a nagging anxiety about how to engage ‘successfully’ with the poetry sector. It is hard to write poems when we are concerned for their value and purpose.

Poets want to have their work heard or read, and they want to receive the approbation of the crowd, with the manifold rewards that are on offer. I understand this desire. However, increasingly I seek an experience of reading, making, hearing and speaking poetry that need not be validated by these rewards, although they may come too. I think that there are many who do not need to be encouraged to write poetry – they want to write – but they may find it useful to write poems not as a transactional relationship with the poetry sector, but simply as an act of creativity.

To try to develop this thinking, I shall be running ‘Begin with good nerve and decision’ – A Poetry Short-Course. It will be an opportunity to be prompted to write one’s own poems, to read and reflect on exemplar poems, and to hear and speak our own and other people’s poems. No one element will be compulsory, but a willingness to share and contribute will be much appreciated.

‘Begin with good nerve and decision’ will run on Monday evenings across January 2022 (3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th & 31st) from 18:30 to 20:30 GMT. The five sessions will be run on Zoom, with twelve places available. There will be a charge, £100, but two places will be non-paying bursary places, for those who cannot manage the fee. Bursary places will be given confidentially: simply contact me on the e-mail below.

As with all my courses, I will be asking participants to tell me a little of how they want to engage with poetry. As well as writing poems and all that goes with that (reading, hearing, speaking), we will also consider ways in which poetry can be shared. Although there may be talk of publication and prizes, we will focus more on the simple, curious pleasure of making pieces of art and then releasing them into the wild.

If this sounds of interest, please do drop me a note on jonathan@midlandcreative.co.uk. I’d be pleased to tell you more about the course and to hear what you might want from such an enterprise. The deadline for securing a place is Wednesday 1st December 2021.

Oh, and as with all my courses these days, we’ll finish with a free raffle with a selection of modestly attractive prizes.

Best wishes, Jonathan

Jonathan Davidson, Poetry Course Tutor/Organiser of Raffles

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