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An Introduction to Poetry


  "Poetry has power.
It opens mind, heals a broken day, steals a heart, steels it too. It stirs one to action and leads one to find the core of one's thoughts, hopes and aspirations."

Liesl Jobson



Welcome to the Introduction to Poetry Course at UK Writers College.

This online course teaches the basic tools of poetry, looking at line length, figures of speech, metered verse, tone, imagery and lyricism. Students will find ways to practise these concepts in their own poetry. They are encouraged to explore the truth that resides in a cliché and to coax this truth into fresh lines. They are guided to craft their words into workable forms with the goal of preparation for publication.

Each unit will present standard concepts, offer new tools as they appear in a poem from the canon of English literature, and students will have the opportunity to practise new skills. The tasks are interactive so that by the end of the three modules, the student has an integrated sense of his or her own writing and a finer sense of what kind of poetry he or she wants to write.



“I have felt extremely encouraged to write by doing this course. I found my tutor helpful and available, supportive and encouraging and also able to give feedback about things that I needed to develop.”

Susan Green, Introduction to Poetry




Course Details:


Students must complete:


Admission Requirements:

  • Cost: £ 395.00
  • Modules: 3 Modules
  • Duration: Course can be completed at own pace between three and six months
  • Start date: At any time; applications all year round
  • 15 poetry exercises with one-on-one instruction from their tutor. By the end of the course, students should have written five poems.
  • Student Feedback
  • Students must be proficient in the English Language
  • Computer skills, e-mail and Internet access required
  • No previous tertiary qualification required



Tutor for this course:

Fiona-Zerbst-Introduction to Poetry tutor Fiona Zerbst is the author of four poetry collections to date: Oleander (Modjaji Books, 2009), Time and Again (UCT Younger Poets Series No 1/Snailpress, 2002), the small zone (Snailpress, 1995) and Parting Shots (Carrefour Press, 1991). She received an MA in Creative Writing from UCT, studying under the late Stephen Watson.

Her poems have been anthologised in The Heart in Exile, eds Tromp and De Kock, Penguin, 1996, Imagination in a Troubled space, Poetry Salzburg, 2004, The Pick of Snailpress, 2000 and City in Words, David Philip, 2001. Most recently, two of her poems were selected for inclusion in the prestigious US literary magazine The Common (www.thecommononline.org).

Read more about Fiona here>

Arja-Saalafranca-350-848Arja Salafranca has published three collections of poetry. A Life Stripped of Illusions received the Sanlam Award for poetry. Her second was The Fire in Which We Burn. Her third poetry collection is Beyond Touch (Modjaji Books/Dye Hard Press 2015), a co-winner in the poetry category of the South African Literary Awards in 2016. Her fiction has been published in local and international journals and anthologies, as well as online. Her debut collection of short fiction, The Thin Line, was published in 2010 (Modjaji Books) and short-listed for the Wole Soyinka Award. She has also edited two anthologies, Glass Jars Among Trees and The Edge of Things

Arja holds an MA in Creative Writing from Wits University. Read more about Arja here >

Course Curriculum


Module 1 - An Introduction to Poetry - Where do poets find their inspiration?

  • Where do poets find their inspiration?
  • Line length and line breaks

Module 2 - Figures of Speech in Poetry

  • Why we use figures of speech
  • Understanding metaphors, similes and poetic devices

Module 3 - Rhythm and Rhyme

  • Must a poem rhyme?
  • Understanding rhythm
  • Using assonance, consonance, alliteration and other sound effects


“I had a wonderful experience. The course challenged and inspired me.”

Michelle Smith, Introduction to Poetry Course



How does the course work?


The course consists of three modules. Detailed class notes covering the content of each module are e-mailed to students.

At the end of each section, students will be required to complete several writing exercises.

Once the writing assignment has been completed, and e-mailed to the lecturer, an assessment and feedback will be sent to the student, and the module will be considered complete. The next module will then be e-mailed to the student.


Conditions of Certification:

Students will receive a UK Writers College Certificate upon successful completion of the course, provided they meet the following conditions:

  • Students must have completed all 15 writing assignments
  • The course must have been completed within six months of registration.
  • Students are expected to attain a minimum average of 50% for the course

Minimum Estimated Time Commitment:


This course requires ongoing informal research. The poet will read and buy poetry books and journals in order to discover what moves his or her own poetic mind. Hopefully, this "research" is also an enjoyable hobby that becomes an ongoing pleasure nourishing the student's poetry for life.

Additionally, there is the discipline of writing and reflection on the process. A poet cannot wait for the muse. The muse waits for the poet. When you write, the muse shows up. You will be inspired, even when you feel uninspired. Because regular writing and re-writing is integral to the process of poetry-making, the course is designed so that one module takes one month.

After studying the modules, the exercises should take an hour or two per week to complete. Ideally, students spend 10 minutes daily writing in a poetry journal, a portion of which is submitted in the final portfolio.


Need more advice about the best course for you?

We would love to chat to you if you have any questions about our writing courses.

If you need some advice about the best course or writing field for you, drop us a line or give Koos or Nichola a call at +44 1892 710877. We can tell you about going rates in the field, chance of publishing success and general writing career options both in the UK and internationally.

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Read what past-students say about this course

"I was very tentative and nervous when I started this course. Now I leave pleased at having endeavoured it but also determined to return to do another course in prose. My tutor was instrumental in not only giving excellent guidance but motivating me in a confident way. Overall I loved it; I learnt more than I expected and I challenged myself and was challenged in turn." Grace Goedhart, An Introduction to Poetry Course

“I had a great time on the course and produced the best writing I have ever done. My experience was profound and therapeutic. I learned simple yet valuable ways to move from journaling to writing actual poetry.” Cindy Jordaan, Introduction to Poetry Course

“The course was very good. Owen gave very thoughtful and helpful feedback. He was honest but gentle, and I always felt encouraged and supported by him. Overall, it was an excellent way to study writing from home.” Dinah Mountier, An Introduction to Poetry Course

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course and am very pleased with the poems that I produced. At times, I was challenged to write beyond my comfort zone and I am grateful for this. My tutor was excellent and very kind. My original objective was simply to write more and be a better writer and the course has definitely achieved that. So yes, it met my objectives. It has also inspired me to broaden my reading, writing and publishing horizons. I had a wonderful experience. The course challenged and inspired me.” Michelle Smith, Introduction to Poetry Course

“I found the course to be very satisfying. I believe I learnt some very valuable things.” Anthony Eschner, Introduction To Poetry

"I have felt extremely encouraged by doing this course. The feedback was good in that it was a mix of support and encouragement around the areas that need development. I found my tutor Owen Bullock to be helpful and available, supportive and encouraging and also able to give feedback about things that I need to develop." Susan Green, Introduction to Poetry

“My experience on the course was great. The constructive criticism by my tutor helped me hone my skills. Her comments on my work motivated and inspired me greatly; any criticism she had was fair and always right. The course was awesome, I would seriously consider doing another.” Laura-May Randell, Introduction to Poetry

“Liesl Jobson is an interesting person and presented me with well thought out arguments. Her assistance helped and motivated me. This is a well-presented, good course.” Benedikt Sebastian Jordaan, Introduction to Poetry

“I am very happy with the feedback I received from Liesl. She was very helpful in making me realize that I can write poetry. All I need to do is write, write and write, so I can improve. She also made me realize how important it is for me to read poetry as this will me to get better. Liesl taught me to write and analyze what I have written, and rewrite until I have a masterpiece. I am happy I walked this journey with her and gained the knowledge she has passed on to me. I was in awe when I read her profile and still saw how she was so prompt and positive in her feedback and encouraged me all the way. I came out of this more confident that I can do this. I can fulfill my dream to write poetry. She is great!” Francine, Introduction to Poetry

"The course has been wonderful, I enjoyed it immensely! Liesl has been a wonderful tutor. Her comments, suggestions and feedback have been very intuitive and helpful. She has really helped me develop my writing practice and courage in writing from my personal experience." Jacinda, Introduction to Poetry


More Testimonials Here





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