By Susan Lavender
Dr Sherryl Clark, long-time writing teacher at Victoria University Polytechnic in Melbourne and the winner of the 2022 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for children’s literature (for her verse novel Mina and the Whole Wide World), is a seasoned poet. Those who attended her two Zoom workshop poetry classes benefited from her wealth of experience. For those who had signed up but were unable to attend the events live, recordings of both sessions were made available for seven days after each event.
The first class, “Making Poems: The Main Elements”, explained the essentials of poetry writing. Dr Clark dealt with various forms of poems from blank verse to intricate forms like the villanelle. Examples of poems, reference books, anthologies and internet resources for obtaining poetry prompts were also provided. Participants were asked to write a poem during the class on a suggested theme and other themes were given for poems to be sent in before the following class.
The second class, “Strategies for Revising a Poem”, focused on how to revise and perfect a poem. While delving deeper into the study of poetry forms, among other topics, Dr Clark covered rhyme (straight rhyme and half rhyme), rhythm through scanning (scansion) to identify the metre of a poem’s stressed and unstressed syllables, identifying the “voice” of a poem, the use of tense, qualifiers and line breaks and how to manage various drafts of a poem. Example poems, written by participants, were used to make suggestions and to give practical illustrations of the revision process.
The two classes provided a thorough look at the process of poetry writing from first draft to polished final version. They were very informative and useful both for novice poets, who had not previously attempted poetry writing, as well as for published poets and everyone in between. Our many thanks to Sherryl Clark!