Tuesday 4 March 2014

Poetry writing workshop by Ms. Sharoon Sunny - Department of English on 1 March 2014

The workshop started at 9:10 AM and Ms. Sharoon Sunny began the first session with an introduction to poetry. She began by asking students' opinion on what is poetry and how many among the present actually cared for poetry (only six students said they cared for poetry), why poetry appeals to people and the techniques that characterize poetry, like rhyme, rhythm and meter.  She conducted an activity where students wrote one phrase about anything that happened in the morning. These phrases were written on the board, and later students were asked to select 14 random phrases from the board and write a sonnet. This exercise was to emphasise the importance of having the freedom of expression while writing, as in free verse.

The highlights of this session were as follows:
- Definition of poetry - a moment of being, an individualistic experience
- The elements of poetry, and how poetry is different from other forms of writing
- Modernists and their resistance to restrictions in writing poetry
- Imagism and free verse as modernist techniques

The second session began after a 15 minute break. The focus of this session was on Imagism and free verse. Ms. Sharoon shared information about free verse and the earliest poets like Ezra Pound who popularised this technique. She also showed a few videos that employed different ways of performing or reciting poetry. This was to emphasise the importance of memorising and reciting poetry, rather than just reading, as reciting from memory is much more appealing. Ms. Sharoon concluded her lecture by sharing some more poems that employed free verse, and with a brief summing up of the dos and don'ts of free verse poetry technique.

The highlights of this session are as follows:
- Introduction to Imagism and Free verse, and their execution
  (sample videos of poetry recitation)
- General guidelines to write poetry under free verse technique
- Requirements and prerequisites while writing poetry
- Importance of lyrical quality of poetry

The sessions by Ms. Sharoon were highly interactive and engaging. It focused on poetry writing, and not on the theoretical or the analytical aspects of poetry. The sessions were a success also because of the relevant exercises conducted during the workshop to ensure students have understood few basic guidelines of writing poetry. 

She also provided a few reference works to understand poetry writing:
       - A Defence of poetry by Percy Shelley
       - Best Words, Best Order, A terrific book by Stephen Dobyns
       - Poetry in the Making by Ted Hughes

The session ended with a vote of thanks by Ayushi Malhotra.
Clare Joseph

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