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Building a Poetry Toolbox Masterclass Series, Don Paterson, May June & July 2024

Many Verandah poets have expressed interest in working further with Don Paterson, one of the most knowledgeable poets in the UK.

This series of three online poetry masterclasses will explore tools poets can use to make their poems more memorable and effective. Each workshop will include examples from the masters and practical exercises.

These masterclasses will be sold as a series (however, if they don’t sell out as a series, then individual workshops will be sold separately). We will re-run the series if it sells out quickly. Make sure you put your name on the waiting list (see link below) if you miss out as I will be drawing on that should we repeat the series.

14 May, Finding the Form What is form in poetry, and what shapes can it take? What is its relationship to ‘formal’ verse? Do we master the form, or does it master us? What forms and lines are suited to the grain of the language, and which tend to drive against it? How can we use formal resistance to help us write the poem we need to write, and not just hinder its unfolding? In this workshop, Don will look at the variety of the ways our poems can take their final shape, from growing the poem from the seed crystal of its ‘given lines’ to working with traditional forms and free verse.   

11 June, Theme and Domain  What is ‘good subject matter’? How do we know what our poem is about? How does a poem seek its theme? Should we persist with our ‘great ideas for poems’ or allow each poem to discover its own subject? In this workshop on theme and domain, Don will give an accessible introduction to conceptual domain theory and show how it can be used as an editorial tool to make our poems shorter, more powerful, more memorable and more surprising. He’ll look at best practice with regard to poem titles and ‘cliched subjects’; when to break the rules; when to keep it tight, and when loose; why we shouldn’t be afraid of paraphrasing; and how poorly-constructed poetic themes can confuse both the poet and reader.

16 July, Endings and Beginnings  How do we end the poem? In this workshop Don will describe how poetic closure can be the most powerful way of making our poems multilayered, memorable and effective. He will explain his guide to poetic closure and deictic shift theory (basically, how we can manipulate point-of-view at key moments of silence in the poem for maximum effect). He’ll also ask – where do we start? How can we begin the poem with lines that compel the reader to read on? How can we avoid boring preamble and scene-setting? This workshop will show how we can engage readers from the first line – and how we can aim higher than merely getting out of the poem with our dignity intact, and instead use our exits to dramatic, memorable and often subversive effect.

Timing and Cost

Start time: 10am UK time // 5pm Perth Australia // 6.30pm Adelaide  // 6.30pm  Darwin // 7pm Brisbane //  Sydney 7pm

A useful link for checking other timezones:

Each workshop is 2.5 hours long

Online on Zoom

Cost £GBP90 (with cost effective exchange rate via STRIPE)

Our masterclasses are small groups (one screen only), so that you get time with Don to interact and ask questions.

About Don Paterson

Don Paterson is the author of numerous works of poetry and non-fiction; his writing has won many awards, including the Whitbread Poetry Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Costa Poetry Award, all three Forward Prizes, and the T. S. Eliot Prize on two occasions. He was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2009; he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the English Association and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and for many years taught at the University of St Andrews, where he is now Emeritus Professor of Poetry in the School of English. From 1997 to 2022, Paterson was poetry editor at Picador. For most of his life he has also worked as a jazz musician and composer. He lives in Kirriemuir, Scotland.

If this event sells out, contact me using this form TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST – I often do draw on the waiting list. Include the name of the workshop. It is very likely this series could re-run if there is enough interest.



Sold out!


May 14 2024 - Jul 16 2024


10:00 am - 12:30 am

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: May 14 2024 - Jul 15 2024
  • Time: 5:00 am - 7:30 pm




Online (Zoom)
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