Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsPoetry is everywhere, and it's for everyone. It's in song lyrics and social media posts, on our bookshelves, and in our heads. It comes to life through performance and sharing. But it can also be private, even secret, a way for us to express the deepest aspects of who we are and how we feel. It helps us to reach back through time, to explore cultures different from our own, and to imagine the future. I'm Rebecca Bullard, and I'm an Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Reading. I'd like to welcome you to this online course, Unseen Poetry and the Creative Process.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsWe've created this short course to help you get more out of poetry as a reader and as a writer. Reading and writing poetry go hand-in-hand with one another. This course will inspire you to read, write, and enjoy poetry in new ways. The course is split into two weeks. In week one, we're going to focus on reading poetry. We'll be exploring some techniques for approaching a poem with some of our students here at the University of Reading as they encounter it for the first time, using a wonderful poem called "Patagonia" by Kate Clanchy as a case study. In week two, we're going to meet Kate Clanchy herself.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 secondsKate will help us to think about ways of writing poetry, including getting started, shaping your poem, and sharing it with others. Through giving and receiving feedback with other learners on the course, you'll become a better writer and a better reader of poetry. We can't wait to share our love of poetry with you and to read and hear your thoughts, ideas, and poems.

Welcome to the course

Welcome to ‘A-level Study Boost: Unseen Poetry and the Creative Process’, a two week course produced by the University of Reading.

On this course you’ll discover effective techniques to analyse unseen poetry and learn about about the creative process when writing poetry. You’ll explore these techniques by applying them to an existing poem, ‘Patagonia’, by poet, Kate Clanchy. You’ll also look at how others have interpreted the poem through the lens of their own feelings, and their understanding of the patterns and puzzles they’ve discovered in their reading of the poem.

We want you to make the most of this course and there are a number of activities for you to take part in which include videos, audio interviews, articles and discussions. We also provide you with practical exercises which we encourage you to take part in and share your experiences back with your fellow Learners.

The course consists of two weeks with each one focusing on a different aspect of poetry:

  • Week 1: Unseen Poetry
  • Week 2: The Creative Process

By the end of the course you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learnt by creating your own poem, giving you the confidence and knowledge to apply these skills to your studies.

Please note: Blind and visually impaired learners may need a helper on some of the Steps, as this course includes video content and other visual teaching methods.

The team

During the initial two weeks of the course (from the 2 December until 15 December), our team of experts will guide you through the content and will be on hand to support the discussions.

Rebecca Bullard is the Lead Educator for ‘A-level Study Boost: Unseen Poetry and the Creative Process’. Rebecca is Associate Professor English Literature at the University of Reading. Find out more about Rebecca in the short biography, below:

Hello, my name’s Rebecca Bullard and I’ll be leading this course, Unseen Poetry and the Creative Process. I grew up and went to school in Cardiff, South Wales, and then I studied English at Oxford University and Cambridge University. I’ve been teaching in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading since 2010.

I love teaching English Literature. It is a subject that has the power to change people’s lives. It encourages us to imagine our way into places we never thought we’d visit: the past, the future, other cultures, other worlds. Poetry is a really special form of literature. Its sounds, its rhythms, its strangeness, and its soulfulness help us to experience the world in new ways.

I’m really excited about leading this course. I can’t wait to share some of my favourite poetry with you, and to hear about what you love reading. I’m especially looking forward to the second week, when I’ll get to read some brand new poetry – written by you!

Rebecca will be joined by current University of Reading students and our course Mentors:

Elliot Kim Student of English Literature and Creative Writing
Yinka-Maria Olaniyan Student of English Language and Literature
Alannah Moody Student of English Literature

The team will aim to answer your queries where they can but please bear in mind, they will not be able to respond to every post. Don’t let that stop you from asking questions and sharing your experiences though, as you may find that together with other Learners, you may be able to help one another out.

To view comments made by Rebecca and her team, click on their name to visit their profile page and click the ‘Follow’ button. Any comment made will then appear in your activity feed which you can filter by ‘Following’.

The experts

You’ll also get the chance to hear from creative writing experts from the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading, who will be sharing their expertise:

Kate Clanchy Award-winning poet
Lecturer in Creative Writing
Professor Peter Robinson Award-winning poet and novelist
Professor of English Literature
Founder of the English Literature with Creative Writing pathway degree at the University


If you started late and missed the chance to introduce yourself before the course started in the Welcome Area, why not tell us who you are and what you’re hoping to gain from the course in the comments area below?

Course tip

If you find talking online a daunting prospect but would like to give it a try, you may find it helpful to start off in a small way. If you see a comment you agree with or find interesting, you can let the other Learner know by ‘liking’ it. Hopefully this will help build your confidence and once you feel more comfortable, you can move on to replying directly.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

A-level Study Boost: Unseen Poetry and the Creative Process

University of Reading